When I was a small child I prayed many times to disappear into my Winnie the Pooh books, where I could be happy forever. That was a dumb prayer, though, and anyway it never happened, so Iâ€™m still here. I kept a knife under my mattress for a week, after I had a dream that a psychopathic killer was coming for me. In the dream, I decided that the best thing to do was to kill myself before the murderer got to me, as I could give myself a quick, easy end with the knife and spare myself a torturous death. As an adult, it seems pretty clear that the â€œkillerâ€ wasnâ€™t real, but a way for me to visualize what I now recognize as my depression. Anyway, I got a steak knife from the kitchen and kept it hidden for about a week, and every night I would try to work up the nerve to stab myself in the chest. But I couldnâ€™t do it, and eventually I put the knife back and no one knew. Nobody knows that now, either.
So many things have happened since that time; things that I would have missed if I had, in fact, stabbed myself to death as a six year old. In no particular order:
North by Northwest, Strangers on a Train, The Lord of the Rings, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Salute Your Shorts, Dinner with Friends, Zoolander, Clueless, Hamlet, The Misanthrope, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, the Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Slowness, The Joke, Agatha Christie, William Carlos Williams, Moliere, e.e. cummings, Pearl Jam, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, George & Ira Gershwin, U2
rugby, running, swimming, especially at the CalTech pool
getting into MIT, passing my Ph.D. qualifying exam, getting my Ph.D. from Harvard, getting hugged by my thesis advisor, my 10-year high school reunion
Raj, Nic, Jason, Hunter, Giga, Peter, Bob, Dave, Matt, different Matt, Dug, Luke, Paul, Christopher, Scott, Rodin, Sloan, Jamil, Brian, Adilet, different Christopher, Eben
physical therapy for my knee, mononucleosis, finding a lump in my breasts, growing out of my chocolate allergy, Major Depressive Disorder
Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Thailand, Japan, Lao, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, England, Argentina, Brazil, Montreal
alcohol, candles, tea lights, 600 thread count sheets, Christian Louboutin suede boots
science, and being good at public speaking
the suicides of Elizabeth Shin, Phillip Gale, and Julie Carpenter at MIT
getting along with my parents
I love you
learning to cook
failing my driverâ€™s test, twice
I think I am glad that I didnâ€™t kill myself when I was six. But there is no way I would have believed that it could be so, at the time.
My depression and suicidal thoughts consume me. They are with me every morning, and they sleep beside me at night. Everything is terrible, I am worthless, I have no one; this is the refrain that accompanies my every waking moment. The dull pain in my chest is something I notice only when it is gone, when I have been sad for so long that I choose to feel nothing.
Though my suicidal thoughts tell me that the pain of living is unbearable, some part of me wants to know what will happen next, if I decide not to die. I have heard this hesitation to end it all described by others as cowardice, or an indication that a personâ€™s suicide gesture was not sincere. I believe that what keeps me alive (what has kept me alive, so far) is hope. I hope, and yet I have no hope. I yearn for a future that I believe cannot exist, one in which I am content, and not consumed by destructive thoughts and actions.
I am in agony. I am hopeful. I am in hell.