The Easy Way Out

I first wrote this two years ago but with recent celebrity losses stimulating “discussion”, it bears repeating.  “Suicide is not an easy way out.” My own contemplations of suicide and my battles with clinical depression fuel my emotions, along with the thoughts of three friends and former students who in the last year have opted to take the “easy way out.”

“A brave man once requested me,
to answer questions that are key,
‘Is it to be or not to be,’
and I replied, ‘oh why ask me?’”

“’Cause suicide is painless,
it brings on many changes,
and I can take or leave it if I please…
and you can do the same thing if you please.”
Theme from MASH, “Suicide is Painless” by Johnny Mandel

I don’t believe there is anything easy about committing suicide nor do I think is it totally painless. That would be two of the major reasons I don’t attempt it. Some say, “It’s taking the easy way out.” When you are sick like me, one may find it may not be the easiest of ways out. I don’t mean sick as in “I have a terminal illness and it is going to eat me up from the inside out” kind of sickness but the “I’m crazy as a bed bug” kind of sickness. I have suffered from clinical depression for over forty years now so I believe I have the right to say, “I’m crazy as a bedbug.” Also, like a world-class alcoholic, I have become very adept at hiding it. You see, almost daily, I still have thoughts of suicide or when I do something I consider “wrong,” there are the thoughts that I deserve to be hurt in some way even if I do it to myself. YES, I JUST CUT OFF MY FINGER ON PURPOSE!!!! I’ve done neither so suicide may not be the easy way out after all.

Being suicidal and repeatedly not pulling the trigger, not slitting a wrist or taking a short step out of a very high window is hard. I spend some of my “very best” depressed “self-speak” contemplating, quite morbidly, the pain of a bullet entering my head as opposed to the pain the same bullet would have on the people I leave behind. The people I love and, despite my depressive hate speech, those I know to love me, at least I think…maybe. My wife, my daughter, and son-in-law, my grandchildren, who I don’t yet know as well as I want, my brother and my friends. So far, my belief is that the pain of my action on those I leave behind would be greater…therefore, I don’t do it. There is also the fear of the unknown. Am I going to find myself inside of a vat of boiling “hellfire and brimstone” for instance or am I just going to “wink” out of existence? Both options are scary, as are others, and I find I am not a very brave person or is “sticking out” the mental anguish, in itself, brave?

Clinical depression is one of the odd ducks of mental illness. “Oh you are just a little blue…” and the Grand Canyon is a little hole. Logically you ask yourself, repeatedly I might add, “What have you got to be depressed about?” Right now it is a non-functional tractor and lawn mower, but they should not be “life-altering” should they? Or, friends and loved ones ask, “Why are you depressed?” Those questions are quite tiring because there is no answer.

My depression is due to a tiny, little, itty bitty chemical imbalance in my brain. AND IT IS TREATABLE, once you figure out it is nothing more than a disease. No different than diabetes, or arthritis, or toenail fungus except that for some reason it seems to be much more embarrassing to say, “I am clinically depressed and suicidal” rather than “I have toenail fungus and it is yucky.” It shouldn’t be.  We need to dispell the stigma of “I’m crazy as a bedbug” and treat the illness.

These thoughts and my own depression were triggered by a phone call. A friend told me of a suicide. I didn’t know the man; I know the family he left behind and can only imagine the pain they are going through. The unanswered questions, “Why?”, “Why didn’t I see it coming?”, “What did I do wrong?” Suicide was not an easy way out for them. Suicide was not due to an incurable and painful illness like cancer. It was due to an incurable and painful illness like clinical depression.  There are no answers to the “Why” and “What” questions.

His suicide has me, selfishly, thinking about ME. I worry that someday suicide will appear to be the easy way out…that I won’t have enough clarity of thought to keep me from pulling that trigger. No there is nothing easy about suicide including the contemplation of it. Before you react, NO! I do not need to be put on suicide watch…at least yet. I’ll try to let you know and you should be paying attention. This blog post is for the people who have not had their clinical depression diagnosed or those who have and still battle it every day. You are not alone. There are many of us out there, a depressing estimate of one hundred and twenty-nine million worldwide, one out of every ten Americans and even more depressing, eighty percent never receive treatment. I was lucky. There ARE people you can talk to. If there is no one in your life, try these:
National Suicide Hotline (800) 273-8255
Teen Health and Wellness Suicide Hotline: 800-784-2433
Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or
text ANSWER to 839863
For more statistics copy and paste http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/statistics-infographic

If you are interested in reading more “Ravings of a Mad Southerner” or other writings by Don Miller, please use the following link:  https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

20 thoughts on “The Easy Way Out

  1. Not really a “like” type of post is it? But I’m glad you wrote it. My friend that has the same type of depression. I’ve known him for three years and he has been close twice that I know of. Now he has AZ and its all getting worse. It’s very sad but I can’t do anything to help. I tried to encourage him to write or talk about it which he doesn’t like to do. I can only reach out, it’s very frustrating. I can’t imagine how frustrating it is for him, not even sixty years old.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Doesitevenmatter3, I hope you see this. Like the idiot I truly am, I inadvertently deleted your reply. I felt a good friend had passed away. Thank you for your words. My mental condition is day to day…which a lot of us depressed folk say. This is a bright, beautiful day in the foothills of the Blue Ridge with a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon…kind of like life. Your comment was wonderful, thank you for taking the time.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks so much for posting this and shining the light on suicide! It is a sickness we are failing to confront and the sad thing is we could stop most of it “IF WE CARED ENOUGH”! (on my site). Thanks so much for speaking up!

    Like

      • It’s OK, I have bipolar type one and have lived with it for 34 years. I am well medicated now so it’s manageable. It all got better for me a long time ago when I accepted my condition and stopped exhausting myself by pointlessly fighting against it. It’s rife in my family, my late Dad was sectioned with ‘Manic depression’ as it was then and also 2 of my mom’s sisters. I have 27 cousins, we’re a big family and most of them have it too. It makes a difference to your abllity to cope when your entire family understand you and you understand them. I am always sorry for people who have depression but are in a family where it isn’t understood. That must be awful. Very isolating. I love your blog btw, you’re a very good writer x

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for the compliment. When I was first diagnosed with depression, forty plus years ago, I hated answering the question, “Why?” Hard to explain why “it just is.” Good luck with fighting the good fight.

        Like

      • The answer to why is, for me at any rat, that it’s just the way we’re made. And I think that the depressive part of my brain/my odd brain chemistry is also directly linked to being a creative person. I do a lot of other things than write. So I wouldn’t actually change it now. Thirty odd years ago it was hell on earth. But it’s amazing what you can adapt you isn’t it? You’re welcome to the compliment. It’s deserved x

        Like

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