I feel like I should remember the first time I came close to committing suicide, as if it’s something along the lines of a first kiss. I guess it should be one of those things that produces a rush of sensory imagery with the slightest trigger. You’re meant to remember some soft noise humming in your ear, a faint trembling of the body, a detailed image of what was around you—even though your eyes were closed. It should be one of those moments, the kind that remains vivid even as the rest of your past blurs and fades away; it’s the kind that you’re supposed to remember, right? I don’t.
I can only talk in generalities, what it was like every time I felt like this. There were always tears—lots of them—my shirt wet as they seeped down my cheeks, paused at my chin, dropped to my chest. I would be sitting on my bed, fixated on a single point in the room, my eyesight transitioning in and out of focus. At times I saw everything—my face smiling back at me from glossy pictures on the walls, the days on my hanging calendar, days I never wanted to face—at others, only my thoughts. There was always some reason to feel meaningless. Most importantly, it was always night.
I played out scenarios in my head. My knife was on the top shelf of my bookcase, my fourth-floor window could be easily opened, my roommate wouldn’t be back for another hour or so.
Eventually, I would begin to turn the knife over in my hand. It provided no guarantee. What if I didn’t do it properly? I wasn’t looking for a cry for help, I was looking for a way out. I would open my window, delicately balancing so that my torso leaned precariously near the tipping point. Then came the painful deliberation.
“All I would have to do is tilt a little farther forward.”
“The fall would feel nice.”
“But it’s only the fourth floor, what if it doesn’t work?”
“Am I really that worried about the pain?”
“What if I regret my decision just before it ends?”
It was this last question that saved me. Somehow, my lack of confidence in the future both made me desire to end my life and prevented me from doing so. Feeling all the more inadequate, I would turn on the shower, remove my damp clothes, and sit on the cold tiled floor. A thousand more water droplets washed away my own.
There were many nights like this. No matter how many times I reasoned my way out of it, the darkness always washed over me once more. I could not prevent night from falling. Tears, glossy pictures, misery—these are the things that consumed me. Without any faith in life beyond death, I saw no point in prolonging the inevitable. Why continue to exist?
For a number of reasons, returning to campus at the beginning of this year was very difficult for me. The end of freshman year had left me feeling abandoned by those I had considered to be my closest friends. I filled my schedule with clubs, activities, and classes to avoid the isolation I felt when I was idle. When you’re running from one meeting to the next, it becomes easy to forget how alone you really are.
But while I could fill my days with meetings and work, I had little control over my nights. It’s hard to escape the truth when you are left alone with it. It was a reality I continued to run from.
Terrified of being by myself, I spent all my time with my boyfriend. We ate meals together, took classes together, did the same activities. He was there for me every single night as I cried for no reason other than sadness. He gave things up, knowing that I would break down at the mere mention of most social events. He took the knife out of my hand. He picked me up off the shower floor. He was the one constant in my life.
I can only describe the feeling as physical, all-consuming. Any moment my mind began to idle, thoughts of suicide would consume me. Looking out of a window, I tried to feel the fall. Swimming laps, I would imagine fluid filling my lungs.