I want to talk about suicide.
I need to talk about suicide in a frank and unfiltered way, free from fear or concern.
But for you who have somehow stumbled upon my small sliver of a fraction of a space which is my own on the internet — rest assured this is no pro-suicide blog. It is not pro-suicide but it will be unapologetically frank and forthcoming. It will not be swaddled in sanitized, civilized language to soften the blow of its impact.
Understand that, despite my crude irreverence, Black Pomegranate represents my devotion to a slow, painful, and laborious ascent towards the land of the living. It is discipline–all these words speak to my tenuous army-crawl towards a light that flickers somewhere out yonder.
Almost all my life I’ve battled severe mental illness. Chronic depression. Paralyzing anxiety. Unrelenting ADHD. I could go down the rabbit hole and recount to you some of my earliest memories — I was a gloomy, subdued little girl — skittish and petrified around other kids — grew into an angry, disturbed little goth, who veered wildly between raucously unhinged and dangerously suicidal —faded into an unfocused haze in my later teens, largely devoid of emotion. And I fought, I really fought, for vitality and direction in my college years — I rose and fell, rose and fell — continually, for years. Bounced around in between episodes, and eventually ended up at animation school—then I almost went blind. I honed my drive, sort of, but struggled desperately, stupidly, to get my shit together.
For the first two years after graduation I was okay-ish. Things weren’t going the way I had hoped, but I was working my ass off for something I truly believed in at the time. And then the bell jar fell. Again.
I tried to kill myself in February. I was hospitalized — finally saw a damn Doctor — finally got on anti-depressants — finally started therapy — finally received ECT.
I tried to kill myself again in April. I was hospitalized — saw more of my Doctor — got on more antidepressants — got more therapy — got more ECT…
So y’all, I finally dyed my hair yesterday! It’s been months and months and months, since this tour of the underworld began, and my hair has been looking atrocious. My black locks have faded into a limp, patchy brown, my long, light roots create the unflattering illusion that I might be balding.
Other habits of my physical upkeep also fell by the wayside. Ive gained about twenty pounds. My skin looks like garbage. I stopped shaving, and began to look like a jungle creature. Can’t keep up with laundry and am loafing around in the same clothes for weeks, then acting just mystified at the strange, inexplicable oder that trails me persistently.
But my hair is symbolic to me in ways the others simply aren’t. I bought the hair dye about a month and a half ago, and it sat on the bathroom counter like a dusty relic. I would glance at it apprehensively every now and then. I muttered all kinds of reasons not to just take the hour to do my hair. I’m too busy.. — I’m too tired.. — the dogs peed on the only clean towel we got left…
But of course, the real reason — black hair means that I’ve returned to a semblance of ‘me’ again. (Whatever the fuck that means, right?)
I wavered nervously on whether or not I was ‘me’ for at least a month. I wavered because, though I certainly seem to doing better, I don’t know that I’ve reached solid footing and can truthfully proclaim it so — that the ground beneath me might not give in on me at a moments notice and send me hurtling straight back down into the blackness.
And though that’s still the case, there comes a point when it’s just time to say ‘fuck it,’ and sally forth. I don’t know who or where or what I am. All I know is what I am running from. There is no longer some grand ‘mission’ propelling all that I do– all that I know is that I must run, run like hell, run from hell. I know that I’m not in hell anymore, I’ve come some way — and that’s enough for now.
I want to talk about how hard it’s been.
I want to talk about how hard it’s been to live with multiple mental and chronic illnesses– though not in some desperate, pitiful, sad-violin kind of way. Not for affirmation or vindication. I want to talk in an unflinchingly honest kind of way. I want to search and strive to understand not my illnesses — I get them well enough — but my own contributions to all my chronic, needless suffering. I want to analyze and pick apart every inch of me — and uncover all the ways in which I have personally contributed to the catastrophe of my life.
For I know now, in a way I don’t think I’ve ever known before, that though I did not purposefully rain these illnesses and certain misfortunes upon myself…though I did not sew their shadows to the soles of my feet, the vast majority of my suffering has been led and enabled by my own hand.
I wish I could just run. Run, run, run while I can, run while it’s still daylight out, and pray that I am fast enough to outrun the shadows that chase me. Run, run. Run faster this time, run harder this time, run until the shadows eternally in pursuit of me are merely dim specks on the horizon. Run into my new self. Run into my new life. Run, run forever. And pray they never catch me…
“‘We’ll take up where we left off, Ester,’ she had said, with her sweet, martyr’s smile. ‘We’ll act as though all this were a bad dream.’
A bad dream.
To the person in the bell jar, black and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream.
I remembered everything.
I remembered the cadavers and Doreen and the story of the fig tree and Marco’s diamond and the sailor on the Common and Doctor Gordon’s wall-eyed nurse and the broken thermometers and the Negro with his two kinds of beans and the twenty pounds I gained on insulin and the rock that bulged between sky and sea like a gray skull.
