I find it really hard to breathe sometimes. It feels like I am choking on my thoughts.
I don’t usually fantasize about death.
I don’t want to die but to see my body collapse system by system, organ by organ, tissue by tissue, cell by cell, atom by atom, day by day makes me want to think otherwise.
I don’t usually think about killing myself either because I’ve always believed it’s better to have someone else do it for you. I’d convinced myself to gather the apparatus and surround myself with the suasion yet could not incline towards the effort of execution.
But tonight is going to be the night I finally get to lay my hands on myself.
This is supposed to be the last time, the last hit
the last call, the last trip, the last letter.
That’s what I always tell myself.
This is supposed to be the last one, the last two
the last drag, the last you, the last me, the last night.
“This time it’s gonna be different,” I always say, “This time it’s the real me.”
My speech is pressured, erratic, loud, confusing, and brilliant. I don’t recognize myself.
“I don’t want to be that guy with PTSD. Fuck, I don’t want that to be my identity.”
Dear agony, I’m hanging halfway off the balcony, pondering over the triviality of life, awaiting to announce my extinction, with the concerned rationale already mentioned on a piece of paper kept at the center of my desk.
Maybe someone will scream from the sidewalk in front of the school, one hand to their sternum or mouth, the other fixed in an accusatory point.
Maybe a laborer or an administrator will look up at the sky through a slow sigh and see.
Maybe someone will flip out their phone and start recording the next viral video.
Maybe there will be no one, and I’ll be disappointed.
Too often you put on a display for the world, wear a smile till it smothers you and yet smirk your way to the grave.
The mystery of such a departure is art, I thought to myself, for if the living are to know the reason for one’s felo de se by way of a note, then they will first disdain and scorn before they mourn. But dear agony, I would not let them have that pleasure. I would go quietly and orphically.
Within those moments of dangling my feet on the ledge, one step away from obsolescence, I could feel time slipping. My heartbeat rhythmic to each shuffle of thought in my head, moving back and forth between the idea of life and the idea of afterlife.
Time is something we all experience together at a rate of one second per second. But every once in a while you are put in a situation that removes you from the communal passing of time . Your second is not the same as my second. In some fitful moments of clarity, the mind is sharpened and shines a harsh light on the loneliness, on the singularity of your perspective of the world.
Perhaps I was still a stillbirth whose body survived parturition but whose spirit had not made it out of the uterine tomb from which birth is ordinarily the resurrection. I assayed to draw air into my lungs but my throat was already tightly shut out of action. Neither would sound come out nor air stream in. I ripped apart every page in sight and locked down the doors and windows, clenched my eyelids and crumpled myself in the middle of the room, unable to look eye-to-eye with my reflection.
I opened my eyes and gasped in a breath, but nothing came in and I choked on my own dry tongue. There was no air in this obscure room, the lack of oxygen descended on my mind through panic, in desperation I sucked in another breath, burning my lungs with the ferocity that was consuming me.
How one readies for death and yet when it arrives, one moves into self-preservation is an everlasting mystery.
The faint and erratic gashes across my wrist had only been a test to see if I was even there anymore, if I was still subsisting or just extant. I was partly convinced that I would scrape the surface of my skin and nothing would come out. But for the love of Bayes, I decided to attempt the prospect one last time.
Did I still bleed?
Could I really feel anything through the suffocating ache of my loneliness?
A handful of Tylenol PM went down quickly after that. Now sure that I was alive, all I could think about was falling back asleep. The count of days is getting on my nerve because of my inability to find the things I can’t remember losing and sleep seems like a distant reverie.
It seems to be the only thing that can numb the searing emptiness in my chest, that cold hammered stake splitting my soul in two. If I manage to find it, then maybe I could at least dream about being happy again.
Suicide is just another luxury I can not afford.
Death stays with the living.
I sent flowers but you said you didn’t receive.
You said you didn’t need.
Last week this girl would have ignited butterflies in my stomach and a frisson of excitement. Now it’s like my guts are packed with summer dried mud and the strength just left my limbs.
I could feel her absence.
It was like waking up one day with no teeth in your mouth. You wouldn’t need to run to the mirror to know if they were gone.
You said you loved me and I took you at your word, over the years you became part of the bedrock of my personality. I’ve spent much of adult life trying to shake the graft that is you. I wanted to be indistinguishable from you. But now I wanted to cut the cord and set it aflame.
The sooner you realise, the better it is.
Some people are magic, and others are just the illusion of it.
I might be addicted to the darkness of my seclusion from the world, but I can’t rid myself of this figment eating me from inside. The fact that I can’t remember what I’ve forgotten.
