The fate of my first (and only) suicide note

I’ve never composed a proper suicide note.

The one time I tried to was when I was fifteen and I didn’t really understand what death was. I thought I’d be there to read my own obituary and wanted to make sure they had something poetic to put in it. Adrift in agonising over words that rhymed with “loneliness”, I put on a CD to help me channel some of the pain and became rather distracted. I sneaked a fag out of the bedroom window and watched the smoke drift off towards the moon. In the glass was reflected the padding figure of my baby sister, still in her school uniform, batting her fair hair out of her drooping lids and groping a hand towards her bed. Friday was the day it was okay to sleep in your uniform. She nodded at me sleepily before climbing onto her bunk and, very quickly, her little butterfly breathing began. I shut the window so she didn’t get cold, then turned out the lights. I always marvelled at Orlaigh’s ability to sleep under the brightest of bulbs. We hadn’t had a lampshade on our light for years.

I woke up the next afternoon in my drenched school shirt and reached one arm down to turn the pages of the notebook I’d written in. There it was, half-composed shite. I tore it out and then shoved it in my mouth. After chewing on it for a little while, I spat the inky wads onto the door where they landed with a pathetic slap. I resolved to just cheer the fuck up. It didn’t work, but I tried.

As an adult, having read Philip Larkin’s “Aubade” and understanding death’s brutal, modernist reality, it seemed very important to write a proper suicide note. It deserved more than a piece of foolscrap. And it was probably best to use a pencil and not a leaky black biro nicked from my dad’s pockets.

First, you have to hook them in with an opening zinger.

“Fuck! Well, I’m dead, so…”?

“Whoops!…”?

What would I say? Whom would I say it to? Do I write to everyone I know, as though I’m composing acknowledgements within an essay, each having their own personalised paragraph? Would my English teacher correct my grammar as she read? What if I left someone out? Would they think they didn’t matter to me? Did they matter to me if I left them out of my suicide note? You can’t just unkick the chair from beneath your cold feet, grab a pen and the Tip-Ex and have another go. Nor can you return from the dead and sheepishly apologise to those who were offended by their absence, if anybody cared enough to be offended at all.

And there’s the matter of tone. Is it best to be short and concise (“I don’t want to be alive”) or is it best to explain, in detail? This is the last thing that you will say to anybody. The last link to earth, the shredded end of the umbilical cord. And what if, by the end, there is nothing worth saying?

The end of life does not have to be profound. In the moments when I have been idly thinking of suicide, it hasn’t been with a lurch in my stomach, a kick of despair. It has been curious, almost blasé. I have visited the end, and turned back. But it is a walk- not a lurch, not a leap- into the abyss for me. It is leisurely, with each step the shrinking of trees, the dwindling of sound, the dampening of colour. Despair- suffocating and constant- leaves, as does guilt. All emotions depart. Emotions in themselves are something of life. Feeling is better than unfeeling. I have gradually felt myself leave what life is. The words that I could have summoned months before, so easily, are a grey little memory, the faces of people I love, lost within the fugue. It’s too painful to try and remember them because of the frustration of being unable to made me feel as though I was inhuman. How could I forget how to say I love you? How could even crying at a sad film be gone now? He still had the same skin he had always lived in. The sound of his voice as he bustled in from work still twitched my lips upwards. But I couldn’t reach him, nor him me. To lie on the bed and say, “I am lonely without you”, while your hand is upon their shoulder. I am here. I am not here. I’m sorry. And suicide was just killing the body.

This was the problem. When I wasn’t suicidal I could write a beautiful note, but they would just be love letters. Best to write them while you wanted to live. When I didn’t, it would be in a fire or a fog. One bought giddied incoherence, and the other, more familiar, a kind of crystal ever present, a feeling that it was time to kill the body (and how? There should be one place, a vein, a certainty in it all), because the rest was already gone anyway. When I made plans I didn’t consider how I’d devastate my family and those who loved me. I thought about Robert maybe having to take a week off work, so I’d plan it for a Friday. I also knew that you were more likely to die if you were admitted to hospital over a weekend, so if anyone found me, then I’d have a better chance of dying. Remember to write the PIN down somewhere. Cover the last month’s rent, and take the rest for yourselves. I call you Judas.

When depression takes hold, the kindest of gestures are a grave (ha ha) insult. Those whom love you- and they do, even if you cannot physically nor mentally conceive of their grief, because depression is self obsessed, so is the recovery- and those whom you love try to include you. But it is in a life that has moved on without you. You’ve already left. (“I am fine…”) It feels almost mocking. A phone call. A trip to the cinema. The effort demanded is bone breaking. The sheer physical effort of it all, to be wandering through a world without limbs, to be smoke, a phantom, and yet to be so heavy. Particle physics, grotesque biology. The kind of thing dug up, leathery skin and half-furred, half-horse footed, the tell-tale autopsy stitching up the bloated gut. Here I am.

