Thursday, July 05, 2012

The Worst

Another unedited excerpt of Wrecking Ball

The Worst

Suicide only becomes an option when depression persists for a long time. I’ve been reading narratives of bipolar individuals in acute states of paralysis for years, ever since I was formally diagnosed myself. Even so, the most concise written account of the harrowing process I’ve ever encountered would seem to be a very obvious one. I first stumbled across it while experiencing some serious high school emotional turbulence. Far from making me more depressed, the novel made me feel understood instead.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath won its reputation for its frank depiction of the slowly debilitating depression present within a talented young adult. Those who saw me take a similar plunge could have predicted where I’d end up by studying the text. Like Esther Greenwood, I observed, with paralytic and weary horror the result of prolonged depression. I experienced how effectively all the energy and vitality of my life was sadistically removed, inch by inch. By the end, going through with killing yourself reaches paradoxical proportions. It is a way to regain life by casting one’s lot with the afterlife.

No longer believing that life would be pleasurable again, choice had been completely removed. I was left no personal agency. People around me kept telling me to hold on, to keep fighting. Those who did not understand the illness tried to guilt me into not going through with it. Suicide is a permanent solution for a temporary problem. I must have heard that a thousand times from a thousand different people.

This line of logic assumed that I’d maybe just not thought the matter through--or that I hadn’t thought of it a particular way. To be willing to sacrifice one’s very earthly existence, a state of being that is a biological compulsion and imperative is a decision few arrive at impulsively or without severe contemplation. Forcing oneself to the brink takes extreme effort. The nature of the illness leaves one weak, disoriented, discouraged. Formulating a plan and then making sure it succeeds is laborious.

I invited, then courted the possibility of death by my own hand because it gave me an incentive. It restored a glimmer of hope, of possibility. When even taking a shower and eating grows difficult, one sees nothing resembling a conclusion to these feelings. In life, we’re driven by strongly felt, strongly actualized goals and aspirations. Depression removes the prospect of future life plans. The throbbing psychological and physical pain grinds a person down to nothing. It persists day after day, often with no relief to be found or anticipated.

Reassurance, even from sympathetic voices is mostly ineffective. Though it might be a little like building a bridge over the river Kwai, suicide is the final valiant thrust. If sickness is a battle between will and resolve, the last bombastic volley can be seen as the desire to be or not to be. Dying unifies muddled thoughts into a grand final ambition, a comprehensible, motivating solution to end the pain. Those who have not fallen into this quicksand themselves do not fully understand.

The series of attempts all run together these days. My father took it upon himself to keep me alive. He was my primary caretaker for a two or three year period. It was fortunate this hell only persisted for two or three years. I doubt anyone, myself included, could have made it beyond that. But while in the middle of it, there seemed to be no way out for anyone.

Once, while in his company, I sought to jump out the window of my bedroom. Dad grabbed me at the last minute. He was stronger and larger than me; he trapped me underneath the weight of his body. The backyard was a ravine that, sloping steadily downhill, ended at a small creek. Had I succeeded, I would have suffered broken bones and lacerations, but I would not have died. The elevation wasn’t sufficient enough to accomplish my purpose.

My internet friends were concerned. I’d since been befriended by a girl my age who lived in the UK, in London. For a time, we carried on an improbable relationship, one separated by a great distance. She was someone who I couldn’t visit by car. A trip would cost hundred of dollars I didn’t have. She worked at an off-license (liquor store) and went to school full-time. Expecting her on these shores was simply a dream.

The entire relationship was unrealistic, stuck together by a cloying sense of melodrama. But I did find an unforeseen source of strength and healing. The girl’s mother, in accordance with her Christian faith, listened to my insecurities every day over the phone. Her resolve to help me must have been intense, because most people would have given up and ceased communication altogether. I am thankful for the guidance and advice of that calm voice.

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