Maybe forgetfulness, like a kind snow, should numb and cover them.
But they were a part of me. They were my landscape.
-Sylvia Plath. The Bell Jar. pg 237.
I’ve used my illnesses as excuses for all kinds of nonsense for so long that it’s blurred the distinction between them and myself and as a result I’ve buried myself up to my neck in lies and that’s why I have no clue who I am.
But. I am here. And in my present resides my past as well as my limitless, undefined potential future. I can run but I cannot flee the past, though I wish I could. Though I often wish I could tell all the technicians and the doctor in the room when I receive my ECT treatment– to fire up the pads to 150%– to hold them to my temples until my brain is fried to oblivion and I am left then with a calm, empty blankness. Press those pads into my skin until, once removed, they leave dark grill marks and quiet sizzling on my temples. I would be born again into a beautiful zen emptiness, a fresh clean slate. But. Alas. The past comes with me, I can’t just carve it out of my belly like a pulsing tumor and pitch it, bloody and screaming, straight into the trash. I am left with no other choice–I must come to understand the past in a light that doesn’t cast me as its hapless, spineless victim.
For if I come to understand how I’ve directly brought so much of this turmoil upon myself, I come to understand how unbelievably powerful I truly am. I can feel that power pulsing through my fingertips, I can feel it like electricity in my veins, I can feel it sharpening my teeth. I can carve myself out of the shapeless void. The abyss which gazes also, I gaze at right back.
A creature emerges, a thing whose few years have been spent flailing and drowning in the swamp of chaos. Chaos comes with, hangs like a wet cloak over its shoulders. But as it climbs with slow deliberation up the cold, stone steps, the creature gulps in deep drags of air. It breaths. Long, sinewy arms stretch upwards into the soft sky. Morning light illuminates its incredible, pointy talons and held up high they glow. It serves only Truth now, it is finally alive. Blood circulates through its pale, ghoulish limbs, and its body responds. Organs sputter to life. Muscles, nerves, and tendons creak and groan like the soggy planks of wood in an old farmhouse.
This living dead thing. Wicked and brave. Devoted and pure.
It stops on the ledge where light meets night. Beneath it stretches the yawning desert. Breeze caresses its skin which has for so long known only the still, humid air beneath the bell jar that hung heavy and oppressive, choking with the stench of lifeless immobility.
I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart.
I am, I am, I am.
-Sylvia Plath. The Bell Jar. pg 243.
I want to talk about the art that propels me, the music that animates me, the poetry that fills me, the philosophies which I contemplate.
I want to talk about the good days, the days in which I can feel that propelling force deep within, making me feel like I’m finally onto something.
I want to talk about the bad days, the days in which I feel like I’ve been smashed in the face with a heavy frying pan.
I want to talk about the days in limbo, the days in which my vision glazes over and my body hangs limp like an old rag doll and I feel nothing at all.
Because I want to have an exciting life.
I want to talk about all the things thata I have always been too sheepish or embarrassed to admit that I want for myself.
Like how I want to be a famous comic book artist. Some know, since I toil away almost everyday towards this aim, but few know the outrageous extent of my ambitions. I want to be among the Greats. I want to be a part of telling amazing stories, stories that pulse with life and vision, stories that challenge, excite, and inspire. I want to be a keynote presence at comic conventions around the world, meet fans and misbehave on panels and share with the world my capsizing love of the amazing medium of sequential art.
I want to learn Polish and another language if I can. I want to travel to the old country, wander the staggering beauty of the Zakopane mountains, marvel in the magnificent rebirth of Warsaw, and the defiant, triumphant Jewish neighborhoods, soak in the glory of all the cities that have risen from the ashes — towering, formidable, proud, a double middle-fingerd ‘FUCK YOU’ to the rampages of methed-out fascists who blitzkrieg’d through the country and tried to obliterate its land and its people less than a century ago. I want to walk barefoot, and plant my hands down in the soil of my family’s roots.
I want to have freaky, violent, toe-curling sex with someone I adore so much I would give the planets to if I could. The solar system and the dazzling milky way and all the stars. I want to love someone so much it makes me dizzy. I want to be their hype girl and for us to bang like nasty sex criminals until we’re both rotting in the ground.
I think casual sex is garbage. I’ve gone out and had a handful of encounters, because I’m ‘liberated’ and ‘sex-positive’ and all that and its the thing to do now, I guess. But there is nothing more boring to me than humping a stranger. Or licking a friends pussy cuz you’re both tipsy or climbing up this dudes cock because you just flattened him in Mario Party 3 and now have nothing better to do.
I want to make my schmoney and buy myself nice things and spoil my loved ones and sponsor bright, talented kids through college.
