My therapist said something last session which shook me to the core. Normally my humor is very dark, very dry. Knowing this, she feels comfortable telling dark, sometimes morbid jokes. The subject of my blog came up and she said “Well hopefully nobody reads it and then goes and kills themselves.”
I think she realized pretty quickly that the joke didn’t land this time. She googled my blog and started offering me reassurances. I don’t think there is anything up here that would have that effect. And what it says on my sidebar is true: I don’t believe in trigger warnings. I am a firm believer first, in that triggers do not come neatly packaged and labeled; the worst triggers are always the ones most apparently benign, like a phrase said in passing, or a scent. Secondly, I believe, well actually I have observed that the internet is a place where anything can be, and is, posted. If you are so fragile that coming across something disturbing on the internet will cause you kill yourself, please, get offline and get into therapy.
That being said, however, I also know that hearing about other people’s suicidal ideations or past attempts can be a special sort of trigger for some people. So I will say this: This is a post about suicide. A real, albeit unsuccessful, suicide which I committed against myself. If you feel that reading something like that will set you off, please try a happier post or, if it’s really bad; if you feel that suicide is imminent, please trade your browser for your dialer and call the 24 hour National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255
If, however, you feel safe within yourself, and if you wish to gain insight into the mentality which drives a suicide, then continue reading.
Since deciding to write this post, I have hesitated, procrastinated, and spent far too long deciding upon the execution.
At first, I was going to title it “Suicide Isn’t Painless: The Thoughts Behind Taking A Life,” and write it in a conventional narrative post format.
But now I have come to this instead. The suicide note I didn’t write. What I didn’t say to my family and friends the day I tried to take my life.
Just in case anyone is worried, this isn’t secretly a current suicide note. The suicidal mentality is chaotic and disordered. I wouldn’t be able to write anything half this coherent if I were feeling this way. I didn’t. And I don’t endorse everything I have written here as being “true.” But they were true to me then, and I think there is value in piecing together a mentality that was totally disorganized at the time. I think there is value in understanding the mentality behind a suicide.
To provide some context for the event: On February 8, 2016, my twenty-eighth birthday, I attempted suicide. I had been having suicidal ideations for several weeks prior to my birthday. A lot was going on. It was the ten year anniversary of one of the most traumatic assaults of my life. My husband and I were undergoing a lot of financial problems, and my marriage was struggling. On my birthday, however, I woke up happy, ready to meet a friend who had invited me for Ethiopian food-my favorite! Suicide was not in my plans for the day. Suicide was not in my plans for the day but, I ended my twenty-eighth birthday in the psych ward, after having been discharged from the emergency unit for an almost completed suicide attempt. Because I had not planned the suicide, and because by the time I made the attempt, I was triggered and frantic and disordered, I never wrote any type of suicide note. I would have left nothing behind to my children but heartbreak and questions.
This is the note I would have written, had I been in the mindstate to write it:
This is the end, my only friend, the end.
Those are not my words, of course. They come from a much more talented and able artist. But isn’t it so appropriate that I should begin this letter with the words of someone more successful? I failed my potential. I don’t deserve the opening lines, not even to my own suicide note.
It’s Jim Morrison. Who sang those words. He died young, younger than I am now. He’s part of the “Forever 27 Club.” When I was a child I was so obsessed with Kurt Cobain that I planned to die at 27. How I have disappointed my teenage self, to wait until I am twenty-eight.
I made a joke about that on Facebook yesterday…about my last chance to join the Forever 27 Club. Now everyone is going to think I did this to appease my teenage angst. No one will take me seriously, even in death.
But nobody took me seriously in life either, so at least now I won’t have to experience the subtle mockery, the little grins and whispers that you all think I don’t notice. This is not a cry for help gone too far. This is not teenage angst (and why do we belittle the pain of teenagers anyway?). This is a way to get your attention, but not with any hope behind the drive. I don’t want to live on this earth anymore. I don’t want to be alone. But I want you to know who I was, and what I needed, before you lost the chance to notice me.
I am married, I have two little girls all day, without help most days. I am never alone. But I am always alone. How did I become a caretaker, when I am still so very much in need of being cared for? My family does not believe me, but I did not chose to become a mother. I am not saying anything about my love for my son, but he was not my choice. The nature of choice changes in the realm of abuse. I may have taken most of the actions which led to his conception; I may have appeared complicit, but I did not want to be a mother. Not so young. Not with my ex. But if I didn’t do it, he would have abandoned me. I don’t know how to explain how very much worse abandonment would have felt than the beatings at that time. I don’t know how to describe the rise of fear-burning, physically burning, like bile-that I felt at the words “I will leave if you don’t.”
I tried to stop the baby. I went to the clinic. He prevented that too. Who strangles a pregnant women; what kind of a man bites her, kicks her, while telling her she must keep his child inside safe? There’s a police report for that, but the rest of it, that I didn’t chose to become a mother in the first place, nobody believes that.
