So you want to die. Tell me about it. I know what you're talking about. No really, I do. I'm 32 years old, and I spent years of my life wanting to die. I'm not here to tell you what the textbooks and the professionals tell those of us who have been suicidal. Nor am I here to talk you out of anything you might be thinking of doing. That's really up to you, the same way what to do with my own suicidal thoughts was up to me.
So why exactly am I here? Honestly? Honestly. To share with you my own experience with the hope that you might be able to get something out of it. You may have a little trouble believing that I was once like you, that I once too thought very seriously about dying. So why don't I begin by telling you a little bit about me.
I Wanted Out, I Wanted The End
For over 10 years of my life, I wanted to die. This is saying a lot, because I'm only in my early 30s now. Can you believe it? Yeah, you probably can. For over one-third of my life so far, I wanted OUT. I wanted ESCAPE, NO PAIN, AN END, A FINISH, A FULL STOP, NO MORE, THE END, DEATH, OUT, OUT, OUT, OUT.
Why? In some ways, I think the reasons don't matter. All of our reasons are different. But I'll tell you my reasons anyway. I was sexually abused by a relative as a child. I never felt like I belonged. I felt different, unique, alone, nerdy, scared, shy, lonely, weird, and crazy. Becoming a writer at an early age didn't help matters. Creative people are different, right? My family didn't show their feelings too much, and the fact that I did made me feel even crazier! Then I developed an eating disorder, became an alcoholic, abused pills on and off, self-mutilated, got into destructive relationships, was acquaintance raped while drunk, and developed an incredibly strong hatred of myself and life.
Finding An Escape Was My Goal in Life
The solution? My solution? To find an escape. My only goal in life. So much for my wealthy background, Ivy League education, and many talents and dreams. By the age of 17, I was on a death mission.
I can't even tell you that I sat around very much and thought about "SUICIDE". I was too busy doing things to kill myself to spend too much time thinking of how to do it. Drinking and starving yourself to death, driving drunk, going home with strange, dangerous men, wandering strange big cities at 3am drunk, dressing like a prostitute, cutting my skin open, loving and hating the sight of my blood, deciding to get drunk and drown myself in the ocean... Well, you could say I was straight on my way to death. Thinking about death? If there is such a thing as going beyond thinking about death, becoming so obsessed with ending my life that it became a normal and usual feeling for me, that was me.
Now do you believe me? Now do you believe that I was just like the rest of us people who could no more deal with life and reality than we could deal with anything at all. Yes, I wanted to die! Until I reached a point that I wanted to die so badly that I hit the extremely fine line between wanting to live and wanting to die. Do you know what I mean? No, maybe you don't. Well, I'll tell you. You might find it enlightening.
The Fine Line Between Wanting to Live or Die
I have come across many a fine line in my life, but none so unbelievably powerful and possibly deadly as the fine line between wanting to live, and wanting to die. If you want to die right now as badly as I once did, then you probably have absolutely no idea what I'm talking about. Maybe you've given up on life altogether. Maybe you don't know about the fine edge. Do you?
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If you've ever walked to the very edge of a cliff, looked straight down, saw death as close to your face as you've ever seen, turned around to take one last look at the possibilities behind you instead of before you, realized nothing could be so bad or final as the death in front of you... thought that maybe life wasn't so bad after all, realized maybe, just maybe, just maybe, life could change even enough for anything to be better than the finality and numbness of death, then you know what I'm talking about. Not a single doctor, psychiatrist, therapist, medication, person, place or thing on this earth had or could have given me what standing on the edge of the cliff did. A choice.
I Discovered I Had A Choice
A choice? Who has a choice when all they want to do is die? I'll tell you, because I found the choice. Which is why I'm sitting here, writing this right now, for people who are like I once was. A friend of mine is in the hospital right now wondering whether she should live or die. At least that's what her actions are telling me. I didn't even know there were that many ways to try to die in a hospital until I heard all the things she's managed to try in the past week. I was in the hospital once like she was. I was starving myself to death, severely depressed, having flashbacks of being raped, and wanting to die more than I ever had in my life. Until I discovered THE CHOICE.
It might sound a little strange to talk about a choice in the context of desperately wanting to die, but it's the only word that fits into this part of my own story here. See, I never knew I had a choice. I never knew that there was an alternative. I thought the only way, out of the pain I was in, was death. I had tried all the destructive ways of getting out of the pain that I had the courage to try, but all of them had ceased working for me. Believe me or not, I never, never knew that there was any other way out of my pain other than something permanent and final. Until I reached the edge of the cliff that I told you about. So there I was looking at death straight in the face, daring it not to take me, and boom. Yeah, boom. Just like that.
I Realized How Much I Wanted to Live
I wanted to die so badly that I finally realized how much I wanted to live. I realized that it wasn't that I wanted death per se. I saw that I wanted life without pain. I didn't want to live life feeling miserable anymore. I wanted life like other people had it. I wanted to feel alive, and happy, and joyful, like other people walking down the street. And then another very strange thing happened. I became aware of something I hadn't known before. Now remember, I have an Ivy League education, so it's not that I'm not somewhat intelligent. But believe me or not, I had never realized, until this point in my life, how incredibly final death would be. And all of a sudden, when I wanted to die more badly than I had ever wanted to die, I realized that I would never have another chance at life. That, no matter how bad I felt my life had been up until this point, I would never again have the opportunity to live in any way whatsoever.
And so it dawned on me. Maybe I had a choice. A choice? Yeah, a choice. Maybe, just maybe, maybe there was some way I could learn to live my life without all the pain. Even if it worked out that I decided suicide was the best option after all, I could always make that decision later on. I could always go back to that alternative. But once I killed myself, I would never again have the chance to have the life I had always wanted. A real one. A whole one. A good one.
I decided to live. I decided to try life after all. I decided to give life a chance.
The Best Decision I Ever Made
And some years later now, I can honestly tell you that making that decision was the best decision I have made in my entire 32 years. Because today I have a life that is so rich, and abundant, and beautiful, and amazing, that it is almost hard to imagine I ever wanted to die. Except, as you know, people who spend as much time as I did contemplating suicide never forget that we once felt that way.
Is my life perfect today? NO! I have plenty of painful stuff in my life. Like stuff that many, many people do not have to go through. But even with the pain, I now have such joy, and light, and love in my life that I don't even think of killing myself.
I spend most of my time now thinking about my latest dreams. Because I'll tell you something. When you have realized in such a short time all the dreams I have realized, you get the opportunity to dream up new ones. And when you spent as long as I did wanting to die, to have a dream at all is a dream in itself.
Speaking of dreams, it is my hope that more will join me on the path of those who choose life. Bless you, my friend, because I know what it feels like to want to die. And now I know what it feels like to want to LIVE.
I am grateful to say that I have been in recovery for a good few years now, and the life I have chosen keeps getting better and better. It amazes me to think I could have been another suicide statistic. Instead, I'm a miracle. Thank you, friend, for witnessing my miracle.
Living with Miracles: A Common-Sense Guide to A Course In Miracles
by D. Patrick Miller.
About the Author
Larissa Kaye Batten is the author of "Why Die? A Survival Guide for the Suicidal". ©1999 Larissa Kaye Batten. She specializes in books & art for the soul. This article is excerpted with permission from her book "Why Die? A Survival Guide for the Suicidal". The author welcomes e-mail from readers. She can be reached at [email protected]