I’m locked up in my squalid life because I don’t want others to come in and look at me with that look I’ve been avoiding mirrors for. I’m locked in darkness because the dark protects me, covers me, buries my existence, and with it, the painful reminders of my life. I don’t see much that is redeemable. All I see is what’s wrong with me. All I hear is the muffled wails imprisoned in my throat. All I feel is the jagged edges of my being. All I know is the echoing of my thoughts.
I’ve been trying to get my shit together for the past 7 weeks now. I keep thinking a solution is an article,talk,theory away. I don’t want to write until I’m ‘ok’ whatever that means. OK is a place I visit. I don’t belong there. Between the black hole in me that consumes all hope, and the daily pressures of doing stuff, I’m trying to stay alive.
Some days ago,things turned awry. I was in the strong clutches of suicidal thoughts; a place I hadn’t been to in years. It’s like the bermuda triangle, you can’t swim away. The force is so strong and hope is so frail. I let myself be carried away. I didn’t see the point in expending energy in trying to get away when there was no shore in sight. I was on the precipice; an ironic calm washed over me as all thoughts left my mind. I was surprisingly cool headed. I picked out the method and the only thing that occupied my mind was my self-consciousness due to my body dysmorphia. That’s all. I didn’t think about anything else. I felt I had no one and nothing to live for anymore. All my struggles in all my years I’ve mostly kept to myself, in my mind. The thoughts,the tears, my true self would come out at night, under the cover of darkness. I guess because I’m so aloof very few truly know me.
I had one friend, a really good friend hold on to me that night, and refused to let go. He saved me in the nick of time, truly. Just writing about it makes tears well up in my eyes and cloud of sadness gather in my chest, because I still feel that I’m no one and that my existence doesn’t matter much.
I feel that I need to lean on something or someone in order to make it through the day. If I try to detach and stand on my own, I picture myself slacklining in a wobbly manner with a black, gaping abyss beneath me. I don’t want to fall and die. I’ve gone through the false sense of hope and motivation where I held the ludicrous thought that I could make it to the other end of the line, unscathed, one too many times to know that it’s a farce. At least that’s what I’m convinced of. I don’t know how to brace myself to feel emotional pain without clinging to a crutch like coca cola or repetitive mind-numbing activities. I feel sleepy typing this because I feel a cloud of discomfort coming over me, and I must seek shelter before silver bullets rain on me.
I am a ghost, a faint idea of a person who once had dreams and lofty hopes but they died long ago and I linger on hoping for something, refusing to pass on. Every now and then I catch bright streaks moving in my peripheral vision, a flicker so brief that it very well could be my mind playing tricks on me again.
I was emotionally orphaned.
My mum told me that I was a very fussy baby who’d cry nonstop. So she made sure I was fed and clean – physically cared for – and just leave me be when I cry ‘for no apparent reason’. I believe we are all born with fully formed souls and personalities and we spend life learning to accept ourselves. I think that first year when my body was cared for but my mind ignored, something within me broke. Shattered to smithereens. Because when I turned one, I changed drastically. I became reticent and quiet. Still. If I were told to sit down, I’d sit there for hours until told to get up. That’s not normal for a one year old is it? I don’t think so.
My dad was much more compassionate than mum. He was a doting father who wouldn’t let me cry. He observed my every move to try to decipher my language. He even kept a shorthand notebook for my baby babble and he’d be my translator of sorts. They really tried, my parents. I was a very sensitive and old soul and they had to improvise because I wasn’t like normal infants. I was even scared of the dark! I was merely a couple of months and I’d freak if the lights were turned off. 😀
I was 1 year and 8 months when my twin brothers were born. It threw everyone off course, because they were unplanned. Not only that, but mum almost died giving birth via c-section. She spent the first 6 months or so in and out of hospital. My dad had to work. We lived in a small southern town of Sweden where we didn’t have any relatives to help out. It was hard. I think the sudden change of dynamics where I was pushed off the only child seat and relegated to the background in the face of the clamour and mum’s illness, affected me very deeply.
One day I blurted out something that couldn’t have belonged to my mind and be spoken by my tongue. I wasn’t even 2 years yet, when I addressed my parents and a family friend who were in our midst;
‘ hooyo mid, aabe mid, aniga baabah’. Which is Somali for ‘ mum one, dad one, me nothing ‘, pointing out that my parents’ hands were occupied with both my infant twin brothers and I was left alone.
Heart wrenching and mind-boggling as it was, the family friend was utterly devastated and scooped me up immediately, sobbing at my words that I was too young for.
