When the Jehovah’s Witness’s came to my door, I did not mind. The only problem was that I was going to be late for work. I apologized and let them know that I could not talk at that moment. The older gentlemen said he understood.
“Well you have to go to work!” He exclaimed
“No, I don’t.” I answered and he returned with a puzzled look.
“Well, you have to work. You have to make money!!”
“No, I don’t have to do anything. I choose to everything I do in life.”
I stumped him. How was it I didn’t have to work? How could I think I could choose everything (within reason) if I did not have anyone else supplying my income?
So…he argued some more. “You need to make money. You need to eat.”
“No, I choose to make money and I choose to eat.” I declared.
“Well, what do you mean?” He asked politely.
I do not think he was ready for my honest and rare outlook on life. Therefore, I should not have been so stunned to see the look on his face when I answered.
“I can always kill myself.” I stated without hesitation. I do not remember what happened next but I do know he came to visit more often.
Now, I know this seems like a strange way to view one’s life. Every species on this planet is making diligent attempts to stay alive. I get that. But for some reason, I needed to know that if it ever got to be too much, I could end it all.
There are others like me. They are sitting right next to you. We just don’t talk about it. People with suicide ideation are far more common than people realize. It would come to me in waves, throughout most of my life. I just did not want to live. It hurt too much.
Although, I seemed like the most happy person in the room and I really was not faking that, it is just, a person with suicidal tendencies’ brain will switch involuntary at the most inconvenient times.
For instance, I produced and hosted my own cable access show. Six months of rigorous planning matched with an incredible team allowed me to fulfill this crazy dream. I worked so hard. Day and night. I spent thousands of dollars to train the team, buy furniture, take potential guests to lunch or coffee and anything else it would take to create a wonderful show.
The show went well. We had a lot of fun and although, it was less David Lettermanish than I planned, it was a good solid attempt at modeling what the superpowers of media do everyday.
The next day, I wanted to die. I sat in my backyard in a lawn chair, chain smoking, trying to convince myself to stay alive.
I always thought pills were a great way out but I found out hanging is the surest bet. But that day, I made it through by sobbing, thinking and praying that if I could just get some sleep that tomorrow would be better. Luckily, tomorrow was better and this, indeed, did pass.
But this has happened to me so many times. However, my outlook has changed.
My dad replied when I told him of my great suicide epiphany, that it made sense, but it changes when you have children. I did not believe him. I am quite sure now that he agreed with my epiphany. Usually these things are genetic.
Unfortunately, having a child was not enough but it sure helped. What I found was that I had to know in my deepest part of my being that I could survive anything and that required a great amount of maturity on my part to begin to actually take the actions to assure my survival. Actions such as making money again. Or taking back my health. I began to accept that I will always have to tolerate and endure some merciless anxiety and I started to live “in” love instead of trying to be loved by everyone with whom I came into contact.
Now..note…I still struggled. I married a psychiatrist for goodnesss sake!! There are no coincidences when it comes to life and death. And with a loving, accepting partner, I felt safe to explore my vulnerability. I did not need the comfort of knowing I could end it all at any time, on my terms, anymore.
Life is truly about relationships. They matter. The relationship with yourself matters. Self-care is paramount but not readily taught. We are an ego-driven, I-need-the-next-fix society. But it does not have to be that way.
I am a better person because I had to try to love myself more. The very act that I thought was the ultimate sin was what carries me through my days. That… and God.
If only, I could find that nice Jehovah’s Witness and let him know I did have to go to work now and eat and make money. I could tell him to not worry that I know I am not free to choose anything except to choose how to live and react to whatever comes my way.