I talked a lot in my last post about how I got to that tree, in a snow storm. The process was lengthy, not a split second decision. Looking back over those months, I realize it was a decision on my part. A decision to go down a path I had been many times before. It was familiar, and soothing. I guess I have to try to get you to understand when things hurt like that it is one of the ways to cope. It is maladaptive and dangerous, I know that. Just as some reach for a blade, or a lighter, I reach for those days of planning. It is a place to get lost. To lose track of time. It is a way to be anywhere but present, because the present is agonizing. I don’t cut, or burn myself, but I have spent a lot of time with people who do. I have been present when people have cut, it doesn’t register as pain, it registers as relief. To the average person that may seem crazy. I think when a human suffers they build up a tolerance to pain, whether it be physical or emotional. It is in those moments of cutting, or burning or strangling that we get a little closer, a little more skilled, better able to look at death and think it okay. Over time the distance shortens, and it becomes easier to take that last step. I think that is why statistics say people who have attempted suicide before are at higher risk to complete suicide. Death becomes something familiar, if just by association. By spending time near it, in studying it, we lose our inhibitions. We lose our natural instincts to survive.
I wrote about the battle with one’s body to actually end your life.I spoke about how hard it really is. I truly believe that. I do however feel that this obstacle can be overcome. It takes time, and it takes practice. That is the scary part. I am terrified of getting even remotely close again, because I know I don’t have 9 lives. I can’t keep doing this and expect a Nor’Easter to kick up.I know with every attempt it gets easier. It becomes closer to habit, and less a reaction. I have been there enough times to know I am no longer afraid in those final minutes. The fear is gone, it is only peace and acceptance. It is comfort, like a warm embrace.
There was a period in my life that I routinely strangled myself, just to see how close I could get. How skilled I could become at pushing that envelope. It would have been easy to make a mistake, and die in the process. I didn’t. I have moved away from that as a means of soothing myself. I look for other ways to help myself. One of them is writing. Years of therapy have taught me that as vicious as the emotions can get, they will reach a climax. It will come down from that peak. The trick is to understand this and try to see it thru to the other side. It is extremely hard to trust they will decrease in intensity. Especially while in the midst of it. It is hell while it is going on. But, it will have a down phase, and you will get a breather. Sadly they may come right back up again in intensity. I think those are the times when impulsive behaviors happen. We react instinctually to the mayhem. We reach for whatever we can. If we have skills to cope, great. If not, well it can get really ugly real fast.
The long extended depressions are different. It is a slow culmination. Piling on, bit by bit. day by day. It isn’t the pain and anxiety of one day that finally drives me. It is the accumulation of many days, many months. There is only so much I can endure before I start looking for a way out. Unfortunately for me, my mind has honed a dangerous one. Over the past six years I have tried to make a very conscious decision when I see that split in the path, to say something. I know myself so well, and have lived the pattern so many times. It has to be then. It has to be redirected there, or else things get bad. I have learned to be open about my suicidal ideation. I trust Virgil. She won’t just put me in a hospital and throw away the key. We can work together and try to find a way to get by.
I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it is for both my therapists. I know when dealing with horses, in the aftermath of an extreme behavior it is hard to ever trust them again. Especially if that behavior hurt someone, or caught us completely off guard. We spend our time worrying and hoping it doesn’t happen again. We work on ways to decrease the likelihood of it happening again. But, it never leaves the back of our minds. It forever alters the relationship. I know I’m using horses to describe it. I can’t help but feel it is the same with therapy, in the aftermath of a suicide attempt.