Saturday, October 20, 2012


It's that time of year again.  

Burnt orange leaves are my drive through Tennessee.  Gray, windy days are the cold blanket around me as I walked the streets of Nashville in my own private bubble of pain.  

The songs I played, the food I ate, the view from my downtown hotel:  all vivid memories that start to replay when the weather turns like this.  

And then there's last night, when I'm watching the new show Nashville on ABC, unprepared for each shot of the city's sights to be a trigger.  

I was thinking drama...and romance...and country music...

Instead, the characters walk the Shelby Street Bridge, and I'm back on it

I'm staring into the water wondering how many people have looked over this same ledge, wanting to end it.  

So I go back, but I don't.   At least, not all the way in.  There's a dividing line you have to create, where you can open the door and look in the room, but not shut yourself in there.  I don't want to remember what that feels like.  

A few months have gone by now in which I don't think about killing myself every day.  I wasn't sure life would ever surpass my secrets and my plans.  Yet, here I am.  

Every day I talk to people who are exactly where I was, sometimes to an eerie degree.  

The other day I worked with a man who had gone from independence and a career ... to losing everything and living in chronic pain that hurts with each step he takes.  He didn't see any hope for his situation to change, couldn't remember what it was like to be proud of his life.  

It felt familiar.  

Trapped without a way out, abandoned by your friends, betrayed by those you love...everyone thinks they're above suicide, until suddenly it becomes the most rational option you can think of.  

The question is: how do we survive our own minds with the torture of constant pain?  

How do we hold onto the 1/10th of 1 percent that wants to believe that the pain might someday end, when 99.99999% of our brain is trying to kill us?  

Do we gamble on the unknown that is the future, or wear the certainty of death?  

Thankfully, thankfully, the future is always a mystery.  Thankfully, I found a way to hold on during the 1/10th.  

"Faith is the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark."  

-Rabindranath Tagore


  1. I find it so interesting... when people can get distant enough from the idea of suicide, they talk about being alive as something they are grateful for... I still haven't reached that stage. I'm still on that phase (I don't know if everybody goes through that) when I just wait. Eventually the desire to kill myself fades away and I can function again, but I still cannot feel glad for that. Your post has been helpful. It tells me that maybe one day I may reach that next stage.

    1. "Just wait." You're right, that's exactly what it is...waiting for the balance to tip from 'going through the motions' to actually enjoying certain aspects of life again. Sometimes there isn't much to be grateful for, and it's pure endurance. I would contemplate the idea that, 10 years from now, all of the pain would be a distant memory and life might actually be good. But in the meantime, in the meantime...

  2. I really love that paragraph "Burnt orange leaves..." and the one about the dividing line...had to read those several times.

    This is good stuff--I think the sort of thing I would like to read when I'm in that space of hopelessness...I can tell sometimes when I try to say positive things to people or proactive things and it hits this wall of invalidation and I can feel that I've made things worse, and made them feel even lonelier. When I'm in that space and people say chirpy things to me I dig my heels into my negativity and argue for everything it's worth about why I can't do those things...but 1/10th of 1 percent, that would be something doable to focus on.

    1. "Wall of invalidation" is a good way to describe it. The first thing we want to know from others is: do they understand me? When people try to will us into positive feelings, it only alienates us further.