I was eleven the first time I thought about killing myself. I perched on the side of the tub in the bathroom with no locks, clutching a razor that had been left there. I felt the weight of years of shame and mockery. Of never fitting in. Of having it constantly pointed out.
I had come home that day, as I’d done so many days before, to a house that had the name the kids at school called me burned into the side by shaving cream. I thought about how my little sister had needed to defend me at the local pool. About how every day was full of shame and fear. And I thought about how little chance I had to change it all — I was only a kid and we were living in a small town. I couldn’t transfer schools, I couldn’t move, and I couldn’t figure out how to make my peers treat me like a person.
I held the razor against my wrists and traced the lines of my veins through my pale skin. I thought about how much it would hurt, and how my mom would have to clean it up. I thought about the fact that the razor had been there for months and would be there tomorrow. So I put it down and I went to bed.
Eventually, we moved (back) to The City. I went to a school full of weird kids. I learned that it was okay. I learned that I could make friends. I learned a little of what it meant to stand up for myself. Things got better.
I was thirty-three years old the last time I thought about killing myself. I sat in the middle of my studio apartment in Brooklyn, tears streaking down my face, and I thought about the sharpest knife in my kitchen and the pain killers in my medicine cabinet.
I thought about the months leading up to that day and how I’d become completely isolated. I thought about how I’d become a source of ire for so many people. I thought about the ways in which I’d become a financial and emotional burden to family and friends. And I thought about how I couldn’t see an exit. I had tried so hard to fix things, to resolve the problem, and nothing had worked. I thought about how much better off everyone would be in world without me and my problems.
I thought about that kitchen knife and I put my hands on the floor. And then one of my cats brushed my leg, and I wondered what would happen to them. I thought about how unfair it would be to make anyone in my family deal with them. I thought about how they could end up in a shelter. I lifted my hands to my face and I cried. Then I got up, washed my face, and went to bed.
Eventually, I was able to get the problem solved. I settled in a new place. I bought furniture. I rebuilt my life. Things got better.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold…
There have been a handful of incidents between those two. There will probably be more, someday. Today, I feel good. I feel strong, capable, and ready to face the world. Tomorrow, I might feel otherwise. I am not the only person going through this. And when things do fall apart for us, we aren’t thinking selfishly. We generally don’t fail to understand that we’re loved. That the people who love us will have to grieve and be caused pain; we believe that they are better off mourning us than having to deal with us.
Sometimes, things get better. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes one tiny thought is all it takes to pull us back from the brink. Sometimes it’s not.
I will never be cured. But today, I think I’ll be okay.