Salvation

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.
#SuicideAwarenes

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.’

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she was

I was about half in love with her by the time we sat down, and half in love with what we were about to do.

She was aware of the energy around her, but would not allow it to penetrate her very own self without her consent.

She was nothing but a vision trick under the warning light.

She was alive.

We had a cup of tea. She looked like a decaying person. The open sores on her skin. The sour lips. The bruises. The syringe marks. The frisson. The visible heartache.

She was so young. So damaged.

She suffered from a form of self-extinction. The one where you wake up and feel like you didn’t live the previous day at all. I don’t know where it came from. Her genes?  Her predisposition? One thing I knew for sure, was that she was destroying herself.

The hardest part was hearing the hope in her voice.

She was vexed.

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.

She was lost in thought.
I was lost in her.

A particular debilitation where it felt like her very life essence was washing away.
A person with zero substance, simply existing.

A living zombie. An inanimate object.

She was numb.

But those evenings when she used to be with me, she was different. She wanted to sleep. I just tried to implicitly help unravel her restraints while I couldn’t do it myself, already being too shackled in my embrace. So I introduced her to my disclosure.

Heroin opened her up. It shone this intense light, blinding her from every single meaningful thing in her life.

All consuming. Ever brightening.

She said it was like the greatest feeling in the world, and I couldn’t agree more. When you experience it, you will search for it for the rest of your life. It was like seeing God. You will abandon your family for it. She had, many times over.

She was jaded.

This made it hard to hear the quiver in her voice. The will to live. But I could sense it, at least in this moment. She had five hard days of withdrawal agony before she could begin the Naltrexone. She had tried this before.

Many attempts. Many failures.
Yet, all she needed was one success.
Just one.

And there I was. Trying to put her to sleep.

She was energy, she was heaven and dreams and everything untouched by the rotten mind of mine.

She finally turned her eyes and attention to me, making a visible effort to read through my stubborn frigidity. Usually she’d also look at me with the same stale eyes, projecting her misery on mine, reflecting her rue onto me, and resonating my ideas of pilgrimage into oblivion.
But under influence, she was an avid spectator.

Aren’t we all waiting to be read by someone, praying that they’ll tell us that we make sense?

She was a kiss that had traveled a billion light years from the eyes of an extinct species to rest upon my parched lips as I twisted my nights away beneath sheets drenched in sweat.

I closed my eyes, thinking that there is nothing like an embrace after an absence, nothing like fitting my face into the curve of her neck and filling my lungs with the scent of her.

She was a poem.

Her smile was not to be confused with arrogance, but being an inch closer to rejection again, put her rather tightened muscle at ease. She was now free to live, for she understood the form of sleepwalking she participated in was not living.

For now, all she could do is wait, withdraw, and hold onto her thin strand. It felt ever brightening. At least in this moment.

She was a hymn as old as time.

Someone will always look for an edge. Even if they put their heart and soul into something and find the edge, they won’t stop there. They’ll just move to the next edge.

And to bear the obligation of the repercussions that may arise out of things I acquaint people with, is something I have incessantly tried escaping from.

She was mine.

And I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be. And I know she knows.

She pulled out the knife from her chest and smiled. “Was that supposed to hurt?”

Though her eyes zest with confidence and did remain steady. The words jerked out of her mouth, like a natural reflex. She looked at me again, trying to comprehend the sense in my existence like she always did, and eased a smile out.

She was dead.

Venom

Time and again, I figure that anything worth saying in life has already been said by some ageing rockstar wearing eyeshadow. Case in point: Falling in love is so hard on the knees – Steven Tyler, vocalist for Aerosmith.

It is well-known and most people would have experienced it by now, so I’m not disclosing any state secrets in telling you that love hurts. How can it not? You’ve served up your ridiculous, raw heart on a plate to someone who doesn’t have an instruction manual.

There are different degrees of pain and different heights of falling, and some loves are more dangerous even than others.

There is unrequited love. If you love someone who doesn’t love you back, then you’re well and truly fucked.
Worse is the pathological kind of love, when life is not worth living whether with or without the object of your obsession. I fell for you when I was sixteen, and it hurt so goddamn much.

I would get asked why all the time.
“Why,” people would ask, “why have you fallen for someone who is never going to love you back?”
I’m paraphrasing, obviously.
In the real conversations, people would never understand my side, and reiterate “WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?” over and over again.

Let’s skip the scientific reasoning because, frankly, all that stuff about nervous systems and dopamine receptors bores me to tears.
Let’s discuss some elementary human nature that all of us can understand.

Why does anyone ever do anything that may cause them harm?
Because it feels good.

And it felt bloody marvelous. You were my most beautiful Technicolor dream. Just spending those evenings in a dark alley, with you in my psyche through my vein, was the most fantastic escape from this rotten reality. It was homecoming, a whole-body orgasm, it was Eden for the soul. Nothing from the real world got through that. Not fear or sorrow or disappointment (nor joy or meaning either, but at the time I didn’t care about all that).

I wanted to know what hunger tasted of.

