Haven’t been writing much at all these past several days, and whenever I do it’s not fun not enjoyable not even good. Really struggling to give a fuck about anything. Been reading this little book about suicide and in one chapter it breaks down in graph form exactly who is most at risk on the basis of medical and psychological conditions and, maybe not surprisingly, people who have previously attempted suicide have their name in the lottery like forty times. Second to that are the people with mood disorders—bipolar, depression, etc. —something like thirty times. I suppose I already knew that was true, though, in a deep, personal way.
This morning after breakfast but before I punched about two hundred words in total apathy I found myself skimming through Anne Sexton’s collected works, reading some of her later poems, again reading Frenzy—one of my favorites of hers—then reading the introduction to the text where it talks about her suicide. She struggled with it for quite some time. That’s what resonated with me this time. I worry that’s how it’s going to be for me.
Suicide really isn’t about one thing in particular, it’s about susceptibility. A lot of different puzzle pieces that finally come together one day and form an image of an exit, death that becomes the only thing you can see, the only solution worth considering.
Doctor K(1)—I told him I was reading the book. Brought it to our last session for something to read. At one point I held it up to show him. He seemed bothered. At the end of our fifty-minute talk, as we were walking out, he suggested I quit reading if things began to worsen. I said okay. In my head I thought about the book’s prologue, a personal anecdote from the author. Her and a good friend were someplace warm and beautiful having dinner, enjoying conversation. They were both manic-depressives, both had experienced times when they felt suicidal, both had even attempted at different times in their lives. But on that particular day everything was sunny and perfect and they promised themselves then that if the other person was going through a rough time, considering suicide, they’d whisk themselves off to the East Coast to a quiet place by the ocean. For a week, the one who wasn’t suicidal would try to persuade the one who was that they’d get through this, they’d get past all of the negative junk and be there for each other until things were safe.
It was a deal. They promised they’d be there for each other. Swore on it. Afterward they must have felt good, warm and fuzzy, like something important—cosmically important—had been accomplished. I imagine the rest of their dinner was accompanied by laughter, good conversation, and a good night following.
That time of crisis eventually arrived for one of them. But there was no phone call, no impromptu rush-flight West Coast to East Coast, no week by the crushing waves of the Atlantic. He killed himself without a word to the other person. Because in the moment, everything—fucking everything—is different.
“Okay,” I told Dr. K. “I’ll stop reading—I’ll call you—if things go wrong. Pinky swear I will.”
(1) Doctor K, CF, Lora, Elle—I just wish everybody would fuck off and get out of my brain already.