November 19th, 2016 – Musical Truths

Well I know it gets harder every single day
And I know my darkness will never go away

It’s hard when you’re living and you don’t feel much
And you’re down and you’re hoping that things are gonna change

Oh we don’t know the roads that we’re heading down
We don’t know if we’re lost, that we’ll find a way
We don’t know if we leave, will we make it home
We don’t know, there’s hope, then we’ll be okay

And some say it gets brighter
We just have to wait
Mother mother, I can feel your heart break
Burning through me every single day

It’s hard when you’re living and you don’t feel much
And you’re down and you’re hurting ’cause you don’t feel loved
It’s hard when you’re living and you don’t feel much
And you’re down and you’re hoping that things are gonna change

Oh we don’t know the roads that we’re heading down
We don’t know if we’re lost, that we’ll find a way
We don’t know if we leave, will we make it home
We don’t know, there’s hope, then we’ll be okay
Oh there’s something in my mind that’s killing me
There’s something that this life’s not giving me
Would you say

Present Day, November 18th, 2016

It was pressed upon my mind today to let you know that this is not storytelling.

This is me telling you my story.

There is a difference you see. With each post. With each memory. There is a weight. A depth. More times than not, a journeying back to places of darkness and desperation that I never knew I would go.

And not just for me. For others. Others like my wife. Who walks with me each and every day, but for 12 days in particular felt as if she was walking alone. Frightened. Hope dying. Her world crumbling.

As I sift through the notes. The emails. The text messages. There will be times when a pause will be required. Some longer than others. Times to gather myself and make sure I am not overcome by the potential for sorrow and shame. Times to check in emotionally and confirm that the reflecting doesn’t become my reality. Times to remember that who I was at that moment is not someone I ever have to be again.

I enjoy writing. It is therapeutic. But it also is a way for me to try and step outside myself and help others. Help others struggling with mental illness to know that the demons that haunt them are not theirs alone. Help others sharing the journey with a bipolar loved one know that their life is worth fighting for…even when they can’t fight for it themselves.

Help anyone else that comes across this blog understand that we are not perpetrators of random violence…free loaders of a government aid system…people without real jobs, families, and lives…or selfish bastards only thinking of themselves in their desires to end their own lives.

We are real people, desperate for healing, haunted by relentless demons, wrestling with minds that operate in a way we would never wish on our worst enemy.

We are not storytellers.

We are people with stories.

Wednesday, August 24th, 9:40 a.m.

It was time to put my thoughts to writing. Not my rational, sincere, honest thoughts. Rather the thoughts of my mind gone mad. The emotions of a heart spiraling out of control. The reflections of a brain that at this particular moment was losing the tug-of-war.

Yes, it was time to let my wife know that I had finally figured it out. That the moment had come…

I drafted the following email at the hotel room before checking out. I went back home for three purposes: 1) Gather my Kindle, Chromebook to assist in tying up some loose ends before killing myself, as well as a few clothing items for the journey, 2) Leave an important, handwritten declaration to assist my wife in future legal matters, and 3) Look around one last time at what was my life…and give it a proper goodbye.

Then, sitting in the driveway with my truck idling, accessing our wi-fi network (already considering ways to avoid being tracked), I sent the following communication –

082416-0954am-email-1

 

Wednesday, August 24th, Mid-Morning

My mind has an amazing ability to be rational while behaving completely illogically all at the same time. Maybe it is that tug-of-war previously described. The battle between an emotional desire for death and a natural wiring for self-preservation. And maybe exemplified as powerfully as ever the morning when my thinking seemed to come completely unhinged.

I was ready to run. But how?

The simplest option was my vehicle though this carried a couple immediate downsides. First, highly traceable were anyone to actually start looking for me. Second, I didn’t trust myself. My most common form of suicide ideation has always involved a death while driving. Head on into a tree. Or the cement post holding up an overpass. Or maybe even other traffic. The problem being I wasn’t ready to die. Not just yet. I had some things I still needed to take care of. Important things. I needed more time.

