A few years ago, I tried to kill myself (Don’t worry, that is far behind me now).
Thats the thing about cleaning out and getting organised during a new year, you never know what you’re going to find. Whilst cleaning out my digital notes on Evernote, I found a suicide note I had written many years ago (yes, I wanted to commit suicide and yes, it was written on Evernote like the geek I am).
The months leading up to writing my suicide note were the darkest of my known existence. I was completely depressed (not the kind of depressed regular people insensitively use, but diagnosable depressed). I remember the first time I had felt hopeless, I placed a large (large at the time) kitchen knife to my stomach, threatening myself to plunge it in because I felt alone and that everyone I loved was going to leave me – I was six years old and my youngest sister (who is nine years older than me) was a teenager, my best friend, and had just ran away from home (although, briefly). I just remember the feeling of the sharpest point of the knife slowly breaking the tender skin of my belly and being overcome with fear. I didn’t want the pain to continue, but I was also too afraid to die. That was the first time I realised that I didn’t want to die, I just wanted the pain to end.
As I was finishing primary school and moving on to high school I had developed a stutter – I still do not know what caused it, but It allowed me to discover just how cruel other humans could be with the teasing and bullying that I received every time I spoke – or didn’t speak as the case may be. When I began high school my sister moved away to Scotland where she settled down and got married a few years later. My brother for the first years of high school was always working. My parents were highly religious (God was their answer to everything) and we had quite the generation gap. In every way that mattered, I was alone.
During my high school years is when I mastered the art of the fake smile and enacted happiness.
I overcame my stutter through writing (the only place I spoke fluently at the time).
In my final year of high school is when I first settled into excruciating depression. My brother moved out, my parents health began to deteriorate, our financial situation was in ruins, and I no longer knew what I wanted form life – or if I even wanted anything from life. It is also during this period that I made a few bad decisions an eighteen year old depressed kid shouldn’t be making – I got engaged and made her the reason for my happiness and existence, this should be a cardinal sin.
A year into my engagement I started self-harming – cutting myself.
A year and a half later I wrote my suicide note.
I remember never using anything sharp to cut myself. The worst was three large cuts on my arm. I used a pen that had run out of ink and all it could do was scratch, so I scratched, and scratched, and scratched. The numbing euphoria that this physical pain brings to emotional wounds is addictive. The physical pain is an emotional pain killer whilst its being felt – its unfortunately short lived and leaves scars. These are my scars:
The pen is mightier than the sword.
I remember scratching in mind-numbing repetition, glassy eyed and vacant. I kept scratching wondering if I even still existed. I half expected to break skin and see nothing, not blood, not flesh, just non-existence. Did I still bleed? Was it at all possible for me to feel anything other than this excruciating emptiness?
I broke skin. I bled. I existed. I felt the escape of blood, and with it, the ephemeral escape from my own emptiness. I did this a few times, finding favourite areas like my arms, my wrists, and to hide the scars I found areas on my waist. Many of these scars still exist today and are harsh reminders of the journey I have been on – and which I will never return to. It was at these points that my depression got to its worst.
The feeling of constantly being too drained to want to do anything. Waking up was an anticipated torture. A person who has never reached this level of depression, or this willingness to kill oneself, may never realise the amount of energy it takes just to be alive and conscious. The effort just to take a shower, to talk to and interact with others, to fake normality, to just smile, is excruciating. During these times I remember not spending more than necessary outside my room, with the curtains drawn – as dark as possible. The very thought of human interaction made me anxious with sweaty palms and a rapid heartbeat – it was not so much that I did not like humans, I just didn’t want to affirm my own existence – people being conscious of my existence made me acutely aware of it myself – I hated that I existed.
I made the decision that I would like to no longer exist, that I would end my current existence, hoping that this pain may end.
I went into a nihilistic existential crisis. The thought that nothing matters, there is no purpose, so why do I even exist – It may be better that I not exist at all, for me and everyone else. I wrote this suicide note a few weeks after this decision:
Suicide Note, 2010
Probably the saddest part of this suicide note is feeling like I have no one in particular to address this to.
