The Off Button


I have been suicidal for years, but it is not always what you would think.

I don’t make attempts at suicide or even self harm anymore. I no longer make cries for help, instead I ask for help, or hide away until it passes. I haven’t written a suicide note in over 15 years.

But sometimes I am looking for the off button all day.

In the past I would numb the pain with alcohol or drugs or sex or shopping or even eating. Sometimes it is an emptiness rather than pain, and I would fill myself with those same vices just trying to feel something real. Now I try to shift these feelings by writing or through art or distracting myself with pretty things, or movies or exercise.

I like to think that I would never kill myself because I know what it’s like to be left behind. I know what it’s like to have one person’s actions fuck you up for the rest of your life, to have someone make you one of life’s victims, and I wouldn’t want to be that person to anyone else. I don’t want to hurt my family like that, or my friends.

I will always try to get help. I promise. And I don’t often make promises because I believe they are usually made to be be broken, like rules, no matter your best intentions. But this time I mean it.

I think about suicide and dying a lot. Sometimes I have to hide all the medication in my house, make it that much harder to get at. Some days I have to blot out the shrill singing of knives and sharp objects. Some nights I have to take my scarf off because I start wondering what I could tie it to that would take my weight long enough that I could hang myself. Sometimes I have to hide myself away to stay alive.

I don’t self harm any more because I don’t want to hurt myself. What was once a release from emotional pain now feels like a betrayal. I want to respect my body, to protect it. The pain I would feel would only be made greater in knowing that I had hurt myself again. The shame I would feel would only make me feel worse. It is no longer an option. But I still think of it often.

I could be suicidal any hour of any day of this week and you would never ever know.

We walk among you looking and acting ‘normal’, not so much the living dead as the dying inside.

Often the greatest pain is private, shameful, secret, tucked away. We keep you safe and protect you from ourselves. Those are the days that, on reflection, I think I am most courageous. Speaking out when you are feeling strong enough is easy, hiding your pain when you feel weak is much harder.

Yes it takes courage to speak out, but it also takes courage to secret away your pain so you can function and and protect the people around you from this devastating, soul sucking parasite of an illness.

I noticed last week that it had been 3 weeks of daily walking over the bridge by the river and I hadn’t once thought about throwing myself in. It has been a long time since I could consider that the norm, and it made me feel really happy and proud.

I don’t feel like a danger to myself. I just badly want to be well or stable or to feel less deeply sometimes. Sometimes it is my will to live a good life that makes my life so painful and unbearable. Which means I find myself suicidal but desperately wanting to live, just as a different person, or version of myself.

Most people who truly want to die actually kill themselves. The rest of us seek help at the last minute or before we take drastic action, because we want to live, we just don’t want to live in the pain anymore. We don’t want to give up on this one chance at life, we’re just looking for the off button.



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