Hey, hey, hey, the end is near!
On a good day, you can see the end from here.
But I won’t turn back, now,
though the way is clear;
I will stay for the remainder. – “On a Good Day”, Joanna Newsom
CW: mentions of suicide, suicidal ideation
This week September 5-11 is National Suicide Prevention Week in the United States. When you and loved ones live with mental illness, the presence of suicide in your life is something you learn to live with. It’s the too-frequent spectre at the feast; the uninvited guest that no one wants to talk about for fear of summoning, yet shows up anyways. It’s never far away enough for comfort. The lucky ones among us have made attempts, sometimes many times over, and their friends have too; the unlucky ones have lost someone, or multiple someones. When a friend calls in crisis, when someone loses their job or breaks up with their partner, it’s always at the back of your mind: Please don’t let it escalate to that phone call in the middle of the night.
If you’re actively or passively suicidal, it isn’t your fault. You’re not weak or selfish or pathetic. The best advice I ever got about suicide was that being suicidal isn’t about wanting to die, it’s about wanting change, so desperately that this is the only way your brain can come up to deal with it. I’ve been there, multiple times, and I can barely describe it – that sensation of every atom in your body longing for death, seeing ways to die everywhere you turn, frantically just trying to keep your head above water and your feet moving forward – and it is so hard to fight, because it feels so utterly irrational. Primordial. Written in the DNA. But all of us who have been there – we are so strong. All of us who are there now – we are so strong. We are still living, and this is incredible.
On my bad brains days, I use music as an anchor. It reminds me that I’m not alone, that the world is bigger than my small perspective, and drowns out the noise in my head. It’s not a cure, of course, but living with suicidality is grabbing onto everything that helps keep you here.
You know that we’re better than that,
but some days, we’re worse than you can imagine,
and how am I supposed to live with that,
with all these train wrecks coming at random?
Crawl ’till dawn on my hands and knees.
Goddamn these bite marks deep in my arteries.
Crawl ’til dawn on my hands and knees.
Goddamn these vampires for what they’ve done to me.
You can name her, you can keep her,
but take care when you feed her.
You never can take the fight out the fish.
(Okay, technically a song about being ambitious as a female musician, but I challenge any female-adjacent person to listen to it and not feel fucking strong as shit.)
The cosmos is also within us –
we’re made of star stuff.
We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.
And you’re shining like the brightest star,
a transmission on the midnight radio.
(CW for possibly triggering language)
But it’s mine, or at least, it’s lent,
and my life, ’til the time is spent,
it’s a pin-light, bent.
It’s a pin-light, bent.