To say it never crossed my mind would be a bold faced lie. But I never truly put much thought into it. I like to joke that my being alive was to spite those who disliked me. It’s a positive twist for such a morbid thought.
I have never written a suicide letter, not even in the fictional sense. None of my characters have ever killed themselves, though several have toyed with the idea. Some have taken it further than I would have ever thought. And maybe that reflects something about me.
On the other hand, I have written several love letters. Letters to those who knew, and letters to those who didn’t. Forming words verbally has never been my strongest suit. Putting it out there is difficult. Almost as difficult as admitting that in my darkest hours, the thought of not existing seemed preferable.
In “14 Lines from Love Letters or Suicide Notes,” we are gifted with both beauty and tragedy, a grotesque outlook of the world around us. Do we long for love or the quiet blackness that lies beyond?
8. I came home on Tuesday and found all of the chairs that I own stacked in a tower in the center of my kitchen. I don’t know how long they had been like that but it can only be me that did it. It’s the kind of thing a ghost might do to prove to the living that he is still there. I am haunting my own apartment.
9. My grandmother was still alive when I was 5 years old and she asked me to check and see if the iron was hot enough yet so I pressed my hand against it and it was red and screaming for hours. 25 years later, she would still sometimes apologize in the middle of conversations, “I feel so bad about making you touch the iron” she’d say, as though it had just happened. I cannot imagine how we forgive ourselves for all the things we didn’t say until it was too late. But how else do you tell if something is hot but to touch it?
Not much of a Twenty One Pilots fan, but something about this song stuck. (Most of the album, actually, but let’s not talk about that.) It’s the lyric, the repetitive chorus, “Wish we could turn back time to the good old days/When our momma sang us to sleep, but now we’re stressed out.” The first time I heard it, I swear that vocalist Tyler Joseph sang, “Wish we could turn back time to the good dope days…” and I guess that ages me. And I wonder if that epithet is even used by the band’s target audience. If some twelve-year-old is out there using dope in a sentence. And I wonder what sort of life a twelve-year-old girl leads that a song like “Stressed Out” resonates with her.
And you wonder what business a thirty-five—almost thirty-six—year-old man has conjuring up the thoughts of an adolescent. So I pull out the phone, select the appropriate icon, find the video, and pass it over to you:
Her name is Katelyn Nicole Davis, born February 20, 2004. Last fall, she would have started her first year of high school. May have attended Cedartown High School, home of the Cedartown Bulldogs. Last month, she turned fifteen though she remains, perpetually, twelve.
Replay the video. Once. Twice. So many times, there’s not reason to count. It’s not just this video; there are several from her Musical.ly portfolio that made it onto YouTube. It’s just there’s something about the “Stressed Out” video that keeps ringing home. Maybe it’s the weight of some of the lyrics: “I was told, when I get older, all my fears would shrink/But now I’m insecure, and I care what people think.” Or, maybe, it’s the fact when the chorus plays, I hear Shaun’s voice singing it from the backseat.
On December 30, 2016, Katelyn started streaming on Live.me in her backyard. She takes her audience on a somewhat silent tour of the her surroundings before she settles on a tree. She puts down her phone and steps off screen, leaving the audience with only the sounds of her fiddling with something, the roar of traffic passing by, and the dogs barking in the background. “Damn,” she says returning to her phone. “I need to tie it tighter.” It doesn’t take the audience too long to realize her intention when she climbs the tree and ties the rope around one of its branches. When its secure. When she knows it’ll hold, she turns her attention to the audience. Through tears, her words stream out. And she apologizes. Apologizes for not being good enough. Apologizes for hurting. For not being pretty enough. But what strikes the chord for me, she apologizes for the letting the depression get to her.
I juxtapose it. Her live stream suicide, clocking in at just under forty-three minutes, to her fifteen-second Musical.ly.
Wish we could turn back time to the good old days…
You can’t make sense of it. Death never makes any sense. And it’s less so when the cause is depression. You can rationalize it all you fucking want, and I have and turned up empty each and every time. I poured through the screenshots of her online journals. Read the bits of information that have come to light. The bullying. The catfishing. The all the shit that pave the road for a twelve-year-old girl to commit suicide.
Waylon Jennings wrote a song entitled “Cedartown, Georgia.” And I wonder if Katelyn ever heard it, even if in passing. There’s a lyric at the end of the song that becomes haunting when I think of it now: “Gonna be a lot of kin folks squallin’ and grieving/ Cause that Cedartown girl ain’t breathing.”
Sometimes I forget other people have feelings. Sometimes that they’re even human. I awoke to the sound this morning. My world shook and I was ripped from my dream. I’m consumed by whatever madness lives within me. The pressures of just smiling weighing me down. I look in the mirror and see the edges cracking. I am a book rebound and taped. Mended and re-mended.
The weather’s perfect for these feelings of personal isolation. Nothing bothers me. Nothing that isn’t me, anyway. I bother me. I’ve always bothered me.
The weeding process started yesterday (being Wednesday at the time of this post). Discarding books like discarding children, it’s not something a person with a heart can do. At the moment, these withdrawals will be placed on a “ghost shelf,” where their existence will continue without continuing. Like being dead while still breathing.
In the last month, I played with the thought of suicide. I’d never do it, of course. There’s Shaun to consider and the several people I haven’t pissed off yet. Besides, it’s never been in my fashion to leave behind a mess of things. Instead, I place myself on the ghost shelf. To continue exist in the sense of nonexistence.
I promise the next post will be a porn or something chipper like that.
Bared on your tomb
I am a prayer for your loneliness
And would you ever soon
Come above unto me?
For once upon a time
From the binds of your holiness
I could always find
The right slot for your sacred key
I can’t sleep. I haven’t been getting much these last few days, weeks, months. Like a recurring nightmare, the dream of a sweeter time in my life keeps revealing itself, jolting me awake, leaving me with the realization how lonely I am. The greatest part of this scenario is I haven’t a single person to share this dream with. Nor would I if someone would offer to listen.
I used to think of a world in which I’m not a part. A scarier thought never crossed my mind. Not suicide, just a world in which I never existed. How much happier would people be if I never polluted their lives. If my indecision or inability to act never held them back from bigger and better.
I used to think of suicide, too. What a waste of life. At my weakest state, that seemed like the best solution for everything. I read a post by someone on Tumblr stating that suicide wasn’t a form of weakness. Her argument seemed sound, but it lacked everything. We only get one life, one shot to do something great. Even in the smallest way, we leave a mark that changes the world. Maybe not the whole world, but maybe someone’s world. And quitting before you even get a chance to start is possibly the most selfish thing. And selfishness is the sign of weakness. I should know.
I’m rambling. I know that there isn’t any linear way to describe depression. Fuck it. I’m out.