• Nick Hartkop

August 19, 2021 (Trigger Warning: Suicidal Ideation)

Trigger warning: this post discusses suicide ideation and personal struggles I face and have faced through my life. _________________ Living with Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder means that I struggle with the two ends of mania. When I am manically high, I struggle with anger, but when I have depressive lows I think of killing myself. It’s something that gives me this weird happiness in my chest. I have been struggling mentally, and sometimes when I’m manic, I make plans to hurt myself, and it gives me this little burst of joy that makes me feel like I’m finally free and have control over my life. I feel trapped in my body most days, like a little disturbed shell that wants to be free. I can feel that thing we have in our chests that our emotions come from. It’s like the roots to the tree of life and I think it’s my soul. And many times I feel like my soul is trapped in my body and that it would be happy if it was free from the human experience. It’s selfish and wrong and that’s why I haven’t done it, but I fantasize about it. I feel like a coward for not doing it because if I truly feel this way, I think I should just stop threatening it and just get it over with and try again in the next life. But when I think of my partner finding my lifeless body in the bathroom, I have to stop thinking about it because the pain and trauma that would cause someone who loves me is too much to do to a person. I think the saddest part of suicide is the effect it has on the family left behind. Sometimes I look up stories from people who have been left behind by someone close to them who has taken their own life, and the story is almost always the same. Usually, the lasting trauma they are unfairly forced to feel, and guilt imposed on them is along the lines of "I wish I would have known. I wish I could have done something.” It is not that person's fault, and I believe that there’s nothing an external force can do to really save someone struggling with taking their own life because the person planning to hurt themselves has to make that decision and go through with it. In my personal struggles, when I get that burst of happiness from thinking about finally going to sleep and not feeling this way, it’s a selfish disease that doesn’t care about anyone or anything because it’s all about me. I think if I could talk to people who have committed suicide, most would say they wish they hadn’t done it. In those moments of darkness, myself included, people aren’t thinking correctly. For me, every positive external force, every “I love you and I need you” isn’t relevant, because I just want the pain to stop. But I know it isn’t right or fair. I don’t believe external forces can save us from ourselves because we are the ones who have to make that choice. When I am manically low, “I love you’s” mean nothing to me because the hatred for myself overcomes it. But I’m scared of going to hell, and I’ve been a coward most of my life so I don’t want to be remembered as an abusive failure. But I honestly don’t know what to do. I feel like my mental health is a show to people and it makes me feel isolated and cornered. I wish I could show people that I am a real person who struggles and has hurt people, but is good in my soul. I don’t feel like a bad person in my heart, so I often feel like I’ll never be able to get past the fact that people define me by my past when I was undiagnosed, unmedicated, and hadn’t been to rehab or started treatment. I’ve written suicide notes before but I’ve never been happy with them. Which is stupid, but important to me because its hard to convey a meaningful summary of my life and what I am suffering through. I remember the first time I made a plan to kill myself was when I was in 9th grade. The home I grew up in was near something called, at the time, The Achievement Center. It was an activity center for adults with physical and mental disabilities, and it had this big open field in front of it that I used to fly kites in. Behind it was a path around a lake that you could ride a bike on, and I felt safe and happy there because I have a memory of my dad from when I was 10, walking with me and patting me on the back telling me he loved me. He stopped doing that once I became a problem child in 8th grade and I had a mentally ill mother who was unmedicated and targeted me with unrelenting religious persecution for the sexual thoughts I was having. She would lock me in my room for literal days on end and I wasn’t allowed to come out or talk to anyone. It made me feel so alone that when I think about it still, it’s just as fresh as it was then. Trauma is an awful thing because when we focus on it and let it consume us, it’s like being there all over again. I remember having the idea of killing myself while mowing the lawn, and feeling that happiness in my chest. The same happiness I feel now because I would finally be free. Free from my disturbing thoughts, free from my anger, free from the abuse from my mother. I made the decision that I was going