10,000 Hours of Contemplating Suicide by Alison Cebulla
Hi. Hannah here, giving an into to this guest post by Alison Cebulla. This article discusses suicidal fantasies and past usage of hard drugs. This isn't about condoning drug use or suicidal thoughts, but rather about sharing an honest human experience in the hope that others can relate to an aspect of existence that we might normally be afraid to discuss openly.
If you, or someone you know, are in immediate danger call 911. If you are having suicidal intentions please call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255— it's available 24 hours every day.
Halloween is coming up. Let's talk about death.
When I think about things that I've done for 10,000 hours, qualifying me as an expert, the top thing on the list is definitely thinking about death.
Contemplating death has been a lifelong hobby.
In high school, I used to scope out building heights wondering, "if I jumped off of that, is it high enough that I would die? Or would I just become paralyzed with a mushy brain?" I decided there weren't any buildings tall enough in my small town to make it worth the risk, hypothetically.
If I was walking over a freeway overpass I'd think, "if I jumped off into moving traffic, would I get hit by a car moving at 85mph and die instantly? Or would I ricochet off a couple and land on the side of the road becoming paralyzed with a mushy brain?" Not worth the risk.
"If I had a mushy brain, would I remember my old self and all that I had lost, or would I be really content to sit and drink pudding through a straw?" Not worth the risk.
Another thought was,
"How painful is drowning? If I attached weights to my body and sat in a river, would I realize my mistake and throw them off of me? How long would I freak out before dying?" Not worth the risk.
And I remember knowing exactly which friends dad's owned a gun. That always seemed the least risky.
I was thinking about death the morning I found out that my cousin, who was my close friend, hung himself. It was my 30th birthday and I was driving to Rite Aid to buy tampons. I thought, as I waiting to turn left onto El Camino Real from the bottom of 12th St in my hometown of Grover Beach, California, "If I pulled out in front of oncoming traffic and a car traveling at approximately 45mph hit my driver's side, would I die instantly? Or would my airbag pop open and snap my neck, paralyzing me, leaving me with a mushy brain?" I got home from my errand with enough cotton wads tied with string to sop up blood for 4 to 5 days and Brant said, "Hey, dad just called. You should probably sit down."
In my late teens when I was using hard drugs I used to fantasize about dying of a drug overdose. It seemed the most glamorously rock star way to go. For Halloween that year when I was 18 my costume was Mia Wallace post-overdose with fake blood coming out of my nose. We went to the Castro district in San Francisco that night where thousands of people walk around in the dark trying to check each other out despite the lack of natural lighting that happens when the sun goes down. Several people recognized my costume which was cool. I felt really cool. I felt really cool that I used drugs and was that much closer to death. "You guys don't even know how dangerous I am," I thought somewhere in the back of my mind as we walked up and down the streets (kind of) looking at strangers that night (again, it was dark*), "I am so dangerous. I could die of a drug overdose at any moment. I'm so cool, dangerous, and edgy."
Sometimes in the morning when I wake up I think, "Would death be better than my office job?" Impossible to know. Maybe.
IT HAS RECENTLY COME TO MY ATTENTION THAT YOU ALL ARE DOING THIS TOO to some degree in your own way. BUT SOME OF YOU, THE EXACT SAME WAY. So I thought I'd share. Any/all patronizing** comments will be ignored. Thanks in advance for being cool instead. As always, if you don't know what to say, you can always say "I relate."
Did you also do this? Do you still? Would love to hear either in comments or via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Do you do anything differently? I never much fantasized about cutting my wrists, for example, but would be very curious to hear if you did. Not my style I guess.
*what I'm trying to say is, why do people like to congregate publicly in the urban outdoors at night? It makes no sense. Halloween in the Castro was hella boring at 18.
**patronize=treat with an apparent kindness that betrays a feeling of superiority.
Alison Cebulla is a Certified Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She holds a Bachelor of Science from UC Berkeley and did research with the Berkeley Center for Weight & Health. Her writings on kindness and compassion have been featured in The Huffington Post. She leads workshops at conferences including OuiShare Paris, Share Conference SF, and Bulletproof Biohacking Conference in LA on trust, intimacy, boundaries, kindness, and gratitude. She taught a monthly meditation and listening class at The Three Jewels Tibetan Buddhist Center in Manhattan, NYC in 2015. She led monthly mindfulness meetups for women at Reflections Center for Conscious Living in Manhattan, NYC from 2013 to 2014. She currently resides in Austin, Tx and works full-time women’s rights and part-time as a life coach. To see more from Alison please visit her website, alisoncebulla.com, and Instagram, @alisoncebulla.