Monthly Archives: July 2014

Darkness Into the Light

Disclaimer: This post is really isn’t about writing, and it’s not gonna be up-beat. If you’re looking for writerly stuff, or a pleasurable read, ya might wanna give this particular post a pass. But, then again, it deals with a stigmatized subject: suicide, which needs to be talked about, rather than whispered and kept under wraps. So, not only do I now disclaim my disclaimer, I double-dog dare you to read this; and then talk about it with the people you love and/or would like to love.

I’m a powerful introvert who lives alone, is neither dating nor seeing anyone, and keeps pretty exclusively to myself. Other than work, I don’t have much in the way of a social life. Things have been incredibly busy, last month or two, at work. I work in the kitchen of the local hospital, and our patient count has been running high without any breaks in the action. It’s hitting everyone, stretching and stressing all of us out. Me, I’ve been wondering whether anything that I do matters; and by association, whether I matter, myself.

This past Tuesday (day before yesterday) was the end of my workweek, and after finishing my duties for the evening, I email our HR Vice President, venting my frustration at feeling the hospital administration had me in a no-win situation: I had to avoid overtime, but I’d be in trouble if I worked off the clock, and likewise if I clocked out on time, but left my duties uncompleted. I was tired, angry, frustrated, etc and etc, so the email was long-winded. Buried roughly halfway through it was (I felt) a passing comment about my contemplating suicide. Yes, just the afternoon before I’d spent my lunch break in the hospital’s chapel, considering using the razor knife, which I carry, to slash my wrists; but that’s as far as it’d gotten: just thinking about it. I hadn’t taken the knife out, hadn’t even felt my pants pocket to confirm that the knife was there. I’d thought about it, not done anything further, and had gone back to work and finished my shift; and had even come back to work the very next day and, once again, completed my shift. No biggie, right?

Well, it turned out to be a major biggie. Yesterday morning, I was out and about around seven o’clock, not getting back to my apartment until 11:30ish. Wedged between the door and its frame was the business card from one of our police detectives. (Turned out, he’d also entered my apartment in order to physically check on me.) My answer machine had two phone messages from our HR VP, pleadingly asking me to call her the minute I got her message(s). I called her back, immediately, and was then quickly swept up in meeting with a counselor, followed by an even longer and more engaging meeting with the VP in her office—toward the end of which, my manager joined us. I left the meeting on the verge of sobbing.

I was already better, the morning after sending the email. And I was better, still, this morning. It’s easy and simple for me to say this has passed, but that’s how I’ve done things before, and it’s clearly not working, persisting to pull myself up by my bootstraps. To be sure, yes there were indeed, as I mentioned at the beginning of yesterday’s counseling session, several steps separating my thinking about slashing my wrists and its execution; however, I had already taken far way too many steps in the wrong direction in the “just thinking about it.” The fact that I went no further than contemplating killing myself is not a comfort. Rather, it is both chilling and horrifying. And, this is not such an anomaly, either, for me. It’s at least the third time, that I’m willing to admit to myself, that I’ve thought about “ending it all,” within the last two or three years. I have work ahead of me. And it’s not to be done alone. Tomorrow, I’ll be meeting with the HR VP, again, to discuss getting me that help.

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Filed under No [One] Is An Island, Suicide

Do You Know How Good You Are?

Recently, I visited a close friend for a couple of days. One of the things we did was watch YouTube videos of winning auditions for Britain’s/America’s Got Talent. Several times, one of the judges would say afterward to the performer, “Do you know how good you are?” Typically, the response was the performer began breaking down into tears.   I think that for many of us artists, we don’t have a clean perspective of our talents and abilities. We get lost in comparing ourselves to others, especially to others whom we look up to. Further, I also think we tend to shine a gilding light on the work of those others while keeping our own works dimly lit. We don’t give ourselves a fair shake. We hold up high the works of esteemed others, gazing at them in the same way as when we’re infatuated, in love. Our own works we nitpick, magnify what flaws we find, and pooh-pooh any elements that might reveal the caliber of our abilities and talent.   “Do you know how good you are?” No. And truthfully, I’m not sure I want to. If I did know, then I might have to act on that knowledge, be accountable to it. I don’t know if I’m ready to do that.

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Filed under Honoring Your Writing and Your Being a Writer