an empath’s note on suicide-

I understand it. I done condone it, but I can’t fault it.  And I won’t shame it. Because I know that mindset. I know the mindset a person has to be in–to decide that finality and nothingness is preferable to existence or somehow an only option. I’ve heard people dismiss the act as selfish. But it’s not. In that mindset–your own life feels like a burden to everyone you love. You want to rid them of that burden.


For some, the world gets heavy. Really heavy. It can literally slow your body, your movements, you slouch, wanting to just be as tiny as possible. It’s difficult to concentrate. Everything feels like a fog, and clarity feels like it only comes in the understanding that you feel heavy. And everything is so sad. So, so, so sad. And broken.
And you see it. And you absorb it.
And you know you need to finish that newsletter for work, you need to edit those photos, you should have replied to that email days ago–but your brain gets foggy. Again.

And you’re distracted. And apathetic. And hurt. And angry. And hopeless.

And you just want to do something to be a force for good, or change–something. But you don’t know how. Or you can’t. Or you’re too poor. Or you’re too scared.
And you just want to curl up next to your mom, and for her to gently rub your hair and remind you that “Things will be okay.” Because she knows things, because she’s an adult.

But you’re an adult now, too.
And she doesn’t know if it will be okay.
If she uses that emotional energy to comfort you when your scared, who is there to comfort her? Who will restore her energy?

It feels selfish to expect that comfort.

So you start calling home less. Because you’re just so sad. You know how incredibly awful your sadness feels and you don’t want to put that weight onto others. So you hide it. Or try to hide it. You don’t want to call home because it’s much harder to hide sad from humans who know you. You don’t want your despair to infect others–and especially the humans you love most.

So you curl up alone on the floor of your shower. So you call home less. And you feel distant. And you know it’s your own fault. And you feel bad about that, too.

But the world is crumbling around you, so, what does any of it matter anyway?

Sometimes things are good and you feel like yourself. You laugh, and you meet the humans you love. You make art, you go out, and you call home. You feel strong, beautiful, and inspired. But those other times, you’re just darkness. And it becomes harder to remember those times when this wasn’t you.


“Do you think other people don’t feel like this? Because they do” she said.  Her voice sounded frustrated probably because of my own headspace. So I tried to stifle my sobs.  Embarrassed.  Of course people feel like I do, I think to myself. I assume anyone with an an ounce of empathy or compassion feels like this, to some extent, at some point.  But that doesn’t make me not feel it. It just makes me feel worse for not being able to compartmentalize and detach enough to be a function human.

“I refuse to let that asshole break me,” she said. I admired that. I don’t know if it’s true.  Maybe some days it is and some days it isn’t. But I know it isn’t true for me.

Because I am breaking. Every. Single. Day.
I’m breaking apart, and coming together, and breaking apart. Trying to fill in cracks of pieces that seem to have gotten lost when I last shattered. It’s the new ebb and flow of my mental health this past year and a half.

When I focus on my small circle of influence, and drown out social media, news, and click bait headlines, I’m good. Or at least much better. I have those white-privilege  moments of luxury to just focus on my own here and now, and be okay.
But the guilt seeps in.

I don’t know what I can do. I can’t save immigrant children. I can’t save net neutrality. I can’t stop police unjustly killing black men. I can’t stop children from getting shot in their own schools. I can’t fix the island of plastic garbage in the middle of the Pacific. Or slow the melting ice caps. Or stop large corporations from polluting our drinking water. Or save labor unions. Or prevent my social security from being privatized. I can’t even protect my own reproductive rights. At least I’m getting a tax break on my private jet. So that’s a win!

But my utter sadness won’t fix it. My emotions are as useless as I am at effecting change. Logistically, I know this.  I know my feelings are debilitating.  I have a lot of privilege and reasons to be thankful for my life as it is.

But logic doesn’t change the emotional response.  It’s hard, and stubborn, and all consuming.  And it pulls you away from the people you love most, because you don’t want to reach out to them for help–because they can’t help you. They can’t fix anything either. Reaching out just spreads the darkness. So you try to work through it.  You write (Ta-da! I was talking about myself the whole time) or make art.  You try to let yourself get distracted with friends at the bar, you make yourself go out when you just want to sleep. You start going to a meditation center.

You just keep trying to get through it. And I assume, eventually everyone does make it through–until they don’t. I understand it. I done condone it, but I can’t fault it.  And I won’t shame it.


Updated 7/17/2018: After the publications of this post, I’ve had some wonderful loving humans in my life express (understandable) concern. I want to explain that this post comes from a lot of thoughts and processing in my own mind since the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. On social media, I’ve seen people flippantly dismiss these actions as “so selfish” or curiously try to understand “why didn’t they reach out to family or friends”. Because of my own struggles with depression, I don’t think it’s selfish and I understand the why it happens. This isn’t my way of asking for help, but thank you to all those beautiful humans for your love.

2 Replies to “an empath’s note on suicide-”

  1. Exceptionally insightful and encouraging. I’ve followed you for years (since about the time you left Portugal I think) and enjoy your art and your comments. Pleas keep walking the journey. You bring a lot.

    Bob

    Liked by 1 person

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