I wanted to look for what I’d lost, but I couldn’t figure where to start. And once I started, in hope that if my roving eyeballs catch a sight I might recall what it was, I couldn’t stop. Because I looked through every atom of every object in my vicinity the number of times I count sheep every night, and I still can’t sleep.
What difference does it make anyway? I should probably light a cigarette and head out.
I think I heard a knock at my door. I paused for a few seconds for a second knock to reaffirm I was not hallucinating. Who could it be? I usually don’t have any guests here.
No, I don’t have any guests at all. The last person to have visited me was the landlady, collecting rent. That was the last time I saw another human in this apartment. The rhythmic knocking escalated slowly into soft banging on my door.
“I know you’re in there.” It was Arabella.
I didn’t want to face her, but I could imagine her face peeping in anxiously though the keyhole. Her eyes must have frozen over like the surface of a winter puddle, robbing them of their usual warmth.
She was standing there, and even though she took a huge step back from life, I wanted to reach in and tell her I no longer cover my antecubital to hide my scars, that I’m not a hopeless addict anymore. But she wouldn’t believe me.
I wanted to rekindle her heart but the insides of her being are too damp with uncried tears and mine packed with dried mud.
I resisted the urge to rush to the door and treat my parched eyes with divinity once again.
“That day you just left without saying a word. Are you okay?”
I didn’t answer.
“Please tell me, I’m sure I can help.”
I couldn’t answer.
“Please, open the door! I need to talk to you. I’m worried about you!”
Sometimes, even whispers turn into echoes.
There was a long pause, an unusually long pause. The sobbing was followed by an onrush of tears and loud crying, and my patience was blown to smithereens.
She was weeping, yelling and calling out my name. Sympathy, regret, anxiety and indignation blended to make narcissistic self pity, and I refused to get up. I felt numb.
But all echoes turn into whispers, eventually.
Amidst all the odd self loathing satisfaction, remorse kicked in.
At the end of the day, she’s my best friend and I can’t bear to see her this way. I sprang up with exasperation mesmerizing me, and rushed to the door as if I were to knock it down.
I’d lost my keys.
Where’re the damn keys?
For the nth time, I began tearing my living room apart.
Where could I have left the key? The sense of urgency soon eclipses my short-lived cerebral gratification.
Forget the key, I’d rather break the fucking door!
I try to barge through the door, but either I overestimated my strength, or the door suddenly turned into a wall.
I sprinted towards the window, and ripped the dusty blinds apart for the first time in my lifespan at this apartment. I saw Arabella walking away, and I helplessly watched her stroll out of my life one more time. The window was jammed, but I didn’t give up. I hit the glass in order to break it, yet again I overestimated myself, screaming inadvertently.
As the light from the window illuminated my apartment, I could see the scum I was living with. Once again, I was secluded with my deserted thoughts, my refurbished anxiety, and my insomnia.
Now that she is gone, am I left with any purpose to live? Am I not any different from those low-lives striving to shovel their way through life, achieving nothing and dying in vain?
I sweep the dust away and look for the key, I can no longer stay in this shithole, I want to escape from this reality I call routine. Before people think of me as dead and sign me off as a corpse, I must remind them of my existence. I’d moved up the blinds for the first time in a long time, but why is it so bright all of a sudden? Street lights can’t be that dazzling, and daylight is fainter than my skin in this weather.
I lift the top of the trash can, the insides of which are not any different from me and my apartment, and fish out the refuse from it. I catch a glimpse of that lustrous ring I’d tossed away, with a sense of resurgence.
No, I can’t let those memories haunt me once more. In a trance, I fling the ring away, and it hits the bedroom door, creaking loud enough to get my attention.
Why hadn’t I checked the bedroom before?
I walk in and right there, alongside the door, I find the keys.
Sigh! I curse myself for not thinking about going in earlier, and reluctantly bend to pick it up, when the corner of my eye catches sight of my feet somehow not touching the floor. A quiver runs down my spine—as I look up—to see myself, hanging from the ceiling.
I think I forgot something. But I don’t remember what it was.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. It was right there in front of my eyes, I even recall making a mental note to take it but it somehow slid out of my mind. Now it has been bothering me for a while and I find myself unable to function normally.
I couldn’t sleep last night.
I couldn’t sleep the night before that too.
Not because of my inability to find the things I’ve lost, but because there’s a multitude of thoughts in my head that I’d wish to forget.
Who is to blame anyway? I have been told to stick my head out and tuck some life back into my body, but as a schizophrenic I’m more likely to be an introvert, and an insomniac.
