A long time ago, fourteen years and some months, in fact, I made a decision to die. It was a long, hard decision to make, one that was a last resort, or so I thought.
My attempt was well planned, and it should have worked, but it didn’t, and I still don’t know why.
When you plan a suicide, you know exactly why you’re doing it. You have evidence that supports the reason, and you have ample proof as to why you should, and very few examples as to why you shouldn’t.
But, when you accidentally survive suicide, you become an alien, a sudden orphan alone in a world that doesn’t make sense. No one besides your therapist wants to talk about it. No one is okay with the idea of suicide, and why would you be unless you’ve been there yourself? And then it’s still a source of shame and pain and humiliation that can’t adequately be explained.
Afterward, I wondered why I lived and what it meant for me from that moment on? Those questions became constant. Was I meant for something bigger than myself? Am I unique in some way? Did it take peering over a cliff to understand that depression, and collected hurts over a lifetime, had been for a single grand design? Did I have enough importance that God, Karma, and all the elements, physical, spiritual, and etc. had to conspire together to save me?
This became my new life perspective. Instead of surviving via grasping onto one more day, one more hour, one more moment, I was out to discover why I existed. What was my soul purpose?
Every year on the anniversary of my attempt, I became like an elephant stumbling across the skeleton of another.
When an elephant senses death ahead, she approaches the fallen slowly, as if establishing the boundaries of hallowed ground.
She stands to the side of the departed. She lifts her feet, one at a time, softly pressing her soles over the victim, absorbing its aura, leaching out the rest of its goodness and its final memories.
The elephant drops her trunk, passing it over the bones, touching its wounded form, rolling it through the holes, feeling the shape of its skull, its eye sockets, and the points of its tusks. She remembers it all forever, just like I knew I would, too. I was wrong.
Over the years, the intensity and pain of events leading up my attempt, even the exact date, began to fade. And I was no longer an elephant stomping through the jungle accidentally coming across death, nor was I waiting to stumble over my fate.
The question changed from what was the grand purpose of my survival to what was the reason my escape plan failed?
Was it because I had developed an unknown tolerance to Xanax? Had the pills lost their strength? Were the pills just placebos that hadn’t helped me all along? I don’t know, but I do know why I haven’t tried to die since.
I once believed that I only existed for someone else, my parents, my siblings, my husband, my kids, even people I didn’t know. And then, by extension, every decision I made, big or small, could affect everyone else.
When I was depressed, I was failing others. When I was unhappy, I hurt the ones I loved. I thought that if I died, I would sever our tie, allowing them to finally be free.
It was a strange idea, one that I understand now, had no real basis or any sustainability. How could it possibly?
I couldn’t live for my children or husband, my parents, siblings, friends, or even for my religion and culture. I had to figure out how to live for myself.
I’m not saying that one should be selfish to be happy—there is plenty of proof that that’s wrong, too. What I’m saying is that I had to recognize that if I was stranded alone on a desert island, that I would, and I could be enough to live for.
After fourteen years and some months, I still struggle at times with depression and overwhelming sadness, but I’ve never gotten as low as I had that day.
Since then, whenever I come across someone else struggling with the same issues, I tend to transform into an elephant. I slow down. I take in my surroundings. I feel the depths of the form in front of me. I mourn the pain and recognize the fall, but I don’t blame the problem on myself anymore.
I’ve had to force myself to explore, question who I am, what the point of my existence could be, and then be okay that I may never figure out the answers.