I’m still with the crisis team. I don’t want to be- I don’t want anything to do with anything mental health related. Medication, therapy, hospitals and doctors- I want away from that world, I don’t want to know it. I wish I never had. It’s not serious or dramatic and nothing feels like crisis. I was embarrassed to cry so much in front of my social worker- I have never cried in front of her before. I have almost nothing to say to them, even though they are lovely and being helpful. There is not much of a why. I just started slowing down. Maybe it’s my birthday. I know 25 isn’t fun, and I do feel I have come this fair, and essentially failed, and still fail. Today after my ten minute appointment, I wandered around the hospital, ate some chicken, eyed a stall. Waiting at the bus stop I was flanked by old women. People my age were at work. But there is good things- running late, I grudgingly went downstairs to the taxi rank, stated my destination, and the man said, “Don’t charge her. She’s our neighbour”. And that was lovely. But unlovely was the approach to the building. I had never been there before.   I thought it was a test, to see if I pulled on my shoes or if I just flattened the cats and trudged meow up Holloway Road.  I had no idea it was so clearly signed. I shrank in my seat and felt deeply ashamed. I wish I had gotten off and walked. I don’t want the people who I see every day and don’t know to know.  My erratic sleeping pattern at least convinced them when I told them (lied) that I was a writer.  Even if I hadn’t written for days.  They still waved when I walked out at 5am, off for some cigarettes.  I hope they still wave at me.

The team are easy to dodge and I find myself- for once in my life- with the deep need to not speak, to be quiet and still. And all I have ever done is talk, talk, talk- I’m renowned for it, it’s part of my reputation.  “Seaneen?  She’s LOUD!”  I would probably confuse you, if you met me, months apart. Wonder who had replaced the girl, and left the doll. Over and over again.

I’m safe and I’m okay. I am still myself in the world, and I am good at hiding how I feel. I am managing, I am thoughtful. I am concentrating on trivia- little household details, written in chalk (at the moment: TOILET, BEDROOM, MOP, 1000 words, today’s date). And non-trivial things, like love, study, the cats., books from my birthday I can’t concentrate on (I struggled with the Thursday magazines, I dropped them down the side of the bed), chocolate coins in a box that I can.  Threading fingers through fingers.  Being happy for my friend who just had a ginger baby. Even smiling at the fact my social worker was trying to be all serious when, in the background, I could hear her toddler floundering around, chatting to himself.  Making plans. I am okay when distracted. I feel very slow, treacle-blood, often unsure of the day, and very keen to be left alone by doctors, keen to hide from intrusive questions. I have opened myself up to intrusion- here, there, everywhere. To write only of yourself really- it becomes humiliating, to think mostly of yourself, humiliating more. Our links are to each other. Too inside, the link is gone. Worse in mouth-words. In speech, it is too prodding, especially knowing there are answers they want more than others. I am to consider antidepressants, I am sceptical. In the past, they have thrown spanners in the dead-works, made me jittery and rapid, raging and awake. Usually I’d be rubbing my hands at the thought of an unnatural high, but I am just very tired. Even recalling some of the better ones (exquisite happiness, the feeling of being angelic, even muddied Essex light spun by god’s young fingers) , the thought of needing to speak again makes me feel more tired still.  And wondering if I should just stay awake and cure myself- it works, sometimes.  But bed is lovely.  I would like to sleep for months and wake up to eat.  Someone said, it’s a hibernation (I think it was my social worker). These are my seasons. It’s okay to just want to sleep and be still because it’s gathering my energy again, getting stronger, not weaker.  I wish I felt that way.

I still sneak to the shops without socks, whispering, “I love you”, to nobody, and everybody, in particular. Something I have done since I was fifteen. So it’s okay.  I still have, “passport photo” on my list, and Robert wants to do overtime.  The effort is worth it. Has to be.

PS: I need a wee.

31 Responses

  1. *Stunned*

    This is beautiful.

    Lola x

  2. God. i can only echo what Lola said. When I was 14 and suicidal, I didn’t even think of a note. I just slit my wrists with my brother and sister asleep in the next rooms. What i will say is I am eternally grateful I got it wrong (I cut the wrong way) ,,, no matter how shit i’ve felt over the years, or how doomed by life and love, I’ve been grateful for that complete fuckup all those years ago. It gave me years I didn’t have and whilst those years have not been perfect, they have been survivable; much more survivable than when you are 14, in love for the first time and know, without a doubt, that you are already tarnished beyond repair.

