People ask me if I’m coming back next year, and I say, “theoretically.” Every day I question this whole, “Wait three years for the sake of the kids” thing. What difference does it really make? Today, if I had a gun, I’d be gone. Last night, while watching the Lost finale, I thought, now there’s something to stay alive for–next year’s season of Lost. My hold to life is tenuous, and a TV show isn’t likely to make a difference.
Yesterday, Justin brought a dog by for us to take care of until he gets a house in June. He then became upset because he found out the dog is actually 6 years old, not 4 years old, so he might take it back or it might become our dog.
Since dogs have short life expectancies, it might not be bad to have a 6-year-old dog. It could easily be gone before I leave the world, and caring for it could ease some of the rough troughs of depression. Besides, there are always lots of teenage boys at my house who could help take care of it. We’ll see.
Because Justin was there, I went for a walk up to the high school with him, my son, and the dog. When you have agoraphobia, there are plenty of places you avoid, and walking on this path made me realize that I haven’t been on it for well over a year, even if it is 5 minutes away from my home. We also went into the back yard, and I pointed out my hammock which I used once last summer and hadn’t walked to so far this spring. All that stuff in my back yard seems so far away when I’m alone, but given a role to play and company, I can find myself in the back yard, helping to string a metal fence to hold a dog. I didn’t go all the way to the back yard shop, a 20 second journey from the back door, but this was the closest I’ve been in a couple of years.
Being in the pit band with Justin conducting meant that I spent a lot of time during the last six weeks staring at him, and then last night while we were sitting in the yard with the dog, we stared at each other for at least 20 seconds. What does that mean? Such a long gaze between two friends? I also said that if we do continue being friends beyond the time the dog leaves our house in June, then perhaps we could have a weekly movie night. That is the first time I’ve expressed hope in a friendship for at least 10 years. He may be half my age, but he is extraordinary.
When you’re suicidal, it spills out. I told Justin about it because I thought it would help him understand why I can’t have friends, but it didn’t faze him. It might be the whole idea of three years–it’s such a long time in a way. I don’t know why it didn’t seem to bother him. If I mention my suicide to him, he just shakes his head and we move onto the next topic.
This week, though, I was overcome with negativity and a little too verbal about my suicidal ideation. We’re weary anyway because of the musical we’re in–he conducts, I’m in the band. It’s hard to work all day and then practice or perform for hours each night. Then he had a stressful event occur with a parent, a typical teacher/parent interaction in a way, but draining. I realized that even though he still seems to like me and doesn’t mind if I mention suicide, it isn’t fair to him.
Yesterday, I told him, “I won’t mention suicide again because it isn’t fair to you, and if I slip up you can fine me or something.”
“Fine you?” he said. “What would I fine you?”
“I don’t know. Something…”
“I know,” he said. “Each time you mention it, you have to stay alive another year.”
That was pretty funny.
In a far less funny comment, the school secretary asked me if I was ready to drink the Jim Jones Kool-aid because of the stress of year’s end. I replied that cyanide would be a particularly horrible way to die, and we moved on to child poisoning from there. Well, yes, I could have said. I *am* suicidal. I think about it every day. I plan to stay alive for three more years, but after that, I’m outta here, and at this moment, I’m wondering if I’ll make it for three more years. But she wouldn’t really want to know. She, of course, doesn’t know about my plans so she didn’t know that she was speaking to a future suicide, but it struck me as particularly humorless.
On the other hand, every time I think of Justin’s idea of a fine, I smile.
I told a colleague that I thought suicide would be difficult and she said, “No. I had my suicide all planned. It will be easy.” Her plan was to take some drug or other and walk into the woods to die of hypothermia. Since that is essentially *my* current plan (and was my daughter’s plan at one point), I found it interesting that she had the same idea. This particular suicide fantasy might not be as comforting in a flatter or warmer terrain, but it feels right in the mountains where we’re always hearing about people who’ve wandered off, become lost, and died.
No matter how comforting the plan, though, I still don’t think it will necessarily be easy to die.
I rented “The Bridge” a few months ago. As people contemplated jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge, the decision didn’t seem easy for any of them. The choice is between living a non-life and ending it early, but our instincts seem to scream against suicide. I know that even when I’m facing that moment of decision, part of me will wish it could have been different–that I could have had friends, a mate, joy. The glimmer of hope keeps one alive, but it isn’t hope grounded in reason.
Part of a responsible suicide plan is to figure out how to handle your assets. Since I have a few years, I’ve been thinking about financial planning. For example, my kids will get the maximum death benefit if I wait until I have 20 years vested in my retirement and I’m at least 55. So I’ll make sure that the day I’ve picked meets these requirements. I still need to write a will, but one of my biggest questions is what should I do with the house? I’d like to be out of debt too. Fortunately, one can seek financial planning advice without mentioning the suicidal part, so that’s what I’ll do.
For the four years I’ve had this job, I’ve never had a regular lunch break. When you’re an introvert in a service position, you need a break so you can replenish your energy and take care of people again. I reached the limit this week when a teacher dumped her class on me without warning (after the testing dude dumped his test on me without guidance). I lost my temper. I know now (5 days later) why it really happened. When I said, “I don’t understand why Justin likes me” my daughter replied, “I don’t get it either.” I wrote to him trying to explain what he means to me and why I can’t have friends and how it needs to end, and he basically replied that no, it wouldn’t end. So most of the week, I wanted to kill myself now instead of waiting. Since I can’t avoid Justin for the next week (we’re in this production together), I’ve decided to try to be more assertive on the idea of needing a regular lunch break, which after all I’m pretty sure I’m entitled to by law, so I’m writing a letter making a formal request for a half-hour lunch break daily next year. It would so help me if I could just have a daily break.
Last Thursday, I didn’t have time to think about suicide. Not one thought of suicide entered my brain for an entire 10 hour period because I was running around like Mike the headless chicken assisting with a music festival. Does that mean suicidal ideation can arise from boredom? Possibly. I find this phase of my suicidal planning interesting because it’s not like the obsessive-major-depressive-illness-with-constant- suicidal-ideation I experienced before. It’s more a weariness with living. I’m tired of working 7 days a week, tired of my teenaged children, tired of bad eyes, bad knees, and a bad back. And I know what the future brings–abject loneliness of the sort I felt last summer. I just wish I could kill myself *TODAY* instead of waiting, but I know that three years can go quickly if I just stay busy.