You were a gateway to an altered reality, and by the time I knew about it, I knew I was primed for you.
I’d read Burroughs and Welsh and Hunter S. Thompson.
Stared at that Trainspotting posters, the one about choosing life, for hours.
That’s what I wanted for myself aged sixteen.
Just a hint of squalor, a darker thread to weave into my otherwise vanilla tapestry.

Also, one thing I realised later in life, I’m an addict by nature. If something gives me pleasure I will keep right on doing it and not give two fucks for the consequences. That’s how it has been since the beginning.
Once you’re an addict, you’re always an addict. It becomes your eternal constant. Only the substance is a variable.

It took me a long while to understand that pleasure and happiness are not kin.
That one is outlier and the other median.
That one is a sharp spike on a wild Saturday night and the other a flat line running through your entire life.
But with you, the lines of contrast were blurred and in paradise, all emotions provided felicity.
I felt invigorated, yet also very comfortable, because you erased all the anxiety and swapped it with euphoria.
But the hardest part of waking up the next morning was remembering everything I was trying to forget the previous night. So I would meet you again that night. And you became my daily ritual.

I knew by then what hunger tasted of.
It tasted like desperation.

And I’d had enough. I found myself gasping for life, sinking within myself, accelerating downwards into the depths of my own oblivion. By no laws of God or man did I deserve another chance.

You’ve caused me considerable trouble and I’ve contemplated ending my life almost every night since I’ve known you. I have tried and believe me I could live without you, but I really don’t want to.

I want to make love to your existence,
drenched in colors of your energy,
and then masturbate to the memories.

I want to lose myself inside yourself. 

I need you, even if you are venom to my soul.

Amputation

“I’m sorry. I won’t be able to come. The plan is cancelled.”

“But why?”

Before I could say anything further, he hung up. A ten-second phone conversation propelled me into pondering over a legion of speculations as to what could have gone wrong.

We had just spoken a day ago. Everything was set. I was going to bunk college, because nobody wants to attend Engineering Graphics anyway! He was going to come from Dehradun for a couple of days, just to meet all of us. It was his eighteenth birthday after all! The midnight cake was ready. We had planned a surprise party for him. His parents were about to gift him a car. Everything was fine.

What could have possibly gone wrong?

I brushed that thought aside, and began searching for reasons to convince myself into attending that EG class, eventually figured there are none, and went off to sleep. It wasn’t until evening that I came to know his parents had passed away. Both of them.

I could only imagine what might have been going through his mind. Without wasting much time, I rushed to meet him. On my way, I recounted what I had gone through when I’d lost someone. The closest word to describing what it felt like was amputation.

It was as if my being had been permanently altered. The cells in my body were different. My organs felt different. And even after a year, my heart physically aches from the inside of my chest, every time the thought crosses my mind. Despite having gone through something similar in the past, I was in no position to even estimate what he was going through. And to my surprise, I found myself at a loss of words to comfort him.

I looked at him. I knew his body is convulsing with fear of the unknown. Emotional pain can subject one to unfathomable depths of torture. It had taught me that both, our bodies and our minds, are able to discern every flicker of unsteady emotional and corporeal suffering, even when there is no tangible evidence to be seen. But, the pain that I speak of, was going to be a new constant in his life.

Amidst the tornado of emotions people experience at such times, when it happened to me, I remembered feeling an intense desire to smile. To think about all the beautiful times we had spent together. To repeat all our conversations in a monologue. The memories that stole a tear, but also twinkled a smile on my face. I sensed a minuscule silver lining in that very obscure cloud.

I looked at him again. I knew he wanted to find that silver lining. But when such a humongous pile of anguish hits you off-guard, a simple hug might feel like the most wonderful thing in the world. Without coping with grief and coming to terms with the harsh reality of life, growing up would be superfluous.

At that moment, all you can say is, ‘I’m sorry for your loss.’ and be there for them, because that moment will be etched in their mind, forever.

Au Revoir.

Years passed like days, friends came and went, kids metamorphosed into citizens, but this place has been constant. Like everyone else, I too had a roller-coaster ride and swerved my share of highs and not so highs, through the school life.
The backbone of a good school is not made from fancy classrooms and large campuses. It is made from the excellent education imparted by teachers, and I owe a sincere gratitude to all the teachers who have taught me through these years. I don’t think there is a single teacher in the school who hasn’t scolded me in a fit of rage but it all seems worthwhile.
Saying goodbye engulfs me in a tornado of emotions.

I remember my first day in the school. A shy little kid stepping onto unfamiliar territory but while stepping out, public speaking is the best part of my skill set.

Went from being a raw retrospective renegade, to a refined retrospective renegade and iconoclast. Despite joint efforts the outspoken renegade part didn’t change through these years. (Stubborn?)

The three years I spent in our computer clan DynamiX, from noob to President, will be a cherished time and I can say that I’m proud of all the work we have done as a unit. The basic objective was to elevate ourselves and I think we managed to do that. It was wonderful being a part of the tech circuit. All the last minute chaos, procrastinated preparations, technical handling, pushing the team to work harder and systematically organising a computer symposium of our own is really something greater than education can preach in practical experiences.

