We're a little crazy, about science!

The end

I fully and completely wanted to die. I like starting stories of my life off that way so you set your expectations low and your pity high. I wanted to die and I tried to kill myself the best way I could think of, obviously it didn’t take. Today is the end of my 365 days of academia project and I feel like looking back, way back. If you feel like reading a super depressing tale, then this is for you!

I had a tiny apartment at the time. It was on a very steep hill that had no sidewalk for a large portion of the trip… and I walked it daily. Cars would fly down the hill taking the turns so fast I’m surprised that wasn’t what killed me. I never got hit surprisingly, but while I was worried about being run over, I was actually drowning.

One very normal day, where nothing particularly bad happened, I just gave up. I gave up attending class. I gave up on doing the homework. I gave up on eating. Heck, I even gave up on sleeping. I was awake for a whole week without sleep at that point. When I explained this to one of my teachers who was kind enough to email about why I wasn’t in class, he chalked it up to adrenaline.

In some ways that’s right, I have demons. The military has that effect on survivors. One day I just decided I was done. I was tired of living and I was going to fix that. Since I wasn’t sleeping I had been prescribed a bottle of ambien. I’ll never forget the doctor repeating the same line to every question I asked about how the medicine, “it’s the number one prescribed sleep aid!” I sincerely wish I was making that up.

“If you want a happy ending, you’re going to have to go somewhere else, sorry.”

While I was relaxing in an empty bathtub, down the hatch a whole bottle went. I picked the tub because I figured it would be the easiest thing to clean up after I was gone. I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone, even after I was dead. The rest is a bit fuzzy… but here I am alive so needless to say, someone intervened. I don’t know if I reached out to that someone to say goodbye or if that someone decided it was a good time to check on me. I know who it was, I just don’t know how I got pulled out of that tub and I never asked. I also know that for the longest time afterwards I regretted being saved. If we’re being honest, most days I still regret it. If you want a happy ending, you’re going to have to go somewhere else, sorry.

Here’s the deal. We see all these happy stories of people overcoming things and it becomes the standard. Inspiration porn, people eat it up. Entire websites are dedicated to inspiration porn like the fact that someone was suicidal and is now super successful should mean something to anyone but him and the few people who have had the shared experience. Instead it makes you feel better about your life. You probably didn’t have it as bad as that guy and suddenly you’re thankful.

“The worst thing in the world isn’t the fact that I want to die everyday, it’s that I felt so fucking alone.”

I’m not here to give you a happy story. I’m here to tell you the truth and the truth is every goddamn day I want to die. When I say everyday, I don’t mean some days. I don’t mean just the weekends and some holidays. I mean every single fucking day. Yet here I am, what an inspiration. Don’t worry I’ll hold while you clap and gasp at my strength and courage…

Done? Good.

The fact of the matter is I’m not telling this story for you. Fuck, I’m not even telling it for me. I’m telling it because I’m not the only one who lives like this. The worst thing in the world isn’t the fact that I want to die everyday, it’s that I felt so fucking alone. Why me? What was wrong with me? Why I was the only one who felt this way?

“That’s why I tell this story. Not for me, not for you, unless this is your story too.”

It turn out I’m not alone, I’m probably not even that rare. It’s just that in the face of inspiration porn a lot of us are scared to be different, to be alone. That’s why I tell this story. Not for me, not for you, unless this is your story too. It’s for the people who are afraid to be different so they don’t admit this is going on. You’re not alone, I’m not going to give you puppy dog eyes and tell you to snap out of it. Been there, trust me it is the exact opposite of helpful.

Since then I’ve somehow shot around like a pinball and ended up here. I still to this day feel like I have very little control over my life. Like I’m constantly being pulled from that bathtub over and over, but I never asked for it. Yet it somehow keeps happening to me. You think I’m exaggerating, okay new story.

I was lucky, finished my Masters degree. So now I want a PhD, easy right? Well I had to apply to programs and apply I did. I was rejected from all of them. One never even bothered responding, I could get an acceptance letter tomorrow, years after the fact for all I know. So I reach out directly to a professor I wanted to work with. I fly down to meet him and explain my situation. He couldn’t help, but asked me to email my CV, my transcripts, etc. I didn’t think it would go anywhere, but fuck it, I sent them anyway.

I get off the plane when I get home and wouldn’t you know it, I had a program that wanted me? I don’t know if it’s dumb luck or if I’m some giant cosmic joke who hasn’t hit the punchline yet, but WHAT. THE. FUCK? So I pack up move halfway across the country and start the program. My PI barely even knew the guy, so I’m so lost as to how I ended up here. To add to this, my Co-PI was someone I just happen to meet who was doing super cool spinal cord research. It’s like this stuff just falls in my lap.

By now you’re probably thinking, “oh poor you, what a problem to have.” But you would be missing the point. I genuinely don’t deserve any of this. I earned absolutely none of it, it was just handed to me. I don’t know why and I don’t understand it, but people just keep pulling me out of that tub, over and over. I’m not worth it though, that’s the odd thing. At best I am mediocre, I have average grades, I’ve done average work, nothing about me particularly stands out despite my every effort to be more than I am.

“I think, on the outside at least, I’ve become quite normal. Of all the things that have changed since my suicide attempt, that scares me the most.”

So we close the yet another chapter in my life. I’ve hit my little goal with 365 days. I’ve shared with you 365 tiny tales of education. Fear not, tomorrow we will start a whole new chapter with exciting possibilities and new stories just waiting to be told. Just don’t expect a happy ending. But hey, if I can live with that, maybe you can too?


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