  3. Well blogged, some dots joined🙂

  4. Of the posts I have read this one has been the one I most closely identify with, It’s one I will come back to read, probably several times. Thank you for making what can be (is) an incoherent jumble when trying to express it into some sort of sense.
    Stay safe.

  5. This is gorgeous and profound. I will never be able to write as well as you. For what it’s worth, I love you, too.

  6. Yep, absolutely beautiful. You can do very beautiful things with words. And words are everything. No, they are. x

  7. Very good writing.

    Words are important.

  8. You write like one who has walked with angels… I once thought I walked with angels but they were in fact plain clothed police officers as apparently I wasn’t dead. Beautiful, funny, love you and your blog.

  9. How can you do that? Putting all those complex emotions into words and in such a beautiful way… It’s a good thing you’re creative even though you’re feeling so down. I hope depression doesn’t last long.

  10. Seaneen. Please keep this post up and un-edited. This is truly beautiful. The raw truth that spills from these words are truly stunning. Thank you for writing this and having the gift to say it so well.

  11. x Wow x
    Beautiful.
    Keep it up!
    And I also love you.

  12. Your words are just beautiful. You say what others can’t find the words for.

  13. Seaneen, your writing continues to inspire, please continue🙂

  14. Beautiful.

    What you were saying about suicide notes reminds me of this article about last statements from the condemned on death row:
    http://www.charaktery.eu/the_psychologist/3054/Communication-from-the-condemned/

    Sorry, not very cheery, but interesting. It’s so true what you say about trying to explain to people. Even in daily life I’m always balancing what to say and what to shut up about, what I’ve said to whom, what will hurt them the least.

  15. Others have said it already but you put into words that which is impossible to describe. I think if anyone wants to get even the faintest understand of what all this… this… ‘thing’ feels like, they need only read this post.

    Please, please, please leave this post up and un-edited. It is quite beautiful.

  16. Never seriously considered suicide, though I’ve spent perhaps too much time contemplating death, and whether and how I might end my life given a diagnosis of some horrendous disease. In my depressed phases, thoughts of death and other things grim seem my constant companion. I’ve grown used to that part of living bipolar.

    But I certainly don’t miss those thoughts when my pendulum inevitably swings back up.

  17. Glad you are safe, written words are so much more profound and yet less frightening than speech, and your words are so perfectly written…
    Hugs xxx

  18. Beautiful; the haunting, meandering clarity of your words makes me think you weren’t lying to your neighbours at all.

  19. This is good writing, so if you want to take it off here I’d save it on your computer.

  20. All this talk of suicide makes me think that the crisis team have performed their special magic. What a fucking joke.

    I could never think of nice way of doing suicide and decided to view my life as a crap novel. I would stick with it is only to see how many crap pages were left..
    Plenty it seems and it did pick up quite a bit.

  21. I echo all the comments about what a beautiful piece of writing that is.

    You are a writer.

    Hope things get better for you soon
    xx

  22. God. Your words bit into me. So true. Life keeps beating on like a drum and I struggle to follow the rhythm. There is constantly this beat that I pull against, jerk the other way, and feel like screaming, “let me be! I want away from here!” Yet I am shoved to being what I am expected to be, and what I still have yet to be tomorrow-because I don’t have the strength to break free. I wish it would stop….it all feels like some sick joke. Your words beat so true-they are your own beat…while so sad…so beautiful.

  23. I am grateful to you for writing this. You are a good person and a good writer. Thank you.

    I hope you can go to college. I hope you can have a job. I hope the depression lifts soon. And I hope that you live a long, long life.

  24. And now I do not need to expend the energy creating my own post since you have done it for me.

    So tired.

  25. Hello, I found this via Laurie P.

    I want to say I am stunned and moved by your writing. You articulate what I don’t want to and can’t say about myself, so thank you.

    I hope you don’t mind, but I added you on Livejournal – I am landfill_sky
    I don’t expect you to ‘add me back’ particularly, I mainly wanted to let you know who I was.

    Again, thanks.

  26. Beautifully done, takes me back. Stay safe, be good to yourself and let others be good to you if you can’t manage to.

  27. It is leisurely, with each step the shrinking of trees, the dwindling of sound, the dampening of colour…this…exactly this.
    I never even wrote a single word down when I started to down pills. Never thought of it for a second.
    This is raw. Real. Beautiful.

  28. Hello Seaneen,

    I also would not dwell on writing your suicide note your writing of your blog will be a good epitaph, please Keep Calm and Carry On, with your enlightening of others with the stigma of mental illness.

    Kind regards,

    David.

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