Being the Deputy Head Boy and House Captain for one year each, and on the hindsight also being suspended from school four times in four years, maintaining it an annual ritual (thankfully none last year) was a contrast like no other.

I have been suspended for from the stupidest of reasons, which include uploading photos of a school trip to Facebook without the consent of teacher, abusing a teacher in class, to supposed cyber crimes and slapping a fellow classmate who oh so handsomely deserved it (read: evil teachers taking revenge on brilliant students).

I doubt if anyone has been late to school more times than me. Having an average of 9 times a month in the last two years, I have been told its something to be not proud of. But the supposed walk of shame when you enter after 9am everyday is definitely memorable.

Every person in the school right from the sweeper to the principal felt like family.

I will miss the brown furniture, the broken chairs, the scribbled desks, the walls I wrote on that said ‘Do not write here’. I will miss the grounds, the corridors where I tripped way too many times, the bunkers spot stairs where I learned more than by attending classes. I will miss the guard Bhaiya who would always let me in even when I entered at 10am, the sweeper Bhaiya who was perennially annoyed by our filthy classroom. I will miss the chemicals we most daringly experimented with minus the adult supervision, the apparatus we always damaged in the lab, the computer systems we crashed out of frustration, the books we issued from the library but never returned. I will miss the Principal’s room where I have received appraisals as well as rebukes countless times, the classrooms where the foundation of the person I am today was laid. I will miss the morning assemblies in high temperatures, where we are supposed to sing the same stupid song each day and then listen to a not so wonderful clichéd story. I will miss the overpriced canteen food, the pakoras and spring roll and that awful chutney. I will miss the chaotic rush through the swings while you are bunking and someone shouts that the principal is on round, the times I have been made to unnecessarily tuck in my shirt, threatened to get a haircut and forced to cut my nails. I will miss the teachers, the students, the building, the classrooms, the washrooms, the corridors.

Ramjas, I will miss you.

I am not Depressed.

It’s the text at three in the morning, “What’s wrong.” And you don’t have a proper answer to it.
It’s the phone call late at night as you hold back tears.
It’s standing in a crowd and you’re overcome with this wave of loneliness so you reach for another cigarette, trying to feel better.
It’s the over thinking and anxiety that keeps you tossing and turning.

Depression has been my shadow for as long as I can remember. Always there, always present, always waiting to kick me when I am down. I have, for the most part, hidden my depression and the sickening thoughts that accompany it.

There have been days that I have fallen so deeply into the darkness of this feeling that I couldn’t make myself walk to the kitchen for something to eat. I have stayed in bed for days at a time, laying there, alternating between sleeping and staring at the ceiling in silence.

At first, I’d try to explain that it’s not really negativity or sadness anymore, it’s more just this detached, meaningless fog where you can’t feel anything about anything — even the things you love, even fun things — and you’re horribly bored and lonely, but since you’ve lost your ability to connect with any of the things that would normally make you feel less bored and lonely, you’re stuck in the boring, lonely, meaningless void without anything to distract you from how boring, lonely, and meaningless it is.

Anhedonia is real, it is not something that can easily be shaken. It is the self loathing that wakes us at 2 a.m. and the voice that whispers “you are nothing to anyone”, as we lay in bed wishing we could sleep. It is the 10 a.m. cigarette that we need, to lower the volume of our self doubts. It is sitting on the bathroom floor because you feel too sick to move but you knowing that you can’t possibly have anything to vomit because you really haven’t eaten anything in days.

I don’t think it happened over night — but at some point I suddenly realised that everything had become impossible. For a period of time I hadn’t felt any emotions at all, and spent a large amount of my time feeling as if I wasn’t in my own body but just spectating. I was simply existing — if you can even call it that. I would walk around, do what was needed or expected of me, then crawl back into my bed until my next obligation. Eventually, I stopped getting out of bed.

After said period of feeling nothing, I then started to feel all of the emotions. Sad ones.

I liken those days to trying to climb out of a well that keeps getting deeper, until eventually you can’t see any light at the top.

I started to lose myself.Read More »

Stop Using Profanity as a Crutch

Does a cultural phenomenon have to be “fucking awful” or can it be “repulsive,” “repugnant?” Maybe it’s simply “shocking.”

Does a product have to be “damn good(!)” or can it just be “surprising,” “revolutionary,” or “a breakthrough?”

Why does the oh-so-revered life of an entrepreneur have to be “shitty?” Why can’t it be “miserable,” or “endless?” Or how about “draining?” What about the days where it’s “rewarding?” Maybe it gives you “irreplaceable joy.”

Throwing in a curse word or two does not give your work more power.

Work Fucking Hard” is a better title than “Work Really Hard.

But when it looks like you’ve recruited the word “motherfucking” (and “behenchod” in Hindi) to serve as another form of punctuation, your lack of vocabulary becomes clear.


Do curse because it is the right word at the right time to deliver exactly the message you want.

Don’t curse because you are lazy.

-Todd Brison