*Trigger Warning: This post talks about suicidal thoughts. If you need help, please reach out. You are loved and you are needed.*
There are things we’re not supposed to say out loud. Thoughts that we can’t voice because no one will understand. Certain ideations are so taboo that admitting we have them is wrong. It’s treated like a criminal act or a crime against humanity.
Saying the words and having someone hear them? There’s a moment of panic, anger, and condemnation. Why the hell would you say that? Do you know how lucky you are to be here? People would give anything to trade places with you, but they can’t, they’re gone, and you’re being selfish.
Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume these things are said out of fear. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to a sentence no one is supposed to say. Five little words that should be whispered in the dark when we’re alone with our ghosts and demons.
No matter what, never say these words out loud: I just want to ***.
I can’t even bring myself to type the last three letters. Years of experience, shameful encounters, and too many judgemental glares have conditioned me to keep my silence. Don’t say it. Don’t even write it. Never admit that this thought enters your mind. Even though it’s fleeting and has no substance, it can’t- it shouldn’t- be said.
Instead, smile, crack a joke and say that everything is fine. Play the part, bite your lip, and swallow the lump in your throat. When they ask how you’re doing? Say, I’m doing okay. That’s what they want to hear, and it’s what they expect. Despite asking the question, do they really care how you’re doing? It’s polite banter, all a part of the dance, so follow their lead.
I’m fine and how are you?
Deviate from the norm, and you’ll face the consequences. Guilt trips and shame-filled lectures on the sanctity of life. They don’t want to hear it, they can’t process the words, so whatever you do? Do not say those five little words or any of their variants out loud.
Well, that’s been my experience, but maybe it’s time for that to change. Could we actually say it without fear of judgement or being locked up in a padded cell? Do they even do that anymore? Lock people up in straight jackets and toss them in a cell with squishy walls. Have I watched too many movies?
Wow, this is heavy so where’s it coming from?
Life and death have been my summer theme this year so, my thoughts have been triggered. I know, that it’s dramatic. I didn’t choose it. It wasn’t a coin toss between summer body or heavy, life-altering struggles. Fun in the sun, or should I spend my time staring at my phone waiting to hear the latest news? Arg, it’s such a hard choice, but I think I’ll go with the last one. Who doesn’t want to live in a constant state of fearful anticipation?
Sarcasm doesn’t always translate onto the page so, I should point it out. Just in case someone is sarcastically challenged, that was sarcasm. No hate or judgement. Some of my favourite people don’t get it either. It actually makes our relationships more fun, and it’s an endearing quality.
Ah, the sweet innocence of the few who haven’t been disillusioned by life. Their eyes are wide and doe-like. Their hopeful steps are springy and light. I’m willing to bet they don’t have a little voice inside their head telling them to do the thing that shall not be named.
Nope, there’s too much hope in their hearts for that kind of thing.
It’s rare to come across pure innocence and joyful naïveté in an adult. Someone who walks through life with a childlike wonder and trust that hasn’t been smashed into unfixable pieces is uncommon. When you tell them something, they take it at face value, and they usually have a dozen follow-up questions. Somehow, through their many years they’ve been on this planet, they maintain a genuine curiosity and a gentle spirit.
These people are usually made fun of by those of us who lost our wonder at an early age. We take pride in our mental scars and wear our mental illnesses like a badge of honour. Veterans of a war we didn’t choose to fight, but we did it anyway. We did it to survive, and now that we have?
We can’t relate to the innocent among us and their stable mental health. They don’t know what life is really like. It’s filled with cruelty. It’s brutally unfair and bitterly cold. Some people get good lives, and others get bad ones. There’s a coin toss.
And the cynicism joins its cousin, sarcasm.
So we make fun because we don’t understand what it’s like to be innocent and, I’ll admit it, I’m jealous. I would give anything to not live this way. To think this way. To have these thoughts in my head that I can’t say out loud. Those precious few who’ve resisted the cold and held on to their wonder are miraculous.
I shouldn’t be surprised that they respond the way they do when they hear those five little words. It’s easier for them to believe in unicorns than understand that someone might not want to be alive anymore. How could anyone want to leave this wondrous world? How could you give up on hope like that?
Hope. That’s the keyword right there.
