The thoughts washed over me like a warm dishcloth in the hands of my mother, softly scrubbing the days grime and grit away. The thoughts brought comfort and tenderness. The thoughts eased my anxiety. The thoughts allowed deep breaths out of shallow breathing. The thoughts had me wonder, “would anyone care?” The thoughts came to me through cupped ears, uncertain of the message and always certain of the sound. The thoughts came to me in hushed tones, as though they were being spoken in a pew in church, or a movie theatre, or a play. The thoughts popped into my head like bread from a toaster, but with less fanfare. The thoughts came to me like a piccolo in the distance or the bark of a dog through a curtained open window in summer, somewhere far away, present and avoiding distance. The thoughts always came to me as I was thinking of nothing else, crept in like an intruder or a rapist. But the thoughts were always the same, “it would be better if you were gone.”
When you live with mental illness, you also live with suicide. Not as a threat, or a cry for attention, or a misdirected plea for help. A life with mental illness means a life with suicide. And thinking about it daily is a good thing. For me (and many of my friends who live with mental illness), we understand the destruction, the collateral damage, the years of anguish suicide dumps onto those left holding the bag; this bag, now empty, once held a precious life to those it touched. But to the person to whom it belonged? It became too heavy to carry or too light to matter, too crazy or too solitary, too depressed or too manic, too congested or too separated, too observed or too ignored, too involved or too bullied.
To those of you without mental illness a word of caution: Suicide isn’t the end. Suicide is the beginning of horrific nightmares, overdue and now regretful answers to calls, lamentable hours sorting things which recently were belongings but no longer hold meaning, the gash of your disappearance which takes years to heal (if ever). It will never be an answer: it can only be a question.