It was just after Thanksgiving. My head was pounding, and I was freezing as my feet hit the pavement running.
My parents had gone to my grandma’s house for leftover turkey and dressing. I stayed home, eager for the time to myself.
While they were enjoying their family dinner, I took a bottle of Tylenol: 350 capsules. It didn’t help matters much that I had taken a muscle relaxant from my mother’s collection.
I wasn’t suicidal.
I had a migraine from running.
At least, that is the story I told.
By the time my boyfriend found me, my body temperature had dropped, my lips were blue and I was freezing.
I have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
When I was 15, medical professionals tried to tell me that it was “depressive disorder.” Even then, I knew better.
While on Facebook, some days, just viewing my profile can cost me an entire day or a few hours. It’s one day one minute, and the next minute, it’s Tuesday.
The days just disappear and so do the hours. Facebook regularly prompts me to update my profile and poses this question:
What are some of your favorite memories?
I should mention . . .
I also have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).
As an adult, I have learned that extensive physical and emotional trauma have conditioned my brain to a specific, organized, way of thinking.
Some days, it feels like it did the same to my emotions.
I couldn’t tell you exactly what at the time, but something changed just before I started seventh grade. I stopped going by my first name. I adamantly went by my middle name and became verbally aggressive if challenged otherwise.
Please, call me, ‘Grace.’
I also took a creative writing class that year. When we returned from Spring break, we were assigned a writing project prompted with this question:
What was the favorite part of your Spring break with your family?
In tears and confused, I approached the teacher’s desk and quietly whispered that I had nothing special to tell about my Spring break.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
I can’t remember what happened that year. There were many hard years. My counselor tells me,
We have a way of blocking the hard parts out.
I’d like to know what she considers as hard.
The teacher told me to write about any happy memory with my family instead. On that day, I realized I didn’t have any happy memories—not one.
Not that I never had any happy moments, that is just how my mind works.
As a teenager, if had succeeded in taking my own life, would the decision have been ethical? Would it have been right or wrong? After all, I was the victim of an abusive culture and upbringing, innocent in my youth and my thinking.
I was a child.
If mental health did not play a role, but rather a pure response to real trauma, would you tell a child he/she is selfish for escaping abuse the only way the child knew how or does the abuse give a logical and acceptable justification to suicide?
Physician-assisted Suicide is legal in the Netherlands, currently being determined in Canada, and moderately approved (with restrictions) across the United States. According to the American Medical Association:
Physician-assisted suicide occurs when a physician facilitates a patient’s death by providing the necessary means and/or information to enable the patient to perform the life-ending act (eg, the physician provides sleeping pills and information about the lethal dose, while aware that the patient may commit suicide.)
If the physical need for an escape from pain or the fear of the pain that is coming is an ethical justification for suicide, then, wouldn’t the same be valid in the case of a teenager escaping physical abuse or other trauma?
If suicide is justifiable for any reason, what gives anyone the authority to govern who and who does not deserve to choose if they live or die?
If an adult, undergoing extensive medical treatment for a terminal condition, can choose to end his/her own life at will, why would an adult undergoing daily pain and torment not also deserve that same right?
Wouldn’t it be “ethical” to determine that is for the greater good of all who are hurting to cease suffering, if possible?
The problem is human nature. It makes the majority believe that the method by which death is achieved is not moral.
I would by lying to say that I am not torn on the topic. Losing a loved one to suicide feels like a shock to the heart. It feels like an injustice, like a life was stolen.
A close friend who lived in my neighborhood was shot in the head during the summer of 1996. His name was Michael Lime. At first, they tried to claim it was suicide. Then, there was rumor and speculation of murder. In the end, it was chalked off to boys playing with guns.
But nobody really knows because we don’t talk about it.
Why do we fight against the justification, ethical theory and legality, of suicide being socially acceptable?
If we determine and declare that suicide is an acceptable way of dying, what message do we send our children, friends and family, when they reach out during that moment when life feels like too much?
In those moments, we want to send one message:
So, we declare it unethical, immoral, sinful, selfish and crazy. But is it?
To want to escape something unreal, unimaginable and unbearably painful, is that unethical? Is that wrong?
I’m not sure, but I choose life and every good or bad day it may bring.
I choose life.