Despite that I have been counting sheep, trying to thrust myself into stargazing a multiverse every night. For months I felt nothing, then slowly, slowly, the unraveling.
But during the day, I just want to remain in a corner of my living room, where a faint voice in my head demands me to bash through the apartment door, shrieking at the top of my lungs and remind the world of my existence, but without finding these things, I can’t afford to go out.
Daylight is an assault. Moving from one room to the other is carnage.
Grief makes children of us all, blindly searching for that which we desperately ache.
The world looks almost fake sometimes. Like the mountains and sky in the distance are a backdrop for a set. A green screen. I hate the places my mind can take me. The places that scream everything is plastic and nothing is real.
Why is it always dark in here?
Why do I feel so cold?
The only light I have in this room is of that static TV I didn’t want to turn off.
There’s no cable, no internet, no cellphone reception and no one to talk to but myself. I wonder why nobody ever rents this place besides me. But there’s always a creaking sound from upstairs and an eerie scrubbing sound coming from my bedroom, where I have been only once since I’ve moved here. I’m probably delusional already, this foggy mind of mine is nothing but an abyss of hate and self loathing.
Self loathing? Because of Arabella, obviously.
Arabella and I had been the best of friends since childhood, and honestly, she’s the only reason I’ve have been able to push my way through life. After my parents passed away, I felt devastated and if it wasn’t for her, I’d have been one of those people out there, living without an ambition.
But I chose a different path, I made her my ambition.
I owed my life to her.
There’s a famous Japanese phrase: koi no yokan
It doesn’t mean love at first sight, the one we have been consuming in our mainstream culture throughout our life. It’s closer to love at second sight. It’s that feeling when you are with someone that you’re going to fall in love with eventually. Maybe you don’t feel that right away, but it’s inevitable that you will.
No matter how much I long to see her, it’s my body that fails to cooperate. I can’t gather the guts to get out and knock at her door. When I miss her, I reminisce her through the fragrance of the organic cigarettes that she smokes amalgamated with her scent of lavender and sometimes I touch the things she used to touch, looking for echoes of her fingers.
In a room full of art, I’d still stare at her.
Blind faith though, was something she believed in with all of her heart, but not at the expense of tasting every last bite of the journey with a clear and open palette. And when she needs to shelter from reality, she takes a dip in my daydreams.
A week ago, I remember wanting to get onto my knees and confront a ring, but when I met her, she looked perplexed. Her eyes were wandering, as if they were searching for someone.
“Arabella, I—I wanted to—tell you—something.”
But as she turned her gaze towards me, and before I could bend my right forelimb she hollered to the man standing at a distance, clinging to his chest and kissing him.
I looked away pretending not to have noticed anything and put the ring back in my pocket. She gasped and rushed towards me.
Reluctantly forced a smile, turned around and took a deep breath. One of those feelings where you want to smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet.
That was it. I stared at them silently, and walked away without saying a word. Silence is the most deafening sound you’ll ever hear. It’ll shatter your brain, your heart, and by the end of it, you’ll realise it hadn’t even touched you.
She kept calling my name but I just couldn’t bear it any longer. I fiddled with the ring that was supposed to be on her finger and tossed it in the trash, hoping to discard all her memories with it.
I wonder where this part of you came from,
Was it hidden in the shallow of your eyes?
I had this feeling before but how did I not notice the evident? I find it strange how we fell apart, how there was no longer a sparkle when she looked at me, how her eyes didn’t light up anymore with chuckles when I cracked a lame pun, how she wouldn’t look back at me when I wanted to swim across the depths of this universe beneath her retina, through her mind, into her heart.
It’s much less picturesque without her catching the light.
Did I mention how difficult it is to find things in bleak luminosity?
It’s even worse when you can’t figure what you’re looking for. I guess I’ll have to keep searching.
Sometimes, you find yourself trying to let go of something.
But it’s like, you have been swimming on the ocean for a very very long time and you feel like you belong there.
You are one with the waves, the warmth of the water.
And your body moves in sync with the ocean.
And you swim around just trying to stay afloat.
Then you get tired and you start to drown,
and you swim back to land.
When you get there you just feel so heavy because you lost touch with gravity for so long.
And you collapse on the beach as you try to find balance again, and then your feet finds gravity.
You stand up and you look at the horizon one last time and you just know that no matter how beautiful the sea was, and how good it made you feel, It was never yours to keep.
And somedays you’ll miss it, you know and feel yourself moving with the waves and dreaming of diving in.
