(I’m putting a trigger warning on this one, because… yeah. It’s potentially triggering for suicide.)
I’ve probably mentioned this, more in a passing “augh make it STOP” way than anything else, but I live within throwing distance of four train tracks and an expressway. This is why my rent is so cheap and why I can (almost) afford to live alone. The trains go by at all hours; Cincinnati is a major hub (the train station is under the
Hall of Justice Museum Center) so I’m growing used to hearing them blast through as they whistle most of the way through the city, as almost every street in my neighborhood, at least, has a crossing.
And every time I start getting depressed, and the thoughts come, some of the lyrics to “Pepper” start running through my head.
Tommy played piano
Like a kid out in the rain
Then he lost his leg in Dallas
He was dancing with a train
They were all in love with dyin’
They were drinking from a fountain
That was pouring like an avalanche
Coming down the mountain
-Pepper, by the Butthole Surfers
Sometimes the whistles from the trains are just annoying, or background noise. Other times they seem like a siren song; while I’m fighting back against the thoughts, they’re still coming, wave after wave, train after train. Driving home from work on the day I was fired, I ended up stopped by a train but was a few vehicles back, and the thoughts were angry that I wasn’t the first car.
These thoughts are terrifying, but I am fighting back. Don’t worry about that. I won’t let them win. I would never be able to do that to someone else; I read somewhere that pretty much every conductor ever has hit someone committing suicide, because people know that train can’t be stopped fast enough. I can’t live with the idea of someone else having to be my inadvertent executioner. I can’t. That’s just horrible.
And then today I met Boggle, the courage owl. Sure, he’s a little cartoon owl, but he’s changing my life. This one, in particular, resonates with me, far louder than any train whistle.
I immediately went to find a sharpie (didn’t have a fine tip so a micron had to do) and drew myself a little Boggle on my arm. It’s not very good, but having him there for encouragement made a difference.
(The text says “All I’m doing is handing out sticks. You’re the one staying alive.” I clearly need practice in writing on myself in a legible manner.)
It’s easy to get isolated in my head; while I know my friends and family love me, they’re not physically present at all times, and the illness will try to convince me that they don’t care, that I can’t call them and reach out for support. But drawing a little cartoon owl on my arm can give me the courage to keep going, because he can remind me that my friends are there, and so is little Boggle, there on my arm, giving me sticks to keep fighting with.
I’ve never been a very spontaneous “let’s go get a tattoo!” kind of person, but damn, I want a tiny Boggle on my wrist. Nevermind that wrist tattoos, especially a new one I can’t hide, is not something employers will overlook. I’ll just keep doodling him on myself in indelible ink for the meantime and make a less spontaneous decision later.