A truth about suicide

Until you have danced intimately with death in the way those of us who have faced suicide head on, you cannot fathom the thought processes, feelings, and utter lack of desperation that it entails, particularly as an adult.

Depression and suicidality are not demons.   They are a way of life for many.  When we decide to end this whole breathing thing, we’re following up on a plan that we’ve had in place for a while.  And, no, we’re not going to tell you about it.

It’s been just over a year since I last tasted metal.  It was a day I was done.  Just fucking done.  I’ve been there before.  I first tried to kill myself when I was very young.  I tried more than once as a child.  Then, I was desperate. Desperate to get away, to leave what I knew just wasn’t right.  To escape physical pain, to find some peace without fear, to be in a place where I was wanted or at least a place where it was clear I wasn’t.  To not be afraid of the person I wasn’t supposed to be afraid of.  To not feel abandoned by those who weren’t supposed to do that.

There was none of that desperation a year and a half ago.  There was exhaustion, the kind that unless you know it, you can’t possibly understand it.  The kind where you’re just. done.  And, I told no one.  I told my favorite tree and rock.  They would have gracefully absorbed what I bled out–blood, body, blessed being and held them as long as necessary. But I didn’t share with a single human.

I told no one because when I’ve told in the past, I was punished for it, excoriated and then ignored.

I told no one because there isn’t anyone who could hear me or see me.  There are those who see me as avatar and can’t understand the human-ness that actually is.  There are those who don’t see me as avatar but can’t see me at all.  They want to see me fit into their image of who and how I should be.  And, well, there’s the belief I shouldn’t be in the state of wanting to die–actually not just wanting to die as if waiting for it but willing to complete the act that makes it happen.

I told no one because the need to respond to inappropriate responses sucks as much life out as does a Luger round.  I told no one because ‘be here now’ really means be here as I want to see you and/or me.

I told no one because we denigrate the ‘cry for attention’ as if the desire for attention & connection is ‘just’ a ‘thing’, a mere thing without meaning or necessity. As a egoic tantrum, selfish fluff requiring responsibility–be it action or fucking inaction from us. We give little credence every day to what meaningful attention to others actually means but we’ll seek mindfulness of & for ourselves.

I told no one because as much as we want our lives to be like others, we really don’t.  We can’t get there, even when we try to emulate bits.  Whether that person is a neighbor, celebrity, or guru.  And as much as we like to think we can understand most things, we truly can’t begin to grasp other things.  There’s no one that can understand the toll it takes to move through the universe in this fashion except those who live within that came before. And we talk to each other all the time.

I told no one because if you won’t hear or listen me on a great day, you won’t on a shitawful one.  I told no one because false attachments are easier than real relationships and, in the end, have no real meaning.  I told no one because I wasn’t afraid.  I wasn’t being beset by demons or darkness.  I was fully in me.  In the shits.  Thinking that I was just.done.

I’ve a very interesting relationship with death.  It neither frightens nor interests me.  It just is part of living, as inevitable as drawing breath until that moment you don’t. There isn’t an attachment or anticipation related to any particular outcome.  I walk with and speak to those who no longer breathe every day.  I know there is nothing final about death.

I’m not quite sure why I chose not to pull the trigger.  I didn’t. I slept.  I woke up with the Ruger right next to me.  Kinda grinned. Put her away and started the day by deciding to make myself homeless.  That’s how some of us do this living thing–we think about dying.  We don’t need healing because there’s nothing fucking wrong with us.  We don’t live with demons or in the dark. It’s just part of us. A part you can’t understand.  It’s always there and sometimes some days were just.fucking.done. Some of us have the glorious capacity to take that knowing–at every level–and see into another’s heart and bring them to tomorrow.

I’ve danced this thing with death before.  I’ll do it again, I’m sure.  And, when someone makes their way to me and says “I want to die”, I can say, “I know.  Let’s just get you to tomorrow.”

You can do the same thing.  You can accept responsibility for another. You can knock on a neighbor’s door and say, “Hi.  I’ve lived next to you a long time but I don’t know you.  I’d like to do that.”  You can volunteer for suicide hotlines or participate in NAMI.  You can broaden your church’s reach from ministering to outreach.  You can give the homeless guy on the corner some cash without judging what he might spend it on.  You can mentor a child.  You can read to others.  You can hold a dying person’s hand.  You can listen–truly listen–with an open heart and not an expectation of how another should appear to be to you.   Don’t sit on your ass and send peace or love.  Act it.  Engage openly, honestly.  Connect, communicate, relate.  It may save your life and theirs.







So how does this healing stuff work, exactly?

A woman who called the other day to see about scheduling an appointment asked that question.   She’s feeling like one hot mess and wanted to know if I could help.   She’d heard about me through local gossip (free marketing, anyone?) and wanted to know how this “stuff” works, “exactly”.

I dunno exactly.  Here’s what I do know.

There is nothing wrong with you.

You may feel all sorts of things.  You may feel afraid, anxious, awkward, addicted, alone, angry, compulsive, impulsive, enraged, exhausted, depressed, downtrodden, delusional, disorganized, dissociated, lonely, spent, sleep-drived, sad, stuck, annoyed, paranoid, grief-stricken, spent, out-of-whack, wonky, weird, panic-stricken, pissed off, pissed upon, distressed, disturbed, dis-ordered. disconnected, discombobulated, dis-eased, uneasy, uninterested in everything and everyone around you, moody, mad, masochistic, irritated, irrational, inattentive, hypervigilant, hyperactive, startled, sad, guilty, traumatized, spaced-out, stunted, stunned, stressed, suicidal, rage-filled, and, frankly, just generally fucked up.  You’re dealing with some serious shit. It’s your crap and yours alone to try to figure out.

