For me, I knew that things were going to be tough when I reached age 14 and started actually debating killing myself. Before that I’d only thought about it once or twice, a sort of “what if I were dead” type of thing, but when I became a teenager, it really hit in full force. Obviously I didn’t kill myself or else I wouldn’t be here writing this right now. Unless I’m a ghost, and this is a ghost blog, which would be pretty cool, actually. But since it’s not, at least not to my knowledge but then again I am always the last one to find out about things, I’m going to go on with my story. From the fountain of youth onward, mankind has had an endless ongoing love affair with mortality. More and more these days, I read headlines that state “Humans may live to be 120!” and constantly see things on the news about anti aging and how we’re lengthening our life spans.
To someone who’s constantly battled suicidal tendencies for the past 12 years, this is hardly encouraging news.
I’m envious of dogs, who don’t know they’re going to die. One day they’re chasing a ball and the next thing they know they’re weaker than they used to be and then that’s it. They shut their eyes one night, blissfully unaware of the end of their lives. I’m jealous. It’s often been said that humans are the only creatures cursed with the knowledge that they will die. As a child, it’s really the worst realization that one can have. Forget the truth about the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. Death tops all of those. When I was younger, I used to go and take photos of roadkill. Yeah. I did that. That’s not a joke. I would take my camera and I would go hunting down roadkill, and when I was in the car with my parents and we spotted something on the road, I’d beg them to stop so I could get out and take a photo of it, because it fascinated me to no end. As a little girl, I was given a taxidermied squirrel by one of my moms boyfriends. When I was 11, my fish died, and devastated as I was, I buried him in a small box in the backyard as is the tradition. However, that wasn’t enough for this macabre wonderment I had, because mere months later, I dug him up simply to see how he’d decomposed. I didn’t have a lot of friends.
To make matters worse, my family has wonderful genetics. I don’t have to worry about about past family members health problems; heart disease, brain tumors, you name it and I’m likely not to get it, at least not through genetics. This only makes my lifespan even more of an issue. So not only is life depressing and hard to comprehend, and not only have I had thoughts of suicide plague me for a good portion of my life, but now it’s likely that I’ll live to be 120 simply by my own genes and not the help of medical science. How many people would be annoyed by that? I also look about 5 or so years younger than I am and am often mistaken for a teenager. I’m 26. This also sucks. I know I’m a rare breed because not many people would take a problem with this.
“God dammit, why must I be cursed with such good looks, blessed with wonderful health and live to see mankind colonize deep space?! Woe is me!”
But I think all this emphasis on death, all this time spent thinking about such a morbid concept, only makes me all the more aware of how damn alive I am. I look at roadkill, I look at taxidermy, I look at decomposing fish and I think “Jesus, that’s going to be me one day. I’d better make the most of the time that I have.” Embracing mortality, or at the very least the mere thought of mortality, makes one supremely aware that we don’t have long, especially if you’re one who wants to do something with your life, creatively or otherwise. Seeing graveyards, seeing roadkill, it makes you realize that you really need to live. You need to live as much as possible while you have the chance. People often speak of the dead as being at peace, but why can’t you be at peace while being alive as well? With or without the help of medication, one can be at peace. They just have to recognize that this is what they have and that one day they won’t have it.
Others are like me. Others have also been plagued by thoughts of suicide, whether constantly or rarely, and in some of those cases they don’t make it. They do kill themselves. I, on the other hand, have begun to train my mind to make positive from negative. To take my suicidal urges and say “Nah, not just yet. Maybe when I’m done reading this book, or writing his screenplay, or feeding the dog”. I always put it off by one thing, whether small or large, and that’s how I keep going. I take my suicidal urges and force myself to use them in my work, and use them to force myself to work harder. Maybe when I’ve published my 8th novel or won an Academy Award for screenwriting or have accomplished whatever it is that I want to accomplish and feel that I’ve done what I’ve had to do, then I’ll revisit the whole death thing. Then I’ll see how I feel.
Until then, I’m going to continue to let mortality inspire me. I’m going to continue to use my issues to write and create art. I’m going to continue to be alive, because while it might not be better than the alternative, it’s still something to experience.
Hey, you may as well give everything a shot once, right?