Figure 8

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.
Not anymore.

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.”

-Hengtee Lim

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.’