A while ago, I had a conversation with someone who said those words to me. I’ll admit it, there was a moment when my knee jerked, but then I listened to what they were saying. This wasn’t a moment of crisis; It was an expression of exhaustion and frustration. It was a passive conversation and not a declaration of intent. So, I asked them why they felt that way. What was going on?
They told me they felt hopeless and didn’t see a way out of their current situation. To them, it seemed that life would always be this way, and there was nothing they could do to fix it. They were tired. It was all too much, so they just wanted to ***.
These words hit close to home for me. I’ve been having similar feelings and thoughts. I’m trying to change my life because the way it’s going isn’t working for me anymore. It’s not making me happy. I feel like a burden, and I’m incredibly useless. I’m trying to change that, but everything I do hits a wall and shatters.
That hopelessness they spoke of, the exhaustion, and the overwhelming feeling that this is how it will always be. It hit me hard. I felt their words, and they gave voice to my emotions. I hate my life the way it is, and I want to change it. I don’t know how. Maybe it would be easier if I just…But that’s not what I really want. It wasn’t what they wanted either.
We simple want to live a different life. One that has a little more hope in it.
Standing there, listening to them speak and hearing them say those words? I realized the courage that took. This version of their life wasn’t working, and they wanted it to end so they could live a new life. Admitting that was so brave. This moment of vulnerability and raw honesty was beautiful. Being open with their thoughts, feelings and releasing them into the wild was an extraordinary thing.
Just to be safe, before we parted ways, I asked them if I had to be worried or if we should call someone. I didn’t want to leave if they were actively planning to do something. They shook their head and sighed. I just needed to say it out loud, they said, and have someone hear me.
What a concept? Say it out loud and be heard. Not judged or shamed. Certainly not treated like a head case or a critical incident. Just stop, ask why and wait for an answer. See the person and not a problem to be solved.
I’m not as brave as they were, and I keep a lot bottled up. I’m not even sure I’m going to post this. Do I really want these words on the internet? Can I trust you with my darkest thoughts? I should just delete this and forget I ever wrote it.
Or I can learn something from a courageous person. They said the words out loud, and nothing horrible happened. They admitted to having a thought we’re never supposed to have. It goes against our basic survival instincts. It’s so shameful that we keep it buried in a dark hole, but they said it. It freed them up to walk a little taller.
My fingers hovered over the keyboard, and for about thirty seconds, I thought about being brave. I considered typing the words out in defiance. A big middle finger to the gremlin in my head. You don’t control me. See, I can be brave.
Except, I didn’t type the words, and I can’t bring myself to do it. That doesn’t mean the words aren’t bouncing around in my head. They’re there, and they’ve been there for a long time.
I think the first time they showed up was shortly after my first cardiac arrest. I’ve had five arrests, but the first one was the hardest. After I woke up, I felt all wrong inside. It felt like I’d been put back into my body wrong, or they weren’t supposed to put me back at all.
My body felt like a suit that had been left on the floor too long. Someone picked it up, shook it out, but the wrinkles were too deep. It was too late to iron them out, the paperwork had been filed, so I was plopped back in. They zipped me up, flipped the switch, and sent me on my way.
I’ve never felt right in my body since that day, and that’s when the thoughts first started. At first, it was simply, I shouldn’t be here. I’m in the wrong body. Someone made a mistake. Those thoughts matured into the familiar five little words and they’ve become a staple part of my day.
I have no intention of following them down that dark hole. I have enough hope remaining to ignore them, but they’re there, bouncing around with no direction or purpose. They come in, twist my stomach into knots and make me cringe. Then out it goes with nary a care in the world.
It’s exhausting, and I wish it would go away, but it has other plans. It’s just there, but what if I said it out loud? What if I didn’t keep it inside or wait until I’m alone to whisper it into the dark? Out is better than in, but I can’t bring myself to say it.
But what if saying it out loud takes its power away? What if admitting it’s there to the right person validates the struggle and gives me the energy to persevere? What if…
This is all theory, of course. I still haven’t typed the words. I put a few stars in place of the letters that carry the most weight. Maybe I’m not ready to be as brave as you. I’m not willing to shine a light on my darkest places. But maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to say it.