Then you realize your feet was meant for land, not cut out for the ocean.
Maybe you’re meant to climb trees, or hike hills, or just run really fast.
Letting go is not easy.
There’s nothing quite like swimming in the ocean.
Just like how it’s natural for your feet to find gravity, it’s natural for you to let go, and find your true purpose in life again.
The sea is the sea, and you are just you.
I have to let go.
But sometimes I find myself waking up at the beach again.
They say that the strongest link to sparking a memory is through one of your five senses – not sight, taste or touch, not even sound, but through smell.
One. I begin my nights by counting sheep. Why do I do that? Of course, because I want to sleep. I want to sleep because I don’t want to think. I don’t want to think so that I can forget. I want to forget because I want to live. I want to live because I want to wake up.
Five. My intellectual utility evaporated sometime ago yet my mind churns on in the darkness like a runaway motor. When I start trying to do math with amber sunset in my head, I know things are bad. This sleeplessness is my torture.
Thirteen. While the rest of the world embraces their dreams, their eight hours of rest, I toss and turn chasing the white rabbit. So I get off my bed, and wash my hands.
Twenty one. Infinity is a word that I have grown to hate. It always seems to be screaming the words “forever”, “always” and “eternal”. Words that hold a singular meaning for me, now that I am caught up in this everlasting hackneyed routine.
Thirty seven. I want to not think at all, I want to be absorbed into the darkness that the night had promised me hours ago. But for months, I’m unable to get her effigy out of my system.
Seventy three. In my sleeplessness, I am drunk on silence. For hours it has seeped into my soul, dowsing my mind in its thick toxicity. The usefulness of my thoughts left long ago, leaving these fatigued neurons to fire almost randomly- flailing without direction.
One hundred forty eight. I glance in the mirror, take another bottle, shake it to see if it’s empty, then place it alongside piles of stacks of used deodorant bottles, and pick out a new one. But it still doesn’t seem right. So I step down again, and take a bath.
Two hundred fifty six. I want to melt onto the soft foam, wrapped in eider, and drift into the world of dreams. I want to be waking refreshed to streaming white daylight, unaware of the hours between then and now.
Four hundred twenty four. But I see her all over again, coming into my bed, with my hands clamped around her throat to prevent screaming. I see her taking her clothes off, as I light up another cigarette and slide my fingers up her legs, beneath the sheets, while she whispers her reluctance on my nescient neck.
Nine hundred twenty seven. It did not end, it did not begin, but that did not stop it from being. It was there, everywhere, inside me and all around me, closing in on every side. I could not escape it. No one could, not ever. It was probably nothing, but it felt like the world. Eventually, when I tried to find an end or even a beginning, I too was swallowed into the infinite space that our human minds cannot begin to even fathom.
Three thousand six hundred five. Her hair was a soft washed out hazel, like a favourite sweater that’s been washed too many times. Her eyes were black, not soulless nor lifeless. Instead they were like two pristine stones of onyx, that lit up with a purple flare when touched by candle light with all of her emotions bundled into a deep noir.
Fourteen thousand thirty one. And ah, her smell. She smelt like freshly cut timber, like the damp forest after a rainy day. Like fresh-scented pine and honey, intermingling with the outlandish aroma of charcoal flames and cinnamon. Heavenly. I just couldn’t get enough of her aura.
Sixty one thousand two hundred nineteen. Some days I’ll stay up at night sobbing over a beautiful piece of poetry, and sometimes I’ll drink till there is blood in my alcohol stream. In all these wakeful hours, she is a fading spectre and beneath it all is a shock I can’t quite let surface, because every time it comes close my nightmare solidifies, hope fades and the sick feeling returns to my guts, but the scent of lavender remains.
Five hundred thirty four thousand two hundred sixteen. I let her haunt me every night, so I can still have a part of her. I’ve chased your love around a figure eight, and now I need you more than I can take. Its like a noose around my neck but I’m still hanging on.
Eight hundred five thousand nine hundred sixty four. Once again, I step out of the shower, and unload another perfume bottle onto me, only to go back in half an hour later. As light ebbs into the room my heart sinks-another night claimed by insomnia, another long, long day ahead with no chance to rest and the same involuntary routine to follow like the past eight hundred ten days.
Three million two hundred one thousand one hundred seventy nine sheep down, with my contempt intact, I feel closer to the insane extent of infinity than ever At least, being an insomniac has enhanced my ability to count seconds, blinks, words, memories, nights, days,…sheep. And I find myself in the bathroom one more time, trying to launder my skin, pore by pore, with a stronger scent everyday.
They still, smell her on me.
