August 1, 2019:
Nietzsche once said that the thought of suicide keeps many men alive in the darkest part of the night, and I would say that the more fully one comes to terms with the idea of rational suicide, the safer one will be from irrational suicide. Knowing that if I get through this minute I could always kill myself in the next one makes it possible to get through this minute without being utterly overwhelmed. Suicidality may be a symptom of depression; it is also a mitigating factor. The thought of suicide makes it possible to get through depression.
— Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas Of Depression (p. 284). Scribner. Kindle Edition.
In the darkest period of my breakdown I thought of suicide continually.
If I was conscious I was thinking of suicide. There was a recurring vision, a flash of clear imagery if I closed my eyes or got up to move around the room: me with a Glock to my temple, pulling the trigger. A very American, very male vision of death.
The impulse existed because the pain was so intolerable. I'm thinking this moment of the individuals who jumped from the World Trade Center on 9/11. Burn alive? Or take control and die on your own terms? Which agony is more merciful? Marsha Manning: "I don't want to die because I hate myself. I want to die because, on some level, I love myself enough to have compassion for this suffering and to want to see it end." 1
Yet it was never a serious possibility.
The Glock image was a safety valve. An emotional steam vent, where seeing that picture allowed the pressure to dissipate. "Somehow it eases the terror, the sense that I am condemned eternally to this hell."2
1. Martha Manning, Undercurrents: A Life Beneath the Surface, HarperOne 1994 (p.99)
2. Martha Manning, Undercurrents: A Life Beneath the Surface, HarperOne 1994 (p.94)