This may be a dark post. Therefore, I’m issuing a potential Trigger Alert for those with depression, those who have made attempts in the past, or may otherwise be at higher risk of an attempt currently or in the future. I don’t want this post to become the last straw or final motivation for anyone; in fact, that’s exactly what I’m trying to prevent.
World Suicide Prevention Day came and went. I only knew about it because 1) I was awake, and 2) I was on Twitter.
As usual, I’m late to the “party”, but on that day, my own thoughts came back to haunt me, even if their presence was a mere whisper. It wasn’t sitting on my shoulder, egging me to “do it”, but a few memories and their emotions made their presence known. And that day, I began to develop my thoughts on this subject from my newly-realized spectrum perspective.
And today, I’ll share them with you. Wide-open and brutally honest, here’s a peek at my deepest insides: thoughts of suicide as influenced by my Asperger’s/autism. I write this because EVERY day should be World Suicide Prevention Day. ❤
I have made 2 halfway attempts that I can recall. I haven’t made an attempt in a long time. Thus, I think I’m “safe” writing about this topic. But then, who really knows?
What we do know is that statistics connecting Asperger’s/autism and suicide are grim. Several probably-well-meaning websites oh-so-helpfully point that out to us.
As if we didn’t already know.
“Why, oh why?” they cry. For them, to commit suicide is to carry out the Ultimate Unthinkable.
They fumble for fingers to point, icons to blame, influences to nail to a cross.
Isolation usually ends up at the top of the “Most Wanted” list. But for me, it goes deeper than that. Other emotions come into play, too.
I think back to the times where I’ve been “on the brink”. Where it took everything I had not to grab my keys and drive my truck off a bridge. Examining the building-up of those thoughts and emotions is where the key to Suicide Prevention lies. It’s not in ribbons and slogans. It’s not in uplifting memes. It’s not with crosses or in churches. It lies in the people themselves, before they pass the Point of No Return.
When I think back to those “on the brink” days, I remember a torrent. “Isolation” doesn’t begin to cover it. The following feelings would swirl and snarl, twisting in knots and fusing together, morphing into each other like nightmarish chameleons, only to splinter apart again in a heavy mind-fogging mist, and so are written in no particular order.
Usually, there was a feeling of “being stuck or trapped” at various points in my life. Maybe I had been lied to–again–and yet, there was no easy way to terminate the relationship, because I was dependent upon that person (made even more difficult by the fact that my dependence on them was unrealized).
Or maybe it was yet one more person who accused me. Someone who said, “you always…”, “you never…”, “you don’t…”, or “you tend to…”. Someone who fell through, who backtracked, who reneged. Someone who betrayed me. Someone who turned my life upside down. And yet, someone who had me by the wrists. I was trapped. Surrounded. Locked in. Blocked. No escape. My first instinct is to run, and when running isn’t possible, my other instinct is to Disappear For Good.
Usually, there was a feeling of helplessness. Problems so enormous and so insurmountable that I didn’t see a way out. Usually more than one problem; usually multiple. And they circled and weaved. And they loomed, giant, filling up my entire field of vision. I had no support. I had nothing to lean on. There seemed to be nothing I could do.
Usually, there was a feeling of alienation. This goes deeper than the way I understand isolation. It’s a profoundly sad and hopeless feeling of “no one understands”, coupled with “…and I have no way to explain”. There are times when I can’t express what I’m thinking or feeling. Sometimes, I need to, but I just can’t. I need the other person to know, but I have no way of explaining it to them. There are other times when I could express what I’m thinking or feeling, but it would be lost on the other person. Either they couldn’t understand, or if they could, they would refuse to.
This then leads to a feeling of insignificance. As though somehow I’m not important. What I need doesn’t matter, doesn’t count. I wasn’t worth the consideration. I wasn’t worth the effort. I wasn’t worth the time, the energy, or the financial investment (such as, for example, in counseling). It doesn’t matter that I begged. It doesn’t matter that I pleaded. It doesn’t matter that I cried. It doesn’t matter that I lost all self-respect as I verbally and emotionally groveled at the other person’s feet. Words are like daggers through the chest cavity; I’ve had them literally slump me down at times.
