waving not drowning


What I did was promise my little dog I’d always come home for him. It didn’t cure anything. And I still want to–I won’t say die, because dying is messy, and scary, and painful and ugly and terrible.

But I don’t want to be around any more. If that makes sense.

Unfortunately, since there are few other options for “not being around anymore” (unless cryogenics has advanced past preserving Walt Disney’s head?) I think I should probably cut the shit and just admit that I’m suicidal.

I’ve been arguing about it. The therapist asks, “are you suicidal?” and I scoff. Actual scoffing, with a scoff-face and scoff gestures and scoffing my head all around scoffingly. “Pfsh,” I say, which is a scoff noise. “No. Geeze. I just–you know. Want to be dead. But not die. That’s totally different.”

“Okay,” they say slowly, gently. “Okay. Well. Do you have a plan?”

“Pfsh,” I say. “I would if I wanted to die. But I don’t. See?”

“Okay,” they say nodding, pursing up their lips, wrinkles forming on their forehead that I want to smooth down for them. “Do you feel safe?”

That always makes me think of Gandalf. IS IT SECRET? IS IT SAFE? But I don’t laugh because this is a very serious conversation.

“Yes,” I say.

Which is true. I feel safe from imminent death. And I also feel like that’s a bit of a disappointment.

Mostly I feel sad, and exhausted, and broken into shards that are too sharp to touch, and rubbed thin, almost transparent. I feel sick and anxious and thick with dread. I feel stuck. Unsaveable. That this is the how it is and this is just how it goes and my voice is too small and weedy to shout it all down.

Shouting is hard. Right now I’m not super good at hard things. Which includes planning to die and then the actual dying.

I think, though, that I don’t want to die. I don’t want to wish I were just not around. I don’t want to give in, and every day that I don’t is a really good day, a non-zero day, and that’s something.

Sometimes I resent making promises, even to a dog. It doesn’t seem fair to be beholden, because who knows what’s going to happen and maybe there will be nuclear war and I’ll be horribly radiation burned and–I don’t know. The metaphor doesn’t seem funny any more.

This isn’t a cry for help, or a bid for sympathy, or a notice, or a warning. I think I never really process anything until I talk myself through it with my fingers on the keyboard and the words showing up on the screen, sometimes surprising scary ones and startlingly deep ones and deeply, deeply stupid ones.

I didn’t expect to write this. I am hesitating about posting it. But you can’t deal with something until you look right at it, is what they tell me. You’ve got to stare it in the eye before you can punch it in the face, set it on fire, stomp it out. Eventually. Baby steps.

Naps. Reeses peanut butter cups. Breathing, not dying. I can do that.

10 Replies to “waving not drowning”

  1. Jen,
    You said it out loud, that’s POWERFUL!
    You have power, even on the days you doubt your stength to get out bed.
    I understand, I get it.
    I have power too…the power to share my love.
    Not in some creepy way but in a human way.
    I’m here. You can email me, you can tweet me.
    I’ll even post my phone number here for the world to see – just so you know, you have a friend to text or talk to; even if you just want to shout, when you find the will.
    Call me, you matter and I’m one helluva good listener, if I do say so myself. ❤️

  2. I’m not sure what to say….if anything is helpful….
    Just know that I’m sending super good energy your way and hoping and praying for you.
    You matter :)

  3. Yeah, I hear ya, sister.

    Life can be overwhelming.

    I just want to be unconscious most of the time.

    Keep working through it. After could be worse. Who knows?

    Your doggie needs you. My cats need me. That one can help keep you tethered when you feel ready to go over. Hold onto that until you get over.


  4. Jen,

    So glad you wrote this. I can’t say I know exactly how you feel, but I also deal with depression and anxiety and I often have the desire (and the will) to isolate. EVERYTHING WOULD BE FINE IF PEOPLE WOULD JUST LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE! DON’T TOUCH ME! :) I just want to shut the world out, watch reality TV, eat whatever I can get my hands on and, mostly, nap with my dog. I love to swim, and the pool is two blocks from my apartment, and I always think, while I’m swimming, I never want to stop swimming! I just wish I could conjure this feeling when I really need it, but somehow the memory of feeling good doesn’t beat the experience of feeling-good-right-this-minute.

    It is so frustrating when you know what you SHOULD do, how you SHOULD feel, etc., but what you can do just doesn’t match up. I don’t have any words of wisdom for you, but know you’re not alone. Thanks for letting the rest of us know we’re not alone. :)

  5. I have been in your shoes and want to let you know: This feeling might seem to last forever, but it is fleeting.
    You have a lot of friends and family who love you. Why not get yourself and your dog in the car and go see them for an extended period of time? Or call and insist they come stay with you?
    It’s not worth making a forever decision to avoid a fleeting feeling. I don’t know you, but I think you are beautiful and inspiring. The world would be a worse place without you in it. Much love to you.

  6. Hi Jen,
    Thanks for posting and sharing the dark stuff.
    It is brave and yours is a voice that wonderfully delivers the unvarnished truth.
    I have wondered about having weight and then not so much; where does the self destructive drive go?
    As a heavier person, I was always so aware of my weight and compulsion to gain, as a slow suicide.
    After surgery, weight loss, I am face to face with some of the unearthed darkness. Without the ability to overeat, where does the self destructive part direct itself?
    In my last therapy session I discussed my trouble with intimacy, in relationships with friends and my husband.
    The conversation came to a place where we talked about trust being the foundation of intimacy.
    My ugly truth is that I am the one who cannot be trusted. This is a bad feeling to sit with.
    In any event, the reason I mention this is that even though that was awful to say, and to feel, it felt like the kind of dark stuff that usually gets redirected, misdirected, or inflicted on someone.
    Giving it a name feels like having a chance to move ahead, get unstuck.
    I don’t know if any of that is relatable.
    Congratulate yourself on being open to feel the difficult feelings and write about them.
    Please keep sharing. Sending supportive vibes your way. Waving back at you!

  7. This is exactly it, that feeling of everything being too much and not having the energy or will or skills to cope. Coping might as well be slalom skiing or competitive ballroom dancing, things I never learned to do and it’s too late now–and I’m way too clumsy, anyway, and would probably injure myself trying.
    I think that’s irony, there.

    I post hesitatingly to semi-private discussion boards so I can maintain plausible deniability everywhere else. I’m awed that you put this out here. You are awesome, in the old-fashioned sense.

  8. I deal with this a lot. If you ever need to talk to somebody who loves you and also knows how it feels, I’m here for you.

  9. Please don’t forget…depression is not the “blues.” It is a physiological condition. Please talk with your doctor and have them adjust medications. It really is the best way to pull out of this. Take care.

  10. I felt the same way you described for the first few months of this year and now I don’t. For me, what turned it around was finding a community of people who I cared about and who cared about me. You will get through this because I did.

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