But these things, these feelings are not you.  They are of you, sure.  They are sometimes of others (figure that one out, eh?).   You are dealing with them (or notsomuch as is often case) in the best way you know how.  You feel these things. They suck.  They make you feel like you suck.  However, you are not them.  There is nothing wrong with you. And you do not suck.

Once you know that, once you decide that, you will recognize all the tools you need to heal, to release these feelings that are holding you back, are within you.  It’s simple really.  Not necessarily easy. But simple.  I say that it is simple but not necessarily easy for a couple reasons.  First, frankly, we get used to these feelings.  As uncomfortable as they may be, they often become our comfort zone.  They  help shape our day, our relationships, our responses to life-stuff.  We get used to them and like having at least one reliable thing in the midst of the fuckedupedness.  Others get used to them.  And, despite all the blah-blah about change being good, life being change, a lot of folks don’t know how to and don’t want to.  Change, that is.   Again, though, there is nothing inherently wrong with that.  Some people say it’s wrong, assign it the ‘wrong’ label, but really, it just is.  The second goes back a few sentences to ‘others get used to them’.

What other people think or expect of us has an impact on us that we often don’t realize.  Others might not be comfortable or understand our erratic behavior, frightening mood swings, inability to move farther than the couch, or need for the booze.  However, folks at least have a glimpse of what is going on if we say, “I have PTSD” or “I’m depressed.”  The labels connect them to a definition or label that may not entirely explain your experience but can lessen their fear and open their hearts.   It helps them define you.  They, too, become comfortable in that and become afraid of your own change because they face being in a place of fear again.

There is no need to be afraid.  You have all of the answers within you.  And, it’s time to get right with you.

Same client said, “That’s such a freakin’ cliche, Ingrid. I don’t buy that.”  Well, it may be a cliche.  It may be tired.  You may be sick of hearing it but odds are you’re hearing it for a reason.  This cliche is true.  You can’t fully do for others until you can deal with you. All of your glorious, beautiful fuckedupedness.

Client says, “What the hell do you know about this?”  Me: “Been there. Done that.”

I first tried to kill myself sometime while I was in elementary school (maybe before?). I won’t go into details about that part of my story because I don’t want to hurt others but I decided that I didn’t want to be in this world because something wasn’t right.  It wasn’t right that I was afraid all the time.  It wasn’t right that I hurt all the time.   However, as most kids do, I survived.  Sort of.  I mean, I continued to breathe.  After the attempt and through the next few years.

Then I got older and attempted again as a teenager.  And again.  And each time I survived still trying to understand why I didn’t fit in, why I was still here, why no one heard me and why no one could see what was happening.  When all those crappy feelings that I didn’t know how to deal with me caught up with me as an adult, things stepped up a notch. I worked myself into the ground, I became an ‘expert’, I worked hard, partied harder, and hit a brick wall in 2004.  I hit that brick wall with all the force of a Mack truck doing 110.  Bertha was in the mouth more than once, finger on the trigger more than once. I took medical leave from my Probation job after my own physician said, “Well, Ingrid, we call this depression” in only the way a brilliant, sarcastic mind who knows that you know what’s going on can do.

In all of this, I knew things were really, really, incredibly messed up beyond description. FUBARed beyond FUBAR. And as I tried to figure out why I was here, what the heck was going on with me, why I was ready to blow the back of my head off but didn’t really want to, I had to explain it over and over to people.  And each person said something slightly different: “You’re Depressed.”  “You’re Bi-Polar.” “You are really ill.” “You are what we call a PTSDer.  A Complex PTSDer (as if that made it all the more special).”

After two shrinks, four therapists, I finally decided I wasn’t what they thought I was.  I might have been feeling whacked out in more ways than one but I knew that each time someone else tried to pigeon-hole me as a way of understanding me, they got it wrong.

As soon as I decided I was a beautiful disaster that could fix my own-damn-self (dammit!), things changed.  Immediately.  IBS symptoms gone after I decided that caffeine, wine, and nicotine were the causes. Cut those out, cut out IBS.  Cut out the suicidal ideation because I didn’t really want to die.  Sometimes felt like it but didn’t really want to.  Left the husband that I’d talked about leaving for over a year within two weeks, moved 1700 miles to one of the most spectacular places on the planet, and have watched the beautiful disaster morph into a wondrous woman (if I do say so my own-damn-self!) who’s been given an amazing Gift.

I have been there.  Walked the darkest path, sunk into the deepest depths and thrived!! I am the most blessed of all people.  And I am grateful beyond words that I was kept here to be able to do what I do.

This “stuff” work because when you are ready, when you decide that it’s time to let go of all that  holds you back and no longer serves you, the tools come to you clearly.  I am simply one of them.  When I am with you and I breathe and connect to the Divine (however you define that) , I am a tool, a facilitator that allows what you need to release to just go.  It’s that simple.  And, yes, this part really is that easy.

When those things that no longer serve you leave; when you’re not holding on to them, you begin to experience the world and all of its challenges in a different manner.  Those emotions? You still feel them but they don’t define you.  You feel them, acknowledge them and let them go.  As you do, you grow. As you grow into the new experience of life, those things that do serve you just come to you.  In magnificent ways.    This is the healing process.  Maybe I should call it growth process instead, no?

When you’re ready, just get to me.

“I’m careful about miraculous stuff, but for a very real, straight up, down to earth gal, she shares a remarkable undefinable gift with her clients.”  Sandy C, Delaplane, VA (09/17/09)