I want to become fabulously fit and maybe get butt implants.
I want to be like, if Kim K moved to Transylvania and became a vampire. That’s what I want to be like. With the wardrobe savage, the makeup slay, the hair so fly it devastates.
I want to contribute to my community in some measurable way. I haven’t been out of my head long and I don’t know how yet. But I love Chicago. I want to see it thrive, I want to see everyone who lives here thrive. All the people, from every block, from every hood. From every walk of life.
And all the other things. The silly things. Like belt Shakira lyrics from the rooftop of some bougie skyscraper. Or streak through the streets when a friend visits from out of town. Go sled down the steps of the Marriot Hotel on an old piece of cardboard. As one does.
I’ve started many things that I was so passionate about — so committed to — in the moment —only to abandon them as soon as the wheel turned and my depression devoured me whole. I’ve shown up to jobs only to have a panic attack and immediately peace out. I’ve fogged out in the middle of projects. Fogged out of crucial conversations. Fogged out when I should have shown up. When it comes to anything but my art, frankly, I don’t have a great track record. It is what it is. I’ve always known there was something rotten in the state of Denmark, but I grew up believing mental illness was a character flaw. I twisted and contorted myself, obsessing over my illnesses, trying to crack them like a riddle.
Snap out of it! Grow up!! Aren’t you grateful for all you have?? What the fuck do you have to be depressed about?? Don’t you get you’re one of the lucky ones?? Don’t you see that happiness is a choice??
Well here’s my big middle finger to y’all who go around saying that shit. Hopefully one day I’ll meet you in person and can shove this middle finger right up in your fucking face. Fuck. you.
All my breakdowns I’ve always had in private.
I never asked for help.
I never just let myself break, fall down and shriek at the top of my lungs that I need to see a fucking doctor.
After my two failed attempts to off myself I came back from the hospital— lost, disordered, speaking in floaty half-sentences, my eyes rolling around like loose marbles — looking for something, anything to hang on to.. google provides blogs about enduring depression and managing suicidal impulses. “What to do after a suicide attempt,” offers the practical advice from medical and educational institutions, which is certainly necessary and helpful, but after a while, begins to sound redundant and sterile. I wanted someone to just be real as hell with me. Someone who sounded like me and not like another doctor or some stuffy social worker.
I’ve been on the fence about whether or not to do this blog for months. When I was first struck with the bolt of inspiration —I felt that I had to do it—I had to write all this crap out, like a personal exorcism, in order that I could truly, finally move beyond it. After a few days I retreated skeptically — if this does well… there’s just so much garbage out there, a world of stigma and ignorance and judgement and do I want to put up with that? Do I want to put up with peoples bullshit? Do I want to risk going down in history as the girl who wrote that suicide blog? Do I want this to follow me around when I make it to my better years and break into my artistic career?
I don’t, not at all, to be honest. But.. idk. I was raised to believe that if you make it to a solid raft, and you see someone floundering in the waves — you throw them a rope. I’m a decent writer, I think that all this bullshit has left me with a little insight that might be of value to some people. Maybe?!? If it’s of value to only a select hand few, I was also raised to believe that the effort will have been worth it. So.. here goes nothing.
This blog is for my people out there like me who’ve attempted suicide or committed suicide and failed. This blog is for my Eeyores out there who suffer dysthymia and the devastating ordeal of double depression. For all y’all who’ve been terrorized to your breaking point by anxiety and panic. For all y’all whose sense of self and personal confidence has been decimated by ADHD. For all y’all like me who’ve been duped into believing mental health disorders ain’t a thing, and so have suffered for years and who have exhausted years of trying to fix ourselves exclusively through ‘natural’ ‘organic’ means and bougie capitalist self-care routines. I don’t have Bipolar disorder, OCD, PTSD, an eating disorder, a phobia and I know I’m missing a whole bunch of diagnoses, but I see you guys too. I’m cis, I’m white, I’ve never been abused, I live in a home with a supportive family — I’ve studied and seen with my own eyes, in people I treasure deeply, the devastating toll of racism, bigotry, shit families, shit friends, unstable upbringings, sexual violence, financial crises, ableist nonsense, homelessness, and the ever-present, never-ending shittiness of strangers coming at you for no damn reason — I’ve seen the terrible impact of these on the mental health of so, so many. I see you too and I’m going to do the best job that I can for you.
This blog is for all y’all with long-term mental illnesses who no longer want to live at their mercy. This blog is about a humble girls desire and drive for total Transformation. I’m going to run my mouth about my progress and the things I find helpful and that have helped me take a step forward. And on the things that have knocked me back.. This blog is for those of you like me who want to take over your story. For you who want to believe you can change and have decided to stand up to face the challenge of proving that to yourself. Who WALL HAVE their power and are here to spit in the face of everyone and everything that has ever knocked you down.
