I awaken in the ICU with the long tube still sticking out of my nose.
I can feel it in my throat when I breathe and swallow.
I am in the most physical pain and exhaustion I’ve ever experienced.
Every. cell. of my body hurts
the pain is a weird, depleted pain.
It’s a very difficult thing to describe. But it is total. And all-encompassing. And overwhelming. And inescapable.
Every. cell. hurts. And every. cell. is exhausted and depleted.
And this makes sense when one considers my methodology… I poisoned myself.
And, yeah, basically fucked every. cell. in my body that blood touches.
But there’s a deeper pain… beyond the physical poisoning pain.
A pain I have experienced multiple times awakening after a suicide attempt.
It is a cellular exhaustion and depletion.
And this is where I feel the Battle of Brain vs DNA has occurred. I’ve talked with others who have massive attempts and they all– in my anecdotal experience– report that the next day they feel an exhaustion they’ve never felt before.
I believe this is the remnant of the Battle with DNA.
That sounds silly, I know… but I really believe in it. To be suicidal is to override DNA. To go against your own physiology and biology and instinct to survive.
The same instinct that made me grab for the water when I was choking on the pills.
And Suicide Victims™ have conscientiously overridden this messaging of our ancestral life force. The blueprint God Almighty™ gave us.
And this feeling has existed regardless of methodology in me or the people I’ve talked to. I’ve used differing methods over the course of my battle with this disease and each time… the same spent feeling of aching exhaustion is the hangover.
To consider suicide an act of weakness is completely misunderstanding what it actually takes.
People are fighting a life threatening disease. And the only way you can make this disease stop hurting you is to end your life. That is a shitty singular option.
Would we begrudge a Cancer Patient™ who had exhausted their Brave Fight™?
If after all the radiation and chemo they said no thanks and yeeted themselves into eternity… can we judge that decision harshly?
But we do with mental health patients all the time.
At some point after waking up and passing back out again about a half dozen times and trying to drink water with my painful throat that has a goddamn tube riding the length of it…
I wake up to the nurse– who gives me nothing but Still Faces every time she encounters me– bringing in what appears to be a child’s high chair with a plastic bag attached to the seat of it.
“You need to get the charcoal out of your body.”
I can barely process what she’s saying.
I suffered some severe cognitive and processing effects from the damage of the attempt. It fucked me up for years afterwards. I had to teach myself how to read again because I couldn’t follow along with a book anymore. I literally could not remember what I was reading by the time I would get to the end of a paragraph.
Took years to get my reading back.
“You need to empty your bowels of the charcoal they used to pump your stomach. You still have toxins in your system.”
“Can… I… use… a… bathroom?
Every word hurts.
“I. brought. you. this. chair.”
Still Face. Flat affect.
She moves things and lowers rails and has to help me up because I literally just died of being poisoned and am too weak to walk.
There’s not a lot of kindness or warmth. She seems angry and dispassionate. Like they all do.
And I understand the nature of ICU and ERs and paramedics work. I’ve been in enough hospital settings to know the vibes. I was raised with a hypochondriac parent ffs. And I can hear this nurse interact with the other patients in the multi-curtained room we are all in. She’s nicer to them. And she’s not exactly mean to me… but there’s no love either.
However, the part that is most upsetting me about having to sit on a high chair….
I may be a performer…
But there are certain of life’s activities where I am less than interested in an audience being present.
Did I mention I have Obsessive Compulsive disorder?
And now I have to handle my business in a trash bag with a dozen people within 5 feet of me each of them dying and surviving each of their hellish nightmares.
Did I mention the tube was still hanging out my nose?
Of all the low points of the prior 365 days of Dave Griffin’s life…
Sitting on a high chair in a hospital gown with no clothes on with a 6 foot long tube hanging out my nose while I purge my bowels of 900 metric tons of Lithium-and-Resperdol-laced activated charcoal into a New Crinkly Bag™ after my failed suicide attempt…
This. is. my. nadir.
It can’t get worse than this.
** SPOILERS **
Yes. it. can.
I suppose at this moment of humble humanity… I reflect on how I was trying to end the pain of my life.
And I seem to now be reaching entirely new levels of pain I did not know were possible.
the suckage continues.
The reason I’m writing about my lowest and most cringe moment– beyond the quest for Empathy™– is I want people to understand that suicide is not a gimmick or a game or something you play with. It is not something born of seeking easy ways out of problems– it is what you do when all other options have ceased to exist.
It’s your last resort. Nobody jumps to suicide as their first course of action. Unless they have personality disorders and do fake attempts and stuff– I am not talking about that. This is a blog about the disease of Major Depression and Severe Mental Illness That Can Kill You.
