• Dami Afam Ade-Odiachi

Reflections on Izu (RIP) - Live! There is space for you here!

When a person chooses to die, it’s easy to look at the what, not so much the why, and it’s hard to distinguish between the what and the why. The what of a suicide may look a little like this: No one understands me. My girlfriend dumped me. My friends shunned me. I lost my job. I’m so disappointed in myself that life has no further meaning. Someone falsely accused me of rape. Everyone’s found out my deepest darkest secrets so I’ve lost access to the person I was before - a person I thought I’d always be. I’m HIV positive and everyone will shun me. I’m useless and there’s no space for useless people in the world. I’m trans. I’m queer. I’m gay. I’m fat. The what: the series of events, real or imagined, that made a person believe that there was no other option than to die.

It’s difficult. Life is difficult. It is painful. Sometimes, I hear talk of how my generation and the generation that follows mine is weak; spoiled, unused to hardship. I’ve heard people my parents age use words like these to explain suicide. I think they’re stupid sometimes. I get so angry at them. I get so angry at everyone that makes life look like something that is easy, that is mean and cruel when they could just be kind, that believes the way they see the world is the only way to see the world and everyone else that doesn’t fit into their microscopic little box should bear the brunt of their scorn - suffer it, but not kill themselves, hear the insults but keep smiling.

There’s this constant voice in the world that seeks to diminish everything that you are. You are not enough it says. Die it says. That person is okay, facing their lane, let’s put some nails in front of them. Let’s fuck their shit up. It is petty, it is mean and it is vile. Evil. We are so evil. The saddest thing about it, the true tragedy of the affair, these standards that we feel are imposed on us by the world, is that none of us meets them. Everyone is lacking. A has terrible teeth, yellow, fillings everywhere. B, is a rapist, he hates this about himself but he doesn’t know how to change it. C, is slothful to the point that it is disgusting. D, is a drug addict who cannot see that the perception alterers he’s taking are bringing out the devil in him. E is a murderer of children. F is a corrupt government individual. And it goes on. Point at the man and I’ll show you the thing that’s less than perfect.

I don’t know what your struggle is, and I don’t need to know. I don’t know. I don’t want to know. What I do know is that there’s something. I know what my things are. I know how I live with them from day to day. I know how I mask them with my laugh, my smile. When I wake up, they’re there, when I go to bed they’re also there. I pray a lot these days. I say, I believe Lord but help my unbelief. And the thing I believe? That I too am worthy of oxygen. That I am worthy of space. That my dreams are valid. That all of them will come true.

There’s so much I don’t understand and even less that I say that I know. Like why we’re here and what we’re doing and why we find it so difficult to understand that other people are human too. Whatever the race, whatever the gender, what ever the sexual orientation, abled, disabled, sick, healthy, good, evil - all of us are human. And that means that no matter how fucked up anyone is or what they do is, change my circumstances, tweak my brain chemistry, just a fraction, and I would do whatever it is that they did. Whatever it is that made them so worthy of hate.

Some people say to me, “How could you be friends with A, he is the worst person in the world.” But what of you? Do you know how much of you is undesirable? But then you’d look at someone else and think for a second that you have the absolute right to judge? How dare you? Sometimes I see people do this, and I get petty with it. I say, “these qualities you’ve used to frame your world, if I used them to judge you, to value myself, to rate myself, you wouldn’t have the right to be in the same room with me.” One of the things I love about myself is that I don’t believe that there’s anything I cannot do. There isn’t a single thing in this world that limits me. But at the same time, everything in the world is limiting. I am so scared that I’ll amount to nothing, so I’d much rather just die. Living is painful. Death is also painful. So I hang in the balance. We are all fighting for life, for space, and we shouldn’t have to. Why should anyone shrink all that is good in them for the sake of someone else?

It is my hope that you live loudly, proudly, that you embrace your flaws, that you aspire to growth, that you be as much of yourself as you can be without hurting anyone else. Sorry, this is not an endorsement of crime, murder, rape, pedophilia. It’s just me saying, I know that you exist, and I know that life’s hard, and I know that you too are capable of change. It’ll kill you to change, but it’s possible. The Lord (whatever lord you believe in) is your strength.

If there is the what of suicide, then there must also be the why of suicide. In my mind there is only one why. Suicide is the end result of mental illness. Only people that are sick, kill themselves. If you focus on the what and leave out the why then you turn the gut wrenching, difficult, terrible pain, devilish suffering that suicide is into a triviality. His father died, so he killed himself. What utter nonsense! As if we are not resilient enough to withstand trauma. But this is where things get strange and very human. An event happens. The same thing may happen to A or B or C or D but the end result is anyone’s guess.

We need to change the way we talk about mental illness. We need to take it seriously. We need to take ourselves seriously. The other day I got an email from someone, he said he’d been going through it, but he assumed the fact that he was feeling emotions and going through things and feeling sad while having 2 legs and 2 hands and good physical health and good eyes and good hearing was ridiculous.

How can it be ridiculous when it concerns you? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when mental illness strikes you have 2 options: fight or die. That’s it. If you do not build a fort around yourself and protect yourself from the sheer pressure of your buckling mind then it will kill you and suicide isn’t its only tool. Substance abuse to the point of overdose. How many has that claimed? Impulsiveness beyond any logical frame. How many has that maimed? We live and we live and we’re wild and we’re callous and capricious but it’s like we never stop for a second to think, “WHY AM I DOING WHAT I AM DOING? AM I OKAY?” We don’t ask the question of ourselves and we don’t ask it of the people we care about. Instead we say, that was how he was. I don’t know why he was like that. He lived like that and then he died like that. Never once seeking help for what is helpable, never once thinking, could I live another way?

I don’t know what the point of this thing, this rant, this essay is. And I don’t know that it’s any good. And I don’t care. I am who I am. There’s so much that’s wrong with me. I can be mean without reason and vicious without cause. Sometimes I do it because I’m unhappy at your happiness, and sometimes I do it because you made me feel small and I hate feeling small. I hate that I’m like this you know? I hate that I’m the sort of guy that dances hard for 2 minutes then spends 5 minutes checking if everyone in the room found my dancing acceptable. It’s really stupid but it’s also true. But even if you look at me and see only what is wrong with me. I am deserving of kindness am I not? Or is there only scorn. And if there is only scorn and loathing and hatred then let me know because I’ll burn all of us to the ground. You the pedophile. You the thief. You the gossip and you the bitch. You the desperate and you the ugly. You the fat and you the skinny. All of us, to hell we go. I pick at you and you pick at me. What I lack in numbers I’ll make up for in ferocity. But to what end? I’ll suffer and you’ll suffer, when we could have both saved ourselves the trouble.

So I’m saying, to all of you, and I mean it, no matter what it is you’ve done. No matter what it is you continue to do. No matter who you are. Live. There is space for you here.

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