TRIGGER WARNING: SUICIDE AND SELF-HARM

It’s funny how much you need liquids, even – especially – while you’re drowning.

Water on ice, to keep you hydrated – a little lubrication to grease all your inner engines. This is the easy step for friends who care enough to say, “Are you hydrated? Have you been eating? Sleeping?” Whether they make time to talk you off a ledge is another story.

The occasional shower, to keep your significant other from leaving. Other than that, showers seem pretty pointless, in the thick of it. It’s not as though you leave the house. It’s not as though you need to wash away the sweat. You can’t bring yourself to exercise, even though WebMD and those easy-step friends and your grandmother seem to think your depression will be magically cured the moment you dig your dumbbells out of the closet. Still, you shower every few days. Why not.

Coffee, to keep you awake. The “COFFEE IS LIFE” memes are cute, but it takes so many sedating medications to function like a nearly-normal human being that coffee has become a necessity for staying awake throughout the day. Unless you want to take a three-hour mid-afternoon nap. Some days you need both.

Wine, to keep you sane. It takes so much wine to do that these days. There’s an everyday pain, a tightness in your chest. Sometimes it feels like anxiety. Sometimes it feels like asthma, like you can’t take a full breath. Sometimes it just feels like looking at a clock and weighing whether you can start drinking at 1 PM. The wine probably makes your SSRI less effective, but you don’t feel the tightness when you’re drunk. Or maybe when you’re drunk you just don’t think about it.

Warm water at 3 AM, stumbling into the kitchen in the dark, cursing yourself for not hydrating sooner but still trying to get ahead of the hangover.

Growing up, your mother called you Pokey – an affectionate dig at how slow and inefficient she found you. Now you do everything in a hurry – even drinking water. Your mouth is too small for how far you tip the glass of water back into your mouth, so water goes spilling out the sides of your face and down your bare chest.

That feeling, that loss of control, feels like drowning.

You crawl back to bed and you can’t stop thinking about the water getting out of your control like that. Everything feels like that now – out of your control.

You wonder how much water it actually takes to drown yourself. Maybe just getting a one-gallon jug of water and forcing it down too quickly…?

But it’s a stupid idea and you know it. Are you supposed to reach out to friends and hotlines even when your suicidal plans are really stupid?

One time you had the idea to just walk into the mountains – keep walking and climbing away from everyone. It seems now more like a retreat than a suicide attempt.

You text your friend: “Hi, I’m really depressed.”

“I’m so sorry! I love you so much, we’ll get through this together. Are you hydrated? Have you been eating? Sleeping?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you thinking about hurting yourself?”

“Yeah.”

“Do you have a plan to hurt yourself?”

“Sort of. I have kind of a general desire to drown myself. But not in a lake or a bathtub. I was thinking like… just drowning myself with a bunch of water. Drinking it way too quickly.”

“Oh, I thought you were serious at first LMAO. Glad you’re OK, let’s get coffee on Thurs?”

You are glad coffee is too hot to drown in. You avoid taking baths. You avoid thinking about it. You drink a lot of wine to help yourself not think about it. You drink a lot of water to wash down the wine. You try not to drink it too quickly.

You wait for the storm to pass. You think, “it’s been months; how long am I supposed to wait?” Then you don’t think about that anymore.