It’s been with a lot of reflection over a considerable amount of time, that I have come to the decision that I am leaving you, World.
I am leaving – and you will be better for it.
Happiness, to me, has felt like a club for the cool kids of which I was never one.
My life has been filled with some of the happiest days I have never felt – its time that ends.
I just want it to be known that this is no ones fault, you couldn’t have saved me.
As Hemingway says, “The sun also sets”.
Finding ones own suicide note after years of living a much different life is a hugely emotional and cathartic experience. I was simultaneously filled with so much sadness and love for the person that wrote it that It led me to writing this, a reply letter to my suicide note, from the version of me that is living.
Almost six years later, I am new. I am happy, balanced, fully-functional. But at the end of the day, that person who couldn’t bear the idea of living is still inside me – he never goes away, and that is ok. He serves as a marker of my lowest point of which I conquered and shall never visit again.
Re: Suicide Note, 2010
You do not really want to die. You just want the pain to end.
It hurts, Oh My God it hurts, trust me, I know, I’ve been where you are.
You have lived days of feeling nothing but emptiness, and the accompanied pain of such a vacuum.
I am here to tell you what I wish you had known all those years ago, when you wrote this note.
I am here to tell you what I wish so many others like you could have known, but will never get to know.
The Romans were famous for stating: “This too shall pass”.
And how right they were, this too shall pass.
The gripping emptiness you feel will never truly leave you, it will always be around as a gentle reminder where you have come from.
You will know the emptiness is there, and you will live life so completely that you will fill the void with your own fullness.
The vacuum will cease to hurt you.
Leo, I love you.
Yes, I do love you.
Never have you ever believed you could love yourself did you?
But you will, and very much so. And others will too.
It is in loving yourself that you learn how others can love you too, how you can accept their love, and how to truly love them back.
This is important – love yourself, know yourself, be yourself. This, above all, to thine ownself be true.
I know you feel that the world is nihilistic. That there is no ‘purpose’ to life. No ‘reason’ for existing.
You’re right though, there is no purpose for living and no reason for existing – there is no master plan or calling for you.
Right now you see this as a hopeless thing, but dear Leo, don’t you see how incredibly freeing this is?
You are not constrained to a pre-ordained plan. You get to live your life by your own choosing.
There is no reason for you living. You get to define the path of your own life.
There is no purpose to your existence. You get to create the nature of your own existence.
Don’t you see? You’re free.
Oh my dear Leo, you are free.
I know it gets really difficult to wake up.
I know it gets really difficult to do anything.
Do it anyway.
Show life that you are not going to bow to anything.
Conquer you darkest demons.
Most importantly, engage yourself.
Do not let yourself remain idle.
Even on days you feel hopeless, and there will be days you feel utterly hopeless, those are the days you need to get up the most.
Get up! Engage! Remember, it doesn’t need to have a purpose, just do not be idle (even if you simply meditate).
Six years later, I still do not know what I want to do with my life, and that is completely fine.
Stop being so hard on yourself. Talk to people, they actually do care, they will understand.
Remember, it is with stress than anything is strengthened.
With pressure coal becomes a diamond.
With heat that metal gets shaped into swords and shields.
With being pulled backwards that arrows travel the furthest.
With this rock bottom that you shall rise higher than you have ever been, and how high you will go!
Remember this, above all else, everything will be ok.
If its not ok yet, it will be. Don’t give up.
Smile. Breathe. Live.
The sun always rises.
Love, You (2016)
Writing about this experience, which I have barely spoken about before, as well as writing this letter to my former self who was ready to die has been an extremely cathartic experience. The release has been unimaginable. As of writing this, I can honestly say that depression and its accompanied emptiness never really leaves you and you never truly escape it, but you can live life so fully that it becomes insignificant. If you are reading this and if you feel this way, know someone who feels this way, please talk to someone – you can even talk to me, but please talk to someone, there are even international hotlines available to help (http://www.suicide.org/suicide-hotlines.html).
I am now living in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, discovering more of what I enjoy and love everyday (you can only do this by actually getting out and doing stuff), and surrounded by people I love and who love me. Everything is ok.