Content warning: In this post I talk a lot about Suicide and a bit about Depression. If you think this will cause you any upset, pain or trigger any trauma, please don’t read it. This post has pretty much nothing to do with sex.
Those of you who were brave enough to read my Fuck the Pain Away post will know I’ve been going through some difficult life events recently, including the suicide of a family member. This isn’t the first death of this nature in my bloodline. My grandfather ended his own life five or six years ago now (this is my other grandfather, not the one with bipolar I mentioned in my depression and motivation post). He had attempted suicide at least twice previously, that I am aware of, but knowing the protective nature of my mother, it’s likely there were more attempts that I have been shielded from. One attempt I know about was from before I was born. With the recent grief still tornadoing around my mind, I am keenly aware that I have inherited this darkness.
Do you ever feel like external things in your life seem to echo back to you how you are feeling? Death and Suicide seem to surround me at the moment, from taking my niece to see Mary Poppins Returns (who knew that would be about the death of a parent?) to a colleague at work wanting to share stories from her suicide awareness training course.
I recently watched a TV show called “Flowers”. I didn’t know what it was going to be about, but it was on my recommended list on Netfilx and I wanted to try a new show. The synopsis on Nexflix just said “Between a troubled marriage, a senile granny and twin siblings constantly in rivalry, a crumbling household struggles to barely keep it together”. I love shows about inter-personal relationships, and that’s what this show sounded like it was going to be about. The opening scene is a middle aged man, speaking a funny rhymed storey in the style of books for small children, while he goes to a tree and hangs himself.
I had no idea this was going to happen. Rather than turn it off and try to escape to a place that didn’t remind me of my own darkness, I watched the whole series (there are only 6 episodes). The branch of the tree snaps and the man survives, and the rest of the plot is him trying, and failing, to communicate with his wife what happened and what he is going through. In the very last episode he finally manages to articulate it to her by recording it on a tape that she listens to. Here’s what he says:
“I love you. I love you. I’m sorry that I’m coward and that I’m not a good husband to you and that I’m not a good father to our kids and that I’m such a difficult part of your life. I’m sorry for lying to you about my mother, because my mother didn’t try to hang herself. I tried to hang myself, in our garden and I didn’t know how to tell you, so here I am. On a fucking tape. Which is not how I wanted to do it. And just please know that I’m not unhappy because of you, I’m just… this is just who I am and I don’t know how to change that. I don’t know how… what I can do to make it stop – every morning I wake up and the first thing I think is of killing myself. I feel exhausted all of the time. I find it impossible to gain any kind of pleasure from anything even when I think of the things that should make me the happiest; when I think of our love, of our children and everything that we’ve ever done together. It’s as if I had a set amount of life assigned to me and I’ve used it all up. There’s nothing left.”
I found myself silently crying, not so much because the subject was sad, but because I could relate, so much. I think there’s often a perception that suicide is an act of extreme, violent emotion, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s the act of complete exhaustion. I’ve spoken about this before in one of my other posts about depression. This is what I said:
I tried to kill myself a couple of times. I was very young. Fourteen or fifteen perhaps. I didn’t have a bad life. Nothing awful had happened to me yet. I’d just lost any sense of joy. I didn’t feel any despair about it at all. If anything, I just couldn’t think of another solution. It just felt practical to me.
I can never know the true motivations, or exactly how any other person feels when they make the decision to end their own life, but to hear another writer put down in words (and then in to the voice of an actor) how I have felt in the past, made me feel comforted. I think as complex emotional creatures, it is so important to see misery and darkness in artwork, so we know that we are not alone. Other people get it.*
I was lying in bed one morning, next to my sleeping husband and I realised how deeply in love I am. This realisation came about not through a warm feeling inside or euphoric joy, but simply because for the first time in my adult life I was sure, really 100% certain, that I did not want my life to end. Lying there, my arm over my warm, sleeping friend, I knew that I wanted to always be there for him, to support him and love him. The idea of leaving him alone, with the grief of my death, was far more painful to me than any depression.
Is that fucked up? That my way of feeling romantic love is not wanting to die? Maybe. But I think everyone has a different way of articulating the love they feel for another person. All I know is that I used to often fantasise about my life ending (not necessarily suicide), with a kind of comforting curiosity, but those kinds of fantasies come to a crashing, painful halt when I think of my husband. Love is a complicated thing.
So here I am. Not suicidal. More in love than I’ve ever been.
The darkness is still there, it’ll always be there. However much I try to medicate or meditate it away, it’s just a fundamental part of who I am. I don’t know who I would be without it.
What I do know, though, is that I am strong. I am resilient. So much has been thrown on my shoulders recently and I am still functioning. I stand up tall, my teeth gritted and my fists clenched, and I say to myself “your life is good. Horrible, sad and fucked up shit is happening right now, but fundamentally your life is good.”
*There are many sex bloggers, aside from myself, who have written about mental health. Sassy Cat 3000 has now launched a project called sex bloggers for mental health which you can find here or look for the #SB4MH on Twitter.