to sneak out and drown myself when my family fell asleep because the lake seemed like a beautiful place to stop my heart. My parents put a self-installed security system in their home so they could hear the door chime every time it was opened, because of the problems I was causing them, so I left the back door ajar slightly so it would look like all the doors were closed when everyone went to bed. I left my Spider-Man bike next to my house and I took it after everyone went to bed and rode to The Achievement Center. I remember wearing cargo shorts and a Mountain Dew T-shirt I had at the time and I walked into the lake up to my knees. It was freezing which I hadn’t taken into account, and I have this vivid memory of laying on my back and floating looking up at the moon. I remember the way the water sounded and the bugs felt flying around. I lived in a rural area so I could see the moon, the clouds and stars perfectly, and I just laid there. I laid there and cried and screamed because I was scared. And I couldn’t do it and I felt like a coward. I had less to lose as a kid, but that feeling I still struggle with was as real and as intense as it is today. But back then I had to bottle it up because my family didn’t believe in mental health. So I rotted inside. I rode my bike home soaking wet and snuck into my room, and I started kicking holes into my wall. That was the start of a lot of physical destruction I had when I felt cornered. I remember the way the wood broke on my door and how my foot went into it and splintered. I had to pick the splinters out of my toes and feet and it hurt like hell. I wish I could have a do over for my life, because I am not happy with it. I think about my failures non-stop and I feel scared. I feel so lost. I am sorry to everyone and I hope someday I won’t feel like this and that I can be forgiven. The judgment I feel perpetuates the abusive Christian ideology I grew up with. I feel like humans hate me, God hates me and It makes me hateful of people. The sadness and regret I feel for my life isn’t a momentary thing. It’s something I feel the moment I wake up, until the moment I go to sleep. I usually get about 2-3 hours of sleep a night because I can’t stop my mind from racing, even with my medication. I wish I could start over, and that’s what suicide makes me feel hope for. But suicide isn’t right, it isn’t the answer, and even writing that I feel like a hypocrite because I struggle with it daily. Sometimes I wonder if I’m writing things like that to try to convince myself that it’s not right. I still feel pressure to be this person who can conquer these feelings, but they are very real to me and most of the time I feel like it’s a war I’m losing. I can’t hold a job, I keep dropping out of school, and have delusional paranoid thoughts of people hurting me, and I just feel so lost. I also know if I do kill myself there are people out there who would say I deserve it and be happy, and that’s what gets to me most. I feel so worthless and like I don’t matter to people, because my mental health struggles are a show. But there would also be people who think about me everyday and won’t ever heal from it, and I don’t want to force that onto anyone, especially people I love deeply Suicide is not something to be glorified, and it’s not something I am going to do. It’s not something anyone should do because of that pain, that loneliness, it’s something we don’t stand a chance against, and that decision is permanent. There’s no coming back from it, and we don’t know what’s waiting for us on the other side. I think of the movie What Dreams May Come a lot. It's a film starring Robin Williams in which he and his children are killed in a car accident but his wife survives. She is unable to live without her family, so she commits suicide. The film follows the principles I was raised on, by which Robin Williams and his children go to heaven, while his wife goes to hell because she took her own life. It’s about his journey to find her and take her back to heaven. When I think about hurting myself I think of the scene of him crossing the river sticks and the tortured souls that are stuck swimming in it screaming in the darkness. I don’t want to be one of those souls. I don’t want to drown forever because of my pain. We have to be the ones to save ourselves. I have to stay grounded in reality, I have to stay healthy, and I refuse to give up on myself, even if I feel like the world is against me. I refuse to be one of the people in the river sticks. I just want to be happy, and I am on a journey of figuring out what healing and happiness looks like for myself even when labeled by people who don’t know me. I don’t know if I’ll find it, but I’m going to continue to try. Nick ______________ If you are having thoughts of harming yourself and are in a place you don’t feel like you can come back from and be happy, I believe you can. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255 ______________

(The home I was raised in and where wrote a majority of my songs)


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