“Everytime I make my mother cry
an angel falls from Heaven.”
Marilyn Manson, ‘Cryptorchild,’
“AntiChrist Superstar” (1996)
“Youth are among the highest risk populations for suicide. In Canada, suicide accounts for 24 percent of all deaths among 15 to 24 year olds and 16 percent among 16 to 44 year olds. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Canadians between the ages of 10 and 24.”
The Canadian Mental Health Association
“You better watch where you’re going,
You might end up here.”
Jones, “Phil The Alien”
It’s amazing to me how fragile we still are even after a few years of therapy and medications. I’ve been talking to my doctor for almost three years now, and taking three medications for pretty much the same amount of time and I still feel like killing myself.
When I was in my early twenties I was barely surviving, and had been doing so for a long, long time. I was looking ahead in terms of weeks not years, as in “how am I going to survive until next week?” I was twenty-something and looking into my future I could not see any chance for change, so I promised myself that if I was in the same position in my future as I was at that moment there would be no point at all in continuing to live. The end.
So this is what I wrote two and a half years ago when I was 34 when, again, I was on welfare and trying to survive from one week to the next:
“In my early twenties I was unemployed, barely surviving on welfare. That was my financial situation. I was also unmedicated, I was also still trying to deal with what my life had been… fatherless, without direction, I was trying to deal with being a failure who couldn’t try. I could see no way out, no way to better myself. Everyday was a struggle with family and friends. When I turned thirty I had somehow managed, unmedicated, to become successful, so I kept going. I’m now 34 and it is becoming more and more apparent that those two or three years of success were a blip, an anomaly, because I’m back to where I was when I made the suicide pact with myself.
“When I was thirty I looked back on the past decade and saw seven years of absolute failure and three years of absolute success. Now I look back and see another four years of failure, four years of near absolute depression. Imagine yourself being forty, looking back to twenty and only seeing three good years. That’s what I see projected six years from now. I am medicated, that’s the difference, but the medication doesn’t preclude suicide. The medication treats the symptoms, not the cause. Just because the cancer is in remission doesn’t mean it won’t kill.
“I cannot go on much longer knowing this is how my life will continue. I don’t see a way out of the trap I’m in. I am hungry, and I cannot feed myself. There have been so many moments where I have chosen not to commit suicide, so many more where the suicidal moment passed before I could complete the act. There are times, recently and medicated, where I consider those moments lost opportunities. When I was twenty I knew, knew, I would die before I turned thirty. There was no doubt. I know, right now, that I will never see forty. I know, right now, that I will not see 35. I know, right now, that I do not want to see 35. I know, right now, that it will be the medication I take to treat the symptoms which will be the method.”
When I was 24 I applied for the radio broadcasting program at the local college and ended up in the journalism program by mistake. And despite having my girlfriend of three years break up with me, getting kicked out of my apartment, spraining my ankle and getting the flu all in the same week, I thought school was enough to keep moving forward. So I did. And, despite getting kicked out and having to repeat a full semester for being too depressed to show up for class, I completed the program. During my final semester I was interning at a monthly technology newspaper in Ottawa for $60/week. After graduation in 1997 they picked me up full time for $12,000/year. Eighteen months later I was in Toronto doing pretty much the same thing for $28k. Eighteen months later I was working in Public Relations for $50,000. So by the time I was 30 I had become who I thought I needed to be so I wouldn’t think killing myself was an option anymore.
But I was wrong, of course. I couldn’t sustain the momentum. I sucked at Public Relations. Huge. And one evening, at a crappy party, I met the owner of a medium-sized publishing house in Toronto and we talked, mostly because there was nothing else to do. And a few days later I received an email, and a few weeks of negotiations later I had a book deal. So I quit my Public Relations job and started the research phase on a book mostly about my life and the lives of my parents and the Maoist Training Camp they and their friends operated during the 70’s. I tracked down and interviewed my father (whom I had only seen for two hours since I was eight), and five of the main members who had spent my first eight years messing with my head in ways only Maoists can. And my mother. Which was really not fun.
