There’s a woman my age at work who has lived most of her life with one kidney. A transplanted kidney. Now its old and failing her. She’s been on the transplant list and on dialysis for more than 6 years. Over time she’s fallen ill, been in and out of hospital and come close to death. Yet to look at her you’d never say she was sick. She still works. She is always cheerful. I’ve never heard her complain. Never bemoaned her fate. She’s active, pursues a physically challenging hobby. She lives and loves without restraint.
I walked past her today, and overheard a piece of conversation. She said “I don’t want them resuscitating me, you know, you put your life into their hands”. This was said within the context of – she doesn’t want to die. She doesn’t want events to deteriorate to such a point where she would have to be resuscitated. She wants the surgery to run smoothly. Kidney failure or no kidney failure, she wants to live.
My immediate thought was one of jealousy, envious of her close proximity to death. Because I don’t want to live anymore. And so I became ashamed. Thoroughly disgusted by myself. While she fights to stay alive, I dream, plot and scheme about my own death. My thoughts roam hour by hour in an endless loop from hanging to drowning to guns.
So I told myself I was a terrible person for entertaining suicide as much as I do. For being selfish. For being ungrateful. For being lazy. For being a poor, useless excuse of a human being. But then I thought – while there is dialysis or an organ transplant for failing kidneys, there are no such options for my brain. While her blood is cleansed, there is no way to clean my mind of these suicide-thoughts. Thoughts that are purely symptoms. I have a brain that’s sick, with no way to be fixed. We are both ill. There should be no comparison. We just suffer in different ways. And there is no shame in that.
My mother killed herself when I was 19 years old. Today would have been her 74th birthday. Happy birthday, Mom. I love you xx