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To Sleep Perchance to Dream


Or, the Day I Wrote My Suicide Note

Tonight, I wrote a suicide note. It was simple and eloquent, but not worth quoting. I planned to leave my dog in my office with the note. Then I would drive to northern California. I wanted to see some redwoods and the Golden Gate Bridge. I would go to the beach, late at night, swim out and watch the world burn. That was it. A violent, pitiful drowning end. I would sink beneath the waves and enter the eternal quietness of forever. 

That is what depression is and does. Sometimes the only cure is the cold and gripping world of waves and foam. 

Explaining depression or any mental illness to the normal ones in society is impossible. Why aren't you happy? Why don't you just do what makes you happy? Aye, there's the rub. There are plenty of times you're happy, even with the worst depression. You spend time with your dog, dinner with your friends, a party with your family. Whatever it is that makes you happy, makes you happy. 

But what comes after is what I imagine a heroin addict goes through. There are minutes, days, weeks of normalcy followed by a terrible crashing pain. You go to an art gallery. You admire a painting. The meaning and essence and beauty of it all. Hours later, you are staring at the ceiling with paranoid delusions and suicidal thoughts dancing through your head like so many sugar plums. 

For most people, especially women, depression is a prolonged, hard, and deep sadness punctuated by moments of vast clarity. For me, depression is an eternal inward anger. A rage against myself. On a rare occasion this anger moves outward. I've punched walls. Broken things. Stabbed myself more than once. For the most part, I merely undermine my life one moment at a time. I suffer through failure and intentional moments of losing whatever it is I had. It's an anger for no reason at no one with no apparent result or resolve. 

I have sleeping issues. Lots of them. I can fall asleep but I can't stay asleep. I have vivid and violent dreams, almost hallucinatory but entirely fleeting. This usually results in extreme paranoia and hours of contemplation. Living in Barstow doesn't help at all; sleeping problems seem like a likely result when shootings happen outside your house. The blame is probably my own, however. Some defective DNA and some poor life choices. 

I feel forever like a broken glass. Worthless and jagged and not repairable. Don't feel bad for me; I blame only myself for my failures. Well, myself and doctors. I have sought treatment several times, and each time the results were less than stellar. Medications caused more health problems than they fixed. Doctors seemed to push me out when I tried to discuss my problems. Twice, despite going to the emergency room, I was turned away with nothing but staples. Once, I was turned away with nothing. Even the medical elite don't seem to understand mental illness. I don't seem to understand it.

I often imagine the mind is a lot like a stained glass window: random compartments joined together to make a whole. Some DNA from a fish, some from a reptile, some from a bacteria, all evolved together in a vain attempt to making a working brain for a thinking creature. The results are often less than desired. Schizophrenia here, depression there, alcoholism here, drug addiction there. 

Still, the stained glass mind managed to make it to the moon and produce love, so there is hope. Real scientists can tell you exactly where these problems are and which genes control them. None of that makes me feel better or makes me happy. It does, however, comfort me to know there are some little truths in life. 

There are things in life that make some people happy: love, money, self-actualization. I don't think I will have any of those. A lot of it is my own internal
subterfuge. A series of short, bad relationships. Stupid monetary decisions. Taking a job in the middle of nowhere with no chance of upward mobility. Failing again and again to act on Hollywood dreams. But there are moments of wonderful joy for the depressed. Stained glass slivers. Then the crippling, creeping dark moves in. Que sera sera.

I'd like to tell you to go get help if you're having similar problems. There are hundreds of help lines and doctors. I don't think I need to repeat that information. It's your choice and my choice. And that's the beauty of life. There is no God or Great Truth of morning after in this life. But no matter what you are, bacteria or person, you can make choices. Thousands of choices that no one else has ever made before. I chose to write an article detailing my experience instead of killing myself. You can make that choice too. Or not. Choices are all we have in this world. Well, choices and debt. An individual is a set of dice. Random chance and choices. 

One medication made me a zombie. One medication gave me severe nausea and diarrhea. One medication made my suicidal thoughts and excruciatingly violent, vivid dreams worse. I've been trying a vegetarian, whole foods diet. So far it doesn't seem to be working but it's only been a couple of weeks. There are thousands of treatment options and I have a good 40 years ahead of me, with a bit of chance and luck. Maybe I will find happiness or suicide. These are all my choices. In the end, I imagine I will feel a bit of Emily Dickinson: 

Because I could not stop for Death / He kindly stopped for me / The Carriage held but just ourselves / And Immortality. 

The seduction of tomorrow and all the mysteries it holds caused me to make a choice. I will keep living another day by my own will and hands. My dog seems to be okay with it. Since then ‘tis centuries, and yet each / Feels shorter than the day / I first surmised the horses' heads / Were towards eternity. 

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