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How It Feels To Live In The Aftermath Of Attempted Suicide

12/10/2016 3:58 PM IST | Updated 20/10/2016 8:23 AM IST
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I open my eyes. The room is brightly lit, bright enough to make me squint. I'm shivering. It has got less to do with the Delhi winter than it has to do with the thought of what I'm going to do next. I'm sitting on my bed with a handful of sleeping pills. I have finally chosen a way out. Some might argue that it's the coward's way out but facing the consequences at that moment is more horrifying than the chilling silence I'm going to encounter. Silence is calling, and I want to leave behind the voices in my head so badly. I've convinced myself that this is the only way I'll ever get peace. My phone beeps. My boyfriend is texting. He must be on his way to pick me up. I tell myself that I need to do it now. Or I might never be able to do it. Before he reaches, I want to finish the "deed." I grab the bottle of water lying next to my bed, and open the cap in haste. My hands are shaking and my heart is racing. I think even if I don't pop the pills, my heart is bound to give up on me any moment now. I take a deep breath, and take them in. All I need to do now is to gulp them down with water.

I closed my eyes and realized that never again would I be able to smell my mother's hair or feel safe in her arms.

Between eternal silence and a life full of sorrow, what stops me is a bottle of water. I think to myself that I have had enough of this and raise the bottle to my mouth to drink it all in slowly. It's time.

***

It has been a little more than 10 months since I decided to end my life. Since then, a lot has happened. For starters, I'm still alive. I'm living, breathing, drinking lots of water but consciously staying away from all kinds of medicines that promise to make my consciousness numb.

I now have a job that I look forward to going to when I wake up in the morning. It feels good to be wanted. A few months earlier, I had lost this feeling completely. It's a relief to have it back.

I talk to my mother more often now. I'm still wary of sharing my moments of downfall with her. But I've faith that she will pick me up even when I've fallen into a bottomless pit.

I've made a few gems of friends who make it a point to ask me how I've been feeling lately. I feel safe when I tell them about the dream I had where I was dying. They can make me see the humour in it. (Yes, life is not without its ironies.)

My boyfriend calls me and asks how my day was. I feel excited to tell him about the new book I bought online, and can't wait to pull an all-nighter and finish it.

I think my life is at its best right now. And yet, I still wake up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat, remembering the very moment when I put around 15–20 sleeping pills in my mouth. In my dreams, I drank the water, and no matter how much I cry, I know that I'm not going to live. The voices in my head tell me how pathetic I am as a person for having the will to live.

I wake up, feeling petrified and tired. Something which I now experience on a regular basis, and I've almost come to view it as normal. Only that it isn't.

My doctor has faith in me. She has more faith in the medicines, which are by default more tangible than my emotions. I now pop "happy pills" in the morning and in the afternoon to keep myself going. (Again, I can't help but notice the irony of it all.)

I talk to people online and personally. I tell them that I'm not okay but I'm trying to be better. Sometimes they believe me. Most of the times though, they don't. It hurts me. And it makes me want to give up on myself even more.

The voices in my head tell me how pathetic I am as a person for having the will to live.

I go back and forth. I go to sleep full of hope and excitement and wake up depressed and exhausted. I've come within an arm's length of giving up, but I crawl back up one more time, and make a promise to myself. "I will NEVER give up." Where will I be if I can't even keep a promise I made to myself?

Over one million people complete suicide every year. The number is even more staggering when it comes to attempted suicide.

We don't give this enough thought. If one million-plus people can't live with themselves then something is very wrong. Why are we not talking about this?

Remember Rohith Vemula? The student whose suicide caused a whirlwind of dirty political waves across the educational institutes in this country? He was depressed. He could've been much more than that Dalit student who sacrificed his life because he suffered at the hands of the upper caste, and in the end, chose to end his life as a means to end his suffering altogether.

He could have. He would have. But now he will never be. And nor will those countless people who could have been something. Loving mothers, exceptional employees, brilliant painters, genius scientists. They could've been anything, except that now they will never be.

Depression kills. And it kills in millions. Do you still not want to talk about it?

After my attempted suicide, a friend of mine, who I barely knew online, gave me the courage to accept my hopelessness as a disease. She gave me hope, and the courage to come out and talk about it. More than that, she gave me the practical sense to seek medical help.

I shall always be indebted to her for this. Thank you, Tannika! You've saved my life in many ways that you yourself perhaps never thought of.

Is it easy though? No. Suffering from depression is a taboo in itself. But the complexity increases when you admit to suffering from it. As humans, we are susceptive to judgements. It is worse when you suffer from depression. When people know, they watch over you and the more insensitive ones can even make fun of your "cowardice."

For the longest of time, I viewed my father as a coward. I was unwilling to forgive him for taking his own life, and in turn making his family miserable.

I have stopped making this kind of judgment.

People who commit suicide are not cowards. They are victims of an illness, and the stigma that comes as an attachment to it. It's no less than a crime to make jokes about it.

When was the last time you didn't take a pill when your head was throbbing in pain? When was the last time you said no to Crocin when your fever threatened to burn you down? And when did you just give up on people who've stopped believing that life with all its ups and downs is still worth it?

Life is worth it. It's at times tough, rough and miserable. It's tempting to give up, go in another direction.

For me the other way was to take sleeping pills and just let go.

I'm now glad that I didn't.

If one million-plus people can't live with themselves then something is very wrong. Why are we not talking about this?

Sometimes when I close my eyes, I see myself back in my childhood home. I'm lying on my bed. And I can hear my parents talking in the other room. My heart skips a beat when I think they might be fighting. I grab the corner of my bedsheet tightly and wish for this feeling to go away. Most of the times, I don't realize how long I've stayed like that. But then my mother comes, and rubs her warm hand against my cold forehead and leans in to give me a kiss. I keep my eyes closed, lest she discovers that I'm still awake. And when she leans in, I smell her hair. It's still wet from the shower she had taken a while back and smells of fresh flowers. I breathe her in, and I feel safe. I feel content. I know all my sins will be forgiven by this woman, and I feel a stream of joy engulfing me as my mother pulls up the blanket a little bit more to cover my body.

On that December night, when I had lost all hope, I chose to end my life. But before I could drink down the bottle of water, I closed my eyes and realized that never again would I be able to smell my mother's hair or feel safe in her arms.

I hated that realization more than anyone or anything else in my life.

My life might be full of miseries and I've my reasons to feel so. But in the end, I chose life over the silence.

And I'm glad that I did.

My father lost his battle, but every night when I speak to my mum over the phone, I realize how lonely he must have been feeling. And I can never go back to that emotion.

Instead I pray. I hope. And I fight.

I give up too.

But I get up, and dare to hope again.

If you struggle with suicidal thoughts or attempts, call any of these helplines: Aasra 91-22-27546669, Sneha 04424640050, Jeevan 0091 6576453841, Pratheeksha 0484 2448830.

Memento Mori by Pablo Bartholomew

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