Remember that the greatest stories belong to those who have been to the edge of destruction, who rebuild and soar to heights greater and higher than they themselves could ever have imagined.
Come get mad with me. Come stand with me on the border of order and chaos and lets pound our chests and roar like savages to the heavens and above
I AM I AM I AM
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12 thoughts on “I want to talk”
Brilliant blog and gorgeous writing.
Thanks for sharing. Gracias a la vida in spite of it all.
Well done. Go Rae go! Let no stigma be attached!. Incredible writing … Becoming ourselves is a life-long process.
it’s really good to see you again dude. like. really good. Welcome back #GoTeamShade!!
All love, always. Felt.
“I’ve started many things that I was so passionate about — so committed to — in the moment —only to abandon them as soon as the wheel turned and my depression devoured me whole.” That pretty much sums up my entire life. I am buried under the heaps of unfinished projects. I have a box of hairdye waiting on me too lol. As a fellow Eeyore with dysthymia, anxiety & PTSD…I applaud your courage to start this and I’m looking forward to more. *Hugs*
You just summed up my entire life with this. “I’ve started many things that I was so passionate about — so committed to — in the moment —only to abandon them as soon as the wheel turned and my depression devoured me whole.” I am buried under the mountain of unfinished projects. I even have a box of hairdye waiting on me too lol. As a fellow Eeyore with dysthymia, anxiety and PTSD…I applaud you for your courage to write this and I’m looking forward to more. *Hugs*
Reading your words has touched me deeply. Never will I look at people struggling with mental illness the same.
I am so glad that you are here. This was beautifully written and I could feel the catharsis through it.
I was moved by your blog, moved in the sense of propelled to write to you and say keep doing this, whatever else happens. I love the Plath quotes, but I felt more of Rimbaud in your work. Plath made the mistake of ending it all too soon, and Rimbaud made an even bigger mistake when he quit writing at age 21 and became a merchant. And look what he gave up!
“I called for executioners so that, while dying, I could bite the butts of their rifles. I called for plagues to choke me with sand, with blood. Bad luck was my god. I stretched out in the muck. I dried myself in the air of crime. And I played tricks on insanity. And Spring brought me the frightening laugh of the idiot. So, just recently, when I found myself on the brink of the final squawk! it dawned on me to look again for the key to that ancient party where I might find my appetite once more.” (A Season in Hell, 1873)
Like every other adolescent hipster wannabe back in the ‘60s, I loved Rimbaud while I was still living at home at 15. He got me through a few bad years, and I had no idea whether things would be better or worse when I left home three years later. They were both—a lot better and much worse. I sense him in your lines like these:
I can feel that power pulsing through my fingertips, I can feel it like electricity in my veins, I can feel it sharpening my teeth. I can carve myself out of the shapeless void. The abyss which gazes also, I gaze at right back.
For the record, I never tried to off myself, never had the courage—don’t get me wrong, it may be courageous to try and miss, but to try and succeed is a huge karmic waste. Because then you just have to come back and start all over again from where you left off (I have it on good authority from people in touch with the other side). Still, on the level of absolute truth, mistakes are part of the learning curve, so we have to forgive Sylvia and Arthur, and doubtless they have moved on. But I have woken up every day for more than fifty years with an anxious knot in my stomach and often something worse in my head. That was true when I was living in NYC and going to clubs and hearing the best music in the world and getting trashed every night and it was still true when I got into recovery years ago, and then just a year ago when I finally learned how to meditate after 25 years of trying and missing the mark.
So, when well-meaning, compassionate people who love you tell you it gets better, it does. But the struggle may never stop so don’t count on that. Heraclitus supposedly said “The way up and the way down are one and the same,” but more accurately, the way up IS the way down, which is really the way through. Anyway, you’re already clearly a writer, so don’t worry about that. The trick is to keep doing it, every day in some way. Lots of ballplayers with natural talent who didn’t keep at it and practice every day never made it to the bigs, so you may keep hearing the voice that says maybe it’s not good enough and you’re not good enough you can just ignore it, like the rest of us do (all the time). But trust the impulse you wrote about to keep asking yourself what role you play in it all because that will move things along. When Western seekers came to visit the Indian sage Ramana Maharshi to learn his wisdom, he asked them just one question: “Who are you?” No matter what they answered, he asked it again and again until they went silent. We can do that to ourselves. Even when we think we’re just so full of shit, we can still ask the question, and be kind to ourselves as we answer.
I look forward to reading your next blog, and the one after that.
Absolutely amazing! So proud of you and in awe of your strength!
Your writing is amazing and I can’t wait to read more. Keep fighting Rae.
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Good job with the site. People without mental illness dont understand what a struggle it is. People cant see the pain were in or sympathize about it like they can with someone with a broke arm. It’s good that you are doing this. Keep it up.