semicolon: 1. Week prior to Saturday

When Saturday comes you’ll understand why it’s the anchor and “peak” low in this journal.

Things had been getting steadily worse in the previous few weeks. I went from being in a major depressive episode with little hope to a safety-last, near catatonic state with extreme depression, mounting anxiety, and no hope whatsoever. I had given up on trying, and just let the depression roll over me like waves in the middle of an ocean storm. I learned that it could always get worse, and every day it did. In the last PHP I did, I had to give up giving them estimates of intensity of depression, because I had gotten to 9 or 10 out of 10 and had nowhere to go from there. So I would just say “off the chart” or “I just really don’t know how to rate that anymore.” I had also started self harming in the form of biting. I was literally tearing myself apart.

My therapist said that my primary relationships were with depression and anxiety. She was right. I felt like I had different personas living inside my mind. The first was Depression (D). D would help me feel worse, would give answers to people in my stead, and had been around for decades. It was an old friend, and we were very close. While I didn’t like what it did to my life, I somehow didn’t want to live without it. Anxiety (A) was the second. Sometimes A was quiet, telling me something bad would happen if I talked to a stranger or called someone on the phone. It could also be quite loud, bypassing my brain and making my body shake, my mind swim, and logic was thrown out the window. A would come out and take over from D, and often I couldn’t hear D in the background because A was so loud. A was just mean and made me want to run from it, but I couldn’t. A had been after me a few times in the past, and was responsible for some of the worst days of my life, but D would always take over when A got tired. And then there was Suicide (S), who was a fairly new player in the game, but had always been in the background whispering passive suicidal ideations into my ear, making me think more and more about S.

I would occasionally cheat on D and A. Hanging out with good friends and neighbors, chatting and maybe eating pizza. I would be animated and enjoying myself. When I left those situations D and A would come at me strong. It was like a mental health hangover, and the more I drank in the happiness in life, the worse it would be the next hours or days. That always made me feel like I didn’t have any problems, because there were times when I would forget them. So obviously the times I was experiencing them was something I could just turn off, right? Nope. Also, on those social occasions I would often be drinking. Which just gave D and A more energy with which to mess with me.

Regardless, I would cheat on D and A, but I would lie for S.

There were things about S that I had never told anyone, partly out of concern for my safety, ironically. I didn’t want to say something that would bring on the guys in white coats to escort me to an asylum. But another big reason why I denied and lied for S was to keep it in my pocket. It gave me the idea that I had an exit plan, that even if the doctors didn’t know what was wrong or how to fix it, I had a solution I could call upon if it got too bad. I also lied to those who loved me, and wanted me to let them know if I wasn’t safe.

I had been somewhat open with Therapist in sharing my suicidal ideation, and in programs I would often be even more up front about how much I thought about my own death and how passive it was, or even getting close to active.

Lesson: Suicidal Ideation can be passive or active. Passive means you wish a meteor would fall from the sky and kill you. It means every little ache and pain can make you wonder if it’s a life threatening disease, and hope it is. It can also just simply mean you don’t want to exist or feel the way you do, but you have little hope for good things to come. Active suicidal ideation is planning a way to do it, attempting it, feeling unsafe, or anything else that takes it from a philosophical concept to a full bodied reality.

My safety has always been pretty good. Except for some impulsive behaviors, I thought about hurting myself plenty of times, but had only once ever done anything. One of my hobbies was to research my meds to see if overdoses would be lethal, search for other suicide methods, and track down every side effect, potential conflicts with meds, etc. that I could find. I even read “The Final Exit,” which advocates for right to die, but many people consider it to be the definitive suicide manual. I had been considering multiple plans, but as I said never implemented them. But of late I had come up with something that might fit my parameters, or rules. Being clever, a long time ago I devised some rules for my suicide, should I ever get there:

  • Had to be painless.
  • Doesn’t hurt anyone else. (e.g. even a bus driver or train driver hitting someone is traumatic for them)
  • Does not have a likelihood of failing and putting me in a worse physical situation, such as being maimed or permanently damaged.

