Author’s Note: This is going to be a post that might offend people. It might unsettle people. It discusses things that might disturb sensitive people, and it discusses things that might trigger depressive episodes. Please do not read this post if you are currently considering or are about to attempt suicide. Instead, seek help.
First, the shock.
The problem with attempting suicide in a humane manner is that the plans are not ideal. I faced this myself in November 2013 when I woke up six times with a bag over my head. Six times I couldn’t get it all to go the way I wanted it to. At first it was the sleeping medicine that made me nod off before I could get the whole thing accomplished, then it was the drawstring keeping the bag shut(I used trash bags because I liked the poetry of trying to dispose of myself as garbage). Then I had found out tying a knot while dozing off wasn’t quite problem free. One time I almost had it, but a gap had formed where my head slid, rolling up the bag enough to give me some air.
It’s quite embarrassing how inept I am at trying to kill myself.
I took a few days in between each attempt, trying to figure out what went wrong while simultaneously working up the courage to do it all over again. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy killing myself in a way that wouldn’t maul me so badly my family and friends would suffer needlessly seeing my corpse. Since I was a recluse, I had to leave my door unlocked so the neighbors could open it when the smell got too bad. My plan included a sleeping agent because I tried suffocation before, but I’m no good with tying things and the confusion that sets in right before passing out worked against my desire to end things.
At that stage of things, I’d considered many alternatives. I’d researched successful rates of suicide by method, the chance of failure, the manner of failure, the gruesome factor on loved ones and other potential viewers of the body. I had one suicide attempt 11 years before that, and I vowed to learn from my mistakes of that time. This is very important to someone serious about killing himself while minimizing the impact on others around him. Death by cop is no good because it can emotionally scar the police officer. Ditto with jumping in front of trains and trucks. Handguns aren’t as successful as one might think, and pills are more likely to induce a coma than death. Suffocation had the same problems because of brain damage and oxygen deprivation, but sleeping agents in conjunction with suffocation seemed to be the best way of alleviating the risks of both. Determined to succeed, I kept going and going again until I ran out of sleep medication and I was too broke to buy more.
Not once that entire time did I think that I was going to Hell. That was because in the months leading up to the attempts, I had actually prayed for something I wanted more than anything in my life: divine intervention in helping end it. A meteor, car crash, freak accident, whatever He felt like doing. And I prayed hard for six months while I couldn’t get work. My mind was circling the drain, urging me to end my life, and I prayed as a way to placate my suicidal urges.
Sounds pretty crazy, huh?
I thought so too. How ironic that it took me asking for the only thing I’d ever wanted from God to finally admit to myself that He doesn’t exist. That’s the shock part of my de-conversion. Having to hate myself so much that I want to quit my one and only existence, pushing myself to shut my mind up so I can be at peace and accidentally learning right as I’m about to end things that I’d duped myself my whole life. In my defense, at the time I reminded myself at least I wasn’t going to be disappointed about my faith for very long.
And now the Awe.
Little by little, learning to live life without God has opened doors to appreciating the true grandeur of the universe and the tiny blue speck of planet we call Earth. Each human life is a tiny flame dancing on a floating candle, the seas are high and yet that tiny speck of flame burns to spite the coming end. Some people burn hot and fast and wink out to be missed by the others around it. Others burn slow and long and do not give in until the flame is taken from them.
I learned God is unnecessary for miracles to occur. I’m not talking about divine intervention; I’m talking about things happening that are so against the odds of success one can’t help but marvel at the outcome. Every child born prematurely that claws and fights for life and wins, every victim who overcomes herself and her attacker to see justice done, every person who survives natural catastrophe unscathed is a testament to the idea that life can overcome adversity. They might not be miracles in the classical sense, but they’re pretty damn inspirational nonetheless.
To explain these away as the interference of a divine hand takes away from that splendor. People can and do everyday things that should be celebrated, not given over to an invisible benefactor. People are potent and wonderful, capable of staggering acts of compassion and love. People can and often do what is right by themselves and everyone else without needing to resort to superstition.
I don’t always see the beauty around me. The workings of my mind quite frequently hide good things from my attention, leaving me alone and in the dark. Sometimes I even quietly acknowledge that my illness will one day be the death of me. But now it is like I have a new world open before me, new things in new lights and new colors. The new realizations I make every day fill me with a serene joy unattainable from religious introspection.
Most importantly, I realized that every day is not a blessing from God. Every day is a blessing from myself.
6 thoughts on “Shock and Awe”
Very powerful. Thank you for sharing such a deep struggle.
Thank you very much for your kind words. Surprisingly, the post practically wrote itself. It was the “publish” button that took the longest to click.
I hope that this reaches a lot of people. I think that many people don’t give the world enough credit to realize that there is enough to discover here without depending on a bronze-age deity.
Thanks for having the courage to post, I’ll be reading.
Thank you! The process has been somewhat cathartic for me. Even if this post helps just one person deal with depression or really anything troubling them, I’ll have considered it a huge success.
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May I add, Sirius, that I’m so thankful you weren’t successful in doing away with yourself. Your life, your words, your perspectives, are important. I’ve found a lot of comfort here in some very dark days during my deconversion process, and am so glad to know you.
I was a psych nurse for 13 years on a locked psych unit. One thing that scared me away from attempting suicide is the sheer number of people I’ve seen who tried to do it, but messed themselves up even worse, despite taking drastic precautions to get it done proper. Not only am I thankful you’re alive, but that you’re without brain damage from asphyxiation, or organ damage from the pills. Handguns fail plenty, as does jumping from high places…honestly it’s just not as easy to die by our own hand as one would think. I hope you never have to experience such a level of pain and darkness again.
Ratamacue0 once told me that I wasn’t as crazy as I felt, and that my writing was proof of how I was holding myself together (this is a paraphrase). I’ll say the same to you. You have a brilliant, sharp mind, with a great deal of empathy thrown in, and that is a rare combination. While you may feel crazy at times, feelings lie; the truth of your sanity is written all over on this blog, and shows you as the unique and intelligent being you are.
I’m so happy you’ve been able to find some awe and peace. I’m not there yet, as I feel I’m still deconverting and dealing with all the baggage from the One True Church (TM). You give me hope that there are better days to come.
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