Trigger warning: Discussion of suicide and thoughts about personal choice in this matter.
A little while ago, G and I were discussing death and losing people. I asked her if she was worried about me killing myself. She said she worried every day about that. She was upset with me. Upset that I cannot, much as I would like to, ever fully relieve her of that fear.
A little while later we spoke again. She said that she knew that she was being selfish, and that she wouldn’t truly wish me to live if it is more than I can bear. It was such a beautiful, generous sentiment. I’m not sure that I could be so gracious in her position.
I do believe that a person (if they are rational) has the right to end their own life if they choose. But I also know that if it came to the crunch with someone I care about, I would (quite literally) kick the door down to prevent it from happening. What’s the matter, you never seen a hypocrite before?
Anyway, it got me thinking about responsibility. I’m really big on responsibility. I always try to do the right thing. I pay my debts (GoT reference intended). I take care of people. I try to do my job well. I try to live a moral life. I try not to hurt people. Except for this. Because sometimes it is too hard and too painful and I don’t care how much I’m going to hurt people, I just want it to stop. And, I wonder, if I use mental illness as an excuse. If I’m certifiable then I can’t be held responsible for my actions. Get out of jail free. And, of course, I won’t have to suffer the aftermath, because I won’t be around (if all goes to plan). But, then again, is it fair to live a life of excessive pain and suffering just so as not to hurt other people?
I don’t have any answers. But I do know that I have been living in denial about the impact my suicide would have on other people. Whether that is a lack of self-esteem, or a wilful rejection of the facts in order to lessen my own guilt, I am not sure. Oddly, while this does feel something of an additional burden, it is not as heavy as I expected. Because there is a certain satisfaction in taking responsibility for one’s actions and one’s life. Marsha Linehan teaches that in order to have a life worth living, we must in the long-term live in accordance with our values and beliefs. And I guess suicide would not be in line with mine.
So, my darling G, what can I do or say to relieve you of your daily burden? I’m not sure. I can tell you that I’m not suicidal right now. I can tell you that I haven’t been determinedly suicidal for over a year now (a brief foray into the Clinical Decisions Unit at Easter, I am counting as a tactical choice to stay safe). I can tell you that on a day to day basis suicide doesn’t even cross my mind. I can tell you that, at this moment, suicide seems almost entirely impossible as an ending for me. I wish I could make a vow to never, ever…….. but it would be a lie, because I cannot conjure (thankfully) the thoughts and feelings that rendered me suicidal in the first place. Therefore, I cannot know how I would act if I felt them again. But, just now, they seem so distant as to be almost part of another lifetime.
So, if you are going to worry about me, worry about something else. Like what the hell I am going to have for breakfast now that the supermarket no longer sells crunchy bran cereal. Or why I seem to mysteriously keep bleaching my pillowcases. Or why the hairdresser steadfastly refuses to cut off the annoying sticky up bit of hair at my crown. Because if we both keep worrying about what might be, we are apt to miss out on what actually is. Love you.