I was determined that if I ever needed to resort to it, I would be smart enough to be able to do it successfully. The thought of the embarrassment, shame, and sadness that followed a failed attempt would not only make me feel those things, but it would put me in a deeper hole and remove the option from the future. Stuck with no escape.

I always thought I was smart enough to do it successfully. How hard can it be, killing yourself? Turns out it’s pretty freaking hard using my rules. Originally I wanted to come up with a diabolical scheme that would kill me but not have even the slightest hint of suicide. For the insurance money. But that never came to fruition, so I had to just go straightforward with self murder.

Again, pretty freaking hard. Most of the over the counter drugs aren’t dangerous enough, so it ends up having to be prescriptions. A couple months ago I had a root canal go bad and the pain from that also wanted me to kill myself. It was the worst pain I had ever felt. Dentist was sympathetic and set me up with a root canal referral and a bottle of Oxycodone. I didn’t use all of it, so we keep something like that around “just in case” for sprained ankles or really bad injuries. And there it sat, right next to the cologne I don’t wear. When you search the internet for “ways to kill yourself” all you get are suicide hotline ads and links to other depressive stuff. However, if you search for “dangers of alcohol” there are all sorts of lists of things you shouldn’t mix with drinking. Very handy. According to them, if you had a shot of beer and someone with an opioid walked by you would fall down dead in an instant.

I only had four pills. But one of those can get you loopy. Guessing four plus a crap ton of alcohol would just let me sleep, and then shut down. Ok, so in looking back it wasn’t really a foolproof plan. But it was a plan, so I was getting closer. When you take the depression quiz at the doctor’s office and you indicate that you would prefer to be dead, they ask if you have a plan. And if you have intent. Which I guess means the guts to go ahead and do it. If you simply say “No plan or intent” they smile and move on. Because passive suicidal ideation is fine, I guess. I’d been saying “no plan, no intent” for months. But now I had a plan. So I had to start lying about that. If I reveal the recipe, they’ll take away the ingredients.

Much of this information I hadn’t shared with anyone. Not Wife, not Therapist, not even anonymously online. At some point I promised both Wife and Therapist that if I ever got to that point, I would call them before I did anything. And much like the concept of the suicide hotline, I didn’t understand why I would do that. If I’ve crossed a line, the last thing I would do is to bring someone in to try and stop me. That would be counter-productive. I am sorry I lied to people who are so important to me, but I don’t feel I failed someone. I just feel like I had to do at the time what was necessary for my survival, even if survival was quitting.

The weekend before the Saturday

It was Labor Day weekend, and we were up north with family. I was incredibly depressed, and just for the fun of it (or it was a med issue?), decided not to drink that weekend, which was actually nice. Up north is a very drinky place sometimes. In front of the evening campfire, or watching a movie, or even just after having driven for many hours all hopped up on caffeine so that I could relax and get to sleep. My mother was an alcoholic who drank to be able to sleep, and that was always present on those nights. But still I drank.

But not that weekend, and honestly I didn’t miss it much. I was having trouble sleeping anyway, so it might not have helped that. And I would hopefully wake up in the morning refreshed and not dragged down by a hangover or tired from not getting a proper night’s sleep. But I would wake up with only the crushing weight of depression holding me down. Pretty much just normal for me these days.

It was meals with family and in-laws, that look I’m happy and jovial. But it’s just me wearing my Human Mask. It didn’t even really take much thought. I’ll take it off later and pay in pain for the effort of looking normal. To recover from this weekend I’ll have to take it easy for the week. Easy enough for a professional depressive. Next weekend I’ll buy some nice scotch, watch a bunch of movies, and be lazy. Except the alcohol makes the suicidal ideation kick into overdrive. The last time I was up north I tried to will myself to death. Then I thought about what it would be like to walk into the lake and drown myself. I settled on laying on my stomach in bed and trying to fall asleep with my arms blocking the arteries in my neck. Stupid, yes, but you never know. That was where I was at. Literally trying to stop breathing.

