Content Warning: The following post includes talk of suicide, (and will probably upset anyone who lost a loved one to suicide.)
It’s been a week since I ran out of Prozac. It has a long half-life, and I haven’t experienced any of the brain zaps yet. I’ll know when they begin it’s out of my system. It’s a strange sensation, but they’re painless and extremely short in duration. It’s like a neurological hiccup that occurs randomly for a few weeks then goes away on its own. They always make me think of Max Headroom.
My prescribing doctor called me to ask the obligatory questions before renewing my prescription; Am I suicidal or homicidal? (I’ve never managed to answer them without giggling because I’m a doof.) Mostly because the idea of my being homicidal is ridic, and if I were suicidal I sure as hell wouldn’t tell someone at the VA. That made me belly laugh.
The point of asking is because people who are in despair want help desperately and will likely speak up when prompted. Those who are suicidal want to cease existing, and will not jeopardize their exit strategy by announcing their intentions. Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day. It’s still the treatment method of choice for veterans with PTSD.
When I created a support site for veterans with PTSD, I did a lot of reading and research. By the time I settled on a domain and got the site up and running, I realized I was wasting my time. The information is available. Unfortunately, you can’t download the tenacity and effort required to thrive with PTSD. It’s a solo journey, like every other mental illness.
It used to make me cry whenever I thought about twenty-two suicides a day. I’ve had a few years to think about it now. It doesn’t hurt as much anymore. I’ve been living with mental illness for too long to feel sadness about suicide. For me, it’s more like respect for the years of battle endured up to that point. When I heard about Robin Williams’ death, I mostly felt an increase in my respect for him. He brought joy and laughter into this world while simultaneously enduring mental illness. He saw what the future held for him, and said no.
I know it’s excruciatingly painful to lose a loved one to suicide, but not from personal experience. I know it would devastate me. The helplessness. The inability to ask why. It’s not hard to empathize, and I have lost several loved ones. It’s just that I’ve been living with mental illness for a long time, and I understand the utter absurdity. Instead, I salute those who decide they’ve had enough. The process of suicidal ideation, strategizing a plan and enacting it is fascinating to me. Some seem to rush through the process and succeed without bothering with the thought war. Those deaths still feel tragic to me because I see it as more a reaction than a decision. Especially if the person is young.
Mental illness is Sisyphusian. Logic doesn’t play that. If it’s what gets me in the end, I’ll at least award myself points for being funny a second time, (even though I’ll likely be the only one to get the joke.)