MY FIRST SUICIDE ATTEMPT
My first real near-suicide experience came one beautiful Thursday morning in 2018. I got up late from bed because I had stayed up all night doing minor edits to some pictures that I took the previous day. I had sketched the direction of the blog post, edited three to five of the pictures and was ready to go to school and post. I would ordinarily have posted the article and picture on the blog, Instagram and Facebook, but I didn’t have enough data. I’d use the school’s Wi-Fi.
I awoke with the deepest sense of regret and nonchalance to life like I’d never had before. My life wasn’t great until that point, but I had found a way to navigate each day with some sanity. But on that morning, nothing made sense to me anymore. There was nothing worth living for. I could just die and life would continue like it was. Nothing will change. people die every day, I thought, and nobody died along with them. A few tears here and there and people were moving on with their lives. If I ended it all, nobody will die along with me. The tears and sorrows will only be for a while. A month or two, max, and people would move the hell on with their lives as though nothing happened.
I was close to ending it.
Normally, when the stupid depression visitor comes knocking, or to put it better, when depression swarms in on me uninvited, I’d hide myself in my room, under a blanket, and cry inside. I found it extremely hard to allow the tears flow as freely as I’d love to. One, I was scared that crying would reveal my weakness to me, and I wasn’t going to allow myself feel weak, not after the heartbreak that wrecked me and life that had refused to yield to my bidding. So, instead of crying, I’d just hide under the blanket and wait it out.
erm, I didn’t wait it in the proper sense of ‘allowing the emotions ride the wave’. I waited the depression out by denying what I was feeling. I hid my pain in silence and porn. Those were the safest spaces where my depression could stay. My mother knew I was going through a hard time, but she didn’t know how to help me deal with it. She hoped, I imagined, that I’d be better and things would look up for me. Her joy was to see me blossoming.
When the thoughts came that morning, I knew the line that separated me from suicide was thin. I knew that if I wasn’t careful, I’d drown myself in my own sorrows and soon lost myself in its sea. I knew I could not trust my old method of silence and porn to help me deal. I knew I was on the brink of falling off, and I didn’t want to fall off.
One of the strongest pieces of mental health advise I learned later in life is that I am solely responsible for how I feel and how I respond to my feelings.
Dying was an option for me. But I knew I didn’t want to die. I had the power to control how I felt. And in the situations where I could not control these emotions, I could choose a different path from what my head and emotions were telling me.
Diadem told me something really profound a year ago. She said that sadness loves loneliness. That when you are sad, you just want to be alone and bask in the muddiness of your sorrow. But the moment you decide to expose sadness to the light, talk about it, write about it, cry about it, it loses its power over you.
I hadn’t heard those wise words from Diadem then, but I did something similar to what D said. I sent random messages to Oshone, explaining to her just how I was feeling and what I needed to do.
Oshone has always been a major part of my life, especially my mental health struggles. She was the only person at the time I could speak to openly about how I felt. I understood then that writing was a means of therapy for me. I know many writers hate to admit to the therapeutic nature of writing. I feel writers are just scared of seeing their hobby either been elevated to a place of psychological treatment importance, or reduced to a means of finding meaning in a world that looks meaningless. Whichever way, writing about how I felt was my own therapy then; the only therapy I knew.
After more than 50 messages on WhatsApp, detailing the sadness I felt, the darkness that was closing in on me and how I was on the cliff of life, looking down at hell and heaven, whichever one the gods deemed me good enough for, and loving the thought of falling and never worrying about what life meant or how much I had failed my family I friends, I felt relieved. Not the kind of uuh ahhh relief. No. I felt like a burden was lifted from my chest. Lightness. Yes, I felt light. I felt like, “hey man, these clouds aren’t so bad, you know. These fears that you have; they won’t swallow you.”
The power of bringing things to the light is often underestimated in mental health conversations. Yes, you need the help of a professional therapist. But having people whom you can unburden to, people whose presence help you shine the light on that darkness threatening to swallow you is not spoken about enough.
Depression and its cousins of mental health illness loves solitude. They love being the only one occupying your mind. Depression, for one, thrives on having you alone in the room. It thrives on being the only occupant in your heart. That is why whenever you try to speak, it blares that you are wasting your time. It reminds you how nobody cares about you and how the people you tell your pain to will only make mockery of you.
And the sad truth is that depression is often right.