It was Saturday that I realized I would have an opportunity to make an attempt next week. To finally go to sleep and not have to wake up to the weight. Wife was going to be out of town the next weekend, and it wasn’t like something I was planning, at least not right away. It was inevitable. I would get some really nice scotch, and I would drink it freely. But I also knew when I did that it put me deeper in the hole, and tempted me to do something about it. Those were the times when the depression was scary. Actually, not scary, but more true. I would relax into it and let it have it’s way with me. And I knew that this time was going to be serious.

I got to thinking about how hard liquor makes my suicidal ideation go through the roof. Literally the first sip makes me want to find the closest bridge and jump off. The problem there is that it would potentially hurt someone else. Walking across the bridge over the highway makes me giddy nonetheless. Something having to do with alcohol. And alcohol poisoning would likely fail the first two rules. But something that would make me go to sleep? Sounds good to me.

Except this time I’d be in the worst mindset yet (because every day just gets worse, no matter how bad you think it already is) and that could lead me to do something “stupid” like kill myself. And if I had that plan and remembered to implement it in a drunken state, I would actually do it. I wouldn’t choose to do it. I would just do it. And since this was back when I thought I knew what I was doing, I figured it would work. That’s all well and good, but it occurred to me that it was going to happen regardless. I’m going to be alone, I’m going to buy scotch intending to drink in moderation, and I’m going to drink too much of it. And then I’ll have the means, the motivation, and the bravery to pull it off. Except those things were going to happen no matter what, so I was running headlong into a brick wall, and I’d hit that wall next Saturday. Nothing I can do to change it. While I’m serious about not wanting to live anymore, I don’t like not being in control of it. And that’s why I had a full blown panic attack up north on Labor Day Weekend. And couldn’t tell anyone why I was having it. I have enough random crap happening to me these days that nobody will blink an eye.

I had some Oxycodone left over from a dental issue earlier in the year. There were only four left, but I had done my research. The warnings were not to take any oxy when drinking, that even a normal dose could be dangerous. I figured four times a normal dose should do the trick. Combined with the alcohol, I would just go to sleep and never wake up again. And I had been keeping them in mind, and knew that the next time I drank heavily, my inhibitions would be gone, my safety measures would be ignored, and I would finally do it.

So it wasn’t a plan, it was a surety. Yes, I could tell someone, call someone, text someone, but I lie for Suicide, and most of me wanted it to actually happen. And the part that didn’t want me to do it wasn’t saying a peep.
So I had a week to live. I went back and forth between excitement to finally get it done, and fear because the brain often doesn’t want to be killed. So there was no guarantee.

Remainder of the week

I spent the rest of that week increasingly stressed out. I would tell the PHP group that I was bad, but I always claimed no intent. That my kids were my safety, and I didn’t want to hurt them or pass this pain on to them. In reality I was convinced that my death would put an end to the burden, the struggle, the pain for everyone. Every day that went by, it was all getting worse, and I was feeling all of it. Depression, Anxiety and Suicide were running the show, helping me not give a shit, and helping me toward that inevitability. Every day was worse, and that’s when I gave up trying to even understand how bad it was. I was simply giving in to all of it, and this just accelerated me toward that wall.

On Thursday I had a call with Therapist. I was flat in affect, my whole body shaking from the anxiety, and my sleep deficit was building and building, keeping me down. She was concerned. She had never seen me anywhere near this bad, and I agreed again to call her or text her if I felt unsafe. But I was already unsafe, and past the point of being able to ask for help. I was just waiting for the weekend. And I was skilled in making people feel like I’d be fine. Like I would finally get some sleep and feel better. That I had things in my life, my wife and kids and family, that have always prevented me from doing anything, and that sure, I was going to be fine.

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