TW: Suicidal Ideation
I am not playing chicken with death, it’s more like a game of Marco Polo.
When I am struggling, I call out for it. For a quick fix to this “sad” problem that seems to show up when I least expect it. I could always just rip the blindfold off, stare it straight in its blank face, but I leave it on. I am assured that it’s still there, ever-present beyond the warm blackness of my closed eyes.
The thing is, I don’t want to die. Not really. When I think about suicide, it’s not something I have ever actively planned for. It’s like they say: It’s not like I actually want to die but if a bus hit me that would be pretty great. On not-so-good days, I wish the bus would skip a few stops and hurry the hell up already. On good days, which outnumber the bad by a long shot, I am the most magnificent creature. I am my own wildest dreams as well as my ancestors. I am constantly saving my own life through the skills I’ve learned through therapy and with the help of anti-depressants. Besides those things, which are grossly out of reach for the majority of people who desperately need them but don’t have access due to living in a country that values the poor about as much as worms under their feet, I have a list.
This list is a reason that I choose to stay alive and wait for the awful feelings to fade, and to remain here.
The Moments That Have Saved My Life in No Particular Order:
Coming up from the subway in Japan, sweating and lugging a suitcase with a broken wheel. When I finally emerged into the fresh air, I couldn’t read any of the signs on the buildings. It was the most vulnerable and alive I had ever felt in my life. My testosterone was pumping, and I was worried I wouldn’t find my youth hostel. But I had made it. Being in another country didn’t seem real until that moment. Not when I saw the “Welcome to Japan” sign in Narita airport, not when I bought a ticket for the train and saw parts of Tokyo whizz by. It was that moment of utter bewilderment that cemented me to earth and my body. For someone who disassociates a lot, this was a hell of a wake-up call.
Speaking of Japan, I had no idea what looking at a mountain felt like until I was there. I didn’t have a personal WIFI hotspot, (huge mistake) and would load up a map at my homestay on WIFI, screenshot it, and use that to go exploring. I saw a hiking trail with mountain views about an hour walk away and I headed out. Once I stepped up toward the viewing area, I saw a valley between the mountains, and I couldn’t breathe. My brain couldn’t make sense of what I was seeing. I was convinced that somehow it could fall over, and theoretically, it could with an earthquake or something. I had to try to make sense out of it, but I crept forward toward the viewing area. I felt like I was in church. In a holy place. The world is so very large, and it is terrifying and wonderful.
I’ve loved a lot of people in a short time. I’m 31 on the day I am writing this, and I am realizing just how very young that is. The day I met someone I would later fall in love with, and even later become one of my closest friends, I thought the whole world stood still. I was doing a listicle story for a college paper that I would never actually finish about coffee. I was in my second coffee shop of the day. I parked my bike, walked in, and there he was behind the counter. I still don’t know what it was but have you ever saw someone, and you just KNOW? Almost as if you had met them before. Looking back on that day, and the years thereafter, I cannot believe how lucky I was. That, in all the terrible things life has thrown me, I could also experience those dizzying, aching, tender feelings. To know that in this life, such a wonderful experience is possible and that it could happen again in different ways with different people, has soothed me.
The first time I came from partnered sex with another woman. I would like for my soul to be ripped out over and over and over again. Coming out as queer and having queer relationships has been one of the last pieces, I needed to really step into who I am as a person. Everything makes a little more sense now that I have finally come home to who I am.
At a joint birthday and graduation party, my friends and I all dressed up like Keanu Reeves in different movies. This would be one of the last, large gatherings I would have with this friend group before COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders. I love celebrating my birthday. I don’t understand those who scoff at their own birthdays, noses tossed in the air when the date looms closer. I love having a day where I’m special. Maybe because it was a permeable target for me to focus on myself healing on.
Toward the end of the party, one of my best friends made a speech about me. About the kind of friend, I was and in celebration of me. I don’t know if I cried, I was pretty drunk, but it moved me, nonetheless. I never thought I would have close friends, but that moment reminded me of all the good that there is in this life.
Floating on my back in a pool in Florida. The stars were out, and I felt like I had traveled to space. I had only figured out how to float a few years prior. Since I still cannot swim, and often dream of dying in a tsunami, this moment felt like magic. Now when I dream of calm water, I can swim like a fish.
While this list is rather short, I like to look back at it. I like marveling at all that is possible while I am still alive. And all that can still happen. When I am feeling like ripping my blindfold off, I remind myself that I am worth giving it a shot. That when it feels like nothing will ever feel good again, that things have in fact, felt really fucking good.
I don’t think my depression is something that I can fully heal from. It’s here to stay and that isn’t so bad. Learning to manage it instead of hope that it would blow away like a wisp of smoke is how I win. It’s how I keep giving myself chances for moments.