While no single reason can account for each suicidal act, there are common characteristics associated with completed suicides. Perhaps they can help you to understand why someone you love died by suicide.
1) The common purpose of suicide is a solution. Suicide is many things, but it is neither random nor pointless. To those who choose to end their own lives, suicide is an answer to an unsolvable problem or a way out of a horrible dilemma. Suicide is somehow the preferred choice to another set of dreaded circumstances, emotional pain, or disability, which the person fears more than death.
2) The common goal of suicide is to cease consciousness. Those who die by suicide want to end the conscious experience, which, for them, has become an endless stream of distressing, preoccupying thoughts. Suicide offers oblivion.
3) The common stressor in suicide is frustrated psychological needs. People who have high standards and expectations are extra vulnerable to suicide when progress toward goals is suddenly frustrated. People who attribute failure and disappointment to their own shortcomings may come to view themselves as worthless, unlovable, and incompetent. In adults, suicide is often related to work or interpersonal problems. In teenagers, suicide is often precipitated by family turmoil.
4) The common stimulus in suicide is intolerable psychological pain. Excruciating negative emotions (i.e. sadness, shame, guilt, anger, and fear) from any circumstance frequently serve as the foundation for suicide.
5) The common internal attitude in suicide is ambivalence. Most of those who contemplate suicide – including those successful in carrying out their suicidal plans -are ambivalent. They do want to die, yet they also wish they could find another solution to their dilemma.
In the beginning, it was like the faint buzz of a mosquito. Vaguely aware of it but expecting it to go away. Then it just grew stronger and started to bite me, refusing to go away until I curled up in foetal position, covered by utter despair and helplessness. Why is it bothering me, why can’t it just leave me alone ? I cried to myself.
It took me years to understand depression. To understand that it was here to stay and me wanting it gone only added to the pain. So I decided to call a truce so that I could co-exist with it without ripping my hair out or being too overwhelmed to live.
Something paradoxical happened. When I decided to make my peace with it, I saw a different side to it. I noticed that it wasn’t the big, bad monster that hijacked my life, but that it was apart of me. A hidden aspect of me that had come up for air to tell me something, and I didn’t hear it because I didn’t seek to listen. So I tried. I tried tuning in. It wasn’t intelligible at first, just a static sound. I tried fine-tuning it to make something of it, and I could then hear something I finally understood. It was people doling out what they perceived as advise, but was in fact patronization. It was self-help books that made no sense at all in understanding my condition, and only worked to exacerbate my feelings of despair as I thought there was something inherently wrong with me for not finding the generic ‘fake it ’til you make it’ claim remotely inspirational.
Get it together – they chanted in unison. Getittogethergetittogethergetittogetherget-
I tried to run on my broken feet. I tried to pull myself up with my broken arms. I tried but I couldn’t. It was so excruciating. I wanted to tell them this, but my voice had broken, my heart was shattered with despair. I felt sick to my stomach and disgusted with myself for not being able to follow simple instructions;
1.Will yourself to success
2. If you want to be successful, you have to earn a lot of money and make a lot of friends
3. Ignore the pain and plaster on a smile.
People left. They were sick and tired of training an old dog- no, a dead dog.The barrage of motivational pep-talks died down. Told the last person to close the door behind him and turn off the lights. Let me forget myself in this darkness.
I think that’s when it all made sense. In the darkness, in the solitude, in the bittersweet feeling of not having anything left to lose. The static noise on the radio that didn’t make sense to me. I listened closely, and though at first I could barely make anything out of it, it was something. I was listening with every iota, every cell in me – afraid to even breath in case I missed anything. It was a healing voice, unlike the others who kept poking me and taking jabs at me. It was an embracing and soothing voice. It didn’t order me to do anything, it didn’t make me feel stupid and lazy for not running 20 lapses around the world. In fact, the only thing it uttered was one phrase, over and over again until I was lulled into sleep by its mellow voice, and drifted off to sleep.
‘Listen to your heart.’
When I later woke up, I realized – it was all a terrible nightmare – the taunting and terrorizing. The buzzing and chanting. I was in my own skin, my broken body had healed, my heart – I could hear my heart now, and I was going to travel to a place far away from here. A place where they don’t wear masks and where you don’t have to plaster on smiles. Somewhere my heart will take me.
“I lay on my floor crying again… shaking. Searching for inner strength and coming up empty. My eyes burned and my mouth was dry as I sucked on air that seemed to keep getting thicker and harder to breathe.
I tried to leave again, but ended up leaning my forehead against the door, feeling defeated and wishing the Grim Reaper would come for me in all his silky, black glory.”
– Nathan Daniels
Author of Surviving the fourth cycle