by Bill Watkins, formerly suicidal
Dedicated to the memory of Robin Williams
I would have told Robin just to sleep. Stop trying to breathe. Stop doing stuff and thinking you have to do stuff.
What suicidal people sometimes forget is the glory of the “mini-deaths” cleverly built into this life: sleep. The complete cessation of activity. The suicidal want to stop, want all thinking to stop, so… STOP!
Complications arise with drug and alcohol addiction. Next to that, or maybe the same thing, is a bedevilment of negative thinking, insane thoughts—which any human being is capable of thinking from time to time.
There is a snowball forming, and suicidal people might start to believe the lies they are telling themselves that all would be better, if they were dead. If they took an action to stop the heart and stop breathing… for good.
I was a victim of a suicidal depression that lasted about three or four years. Parts of it are cloudy still, but I can now sum it all up as: Alcoholism.
I started drinking Dad’s last sip of bourbon when I was five. I started drinking the flammable, volatile, toxic liquid on my own with friends by the age of twelve. I was blacking out on the substance by thirteen.
The above facts were not of interest to the multiple doctors I saw for depression at the end of the last millennium. They saw and heard some symptoms, started to prescribe me drugs. One of those doctors is now a recovering alcoholic, but because they missed my obvious alcoholism I sometimes think all of them were either alcoholic, drug addicted or just plain incompetent in the field of mental health.
I forgive them. Alcoholism is “cunning, baffling and powerful,” to quote Alcoholics Anonymous—a powerful, tough, formidable foe. I don’t blame anyone for my alcoholism and subsequent suicidal depression, but have come out of it to celebrate twenty years of consecutive sober days to distrust Western medicine in some areas.
They and all of us are fallible!
To the person who is at the time of reading this letter considering suicide, I say: “I love you. Thinking of suicide is a normal response to pain, when the pain builds and builds and sustains over a long time. Love and accept yourself in this moment, but if you have a place to sleep that is warm and sheltered, be grateful for it and ‘die’ the mini-death that is sleep. Stop trying so hard to breathe. Slow down. Do nothing.
“Do nothing for as long as it takes, with no time limit. Based on my experience, the good rest and permission to stop will after time become a meditation or dream that makes you want to ‘go’ again. You might get a vision that is positive.
“As far as managing life through a suicidal depression, stop doing that. Get out a piece of paper after your rest, and write down one or two things you want to do. Eventually a bucket list (since you’ve been craving death anyway) of passions and activities. Today, of course, you can only manage one or two of those things.
“Do them. Love yourself for this one day. That’s the only day that matters and exists. If something makes you smile (that is not harmful to anyone, drugs or alcohol), note that and do it. Repeat it, and follow that bliss throughout your day. Your day is now your life!
“Note stuff in life we can’t control, like results or the future. Let them go. Maybe even consider prayer to a power greater than yourself. Call it whatever you want to call it. Just know you’re not in control of everything, and if you let yourself go… if you stop trying so hard and just rest… you’ll find the world continues to spin, and I do believe based on my own experience that positive thoughts and dreams are within us all…
If we wait for them.”