Two years ago, I sent my friend a text: I’m sad. All the time.
I sent another: I can’t go outside because the sun hurts my eyes.
Then I sent another: I think, I just might, end my life.
I wrote a story about ending my life, published it here and immediately deleted it.
Then re-wrote it with a post-mortem point of view to make it feel like a figment of my imagination. Fiction.
When someone would ask if anything was wrong with me, I could hear the hurt in my throat when I said I was fine, just fine.
Because weren’t we built this way? Wear the happy mask until it smothers us, yet still we smile all the way to the grave? Our practice of fake glee is our own private torment.
That moment of decision will always stand out to me as one of the clearest, most crystallized memories.
I felt no fear at all. On the contrary, I walked with a sense of hope.
It was the first time I had thought of the future without feeling doomed. But I also knew myself well enough to know that I was a fickle man in life —filled with self-doubt, and that I needed to do this quickly, before I had a chance to change my mind.
It didn’t take me long to find the perfect rope and tie the knot I’d looked up on a YouTube tutorial. I’d spent about an hour practicing the knot in my room because I read on an online forum that hanging yourself was a tricky business. If done incorrectly, it could result in some serious pain. And I didn’t want to feel pain.
Recently I saw a number of people putting up this post:
My door is always open. Any of my friends who need to chat are welcome. It’s no good suffering in silence. I have chocolate, tea and coffee, and good food. And you are always welcome!
It’s no good suffering in silence. Give me a call, come to my house, talk to me. We can go have dinner or drinks and most importantly, I have time and I will always lend an ear.
I’m trying to demonstrate that someone is always listening.
I appreciate your optimistic effort but it is largely superfluous.
People who have not been so close to doing it themselves might not understand it, but I know the place they are in.
When you’re about to commit suicide, you’re not thinking of the ramifications and you certainly aren’t yourself.
You’re a completely different person.
You don’t have the same thoughts you normally would.
You forget about your friends, your job, your family.
All of those things are blocked out.
There is just vast nothingness.
You are singularly focused on completing the task at hand.
The thought is completely rational.
Trading a few moments of pain for an eternity without it.
When pain crosses a threshold, it becomes relief.
You’ll attain freedom.
Talking to people and Suicide hotlines are a great resource, but they have a major flaw.
For them to be effective, the victim needs to have the rational thought to call them.
All too often, they won’t have that thought. They’ve made up their mind and they don’t want to be saved. It’s a really dark place to be in.
Suicidal thoughts used to be like a TED Talk: Convincing ideas that your entire brain and heart nod along to. They’re well presented, with all kinds of evidence leading to one conclusion.
There’s no point trying to convince me that life is beautiful out of my bubble of melancholy.
If I were in that situation with you forcing me to dial a number and talk to a person on the other side of the phone who is going to listen and try to understand my problems and convince me to not end my life, I would break that phone, murder that person and then kill myself.
You can’t simply talk someone out of it, for you’ll have to understand the deep-rooted causes that propel people on this path. The causes mostly relate to depression.
The person in whom its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise.
Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows.
Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant.
The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors.
It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames.
And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really.
You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”
Everyone undergoes depression in a different manner and it is more often than not impossible to explain it to the other person in conversation.
Imagine having a disease that convinces you that you deserve to have it forever.
That’s the metaphor I used for my depression.
It’s like being homesick for a place you’ll never visit, or heartbroken over a person you’ve never met.
Depression births metaphors because you get tired of telling people without it “I feel hurt all the time from nothing and I’m kind of tired of being alive. I’d just like to slip into a coma forever.”
People can hear the words, but it doesn’t help them understand the difference between “sad over a specific situation” and “haunted by a ghost that reminds you all the wrong you have done every second of your life”.
Metaphor lets them live it, if only as a concept.
They’ll never fully get what it feels like, but at least they have a vague idea of the shape and weight of what you’re carrying.
And what you’re carrying is enormous.
Depression takes a lot out of you.
Life is no longer casual.
Friendships become a burden as you try not to ruin their fun, so you pretend you still see the world like they do. Relationships become a struggle as you try your hardest to be the person they fell in love with, instead of letting them down by being who you are now.
The friend I had texted called me up and told me he had been thinking the same. And it was not an optimism coated voice or repeated echoes of light being at the end of the tunnel. It was the sense of solace that I am not alone, which shifted my resolve.
He said: ‘In my view, suicide is not really a wish for life end.’
‘What is it then?’
‘It is the only way a powerless person can find to make everybody else look away from his shame.
The wish is not to die, but to hide.’