Henry Rollins said, “I’ll never forget how the depression and loneliness felt good and bad at the same time. Still Does.”
It’s difficult to explain to someone who doesn’t know from experience. It’s a concept I’m just now realizing most can’t understand. It makes sense to me, but, the average opportunist shakes their head at such a diabolical notion.
How could suicidal thoughts offer a person a sense of relief? How does someone try to grasp for hope by teasing an act of hopelessness? And for certain people in certain circumstances at certain times, why does the thought of suicide feel so damn good?
“There is a clear disconnect from reality when the lone hope seems to be in hopelessness.”
A Fish Out Of Water
As the wheels in my head crack from the rust of a lazy writing month, the image of a fish out of water tugs my fingers back to the keys.
Imagine a silver trout on a sandy shore.
Out of his element.
Would not the fantasy of death comfort him at such a dismal time? Would not a seed of hopelessness offer a faint budding hope? The fish doesn’t know what exactly is on the other side of death, but he is open to finding out so as to escape the misery of stuckness in a place he feels he doesn’t belong.
There have been times in my life when I’ve been that fish, counting down the breaths, and convinced I don’t belong. And, in those times, I felt the only glimpse of hope I could find was through the fantasies of self-infliction.
I’m not saying that it’s right or good. It’s obviously not. There is a clear disconnect from reality when the lone hope seems to be in hopelessness. That statement alone doesn’t really make sense.
This piece, therefore, does not strive to justify such irrational thought-processes but to explain to the broken and baffled how suicidal ideation might evolve from fleeting thought to final action.
It starts, where almost everything does, in the mind.
The Seed, The Suicidal, And The Secret Garden
A mischievous seed can be planted in a person’s head when for them life starts to become overwhelming (Keep in mind that a person with a predisposition to mental illness will typically get overwhelmed quickly and to a greater degree than someone else). A stressful job, a difficult marriage, or any unfortunate situation can then be the hand that drops the seed into the soil where it will lay mostly forgotten about until a mental storm again circles the garden.
As the notion sprouts from the ground, it begins to be nurtured by the depressed person who returns to it every so often, saying things like, “Perhaps someday…”, and watering the soil with subtle fantasy and mindless Googling.
As ideas do in secret, they grow–they get bigger, and the person eventually starts to get used to the idea. He gets comfortable with it and eventually, it begins to offer him a sense of comfort. Suicidal ideation becomes for him an actual coping mechanism–a place in his mind to which he can retreat when the life of this world feels overwhelming and daunting.
As he returns to the garden, again and again, the path to it becomes flattened and worn, making it easier and easier to escape to the dark place in his mind. The fantasy grows and takes over reality, offering empty promises of ambiguous hope through a drastic measure.
No matter who you are, if you think about it and reflect on your own life, all of this is not too different than the common struggles of humanity. How many times have you given into your fantasies that offer empty promises of ambiguous hope through a drastic measure? It’s a human thing to do, and you and I might be able to relate more than you think.
For others, do you feel like a fish out of water? You’ve planted a secret garden and trodden down a dark mental path? Has suicidal ideation become a comfort and coping mechanism for you?
Talk to someone. A friend, a spouse, a loved one, a counselor, a doctor, a pastor. Show someone to the secret gardens in your mind, and share with them the thoughts you’ve been nurturing. They can help you see the reality that you do belong on this shore, and not in the shadows of suicidal ideation. Together, you can begin to make new paths in your mind, develop better coping mechanisms, and learn to breathe, maybe even thrive, in an overwhelming world.
We all know this to be true: just because it feels good, doesn’t mean it is.
You belong here, my friend. Seek help so that you might believe it.