The seven letter S word

I’ve struggled with thoughts of suicide since I was thirteen or fourteen, five or six years before finding out I was bipolar.

I distinctly remember being home alone in middle school and feeling reckless and despondent—a terrible combination. I know I’m in trouble when I feel those things simultaneously.

Our game room has a bannister looking down on the front entrance. I once watched my brother climb over the bannister and drop down to the first floor unscathed.

The night I was alone, I decided I, too, would climb over and drop down. A slightly more daring endeavor since I’m afraid of heights. I couldn’t drive, so I had to do something at the house. I did it and nothing special happened. I didn’t feel better.

That night, I also went into the bathroom I shared with my sister and wrapped the cord to her hair straightener around my neck. I pulled it hard enough for it to leave red marks for a few minutes. I’m not sure why I did that, but I remember wanting to harm myself.

I’ve never told anyone about that night.

Throughout middle school and high school, I would randomly cut myself, typically with scissors. I have a few scars on my hands from it. Not sure why I did that, either. I didn’t experience any kind of relief or release; all I felt was pain and possibly fear of someone finding out. I didn’t do it very often, and I rarely left marks that drew anyone’s attention.

Even in college, I did some cutting at random times. I got a little more creative with what I used. I have scars on my arms and hands from those episodes as well.

I remember wanting to die in middle school, but besides wrapping that cord around my neck, I never actually thought about how I would do it. I just wanted the pain to stop. I was also carrying around gobs of shame, and I didn’t know how to process through it.

The thoughts of death seemed to hibernate in high school. I don’t remember ever feeling particularly suicidal.

My desire to die came back full force in college. I’d been diagnosed as bipolar by then, and even though I was medicated, my moods were still tumultuous at times.

During the summer after my first semester of college (I started in the spring because my psychotic break forced me to take a semester off), I had a job as an intern at an architecture firm.

The route home from that office includes an on-ramp that has a long straight away. The ramp curves and then merges with the highway.

After taking that route home for a few weeks, I realized if I continued straight and didn’t turn my wheel, the car would crash into the underbelly of a sturdy bridge. The bridge is far enough away from the on-ramp that it is highly unlikely anyone else would be harmed in the event of a crash. And the bridge is built in such a way that anyone driving over it wouldn’t be hurt, either. And I’d be able to build enough speed that there is no way I could survive.

I decided at some point that summer that if I wanted to commit suicide, that was the perfect place.

I grew to hate that route, and consequently, driving. Once I went back to school, the thoughts didn’t go away, and they worsened whenever I drove. I still dread driving because that’s when the thoughts are the strongest and most persistent.

One day I was leaving campus, and I needed to turn left. I saw a semi-truck coming down the road, and I had an incredibly strong urge to pull out in front of him and let him smash into the driver side of my car. I let the impulse pass, and I went on my merry way.

Fast forward past a few years and similar suicidal impulses. I still have suicidal thoughts in the car, but now I also have additional ideas for how I could do it. I find an odd sense of comfort in thinking about how I’d end everything.

I’ve also resorted to praying for death. Trying to take it out of my hands and put it into God’s. Sometimes I get angry at him for not answering that prayer.

I’ve never written a note, but I’ve been horribly close to killing myself anyway.

After something traumatic happened last fall, I’ve really been struggling with my moods. It was so bad I felt the need to find a therapist. I really like the medicine I’m on, so I didn’t want to mess with that at all.

Thanks to a friend, I found a therapist I really like. After a particularly hard session, in which I told her intimate details about my past, I felt terrible. I felt despondent and so full of shame it hurt.

I had already agreed to have dinner with my dad that night, so I went ahead and met him at the mall close to my therapist’s office. We had a nice time, and I didn’t tell him what was going on in my head. It was just a mess of thoughts. Mostly negative and deriding.

Guess what route home is fastest from that mall? You guessed it.

Suicide lane.

I texted a friend soon after I left the mall, but she was out with friends and couldn’t talk on the phone.

I called another friend, but she didn’t answer.

I could’ve tried to call other people, but those two friends were the only people I wanted to talk to.

I came to the on-ramp.

Do it.

Do it.

Do it.

Die. Die. Die.

You want it.

Do it.

Do it.

Do it.

Never before have I wanted to die so badly whilst simultaneously being the in the perfect situation to carry it out.

But I didn’t. Obviously. I still don’t know what stopped me.

Trust me when I say, those were the only thoughts passing through my mind.

After reflecting on how horrible that drive home was, I realized my sixth-grade volleyball teams would be traumatized if I were to kill myself. But that was only in retrospect.

Since that night, which was scary as hell, I’ve had thoughts of suicide several times, though they haven’t been as strong.

What gets me is I’m arguably spiritually and emotionally healthier now than I’ve ever been—even after the crap that happened last year—yet, I still have these thoughts regularly.

I have these thoughts after successful social outings.

I have these thoughts on good days as well as bad.

It doesn’t seem to matter what’s going on, the thoughts are always lying in wait; ready to infiltrate my mind when I least expect it.

This realization makes the future seem arduous and painstaking.

I don’t know if I’m strong enough to withstand years upon years of these ideations.

I don’t know how to rid myself of them.

I don’t know.

I don’t know.

I don’t know what the future holds, but, at least in this moment, I think I want to find out.

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