What a terrible thing, to not be believed by your own family. I wonder if my father will feel a thing knowing that I am gone. Are you reading this Dad? Do you understand how heavy your disbelief weighed on me, when I was nearly raped in Colorado? It still sits like a boulder on my chest, when I remember it. When I remember it, I struggle to breathe.
There are so very many things from this life that make me struggle to breathe. I don’t know how I have survived this long with so little air.
I love my daughters. I love my son. I do. You won’t believe it, you who are reading this while what is left of what I was carries out its last processes; of Rigor Mortis, decay. You will label me a bad mother. You will say that I abandoned my children.
The truth is, I am lifting my children of a curse. You may never know the origin of my curse. Perhaps I was cursed simply by circumstance. But it is real, this curse, and it haunts me, and I see it sometimes, attaching to my children.
The curse of misfortune. The curse of poverty. The curses of self-hatred, of doubt, of procrastination and silence and fear: all curses that are tied, irrevocably, to a body that has lived through the enormity of abuse that mine has. This is the only way to escape my curse, and to free my children of it. My death is an act of love.
Silence; that curse has already stricken my son. If he wasn’t my son, if he wasn’t the son of my ex and I, maybe he would not be trapped within his own body. If he hadn’t been born of a womb that was kicked while he was in utero; if he hadn’t developed inside of a body that was drugged against its will; if he wasn’t in me while I was abused, then maybe he would not be autistic. If I had left sooner. If I had been stronger, sooner.
I have to be stronger for my daughters. I have to leave, now, before it’s too late for them too.
Or maybe this is all just me trying to sound noble. Begging for redemption after redemption has lost its meaning for me.
The truth is, I can’t stand life with PTSD. Have you, dear family, dear world, dear reader: Have you ever had a dream where you tried to scream and no sound would come out? It was all in your mind, the screaming? No one could hear you?
That is my life. A constant screaming within the confines of this skull. Every beating this skull has endured, is a scream that endures and echoes itself endlessly, but nobody ever hears it.
I wish my mother had heard it. I wish she had continued to love me even after I lost my potential. I wish she had held me and loved me and listened. I wish that she wanted to do all of those things, even after my son was born. After my son was born, my mother gave all of her love to him, and left none for me. Even before my son was born…When my life became difficult, I became too difficult to love. I don’t remember the last time my mom hugged me, really hugged me, but I know it has been over a decade.
I wish my husband, you dear husband, who will probably be the one who will have to find me, the very first reader and depending what you decide to do with this note, possibly, the very last, I wish you understood how loud it is all the time in my head. Maybe then you would never yell, or raise your voice, or direct anger and blame my way. When you do those things, and you do those things often these days, there is a feeling like shaking inside. And nothing can stop it but the drugs you don’t want me to take, or a great deal of time in peace that you never give me anymore.
I feel like I am shaking all the time. Shaking and screaming and nobody hears. Nobody notices.
Robin, I am sorry for your silence. I am sorry that I failed to find the key which would unlock your voice. I am sorry that I allowed your father to hurt me so much that it reached all the way inside to you. I am sorry that you are marred for the rest of your life because I was too weak to not be abused.
Anabelle, I am sorry for any time that I ever yelled at you. You act tough, you have your bravado, but you are a sensitive girl inside. You are too much like me. I am sorry for leaving. I know you will rage at me over it for years, maybe forever, but the truth is that we are too alike. If I had stayed, you would have grown to be like me. There is nothing worse I can fear for you than that.
Penelope, my littlest one. My sweetie pie. You will be the most hurt by this. We are still connected, you and I. Every day, you come back to me and we become part of the same organism once again. I know how much comfort my breast brings you, and how much comfort it brings me to hold you against it. If there was any reason I could stay, it would be you.
But I can’t. I can’t stay. My abuse haunts me. It is always beside me, a force, a demon, that walks beside me, always. I hear the clicking of its nails behind me. I feel the heat of its breath. I see it, gigantic, shadow-like, from the corners of my eyes, but when I turn to look, it is behind me again. I can’t catch it. I can’t kill it. Could you live a life haunted by an immortal demon?
I could write to you about a shame that lives beneath me like a second skin.
I could write to you about a guilt that will never fade.
I could write to you about hopelessness, and that I see it ahead me, behind me, forever.
I could write to you about loss, about mourning my own promise.
Maybe the most terrible loss is a promise that dies.
I could write and write forever about all the ways this world has hurt me. I could write and write but that would give me a reason to live, and the truth is, I don’t want one. I have already given up.
I could write to you about the simplicity of my desire: To be loved. To be loved. To be loved.
But it wouldn’t matter, would it?
I can’t write your love into my life.
Peace, Love, Empathy,
If you or someone you love is experiencing a suicidal crisis, please visit or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
If you are an LGBTQ person contemplating suicide, please visit this website
If you are a veteran with PTSD who is contemplating suicide, please visit this website
If you have lost a loved one to suicide and need help coping with your grief, this website can help
To better understand the connection between PTSD and suicide, read this article