Many of us have had that experience, at least once in our lifetime, where we told somebody whom we loved and trusted about how we were feeling, opening up to them with all the honesty in the world, and then this person uses our pain against us, stabbing us in our face with our vulnerability. We have experienced these things.
If you haven’t, there is somebody you know that have gone through that phase, and the person’s emotional scars serves as reminder to you that people don’t care about how you feel.
That is what depression feeds on: the negative Trust stories and the resulting stabbing — back and front stabbing. Depression feeds you this narrative so much that you slink into its hole, wrap your arms around it, and own it like your only true companion. You want nothing more than to be alone in your head and suffer — more like, enjoy the company of your one and only true friend that won’t betray you: depression — with your lover.
When I sent Oshone those messages, I decided against my sadness’s ‘wise’ opinion. I took my bath, got dressed and went to school.
I was skeptical about going to school because depression told me that people would see my sadness and ask me what the matter was. And if I didn’t give them a tangible reason for my sadness, they’ll keep asking and asking me till I’ll lose it. Depression told me that I don’t want anybody around, so it was best I stayed back at home and just sleep. Call in to work sick and hold the pain I felt close to my chest. Own the sadness. Allow it define me till I had no meaning other than the one depression has bestowed on me: a depressed human with no friends.
But I went to school.
Oshone, after reading my messages two hours later, called me to check up on me. We chatted between me editing the article, forcing a smile and trying to cover as many events as I possibly could. She said she was proud of me and how well I was handling the pain. It was not the easiest of days. Trying to work when you don’t feel like living is harder than words can explain. That day, I realized just how many workers are going through emotional hell just to get their jobs done. People are constantly battling mental health illnesses but nobody cares. What bosses and team heads care about are the bottom lines. Have you completed your task? How fast did you seal the deal? How many proposals have you written today? Have you marked the scripts? When you say that you haven’t, they look at you and sneer. Some whisper so loud so you’d hear. They call you lazy. They say you are not being a man, or if you are a woman, that you are not being a woman enough. Get the job done is all they care about. Get the job done.
You see that mantra GET THE JOB DONE, I have a love hate relationship with it.
My first real experience with the GET THE JOB DONE mantra was during my undergraduate years. I was part of my fellowship workforce, and one of the mantras one of our leaders used to chastise us and get us working was, EXCUSES DON’T GET THE JOB DONE; YOU GET THE JOB DONE!
It was a powerful motivation for young men and women who wanted to prove to their spiritual heads and leaders that they were good enough. And the mantra is still a wonderful motivation. But the problem with this mantra is that people are inconsiderate about the mental health of the person who is supposed to get the job done. If you tell your boss that you had a mental breakdown and that was why you couldn’t meet up with the deadline, they will call your illness a lame excuse.
If you told your spouse that you were unable to meet up with their demands because your anxiety kicked in, or your bipolar was in full swing, they would laugh at you and remind you that you made a promise.
Mental health is looked down upon because it often doesn’t have a physical symptom. Except of course when you start making incisions on your skin. Which, for all the talk about openness on social media, will get you, the cutee, criticised. people who are less educated about mental health would even call you a witch or wizard. There is always a spiritual side to everything…
At the end of school hours, a football match was organized. Students Vs Teachers. More like students who had recently graduated from school V teachers who were older.
I was horrible on the day. My poor eye sight coupled with how long I had stayed out of the game made me a laughing stock among the students and teachers. But I enjoyed myself. I sweated. I created endorphin and it helped me immensely.
I went home that day happy, more relaxed and confident in my ability to choose life over death.
Although how I’d take my life didn’t come to me, I just knew I wanted to stop breathing. So, choosing life instead of death was more than a victory to me. It was a reminder that I was still in charge of my life. That although depression sneaked up on me like a thief, I still had the power to become who I wanted to be, no matter how sad I felt.
Oshone and I chatted again that evening. She was happy for me as I was elated for my growth.
But depression is a bastard! The growth didn’t last forever. Then, I had thought depression, after you had shown it that you were the boss, would take its things and leave you alone for good. But it doesn’t. Depression never truly leaves you alone. It never leaves completely. It comes again and again, hoping to meet you on the day when you don’t want to choose life.
Depression is relentless; that is why your choosing life and happiness over suicide and sadness must be relentless too. You should never get tired of choosing. Depression chose to come; you choose to stay happy and alive. Find the reasons. If the reasons aren’t coming as fast, dig deep; look for reasons. Speak back to the sadness in higher volumes than it speaks to you. Choose life, always; choose Happiness, always.