And they all talked to me. They all bared their souls. They all spoke for the first time, and used words out loud that they had only used inside their heads. They all spoke quite openly about the damage they had done to each other, they all spoke about the Criticism Sessions, the sexual affairs, the emotional abuse, the fear, the constant police surveillance, the harassment from cops and civilians alike, the guns, the training, the people from other countries coming in as “guest speakers”, the planning for Revolution. They ran bookstores, a shelter for abused women, clothing banks, a convenience store, they published a national magazine, they printed other magazines. They all, each and every single one of them, commented that it was a “miracle” that my brother and I “grew up normal.” And I smiled and thanked them all. Even my father, who had started searching for ways of how he could abandon me while convincing everyone that he was a martyr for doing so before I was out of the womb.
“Thanks for doing this. No, that’s all right, I’ll pay for the Cokes. Tell me all about your traumatic childhood while I hold back my bile. No… I won’t hurt beat you into a paste.”
And, somehow, I kept moving forward. But it was too much. Twelve months of interviewing the people who had spent ten years of their lives trying to kill each other while pretending their revolution was about something beyond their own martyrdom. Everyone wants to be a Revolutionary when they think they’ll be the face on the T-Shirt. I spent two or three weeks in Stratford with my brother trying to write the book. I finished 40,000 words before I collapsed. Eighteen months later I was living near my mother and on welfare. That’s when I wrote my Second Pact, that thing above.
But, somehow, I kept moving forward. I couldn’t speak to people, I couldn’t move (except my hands, which shook like I had palsy) and I could barely think without wishing I were dead. I was trying to move through Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I was starting treatment for my Manic Depression for the first time. But there was something to do, something that offered a way out of my situation if I could just concentrate and finish the fucking thing. The Book was what I would use to bring me back to the land of the living. And it worked. By this summer I had edited what I had wrote in Stratford and had added another 12k to 15k more words. Everything was coming together. All of my Original Demons were being worked out, my disease was being taken care of and I could see an honest to God way out… back into a life. I could finally start thinking of all the friends I had abandoned when I was in my Coma… I started thinking about reconnecting, working, playing again.
And then, this past September, I got a new computer. My old one was ancient, it was a P2 with a 4G harddrive that I had been using for about a year. The P2 replaced the 486 I had been using to write on since college. My mother and grandfather pitched in and here was this new computer. So one night, about a week after I received it, I started transferring files from old to new and erased my book. All gone, including whatever backups there were.
For the first six weeks my heart hurt. There was a very real constant physical pressure on my heart, and it was hard to breathe. Not only when I thought about what I had done, but all the time. It was a strange, strange time. My doctor was extremely worried about me. He was the only person I told for the first month. I could barely comprehend what I had done, I didn’t think anyone could really understand what had happened and I didn’t want to have to explain it to them. I could actually feel my depression breaking through the medication. I knew that I was in a lot of trouble, depression wise, but I couldn’t do anything about it. The book was gone, everything I was planning was gone, all of the insanity I had put myself through with the interviews was meaningless, all of my personal shit I had worked through was gone.
So I started a blog on Yahoo!. And, after a few weeks of dicking around, when I figured out what I wanted my blog to do, I found WordPress. And here we are. Facing down another Suicide Pact with myself, trying to figure out some way of moving forward. My doctor is impressed that I was able to find a way to move past my suicidal thoughts. He has read this blog and we’ve discussed some of the stuff I’ve written. This blog is supposed to be my way of not killing myself. I’m trying to write around my book so I can eventually get back to writing the book. I still have the work I did at my brothers. I still have the interview transcripts. But the idea of having to go back and do it all over again… . I know I have to give myself some time to recover, some time to gain some clarity on what has happened. I know that and that’s what I’m trying to do. It’s just strange, sometimes, when that suicide-wave hits like it did today. It’s just very hard to admit how fragile I really am sometimes.