Sunday, September 9, 2012

Before the Fall

I felt the familiar feeling of September again. Of darkness. Of death. That hint of chill in the air that signals the onset of fall, that tells us that the life around us will soon be dying, the light around us steadily shrinking. The warm months are the times of anxiety, but the cold is for depression. Calmer, harsher, deeper.

But there's fear, too, as the world washes out.I tried to kill myself in late September 2006, with its subtle bite, and I still recall the days of rain that met me as I turned to meet the world my failure left. It's not that the actual attempt was particularly traumatic, mechanically; I was quite cautious, too cautious, because I knew it had to be all or nothing with as little distress to anyone else as possible.

But there's still something to being in a state where you knew that if someone gave you a red button labeled "death" you'd push it without hesitation for days straight. Most of my fantasies about suicide are ephemeral, coming and going as stress rises and falls. Even in the years where I was miserable incessantly, I would still have periods where I would rise to hope that perhaps someday, somehow there would be change. But that September was the furthest I ever went, settling on a day, a place, a method, writing out multiple notes with instructions on how to deal with whatever small things I left behind (to, again, try to lessen the blow to those who remained), and then plunging into it with the full and mitigated desire to end my existence. It's not just wanting to die but sustaining the desire and trying to die.

And every Fall, part of me slips back into it. It's nice, in some ways: I like the softness of depression more than the harshness of anxiety. It's falling asleep in the snow and never waking up vs. tearing yourself apart. I like the internal sense of falling, of desolation, of sadness without so much contamination of angst. Mourning instead of wrestling with life and death.

But it hurts, too. Like a scab pulled off too soon, blood slowly pooling. Like perpetual defeat without the ability to surrender. Like the way I felt returning home after the attempt, glumly steeling myself to face a world I wished would be no more.

Things are so much better now, of course. I don't spend entire Saturdays researching ways to kill myself. I don't feel miserable all.the.time. I have more tools to self-correct, if I have the inclination to do so. And, most importantly, I've just changed fundamentally towards my ideal self.

And yet even as I write this, as I ask myself "Do you wish you had succeeded?" it's difficult for me to say "No." The answer to that question changes, of course, and there have been times within the past year where any other answer would seem positively tragic. But that hint of Fall has a razor's edge to it, and as if a siren's song there is still a part of me that wishes it cut deeper.

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