Inviting the Grim Reaper to Lunch: What It Is to Want to Die

Suicidal thoughts as explained by psychology textbooks address the obvious: a sense of helplessness and despair; excruciating sadness; debilitating pain. All viable depictions of a festering mental illness, but lacks the minute details that go unaddressed, misunderstood, and often sought after when it’s far too late. Wishing for death isn’t as much a literal and tangible request as it is a call upon death itself. The chance to face it, to argue with it, to invite it to casual conversation over coffee and croissants. It is accepting death’s friend request, stalking its history, looking for commonalities that suggests a potential kinship and obscure level of understanding. Wanting to die is much, much more than just.. that.

Suicidal thoughts as explained by someone who carries them around like a gothic accessory requires deeper introspect. One must pick apart the most vulnerable section of the psyche to interpret such longings. A gardener understands that to rid of a weed he must pull at the root because cutting down the visible plant will only be a temporary fix. Like this, a (somewhat-functioning) suicidal person knows that to rid of his illness he must recognize all that contributes and address these head on through therapy, medication, or getting it all out by way of word purge via blog. With the latter, I progress..

Wanting to die means growing accustom to the mutt emotion that is bred from melancholy and rage. It is forgetting simple vocabulary and the inability to recall memories or facts. It is eating aspirin for fourth-meal to tranquillize the beast that claws from inside of the scalp, picking toward the epidermis to escape. It is reminiscing on days when skies were clear and “living” wasn’t a verb that received much attention. It is laying in bed, following the path of the ceiling swirls until the mind has gotten far enough away to taste freedom, only to be pulled back into shore when the sound of a slamming cabinet or mumbled conversation reminds you that your passport to depart from reality has been denied.

Wanting to die entails outlining pockets of life that your death would alter: people who would weep for your presence and hurt from your passing; items on a bucket-list you’d never cross off, like traveling to Australia or learning to play Styx on the piano; best-selling books that you’d never get to finish and television shows that you’d never get wrapped up in. It is emotional illness manifesting itself physically so that calling in sick for work is legitimate. It is feeling as though any potential contribution you may have toward a conversation is irrelevant.. and probably unwelcome anyway. It is feeling these suppressed thoughts pace back and forth between the right and left hemispheres, surfing the synapses, trying to outswim the tsunami.

Wanting to die makes meaningless copulation a three-some as it climbs into bed with you after failed attempts to break the numb; it is the morning after pill of self-disgust. It is finding comfort in your exclusive relationship with alcohol-induced blackouts and avoiding those friendships that don’t embrace this significant other. It is superficial conversation that seeped out of the elevator, saturating other aspects of your life that weren’t always forced interaction. It is pedal to the metal driving, flirting with the median and hoping for a semi, not a multi-passenger sedan adorned with any decal vouching for athletic children or an honor student.

Wanting to die travels with an entourage of guilt, shame, and remorse. It is watching a documentary on poverty and cringing at the skeletal figures, born without a chance. It is passing a homeless man carrying a sign that begs for his children’s weekly meals. It is volunteering with Rwandan refugees, an ocean away from genocide and the family members that it stole from them. It is fantasizing about your own lifeless body in a coffin and feeling at peace with this visual but wincing when the camera pans out to those who mourn, those who naively thought people only fall fatally victim to disease, accident, random (or intentional) criminal acts; but never the victim’s own selfishness. It is taking all of this in, realizing someone always has it “worse”, but waving around your Doctor’s prescription as a signed declaration, as your right to hate life anyway.

Wanting to die is the silence that stabs your aorta, and twists into the four chambers when someone you love reaches out for answers, for understanding, for anything. It is when this person who genuinely cares about your well-being, so much so that they are kneeling down as a way to literally welcome the weight of your troubles onto their shoulders; but you can’t explain to them why it will not help, why this weight cannot be distributed.

Most of all, wanting to die is the fear of the unsympathetic who take honesty out of context and morph it into a public display of conceit and a cheap cry for help. It is the harsh realization that maybe there is truth in their presumptions. It is harboring these thoughts alone, cultivating a petri dish of f-cked up that lacks scientific reason. It is feeling apprehensive of unveiling the truth in paralyzing suspense from the consequences that may potentially succeed.

Wanting to live is being stronger than wanting to die. It is being brave enough to introduce this dark passenger to those I have been hiding him from for so long. It is knowing that most won’t understand, many won’t believe, but maybe — just maybe — a few will be prompted to shine light on their own shadow. And in this case, I’ve reserved a few extra seats at brunch.


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