I once had to follow a guy who drank some kind of homemade liquor and went temporarily blind. He had a cane with a sword in it, but was too baked to pull it out, but kept trying. He’d swing his cane around and scream, “STOP FOLLOWING ME!!!!” Thing was... I don’t think he was talking to me. Because his friends told me he did that all the time when he was drunk. “Things follow him,” said one half-baked Wiccan. “I think...”
I had to talk a Unix admin from his first acid hit at the University of Maryland. He was one of those over-educated kids of home-schooled by parents, both who had PhD’s and were former teachers. He didn’t just study Mozart, he WAS Mozart, metaphorically. I mean, at age 8, wrote his first symphony. So, when he went to college, he knew more than most of the teachers about a variety of subjects, and if you ask me, only studied computers as a side hobby, and of course, excelled at it. “Have to get a degree in something,” he once said. He was as brilliant as he was impatient and unsurprisingly, rather socially inept. Being home schooled, he had as much in common with peers his own age as if he was in his late 80s and being forced to work with drunken frat boys armed with several day’s worth of fart jokes.
Someone gave him acid. I don’t know who, but shit, it was like someone gave an eight-year old LSD. He called me at home to tell me spiders were coming after him. Spiders that formed from the ceiling tiles, which at Bessel Labs was not unlike matted spaghetti. The way he described them was probably the most analytical acid trip I had ever heard. No screaming or squealing, just a hyperventilating discovery of new things like his brain had fallen from its carrying case and was oozing on the floor like an escape of some barely amphibious animal from an aquarium petting tank. I was both terrified and fascinated by the things he was experiencing, because he told them with such clarity and insightful philosophy that I could understand what he saw and why. As his thought patterns twisted and turned, I wasn’t sure if he was going hang up the phone at any minute to blow his brains out just to experience death. He didn’t just call me, and apparently, everyone he called shared a different story of what he said. It was like he was using each one of us as a mirror, and we distorted his reflection in some unique way. It was very moving.
But it’s been a long time. Yet, in the last 3 months, I have been involved in no less than three separate and unrelated events where I had to talk someone down from a suicidal perch in their life. Today was one of them, and this was the first over the phone I had done since I was ...23? Most have been over e-mail, but this seemed pretty serious because she was suicidal for a rather ironic reason that she feared someone was going to come to kill her (notably someone who had beaten her up). So I called her. She was doing better, but I pumped as much of the serious positive mojo my little pagan heart could channel. Only time will tell if this did any good. She’s worth it, though.
It’s always the smart and decent ones that seem to be most vulnerable to these kind of illogical assumptions; “Either this life goes, or I do!” Mean and horrible people rarely commit suicide, and sometimes I am guilty that I wish they would. When the rare one does manage to off themselves, it’s always in a selfish and messy way. Inconvenient to the end. Although I also suspect if they didn’t make it look like an obvious suicide, everyone would assume they’d been murdered by one of their many enemies.
“Oh but surely he just shot himself and then hid the gun!”
Here’s something I have said to all three of them, and if you suffer seasonal depression, you should listen. This is very important: when you die, it’s never like you expected. Here are some sad realities:
Those that forced you to this end? Your boss, ex, or parents? Never blame themselves. And why should they, really? You did the deed, I mean, come on. You just made it super convenient. And even worse, they will most likely make it be about themselves. They will take your death as a way to make themselves look so awesome and caring, and OOOOOOHHH! You will be so MAAAAD! And now you can’t slap them. Best you can do is haunt them and go, “Boooo” (“Le Beauuuux” if you’re French Canadian). And if they ignored your pleas in real life, the certainly won’t pay attention to you when you’re dead.
Your funeral will not be anything like you imagined. The casket, for instance, will be gaudy. You wanted the black and sleek “Montague” and they put you in a lavender pastel “Excelsior.” They will put you in some clothes you thought you wouldn’t be caught dead in, but now you see you were technically very wrong. The food they serve at the wake will contain bits you hate, and someone will claim it was your favorite food. Someone will make the funeral “all about them.” They will wail the loudest, probably faint, and carry on. It will probably be someone you can’t stand, either. Half the people won’t come to your casket or urn because dead people creep them out. There will be people who you don’t even know who came for the free food or just to feel wanted. “I knew them so well,” they will lie. And buddy, people will make up the weirdest shit about you. “We were best friends in high school... wwwwaughh!” And you’ll be like, “Uh... no? I hated you.”
And you’ll realize the awful truth: funerals are for the living. Not the dead.
Once you’re buried, chances are, after a few years, no one will visit your grave site but a few horny Goths and nearsighted old ladies. And you’ll be reduced to a misspelled anecdote in someone’s blog.
Tara Lily: 1969-1985
All your problems you thought were so serious will suddenly seem so petty, and you’ll realize that you wasted your life for some pretty shitty people who go on living and doing shitty things to others. You should have been the one that lived, and that seems so fucking obvious after you’re dead.
One piece of advice I gave to someone was that if you want the same thrill and adrenaline rush along with drawing attention to yourself and problems is to paint them on your chest, and run around naked at a major sports event. Sure, you’ll get arrested, but no harm done, really. That takes guts, but hey, if you wanted to die, what’s it going to harm? And later, when you feel better and elated that you did SOMETHING to relieve the stress, and you have to explain why you got arrested at some future job interview, you’ll have an amazing story instead of some drunken brawl at Spring Break.
“I felt really sad, so I drank 2 liters of Mountain Dew, a bag of peppermint patties, and ran around nude at a Bears game. Wore nothing but body paint that said, ”Free Lance Armstrong“ on my butt, and a Viking helmet complete with braids on my head. Right during the pledge of allegiance. It took four fat guards three minutes to catch me and it took six of them to get me down and drag me out. I never felt so alive saying ‘fuck you’ to the world!”
Thing is, if you’re brave enough to kill yourself? You’re brave enough to do anything. Make it count.