Why is it that whilst some people are fighting to extend their lives, I am seeking to shorten mine? Why did I fight so desperately and pray so hard when I had cancer? I didn’t want to die then. I wanted to live. So why has my life value changed? Is it a trick the devil is playing on my mind? What do I really want? Right now I am so close to killing myself. That all-too-familiar feeling of a sinking heart, dark hole, bleak outlook, despair – all congealed into an emotional hell which swallows up your body, mind and soul. So familiar, yet so hard to fight. The conflict is painful in itself. Should I live or should I die? It’s like being torn in two by greedy birds of prey.
I’m trying to tell myself that this is my illness talking, not me. I am the person who fought off cancer, who has survived more than 40 operations, who has overcome sight loss, bereavement, rape and so much more. So it doesn’t make any sense to want to die now when there are no such crises. If only it was so neat and logical. This illness takes away my reasoning. My perspective shifts and I lose hold of the future I want to live for. In fact the illness dilutes my world into nothing and emptiness. It steals my feelings, kills off my plans, destroys my basic instincts for survival. And finally it tricks me into thinking that this is what I genuinely want. Death – so easy, so final. Death is taking up so much of my head at the moment, and all this sensible stuff on paper is utterly meaningless. I cannot find the true me in all of this. I am standing on that proverbial cliff ready to jump. Yet obviously I still have a desire to survive because I want to understand what is going on in my head. I could have died earlier today. Why didn’t I? So am I in effect winning the battle even though I feel I am losing it? Again, I cannot follow the logic. When thoughts and feelings become blurred and memories and hopes peel off and flake into the forefront of my thinking – how can I know? And this is why I hold on. I hold onto that uncertainty, unsure whether it will flutter away and take me with it or land on the ground and take root. I literally hold on to Dash my guide dog – Dash, who is physical and strong and lives for the moment. And now my two lovely cats Hagrid and Cleopatra – they too live for the moment.
As I write this I am listening to three animals sleeping – Dash is breathing heavily and the cats are squeaking, huffing and blowing air out of their mouths. They let me know when they feel hungry, they are wired up to survive. And so am I. But this illness shakes all that up and I am left truly believing that life is not worth living, and wondering whether I can withstand yet another mental storm. And oddly enough by writing this down and committing it to cyber space I feel a great sense of relief because I no longer feel alone. I work hard at presenting myself well so that other people cannot see my suffering. Sometimes people say it’s just a case of pulling yourself together, having a stern word with yourself and being grateful for what you’ve got. Again, this illness is not founded on logic. The only thing I am able to do is hold on, I cannot bat it away and do that British stiff upper lip stuff. Not honestly, not inside. And that’s why it’s such a struggle.
Sometimes I sit at home absolutely sure that I have used up the last of my reserves. Then an hour goes by and I realise I’m still here. That raw, primaeval survival instinct somehow keeps my heart beating. It’s when the pain gets too much and I start feeling guilty for burdening my friends and using up too many resources; when I see myself as one of David Cameron’s ‘parasites’ hated by the Daily Mail and the hard-working, tax-paying British public, that my life value dives to zero. That’s when I feel I owe it to everyone to annihilate myself. That’s the cruel trick that this illness plays, it feeds into your innate insecurities so that you can totally justify your reasons to die. I am writing this while I have insight, in the hope that if psychosis lumbers into my thinking I will be able to read this and remind myself that there is no justification for suicide. And my three protégés are testament to that as they lie here peacefully, not wracked by torment, but simply sleeping before they wake up seeking food, play and companionship. Forget the past, forget the future, live for the moment. Labradors and Ragamuffin cats do it, so why can’t I?