Author: Nnamdi Azikiwe
When I attempted suicide I had to wait for the doctor to come back with a diagnosis I had long since given myself. I think I was a million miles away when he said clinical depression. I had laid out 26 Tylenol and had downed 18 by the time my brother came to stop me. As I waited for the doctor I made a promise to myself. I promised myself that if I was not happy by the time I was 25, I would not settle for a suicide attempt. I turned 25 in May.
I’d be lying if I said that everything was better when May 15th came around. I felt the same things I always felt. I felt as though there are two people in my head discussing my fate for me. I felt like a bystander in the decision of whether I live or die.
One of me sits facing the other and he speaks of all the great things and people I would be leaving behind. The family that loves me more than words can say. My group of friends who I can always turn to for support. Most important of all, myself and all the things I have yet to accomplish. I have never been oblivious to all the wonderful reasons I have to live.
I wish I found it that simple. I wish that I could think of these reasons and my depression would give me a day off. However, the other version of me always chimed in and made points that somehow make sense even when I know they’re not true. It separates me from all my family and friends until I feel alone. Then it tells me the words I have been hearing since I was 18, “you do not exist”. In the moments of perceived loneliness, the only person I could turn to was myself. The only person who knows me tells me that my existence is frivolous.
The difference between being 25 and when I took those pills is that I would allow that version of me to break me down to something unrecognizable. I would treat those conversations as if they were debates, but a debate requires both parties to have positions worth considering. That is not true in this case.
I don’t have to allow myself to consider propositions that I am not a contributing part to society, an inadequate brother and son, or a replaceable friend. I may not always be in control of what thoughts arise, but I can control the thoughts that I entertain. Instead of lingering in my own thoughts, I began using them as fuel for my passions.
For me, it was never the meetings with my therapist. I would deduce what she wanted to hear and lie my way through the sessions. It was not the medication, it only made me feel like I was missing a piece of myself. I didn’t feel like the other me spoke any less truth, only that his words were muffled. What helped was coming to my own realization regarding the “truths” I was accepting. That leaves me with control I haven’t experienced since I was 18.
I am no longer a passenger to my thoughts.
If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, this is a mental health emergency and you are deserving of help. Please click here for resources from CAMH.