What I experience is on a level of severity most of you will never understand or ever come close to understanding until you are at the end of your life dying of some horrible disease that is causing you endless misery and suffering and then at some point you will have a moment where you will wish you could exit gracefully.
In that moment… you will know how I feel on most Tuesdays.
To be actively suicidal and then take the actions to complete it are further levels of severity that most people never get to.
And those of us who do end up in these spots… we’re not treated like survivors of deathly illnesses.
Not. one. ounce. of. sympathy. comes. our. way. ever.
We are treated like brats. We are treated like we’re stupid. Selfish. Ignorant. Like maybe if you tell us 7,000 more Bible verses we might realize “oh you mean I’m supposed to stay ALIVE? Oh PRAISE JESUS IT’S SO EASY!!!”
We are an annoyance. A nuisance. Nurses and paramedics aren’t that interested in helping people who don’t want to live. And what I hope people will take away from this story is that…
My life was on fire.
And nothing worked to make it better and it was disastrously worse every time I turn around– and NOW IT’S EVEN WORSE!!
But, I wasn’t trying to dodge life or get an easy get-out-life card… I wanted to live and do the work I’m best at. And forces beyond my control prevented that from happening. And the insanity of that, broke me.
I didn’t just wake up one day and decide if I can’t have my way I’m gonna check out like a spoiled brat– which is what everyone thinks I am.
At some point the nurse returns as I’ve dozed on and off and had sips of water and return trips to the CharcoalChair™…
She throws the curtain back and without warning yanks the tube out of my nose.
Like not a word of warning.
It hurt like hell…
but was also a relief.
It’s hard to explain to people… it’s almost comical how rude people are to those of us with mental illness problems.
Everyone thinks you are evil or will deduct 100 IQ points and talk to you like you’re stupid.
It’s gotten better… but consider it took me 30 years before I felt barely safe enough to write this story and I’m having constant panic attacks while writing this 5 part series.
And the more religious faith someone has… the worse they are to you.
Because they don’t believe any of this is real. They think you’re fighting demons and your own SinfulNature™. And they say these things while talking to you like you are the dumb one.
The Dunning Krueger of the Fucking Evangelicals™.
Because in their Magic Book™ the only examples they have of people doing this are the bad guys. So if you’re doing this what does that make you?
They do this with gay and lesbian and trans people, too.
Anything their 3,500 year old texts told them… they believe it to the end.
One of the arguments the Fucking Evangelicals™ will use is that there’s hundreds of newly identified “mental illnesses”– they’ll probably use air quotes when they say that– and that all these new illnesses are magically appearing when none of this stuff existed back when they were kids or back when The Bible™ was written.
They say the same thing about human sexuality and now, of course, trans people.
The idea that there’s dozens of gender expressions that didn’t exist when they were kids in the good ole days when they went to sock hops and had Shirley Temples at Ye Olde Soda Fountain at the 5-and-dime store where no pesky colored people or poor people were allowed…. this irks the crap outta them.
And this is a fundamental way that conservative and Obsessive Compulsive people think. Any disruptions to their stable worlds and they freak and consider it Of The Devil™.
And a point I would like to make to refute that notion… that the prevalence of the sudden emergence of all these myriad diagnoses and newly named disorders and illnesses that didn’t exist a generation ago and therefore that must mean it’s all fake atheist conspiracy to undermine believers…
On October 3, 1923… 100 years ago this week, in fact…
The belief of every living human on earth was that The Milky Way Galaxy was the only galaxy in existence. And that the entirety of the whole universe God Almighty™ had created was everything we could see above us.
And this Bible™ would be used to hurt Copernicus and Galileo who believed the earth was not the center of the universe hundreds of years earlier and as time went on they were proven CORRECT no matter what The Bible™ “said”.
And so when people thump their Holy Books™ and declare “God’s Word says nothing about mental illness… or that lgbt people are an abomination”…
I say… your precious Magic Book™ also does not mention that there are multiple galaxies in the universe.
And 100 years ago this week… on October 4th 1923
An astronomer by the name of Edwin Hubble would aim his telescope at what– until that moment in time– was thought to be a nova within our galaxy.
The data he collected from the images he took in that telescope atop Mt Whitney 100 years ago changed everything we knew about the universe.
What Hubble had realized was that this was not a nova within our own galaxy.
Rather, this was the Andromeda Galaxy millions of miles outside the boundary of our galaxy.
AND. THEN. THERE. WERE. 2. GALAXIES.
When up to that moment in human history there had only been 1.
And guess what?
Do you think those are the only 2 galaxies that exist?
100 years later we know there are trillions of galaxies and the universe is expanding…
That information is not in The Bible™.
