long after the thrill of living is gone

by Kate

It has gotten bad again.

What some of you know, and many of you don’t, is that I stayed in a residential crisis center for five days in late September because I was feeling suicidal.

I’d gotten into a car accident less than two weeks before, and was still suffering some pain and trauma from that. My car was disabled, though not totaled, and I had just found out that my temp job was ending earlier than expected. I held it together pretty well at work, then got home and collapsed. I called my mother, hysterical, and she told me to call 911. Instead, I called the county crisis line, and they sent me to a walk-in crisis clinic, and they, after some stupid red-tape bullshit that wasn’t their fault, sent me to what I deemed “Crazy-Person Sleepover Camp.” I wanted to leave after 24 hours because I was bored and I hated it, but one of the staff convinced me to stay, and I’m glad she did.

I didn’t get fixed, and I’m still a mess, but for a few days at the crisis center and for a few days after I got out, I felt a sense of renewed hope. I got the ball rolling on several things I need to do to make my life better, but it’s all rather slow-going, and it’s easy to lose momentum when there aren’t a lot of tangible effects from all. that. effort.

So I’ve spent a lot of the past two weeks alternating between an almost eerie calm, despair, dread, and terrible anxiety. My sleep is irregular. I want to be held but I don’t want to be touched. So it goes.

Vulnerability is nauseating. Hope feels like a cruel trick.

On most days, I can get out of bed, put on clothes, get things done. I am still capable of dressing myself, washing dishes, going to the store, eating, bathing. But I am exhausted all the time. Some days I can’t summon the nerve or energy to make an important phone call or eat anything that can’t be prepared in a microwave. Other times I’m a flurry of activity, doing all the dishes, scouring the bathroom, or mopping the kitchen floor which was so dirty, I’m nearly certain that no one had really cleaned it in the three years my roommate has lived here. I have fits of annoyance that border on rage.

When I called the crisis line, visited the crisis clinic, and checked into the crisis center, I was asked the same question over and over: Did you have a plan? And the answer to that is, no, not really. I didn’t know how I wanted to kill myself. I wasn’t that resolute, and I hadn’t made up my mind about a method. Perhaps I could have explained that I fantasize about my favorite view of Portland being the last thing I see: the view from the top deck of the Fremont Bridge. Flying, falling, flailing, toward the cold water of the Willamette. Maybe I could have told them that I own surgical scalpels, that it wouldn’t even take much force, that I know how and where to cut, that I’d take painkillers first to dull the pain and thin my blood. Instead I said that I had decided a long time ago that if I ever really wanted to die, I should just go to the hospital, since that’s probably where I’d wake up anyway. When I told these volunteers, clinicians, peer counselors, shrinks and psychiatrists that I did not have a plan for my own death, they seemed to take me less seriously. And so I finally said something along the lines of this:

I am very bright. I have been depressed for a very long time. I have fought thoughts of suicide since I was eleven. I have gotten very, very good at not killing myself. I know that I must try everything I can think of first. Because I am very smart, very pragmatic, I know a lot of ways to soothe myself. I know that the rational thing to do is to try to get help, to fight, because this life is all I have, and there have been times when I was happy, and I remember those times. So no, I did not have a plan. I came here, that was my plan. They seemed to take me more seriously after that.

And I’ve never been to Hawaii. I can’t die before I see if maybe warm water and beaches could save me. I have dreams about swimming in the ocean, somewhere where the water is warm, and I can’t die yet because I’ve never done that. I could live in a tent on the beach somewhere. If that didn’t work, maybe then I could die. Or maybe then I’d realize I’d never seen fjords, or the Aurora Borealis. And I can’t kill myself because it would destroy my mother. 

I remember feeling good. I remember being happy. It wasn’t so long ago. And yes, this depression is in my head. I firmly believe that I have a chemical deficiency, faulty wiring, something that makes me more susceptible to these fits of sickness. Because that’s what depression is for me, a chronic, relapsing, recurring, dreadful disease. And it kills people all the time. And I am resigned to fight it as hard as I can.

But I am so tired. And it has gotten very bad again.

My car  limps along. I try not to take it above 30mph. My “best” friend in Portland and I have differences that are, for the moment, irreconcilable, and she wants me to move out. I don’t know where I’ll go or how I’ll pay for it. I should start getting unemployment again next week, but it’s not remotely enough to live on. It seems like there are no good choices, only shitty compromises. I’m tired of being pitied, tired of asking for help. But I need help. I cannot work when I’m like this. I am registered to go back to school this winter, but it seems like it’s too soon, and so I need a plan. I don’t have one.

To be honest, it’s really goddamned hard to see the point in any of this. Why keep trying? Why keep starting over? There is no cosmic plan, no one has any answers, and all I can do is keep plodding along and hoping that my medication will stabilize me, or I’ll have some breakthrough, or at least I won’t have to worry so much for awhile.

I’ve moved several times in the last few years, and every more was less a choice than an exile. I have run out of places to run to. There is no “home” anymore that I can go back to. The pills aren’t working anymore and I don’t have money to see my psychiatrist or my psychologist. It’s all such a massive clusterfuck, and I don’t know why I try anymore.

I still try. And I will. I’ll go to bed soon, and I hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Odds are that it will be.

But I am very bright, and pragmatic, and after awhile I know that this will seem like a losing battle against the inevitable.  The pain will never stop completely until I die. I can never stop fighting, no matter how tired I am, until I die. How much pain should we be expected to endure before we’re allowed to give up and give in? We’re all going to die anyway. Why keep fighting?

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