There’s also a feeling of regret. I’m sorry that I said or did something. I’m sorry I entered into an unhealthy relationship. I mourn the months or years spent liking, loving, trusting, and/or depending on that person. Those months or years are lost, and I grieve for them, because I will never get them back. (Cue the feeling of being “stuck/trapped”).
Then there’s the feeling of self-denigration. As if to say, “well, I’m not worth anything better anyway. Why do I get caught up in these situations, or with these types of people? Maybe it’s all my fault. Maybe I’m just unlovable. Maybe I’m damaged. Maybe I’m screwed up for life.” There’s also the incompetence line: “Maybe I’m incapable of forming and maintaining a healthy connection…”
And then finally, “…maybe it’s just as well.”
That’s the most dangerous point to reach. “Maybe it’s just as well” signals a finality, a period at the end of a thought-sentence, the last stop or station on a train of thought.
Because if I really wanted to voluntarily depart this earth, I know exactly what I would do. It’s the quickest and most reliable method. It does not fail. It also does not involve pain, nor does it create a gory scene. (That’s the part I’m not going to share, for obvious reasons.) The only reason that I’m still here, day after day, is that I voluntarily choose to be.
And then I would begin to write the Epilogue in my head (another dangerous stage to reach).
What would happen afterward? I reckoned that my soul/spirit would glance down at everyone below, watching them finally come to my rescue, finally say all the loving things they wished they’d said to me before, finally paying me the legitimacy that I had begged so intensely for, but hadn’t gotten.
It would all be for naught, though. They still would never understand. And now, if I’ve departed the physical realm, I would have royally screwed myself by eliminating any opportunity to tell them.
Because the truth is, tomorrow is another day. If today was horrendous, tomorrow might not be stellar.
But it’s still an opportunity. An opportunity to find mental muscles you didn’t know you had and to pick yourself up and keep moving.
An opportunity to make much-needed changes in life. An opportunity to kick toxic people to the curb, to block certain people from the cell phone, email, or social media. An opportunity to tell someone off, and really let them have the thunderstorm of crap they’ve deserved for so long.
An opportunity to holler, “I’m not going to let them win!” until it echoes perpetually.
An opportunity to enter counseling, or if in therapy already, to find a better, more constructive therapist.
An opportunity to go back to school, land a better job, separate from an absent, distant, or abusive partner (or parents, for those who live with them), or infuriating roommates, or anyone else.
An opportunity to make pivotal decisions.
A line from Anne of Green Gables (both the book and the movie) stuck with me, since I was a child; the really-nice teacher told Anne something along the lines of, “tomorrow is another day; with no mistakes in it.” That line gave me a fresh look, because that teacher was right. Tomorrow is still fresh and clean, unblemished, untainted. Tomorrow will be here soon enough. There are no mistakes unless I make them. I have more power than I realize.
But I know that I’ll always be vulnerable. The Invisible Divide that separates me from the rest of the world, that often creates a chasm between myself and the other people in my life, that clouds our understanding of each other, and sometimes causes discord, will always be there. Both sides have to work diligently to communicate, which is bidirectional. Both sides have to make the effort to ensure that the needs and desires of each are consistently being met.
And it’s important to remember that being alone is better than being with someone who is emotionally toxic, negative, brings out the worst in you, or otherwise unhealthy. Sometimes, it really is better to be alone.
And as lonely as you may feel, and as lonely as life may seem, remember that you’re not truly alone. No, that’s not some bullshit cliche; there are other people going through something similar right now. I know that it doesn’t help a seemingly-impossible situation. I know that it doesn’t substitute for therapy or other tangible support. But it happens all over, daily.
I firmly believe that we’re never dealt more than we can handle. The situation may seem insurmountable, but it’s not. All you have to do is Keep Going. So if you’re being dealt an incredibly heavy hand or raw deal, that’s actually a testament to your inner strength. That sounds like feel-good crap, I know. But it’s true. Seriously.
All you have to do is Keep Going.