And the idea that once you start studying something and then finding lots of it once you know how and where to look for it… well that applies to damn near everything on this planet, from astronomy to microbiology to all the shit they found inside an atom… to mental illnesses being recognized and studied and mistakes in theory made and then data collected and methodologies changed… to the same ways we’re learning about gender spectrums and human attractions and sexualities.
Just because your AncientBook™ tells you some ignorant shit from 3,000 years ago… it. does. not. make. you. right. you. ignorant. fuckers.
But we’ll get into all that in the second half…
Everything we have ever learned about the entirety of the Universe we have learned in the last 100 years.
Everything we have learned about the brain. The heart. Our spinal fluid. Germs. Viruses. Computing technology. Electrons. Atoms.
From the moment humanity learned there were other galaxies to the moment that the first human walked on another celestial body other than Earth was 46 years later.
46 years. I am now 46 years old.
We went from not knowing any other galaxies existed to walking on the moon in one lifetime of 46 years.
So to all you fuddy duddy mofos who are stuck with your AncientPropaganda™… you’ll forgive me if I’m not going to submit to your outdated and ignorant understanding of the human brain.
If I have one wish for this project beyond helping democracy and ending fascism…
I would hope that people would read this story and that their hearts would be softened to the brutal struggle of Mental Illness. I wish you would all find sympathy and love in your hearts for my brothers and sisters who struggle and fight for our lives instead of continuing to shit all over us and make our existence worse by the way you vote.
We need healthcare… not an exorcist.
We need compassion. Not moralizing.
We need sympathy and empathy and to know that we are loved and people want to help us get better. Not condemnation and judgment and lectures.
We need hospitals. Not jails and prisons.
We need housing. Not tent cities that you all complain about, too.
And what do your amazing churches do for any of us?
Where is this amazing christian charity I’ve heard so much about?
We’ll get into that in the second half, too.
I’ve spent 30 years watching people have parties thrown for them when they are cured of their diseases. I’ve sat in restaurants and watched as families gathered for the first trip out since whateverthefuck happened. I’ve lain in ICU’s as family members visit and gush over their loved ones and bring flowers and promises of rest and recuperation when you get home…
I did get a stuffed animal from my youngest sibling. I seem to have that memory.
One person gave a damn.
But otherwise, we are the people you don’t care about and you don’t love.
And we are aware of it. We feel it. It emanates off you every time we ever ask you for help of any kind.
You do not care about our suffering or our pain or the barriers we face to having a decent life of dignity and basic human decency.
You ARE the barrier to people with mental Illnesses having a GoodLife™
The final argument I would like to bust is the idea that suicide is inherently selfish.
Is cancer selfish? Is it selfish to be focused on your health and recovery while you are fighting to live? Is it selfish to not want pain anymore?
If anything I would say that my experience with Major Depression is one of anti-ego. My biggest problem is that I’m NOT selfish. I don’t care about myself at all and that’s the problem. I was raised in a system that taught me having good self esteem was literally a sin.
I suffered from a lack of ego.
To be selfish is to live.
Maybe I need to be a little more selfish for the first time in my life.
Suicide is not a selfish endeavor.
It is a chaotic and desperate and destroyed thinking process of a Broken Brain™.
It is not weakness to defeat your DNA.
As I lay there every. cell. of my body in pain and exhaustion…
And no matter whatever anyone tells you…
the. easy. way. out.
*** I’m very unsatisfied with this series of posts. They don’t flow comfortably. I feel there’s a big chunk here at the end that I want to sum up this year of hell… and it eludes me at this moment… this piece doesn’t pop it’s missing some final oomph.
There’s no laugh in this one. It’s missing the fun. But maybe that’s something to consider for the next pass… maybe go for a listless and bleaker storytelling style to differentiate the mood…
But I’m also tired of trying to knock all of these out back to back to back… and I have 2 more to go… and thinking about all of this… it’s some sad shit to revisit. Been a lot of tears. Good tears. But hard tears.
Without question this has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write and I wish it felt heftier or delivered more magnitude to make it worthwhile… not because I’m an egotist but I want the time and effort we all have put into this as creators and readers and artists and audiences… I want this to deliver a really satisfying conclusion artistically and poetically.
And it’s arriving clunky and I’m tired and need to move on.
I need to get to the end of this damn volume so I can breathe again.
It is brutally difficult to put something so personal out in such a state of incompletion… but this whole journey is to learn about how Art is made so perhaps there’s value in it.
In fairness, I may be too close to this to view it fairly and appreciate any feedback.
c’est la vie
To be revisited.***
[October 10 was World Mental Health Day and I had hoped to release this series earlier in the day… missed it by a few hours. Oh well.]