A Storm In August

That day, I woke up to the sound of the rain. The tip of my nose was wet with splashes of rain drops from my windowsill. It had been days since I’ve been falling asleep beside my open windows, my left arm crooked to pillow the side of my head. My phone tells me it’s 2 PM, and my head’s spinning. There’s a small congregation of half-finished cigarettes by my elbow, and the last two in the pack had fallen on the roof, steadily getting more useless as the rain seeps in the filter. I think a storm’s coming.

It felt like the right day to die.

The house was empty and my dad left the radio on. He keeps on listening to this station that played Mozart and Rachmaninoff with some Christian preaching of sorts in between. I hated it. I was never able to play these complicated classical pieces and it had been years since I last entered a church. We don’t talk about that. We never really talk about anything. But my dad might have been disappointed that no one plays the piano in the living room. It just serves as a decoration now, the polished wood cover littered with picture frames.

My sister left a note on the fridge, that she’s with dad for his regular check-up at the hospital, and that we should talk about why I went home at 6 a.m. the day before. I don’t tell her I make excuses for not going to the hospital because I almost always throw up after, ever since Mom died years ago. I don’t tell her I can’t remember the succeeding months after mom’s death. She doesn’t ask. Maybe she doesn’t know. I didn’t think about how she won’t be able to give me a piece of her mind when they get back and I’m no longer there.

I made myself a cup of black coffee, probably the only thing I don’t throw up lately. It’s a chronic cycle. I think I hated the feeling of being hungry already – that it reminds me that my body demands something to nourish it, to let it go on. I didn’t want to go on. I was at that point in life when I was tired. I’m twenty-four and hit rock bottom. I think none of the people around me would’ve guessed because I always went out put together. I looked like a normal, sometimes sad, twenty-something with a stable job, a house, amazing friends, and an average social life. Inside I was self-destructive, maladaptive. I had been depressed for a while, and while on days I acted like I was fine, I’d believe it for a while only to come home with my hands shaking.

I still don’t know, what it was exactly, that pushed me to that decision. The only thing I was sure of was that I wanted to end things. I struggled with waking up, and at night it takes me ages to fall asleep. I cry at the drop of a hat but I make sure, when I can, to not let it show. I couldn’t communicate the causes, to distill the many things that have happened and the things I’ve realized, to someone, to make them understand. My friends knew I was lost, but they didn’t realize I was this level of messed up. I couldn’t talk to them about everything, and I didn’t try. I couldn’t tell them about how difficult it was to see my dad in pain, to see it happening again the same way I had seen my mom struggle. I couldn’t tell them about how I have always hated myself. I couldn’t tell them that I can’t visualize my next birthday, the coming Christmas, or even next year. It’s like the future is not a place I can go to, anymore. I couldn’t tell them about my mistakes, about all my regrets. I couldn’t tell them about the darkest parts of me, because it felt like a burden I didn’t want to pass on to somebody else.

I think I had been preparing for that day. I had been writing letters to my friends, some small notes, some in several pages with attachments of writings I’ve dedicated for them. I wrote my family one letter, and I couldn’t count how many apologies I’ve written in it. I wrote one for my neighbor, to please look after the house, for their kid to visit my dad more often because he was fond of that little boy with knobby knees and a toothy grin who loved to read books, just like I did. I had my best clothes folded in bags for friends who might like them. Some I’ve left with my books, others with the notebooks with my drafts. For the first time in ages my room was clean. It looked like I was just getting rid of things.

I wanted to be ready when I go. Everyone says people who kill themselves are selfish. Maybe I was, because this was my solution. But I wanted them to feel that I had been grateful, that I loved them, though this was the first time I will be telling any of them that.

I took out a handful of my dad’s sleeping pills and a half-finished bottle of whiskey outside. It was still raining as I sat under my favorite tree in the backyard, a Panama berry tree that was nearly as old as I was. Rain drops rolled down from the thin, smooth leaves unto my neck as I sipped my drink quietly. I had decided, then. I was sure, that I was going to be free of all of these. Three pills first, while the rest was in my hand. I found it wasn’t that hard to swallow after the burn of the alcohol.

Was I really doing it? Was it happening? It was all sinking in when my phone suddenly vibrated in my pocket and the screen lit up with the messages I’ve missed. The day before I made a fuck-up and I was forgiven, but I didn’t feel redeemed. I said hello to a couple of friends but never got to say what I needed to say. The latest one was from a friend who I rarely got to talk to lately. The simple greeting she gave me took me back to the time when I had been alright, and then, everything went to shit.

It was like someone switched on alarm bells in my head and in a heartbeat I was throwing up desperately under the tree. I felt sick and alive. I felt afraid and confused. For the first time all the repercussions flooded my mind and I knew it wasn’t escape I needed. My hands were cold and shaking as I typed on my phone. I was shivering badly and I wasn’t sure if it was from being under the rain for so long, or from fear. Or from being alive. I just needed help. I didn’t know what kind. But the weight of being alive settled in my bones and I knew I didn’t have the guts to die. It sounds wrong, somehow, to “have the courage” to die. But ask anyone who’s tried. It’s not easy. But the decision to continue being alive takes more courage. That I was sure of. Maybe I didn’t have much reason to continue, or I haven’t realized what reason it was, but whether it was grand or small, it must have outweighed any justification I had in my head for ending my own life.

That my suicide wasn’t successful is an understatement. It wasn’t that long ago. But it happened, it was real. It was terrifying to switch between the desire to die and the desire to live, because sometimes they are equally strong and each had its poison. That afternoon I talked with my friend for hours, and it had been difficult to shape the thoughts into sentences. Maybe she didn’t understand everything, the same way I didn’t. But it helped. I crawled back in. I’m probably not completely ok yet. I don’t know if I’ll have these sorts of thoughts again, but I’ll live on for now. On the news, they say the storm’s almost passed. There will be more, I think. But right now the rain has stopped.

I didn’t tell my friend I was in the middle of an attempt when we talked. I am thankful though, because she saved me. As my other friends would have, if I had the courage to tell them. As any of your friends would be, if you tell them. Later when I leave my house, I’ll probably look into the faces of people and wonder if they ever felt like I did. I can’t ask them that, I can’t ask my friends that. But I’ll hope they have people who can stop them before they walk into the middle of a storm and lose themselves completely. TC mark

image – Seniju

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