Exit Ramps

Disclaimer: I have never been diagnosed as suicidal. No one knew I thought about it as much as I did, even the people who probably should have. I didn’t tell them.

Very few people would believe me if I told them how glad I was to have the option of self imposed death. It started around 7th grade, after my mom switched me out of the private school where I was successful and liked, to a public school where I didn’t know anyone or how to dress or how to act. Looking back, I had textbook depression. But no one noticed. Which made it worse. The thoughts about disappearing started then but I don’t think I connected it to the idea of dying yet.

By high school I had learned about the concept of suicide. I entertained the idea a lot, not the logistics exactly, but more the choice. I don’t know how often I asked myself but it was at least weekly, “Do I keep living my crappy life or do I take the out?” I was greatly comforted by the option of the out. It’s like I was driving on a highway and just by thinking about it, I could make the signs for an exit ramp appear whenever I wanted and I could ponder the idea of taking it. I always kept driving but I also took solace in the knowledge that I could conjure one up whenever I wanted to consider the choice.

As time went on it became more and more clear that I just liked having the option, a reminder that I was living by my own free will, that if it got bad enough I didn’t have to keep going, that I had some control over existing or not. I doubt I would have ever done it, even if I indulged in thoughts and had impulses sometimes. By the time I was in my late twenties I think I understood most of this. My life got better. I married and had children. I’m in my forties now and life is amazingly normal and secure, filled with love and purpose. I couldn’t ask for more. These days I am fearful of death, for the things I wouldn’t get to see and the life I wouldn’t get to live…but of course mostly for what it would do the lives and hearts of my children. I finally understand what death anxiety is. I won’t get into helicopters for fun anymore. I wear sunscreen. I plan for retirement someday. As a KAD I’ve always bristled at the word, “Lucky”; in getting to live this part of my life though, I truly am. I’m not grateful for all that I’ve lived through but I am profoundly grateful for the exit ramps I never took.

 

Shared by a KAD who prefers to remain anonymous.

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