Last month, professional atheist JT Eberhard gave a much-touted talk at Skepticon IV about mental illness, and called for people with mental disorders to share their stories. This is one of mine.
Since I was a little kid I have wanted to die, but I first understood I could kill myself when I was twelve. That year, an acquaintance of my dad’s shot himself in the head. I realized I did not need to beg imaginary beings to get me out of this life when there was a way out right there in the medicine cabinet (we didn’t have a gun). It seemed so obvious, to do it my damn self. Right in my face the whole time, and I never saw it until Dad’s friend blew his own brains out. I thought it was genius.
22 years later, I still think that guy had the right idea. College is going well enough, and I love my husband and family, but none of it matters to my brain. At least once a day, I seriously consider suicide as an alternative to spending one more conscious minute on this ridiculous piece of shit planet.
Sometimes crazy people neglect hygiene and various ailments. My upper teeth have rotted away so that when I smile, I look like a zombie. This is a little bit cool on Halloween or on a movie set, but not so fantastic at a job interview. The bleeding and pain are never even a little bit cool. I have trouble leaving the house a lot of the time, because I cannot bear people looking at me. It will cost over $4000 to extract the teeth and over $1700 to get dentures put in. I am 34 years old and I have to get dentures because I am batshit.
Two weeks ago, I had a five-day-long panic attack. I could not sleep, I barely ate, and what I did eat I vomited soon after. My husband tried to help by dragging me out of the house, but there was no shutting up the noise in my head. I did not know what to do, and so I considered eating my husband’s entire bottle of Xanax to make it stop. Instead, I took three pills and passed out.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I felt much calmer after I got some sleep.
Living with mental illness sucks, but skepticism saves the day almost every day. I can’t reason myself out of a panic attack, but I can determine that, indeed, the Wendy’s has not disappeared or ceased to exist, that my brain is being a douchebag once again, and that I should pull over until it quits doing that. There is comfort in having a framework to better distinguish reality from delusion. Skepticism does not always alleviate the guilt I feel for being crazy, but it helps me to understand that the guilt is irrational, unhelpful, and perfectly understandable given society’s views on the mentally unstable.
The ability to question my own assumptions has kept me ticking. Maybe on dark days that disappoints me, but what do I know? I’m crazy.