I admitted that the situation was fucked. That took a lot. It takes a lot not to smile back at someone when they ask you how you are. That was on a couch; that was with my therapist; that was a few days ago; that was after it happened.
I am sitting at my desk, wanting to cry tears that have been stored for years. I am sitting at my desk. Wanting to jump out the goddamned window. Wanting to sleep a night undisturbed. I am sitting, thinking of how I hold on too much to too many things. I am thinking of song lyrics from a band that no longer is: dad would dream of all the different ways to die / each one a little more than we could dare to try.
I am thinking of what I’ve written before about this – describing my sadness as a quarry in coastal Maine. Not bottomless, but way deeper than our minds can grasp as they first start descending, thinking, I must be able to touch the bottom, right? They just carved some rocks out of here, no big deal. The signs about the drowning deaths, ignored, or acknowledged, then dismissed. The panic, walls closing in – all this happens on the way up, after they know they’ve made the mistake. Things are just about to get better, they’re about to breach, to get that breath – and lights out. I’m up top, I’m treading water (or am I the water), wondering where they’ve gone, unaware of how far down I’ve dragged them. I don’t have that oh shit moment when they realize that two hundred feet down really is quite deep, and they might have gone too far, that the ear-popping should have been heeded more closely. I just seem them float up, blue and lifeless. They were alive on the way down; they died on the way back up. My relationships, my loves, seem to take this course, to die the same, wet, recovering death.
I rub my stomach, and feel soft. I haven’t run much recently due to a sprain, and I imagine that I’m ballooning, even though I know that this has no base in reality. I am rubbing it, sometimes scratching it. The scabs from where I cut lines into my abdomen are falling off, and they itch like hell sometimes. I am wondering if there will be scar tissue, and how much.
I am at my desk. I am listening to two songs on repeat with near constancy. “Jumper” by Third Eye Blind, a song I didn’t discover until after it was relevant, and “Change the Sheets” by Kathleen Edwards. They’re giving me solace, but I’m worried that the continued playing of the songs might not be healthy, like any other drug. Maybe hearing Kathleen Edwards sing about margaritas and sleeping pills or listening to Stephen Jenkins scream right before the guitar riff kicks it up a notch is rotting my brain or carving dangerous neural pathways. I don’t know. The worst side effect that I can notice immediately is a precipitous drop-off in my productivity at work.
The drop-off, though, could also be my brain just being fried from recent panic attacks, sustained, heightened anxiety, and a high number of blows to the skull from hands, door frames, and other hard objects. Burnout, exhaustion, the energetic cost of healing.
Jumper. Interesting song. A few days ago, I tell my therapist that I think that I was suicidal on the evening in question. That it wasn’t a strong urge, but it was there. That I wanted to go to the third floor deck and jump off, crashing through the windshield of my car.
This was after I told her about my temples, the door frame, the dent in the wall, the knife and my stomach.
After I told her about the temples, the door frame, the dent, the knife, she had asked if during this situation I had had suicidal thoughts. I told her yes, that I did.
Were you looking for ways to do it? Did you have a plan?
That was when I told her about the porch, the roof.
That’s an interesting method.
I told her that the logic was that the fall probably wouldn’t be high enough, so crashing through the windshield would cut me open enough so that I would bleed to death. I think she looked markedly more concerned when I said this. Maybe it was because she heard me say that there was a logic to it; that there was a vision.
As if asking her not to be too concerned, I told her that I didn’t think about it too much, and that it wasn’t like I was up on the third floor deck staring down at the car, shimmying my way to align myself with the glass.
And I wasn’t on the third floor. I was on the second, and if I had jumped, and cleared the deck sufficiently, I would have gone through. I’m pretty sure of that. I did look down at the car for a while. It was after nine at this point, getting cold. I think if I had been startled, I could have accidentally fallen. I was not startled, though. I got too cold, and went inside.
Did you ever think to call me?
I told her that I did, that I knew that I should, that part of me was telling me, even as I held the knife that was about to cut across my stomach, that calling her was the wiser thing to do. But then: part of me tells me that I’ve already call her once today already for an emergency call about hitting myself repeatedly in the car until I heard bells ringing. I couldn’t bring myself to call her again, because at that point, I was afraid I was a nuisance.
The other truth, though, was that the beast in me that wanted blood was bent on getting it, and it had been caged up for way too long for anything to stop it until it got its way. In a way, the breakdown of my defenses had started earlier that day, when I did first hit myself several times in the temples. I was in my car, on the way to work. I pulled the car over and proceeded to give myself a headache.
And here I was, a workday and a few hours later, with a swollen skull, a bleeding stomach, and an urge to rush upstairs and hurl myself down three flights through tinted glass.
It’s a flood I had tried to hold back for two years; all the sadness, all the self-directed rage, it was in check. It told me that it understood; it told me I could be in charge. It put the knife down. It put the pots and pans back where they should have gone, and stopped wailing on my skull. It lets things slide off more easily. And then things happen; a near crash here, a change in drugs there. A euphoria from a new love I am convinced will last. A stumble here, a stumble there, and then the thoughts return. They know they haven’t been indulged in years, and they know that I am still afraid of them. They know they can run wild now since I have an dyke of antidepressants holding them back.
But it builds, and it builds, and it’s nature taking over. Fuck calling it a pressure cooker, fuck the need for a steam valve – this is a fucking big-ass predator we thought was extinct, but it is not, it is pissed, and it is a superior species. It will get what it wants, and it wants silence, it wants quiet, it wants all of this at the cost of life if that is the cost of calming damn.
I will tell my therapist that this scared me. That the ease with which it overpowered me scared me. That I felt no pain after several long cuts across my stomach scared me. That if someone else were not in the apartment, I was likely to have kept going scared me.
In the session, we focus on short term goals: seeing my doctor, discussing a new drug, trying to find a fucken psychiatrist in this state that is still accepting new patients. In the session, she addresses the part of me that is freaked out, the part of me that plays with pots and fists and knives, that stops pain with pain. She wants me to forgive them, to tell them that they are okay. That, in their own way, they serve their utility, and that we need to acknowledge their intentions.
I know this; we have discussed this before. But I had gone two and a half years without bleeding on purpose. Two and a half years since a self-induced concussion.
She reminds me that for now, that’s okay. That I’ve already beaten myself up. So I don’t need to continue to do so.
It gets better. It takes years, but it gets better. It does, and then, all of sudden, it doesn’t. It doesn’t anymore; it crashes in an instant, or what you think is an instant, and you look up at the mirror and you’re bleeding from your stomach. You’re holding up your shirt, you’re seeing the reflection of the knife. Your brow, your swollen, ringing brow, your furious, furious brow that is still calling for more. You’re staring at the love handles you’ve learned to hate, you get back to the bloody lines that are spreading out; you call yourself ugly, you call yourself terrible, and lord, when you say it, you say it with a sense of fucking conviction.