When you can’t give up

I attempted suicide at 16. And I am so glad I did.

The exact reasons for my actions, of course, seem trivial now, as most problems of 16 do to 42. But the underlying emotions are perennial. I was tired. Tired of the drama, the sadness, the struggle of it all. I was staggering under the weight of emotions heavier than I could bear, and I didn’t really have a hand to guide me through them. My feelings were trivialized by those I shared them with. All around me I saw nothing but sadness, despair, and a drudging sameness to my days, both in the present and as far into the future as my adolescent mind could imagine. Finally, I couldn’t bear it anymore. And I tried to excuse myself from it all.

I failed. Obviously.

Actually, I chickened out at the last minute and told on myself, and was thus able to get help before the pills I’d taken could do any damage. (They wouldn’t have killed me, but they could have made me quite sick.)

The aftermath was so unpleasant — worse than the suffering that brought me to the point of self-destruction in the first place — that I vowed never again to attempt suicide unless I knew for certain I would succeed. And here I am.

The intervening years have brought their own pain, of course. Sufferings I could not yet imagine at 16. Despair so deep I believed I would never make it through to the other side. Then, later, despair I had to slog through knowing things would get better but not knowing when, which I think is even more cruel.

Through all of this, that escape plan would flicker through my mind. Sometimes idly. Sometimes fervently. But, ultimately, my self-doubt would win. I wasn’t convinced I would do it properly, and I never again wanted to survive an attempt. So you could say that had I not tried and failed at such a young age, I might not be here today.

And that would be a shame, because no matter how low I am at a particular moment, at least I’m here to experience the good things.

The good things are also something I could not imagine at 16. Perhaps I couldn’t even have appreciated them then. Maybe I had to suffer as I have suffered to truly experience the joys I have been blessed with.

Still, there is an added stubbornness to my outlook these days as a result of my experiences. There is no out. I am here for the duration. And I have had my fill of suffering. I will not settle. I am forever seeking ways to improve my life.

For years I have recognized, privately, the anniversary of my attempt. Even when I wasn’t really glad that I was unsuccessful, it still felt like a birthday of sorts. Deciding you want to live is a milestone, I suppose. And recently I realized that I’d done just that: Decided to live. Once you’ve made your mind up about that, you have your work cut out for you.

If I have to be here, I will not give up until I am happy — here and now, not someday in the distant future.

 

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