A Figurative Mercy Killing

There have been four points in my life where I have been suicidal.

Sort of.

While there has always been a certain appeal to the dark romance of death (and to the ultimate “fuck you” of being found on a blood-drenched carpet by someone who never took my emotional state seriously — though the neat freak in me would probably insist I do it in a bathtub for the sake of an easy clean up), I’ve never really wanted to die. I just didn’t want to live.

Being alive required certain things of me, and if I didn’t want to have to do those things, logically, I needed to stop living. When I was closest to it, suicide didn’t appeal to my impulsive, emotional side; it appealed to my rationality. Given my options, it was the most effective way of satisfying my personal goals. I have always prided myself on being a very sane sort of crazy.

I recently started taking medication for my depression and anxiety. I’ve taken meds before with mixed results. I’d known I was ill for over a decade before I sought help because I wasn’t ready for it. I was afraid of recovery because “depressed and anxious” was all I’d ever been, and if I wasn’t that, who and what would I be? I was being threatened with loss of identity. I defy you to find me a person for whom that prospect isn’t terrifying.

And I am changing. It’s subtle, but it’s happening.

For example, I recently lost a piece of paper. On it were my shopping and To Do lists for the week. I double-checked all the places I thought it could be, and a few which seemed unlikely. When I couldn’t find it, I sat down and tried to reconstruct it from memory.

If I’d lost such a list in the past, I would have looked in reasonable places, unreasonable places, places it couldn’t have gotten to without a temporary suspension of the laws of physics, all of those places again, and all of those places a third time while in tears. Then I would have sat down, wrung my hands, had a good cry, and wondered what I would do on Thursday when a cataclysmic event (the specifics of which I didn’t know, but trust me, something would definitely happen) occurred, and how I would possibly get through it when the instructions for averting it were on the back of the very piece of paper I’d just lost!

Sadly, I’m not kidding.

The strange thing is, after I’d handled the loss of that list so, um, “sanely”, I freaked out. Deal with something calmly? Me? Who was I and what had I done with Amy? Oh right, I’d medicated her. And now she was being reasonable. Or was she being apathetic? Oh sure, today it’s a list. But what if tomorrow I broke my beloved guitar and simply went out and bought a new one? How would I forgive myself for betraying my emotional attachment to Baby by medicating it out of my system? And what if next week it wasn’t my guitar that I broke but my roommate? Would I simply shove her jagged shards under the living room carpet and hit up Craigslist for a replacement? How far would this ‘not caring’ go before I curled up in a ball of Fuck It and became completely indifferent to all the things that used to make me feel?

Okay, so perhaps some irrational anxiety remains…

The point is my mind is changing. My anxiety is going down, and my mood is coming up. I am dealing with things I used to find overwhelming. All the dreams that used to seem impossibly out of reach — that I used to fantasize about for hours on end rather than working towards, because the idea of someone like me achieving anything worth doing seemed ridiculous to the point of abject stupidity — are starting to seem a little more attainable. Even the phrase “someone like me” feels less like condemnation because some of my irrational self-hatred is slipping away. I’m seeing more of the good things I’ve historically dismissed, and letting go of the few bad things which I’ve always insisted upon clinging to as pillars of my worldview.

Part of me thinks this optimism is stupid and irrational, and that I’m not recovering from my depression and anxiety so much as I’m putting on rose-tinted lenses. But the part of me that thinks that is also the part of me that thought I was irredeemably stupid, ugly, useless, incompetent, and patently undesirable. That’s the Amy that saw life as a set of horrible chores and inescapable mediocrity. That’s the Amy that wanted to die.

And maybe I need to let her. Maybe recovery, for me, is giving her exactly what she wanted: suicide. I will let her die so that a different girl can rise from her ashes; a girl who looks the same, has the same IQ, history, qualifications, and even the same clumsy passion for music, but who has one thing which that poor corpse never did: hope.

Amy is dead. Long live Amy.

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