Commercial flight was another option. With an active passport even flight out of the country. I knew this would cover the most distance the quickest. There is an airport in my hometown, and two larger ones roughly an hour away. Again, immediate downsides. In today’s age everyone would know when I got on, where I got on, and where I was getting off. I could run, but I couldn’t hide. And things would move way too fast. My plan was still unfolding.

Then it hit me. A train. Trains move slower. However, here was the greatest benefit…they stop. A lot. And as far as I knew, there would be no record of when I got off and didn’t get back on. Disappearance was totally within my grasp. So I got online and bought a train ticket. From the nearest Amtrak station, roughly 70 miles away, to somewhere in the state of Washington more than 2,000 miles away. I can’t even remember where.

I do remember that it would not leave until roughly 1:30 in the morning on Thursday (more than 14 hours later), would require one train transfer in Chicago, Il, and a second in Sacramento, CA far from where anyone would be looking for me. If I found the stamina and willpower to stay alive, I would be buying almost 60 hours to tie up loose ends, finalize any communications that were important to my peace of mind (an ironic thought, I know), and finally have achieved the isolation and distance necessary to end my life.

I purchased the ticket on a credit card that I was confident my wife had forgotten about, and even more confident she lacked the information to access online. I would later learn I was wrong on both accounts.

Almost three months later, the processing and logic seems all so clear. As if it was yesterday. It has not always been so. It wasn’t that day. It was almost as if all these thoughts took place in a hidden part of my mind and the actions simply followed. As if my desire to die couldn’t shut down the natural wiring to keep me alive. To buy time.

Getting on the train gave me a 12 hour goal to stay alive for. Being on the train gave me a 48 hour window of anonymity.  The self-preservation part of my brain won this tug of the rope. And in many ways pulled me into an almost trance like state that would dominate my psyche for the following day and a half.

24 Hours Earlier (Wednesday, August 24th)

It is a fairly commonly held belief that our brains are wired with a certain “fight or flight” mechanism designed to aid in our self-preservation. I was even reading today the additional opinion that a third “f” can be added to the list: flight, flight or freeze.

There are those that will go even further. They will suggest that our minds actually have the ability to kick into an almost auto-pilot state whereby they are attempting to override our thinking in order to help keep us safe. To protect us from harm. Or in my case, to guard against a driving momentum towards death. Towards suicide.

I don’t know all of the science…or really any of the science behind all of this. What I do know is that at some point Wednesday morning my mind began to operate on two seperate tracks. On one there were decisions, actions, and steps being taken that I either don’t remember directing or were completely contrary to the will of my intentions at the time. On the other, the track towards my death. In fact, what would ensue over the next 24 hours would be a battle between these two fronts. Phrased another way, a psychological and mental tug-of-war.

I would consciously make decisions that were harmful, destructive, and heading down a path that could not be turned back from at a fairly high-speed only to subsequently and almost subconsciously make decisions that slowed everything down. Bought time so to speak. In some intangible way, decisions that kept me alive in spite of the desires at the forefront of my thinking.

I was roughly 75% through my work morning when I simply walked off the job. I don’t remember why it was then. Nothing unique happened at that moment. Things had not grown progressively worse than they had already been in my mind for the past 48 hours. But this will forever be the moment that I will know as when things snapped. When actions and decisions no longer seemed to be made through the mass of gray matter that resides between my ears.

I left where I was working, drove back to the hotel I had holed up in since finishing work the day prior, packed up my belongings, and began to run. To run from myself. Nevermind that accomplishing such a thing is a logically impossible presupposition. I intended to get far enough away from myself to escape my self-preservation mechanism and kill myself. It was that simple. Were it not so complicated.

You see, despite more than four decades of at times endless suicide ideation, I have never been able to reconcile my desire to be dead with a local suicide. The horror of loved ones finding me. The images impressed on their minds for the rest of their lives. The mess that would haunt the location.

Therefore, these were my two challenges. First, get away from ever being found dead by anyone that mattered to me. Second, find a way to separate myself from this part of my mind that would not leave me alone long enough to let me die.

So I got in my truck. And I ran.