Dammit. I wanted to make this one something happier, but I kind of have to do this. I’m inspired by Tyler Coe being so open about his issues, and I just need to do this, to face this demon publicly. I need to prove to myself that I’m strong enough to put my money where my mouth is. Just a fair warning, I’m about to talk about mental illness, alcoholism and suicide. If that’s something you’re not in a mental place that you can handle then you might want to skip out on this one.
My suicide attempt was before I was officially diagnosed with depression. Time doesn’t sit properly in my brain, so I’m not sure exactly when, but it was a bit before. It was also after I realized I had a drinking problem and quit alcohol cold-turkey, so on that level progress had been made. It had to do with the Net Neutrality repeal, I seem to remember. In terms of the attempt itself, I think I was in the headspace that since the American fascist party had essentially declared information a for-profit industry under their control I had absolutely lost hope.
I had already renounced my religion at that point. I didn’t believe in an afterlife of any kind - thereby also removing any hope that fascists would ever face consequences for their actions. In my mind, then and now, they go to the same non-existence as everyone else. I know this is skipping around but I should also talk about what brought me to quitting alcohol.
Some of it people already know, some of it they don’t. So I’ll start at the beginning. My family has a history of alcoholism and addiction. I was no different. Some people saw my problems before I did, and some people still don’t see there being a problem. It’s sad, but those people I don’t really hang out with as much anymore, even though I care about them. I’m just not able to live quite in that world safely. But I guess that’s always the story with addicts, right?
Anyway, step one was RTX 2017. I started drinking on the booze cruise and just didn’t stop. I had a five-day brownout. The bits I remember aren’t great. Oh, I had fun, sure, but I also said and did things that were rude and made people uncomfortable. As someone who has mental illness and wants to make sure people can be and feel safe around me (a viking-looking guy who does competitive fighting), I honestly consider those five days my greatest and most absolute failure, as a friend, as a person and as a part of the community. The days after that were when, on some level, I knew something was wrong.
I didn’t address it immediately. Like I said, I have mental illness and a lot of that, it being Depression, was me telling myself that I was awful, that I was beyond hope of redemption. So I may as well just drink myself to death, one part of my brain told the other, and so I did. I kept getting drunk, browning and blacking out, doing the same toxic behaviors as before until the night where Connor MacGregor fought Floyd Mayweather.
I still got drunk that night, and got into a car on the way home where I basically shouted my Depression all over that poor, unfortunate driver (who I later learned was also drunk). I woke up hung over the next morning, and something clicked in my brain, then. I think it was me once again inflicting my problems on someone else, but I made the decision to stop on that day.
Flash forward to Net Neutrality. Even with the alcohol well and out of my system, the mental illness that contributed to my alcoholism wasn’t gone, and the state of the world wasn’t helping. I had the knife in my hand, hovered over my opposite wrist. The bottom was out from under me and, even through my terror of the non-existence after death, I was completely ready to end it then and there.
Until I locked eyes with my cat, Lucy. That was what stopped me. Not my human family and friends, not anything resembling hope, which I still don’t have. The thought of my cat, with her cat brain not built to contemplate death and mortality, unable to comprehend why her human wasn’t moving and never would again. The vision of her trying to get me to move, like she did when I was asleep, as blood pooled around my corpse-vision made me put the knife down.
That was my only attempt. As little of a thing as that was, it saved me. I am still defeated on the big fights like climate change and human rights. Those are, unfortunately, still lost causes even if I still think they need to be fought for out of spite and because I still believe the causes are right, doomed or not. But there are the little fights that can be won. Making sure my cat gets her treats is one. Getting stronger is another. And helping to keep other people alive, to pull them back from the edge of that place, is the greatest mission I have left.
Because I have been there. I’ve been at the edge of the pit ready to jump, and Lucy won’t be there for everyone. Shortly after my suicide attempt I injured my knee and went to a doctor for that reason, unrelated to my brain. When I was there, as a routine thing, they had me fill out a questionnaire about my emotional state. I avoided talking about my suicidal moment directly, but I think they knew I wasn’t telling them everything. At that time I was officially told I had Depression and was recommended a therapist and to take antidepressants.
I won’t lie, I refused both even though I encourage other people to take those avenues. I have trust issues with therapists and will for as long as medicine is a for-profit industry in the United States, because as long as that is the case there will always be an imperfect trust between myself and them - I can never trust that the bottom won’t fall out from under me financially, and the resulting abandonment issues will make things worse. The antidepressants I refused because of my and my family’s history of addiction. However now, unlike then, I do have things and people to keep on living for. The small fights go on.
And that is the person I want to be. Because I am the one who “seems” the most put-together in a lot of my friendgroups. I have a career path, I’m only behind on one or two bills at a time which is fucking great for people like me. I keep up with my physical health. But there are a few of my friends, the ones closest to the edge, who know that despite appearances I almost killed myself and still have to fight every single day not to try again. That even though I spend so much time “on” and being my loud, enthusiastic self doing so is a 24/7 fight with my own brain for control.
And that brings me to the point of this. I am mentally ill. I have attempted suicide. I’m also a well-functioning member of society and an athlete. If I can have these problems and survive, you can to - and I want to do anything in my power to make sure you do. That, above all things, gives me purpose. That gives me a reason to keep fighting, the knowledge that other people might need reinforcements in their own fight. Even if I am just someone you can reach out to and talk to. I’m not a therapist or anything, but if you’re also a recovering addict who feels the call again you can reach out to me, and either physically or metaphorically across the internet I’ll grab your hand and try to help you pull through.
And if you feel the call of death, I’ve had to resist it every day for almost a year now, and I will do anything in my limited means to rip you away from the edge. Keep on living, I need you. Let’s fight this battle together. And when we get stronger we can help other people fighting the same battle