Content warning: This article addresses depression and suicide.
I could write a long listicle about all the annoying things people say to me about my depression. In fact, I could probably name at least 50 of those things off the top of my head, in numerical order from least to most important. Regardless, I know that this phrase would be in the top 10.
"If you're ever thinking about hurting yourself, please call this number: 1-800-273-8255."
Thanks to those people (and logic), I have that number so deeply ingrained in my internal "Do Not Call" list because it's simply an oxymoron to me. If I really wanted to kill myself, why on earth would I call someone to try and stop it? To me, it's just another piece of advice that I would never really take to heart.
Recently, however, I typed the number into my phone and gave it a ring. Not only had it been a truly miserable four weeks, but I had been dealt a devastating series of blows by life in a single night — the kind of punches that Mike Tyson would be proud of. The impacts were a bloodthirsty mix of rejection and failure. A sequence of "jab — cross — hook — uppercut" echoed through my mind, eventually knocking me down to the mat with 1.75 liters of my favorite beverage and 500 extra-strength acetaminophen pills in hand. I cracked the lids and prepared myself for the referee to count to 10.
One big gulp, 499 to go.
Two big gulps, 497 to go.
Three big gulps, 494 to go.
So on and so forth until he hit seven. Whether it was my "hydrated" stupor or my brain's last-ditch effort to save itself, I picked up my phone and started the call. After a dazed few seconds, an automated message began to play:
"You have reached the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, also servicing the Veterans Service line. If you are in emotional distress or suicidal crisis or are concerned about someone who might be, we're here to help. Please remain on the line while we route your call to the nearest crisis center in our network."
As the nice lady said all that, I focused my hearing back on the referee.
Eight big gulps, 472 to go.
I hit some more numbers on the keypad to get routed to the proper hotline and anxiously waited for a real, human voice to appear on the other end. I started going through a script in my head. People always tell me I should call, but they never tell me what I should say. I couldn't decide on anything interesting or poetic, so I settled with, "Hi. My name is Davis, and I really want to die."
Nine big gulps, 463 to go.
I laid down and closed my eyes, knowing that if God was real, he would send me straight to Hell in just a few moments.
"Whatever," I thought. "Nothing can be worse than this."
I continued to fantasize with my typical dark humor, picturing bright red bats crying beads of lava while perched on my shoulders. Satan was eagerly lighting cigarettes and putting them into my ears. Various demons made fun of me and pointed out all my insecurities, making fun of my height and face and teeth and —
"Please hold until the next available Crisis Counselor is ready to assist you."
My eyes burst open and a subtle smirk crept along my mouth. A jazzy, unfittingly upbeat song began to play through the phone. It tormented me, laughing at my situation, my sadness, and my life as a whole.
I thought the song was so hilarious and inappropriate that I started to laugh with it. Everyone else started laughing too.
The referee started laughing. The fans in the arena started laughing. The crying bats stopped crying and began to chortle uncontrollably. I rolled around on the floor, laughing hysterically.
Something about being rejected from everything, including the suicide hotline, was absolutely comical to me.
I laughed while I cried. I laughed while I realized that life is just a demonic stand-up comedian making fun of me. I laughed while I saw that life has a sadistic way of getting you through things, even if it's the one thing that's always trying to kill you.
I laughed while I stumbled to the bathroom. I laughed while I jammed my fingers down my throat. I laughed until I went to bed.
Somewhere in hell, Satan, the demons, and the bats are still laughing at me — I just won't be with them for a little while.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255