T/W - Graphic talk of suicide/self-harm
I hate to punt the prompt of a writing assignment, but If I had a week to live, I don't know how much living I'd do. I've already made a movie. I've already been in a movie. I've been on TV. I've been laid. I've been in love. I've smoked a lot of cigarettes. I've drank a lot of alcohol.
I've done a lot. I've done so many of the things that were once considered goals. Yet I have like 90 bucks to my name. So, maybe I'll rack up a massive credit card bill at a steakhouse. Like order every red bottle of wine, and drink a 300 dollar scotch? Tip 500%? But then, how does it work after? Do my parents have to pay that off? That would be cruel. "I know you have a funeral to pay for Mr and Mrs Russell, but your son thought it would be cute to order every oyster we had so he could make a slip and slide out of all the gooey stuff?"
I don't fear death like I used to. I guess that's what a suicidal episode will do to you. I wouldn't call myself fearless, nor would I say that I have a death wish. I laugh harder at suicide jokes now. People sometimes slip in front of me. "If the Knicks lost this game, I'll fucking kill myse-" oh. "Oops, I'm so sorry bro." And I sit there like, "please continue." It's this odd little superpower that I secretly enjoy. I feel like I'm in this exclusive club where I can give people a pass to make kill yourself jokes in front of me. Because I've been there. I almost did it.
I guess staring self-inflicted death in the face will do that to a person. Having a moment in my life where it was imperative to say "I don't want to die" is a crucial crossroad in a relationship with death. When I look back on that day, I blacked out a lot of parts, but what I do remember, I remember with a significant amount of detail.
What I remember the most is how hot I got. It was the end of September, so the weather was mild. But I distinctly remember my face feeling unbearably hot. Seeing red. Legitimately seeing red. And not in the idiotic way, like "I literally saw red."
No, I literally saw red. As if someone had but a lighting gel over my glasses.
My neck felt like someone was clutching at it. All the while, my body and my mind were telling me that I needed to be at the hardware store buying rope. It was as though I was preemptively hanging myself. I truly believe I had the grim reaper's hands around my throat, while whispering "finish it."
Interesting that hanging myself was the route that I chose. Hell, I'm 37 years old and I still use bunny ears to tie my fucking shoes. I think I'd be the least qualified suicide by hanger in history. I never thought about how I would do it till I was ready to do it. And, I thought of the hardest way. I mean, if it's not done properly, then shit gets real messy. There's a scary suffering. Air escaping. Kind of like drowning, which I don't fucking know how anyone would want to go out that way. Several minutes of not having air? What if you change your mind? Then you have to live with that in your final moments. I sometimes feel gratitude that I've never had access to a gun.
I think one thing that strikes me, as I write this, is what my world would have been like today without me in it. Today, April 28th, 2022. It's a scary thought. My family. Holidays. Weddings. Gatherings. Never the same. Watching the Mets every night. Can't fully enjoy the World Series win, if it ever fucking happens.
I would have left behind a girlfriend. We were rocky that day. That would have added so much to her grief. It was two days after a friend's wedding that I attended. They would always remember that their wedding was the last time they saw me. A lot of friends were there.
"The last time I saw Chris, he had way too many whiskeys and had to be carried into the airbnb. And, ya know, I should have known something was wrong. He wasn't himself that night. I wish I had done more."
I had three roommates. One of them would have had to have found me eventually. With my luck, it would have been the one who had been plagued with the most death in their life. They all would have had to have had a conversation about how they were going to cover my portion of the rent and bills that month. What a dick move on my part.
I had students, friends, colleagues. Questioning everything the way we still question Robin Williams. Anthony Bordain. Leaving behind one great mystery. Left them wanting more. Isn't that the holy grail of being an artist? A poetic ending?
It's interesting. I'm almost 40, and I still, thank god, have not experienced a death that rocked me to my core. That's why this writing prompt was tough for me. Because the greatest death of my life would have been my own. I had a semblance of a grieving period after. A lot of shame. A lot of guilt. A lot of silent suffering. A lot of questioning why and how I got to that point. It took me two months to tell someone who wasn't my therapist.
Alright, before this gets away from me, let me start over.
I still think about you, the suicide lifeline person who saved me. You know, they should give out a confirmation number or QR code when you get off the phone, in case you want to contact that person once you've recovered. I've been trying to get myself a volunteer job working suicide lifelines for the past few months. It ain't easy, rightfully so… but then again, if it were a little bit easier, I wouldn't have had to wait 45 minutes to get to you.
I think a lot about who you are. What you look like. What you would smell like if I were able to give you a hug. If Christine is even you real name. If you have kids. Maybe you're was a student. Younger than me. I want to know long you've been doing it. Have you ever had anyone die on you? I hate that you don't know that I'm still here. I'm sure there are plenty of reason why I shouldn't be able to contact you, but it doesn't seem fair.
I just want to say thank you.
I would love for you to know that I am one of your success stories. There are a lot of people who are better off because of you. The forty five minutes you spent with me was worth a second lifetime of laughs, sadness, art, sex, growth, and everything you can imagine. It hasn't always been pretty. In fact, a lot of it has been downright fucking ugly, but it has been.
Since I began writing about my own mental health, I've had several people reach out to me in their darkest moments, seeking help. They're all still here. I feel like I provide that to the world.
So, thank you from the bottom of my perpetually heavy heart. The heart that still beats today. Because of you.
The 44th guy in the queue, at 3:30pm, September 29th, 2019.
* This writing originated from a prompt from my acting coach, Matt Corozine. Check out his book here.
If you are struggling with your mental health, there is no shame in getting help:
If you are in crisis, get immediate help:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish
Crisis Text Line: Text SIGNS to 741741 for 24/7, anonymous, free crisis counseling
Disaster Distress Helpline: CALL or TEXT 1-800-985-5990
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild (1-800-422-4453) or text 1-800-422-4453
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
Black Mental Health Alliance – (410) 338-2642
Therapy For Black Girls: https://therapyforblackgirls.com/
National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association: https://www.naapimha.org/
Inclusive Therapists: https://www.inclusivetherapists.com/
Indian Health Services: https://www.ihs.gov/communityhealth/behavioralhealth/
Trans Lifeline: 1-877-565-8860
The Trevor Project’s TrevorLifeline: 1-866-488-7386
The Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116 – TTY
Alzheimer’s Association Helpline: 1-800-272-3900
Veteran’s Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)), then select 1, or Crisis Chat text: 8388255