Sisyphus Personified


Have you ever had the experience where you just wanted to throw your hands in the air and give it all up? Just walk away from the drama and problems that plague our lives? Not just get away or drop out as the hippies of the 1960’s did. No, I mean to take yourself out of the game…for good.

Sometimes, I get the feeling that I’m over my head. That I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. Life’s moving too fast and I can’t catch a breath…or a break. Other times, I feel disappointed in the hand I’ve been dealt in life. Why can’t I backpack across Europe? Why do I have to be responsible? Often, I feel trapped…without an escape.

Now, I wouldn’t say that I am suicidal per se. It’s just at those times, I feel like I could welcome death if it should come upon me. If my car would happen to careen off into a ravine, if I happen to die of carbon monoxide poisoning while stuck in traffic or a random act of violence would snuff me out then all my worries would be washed away and I could let the living deal with everything else.

You see, my thoughts of death are never by my own hand. I couldn’t even cut myself if I was bitten by a snake! No, I always fantasize my demise by some other means. Again, let someone else be responsible for the work. Why do I always have to do everything? I guess I’m just lazy. Besides, if I did plan to take care of business on my own, a myriad of problems would arise, I’m sure. If I were to buy a gun (the most effective way of doing the job), I would change my mind before the mandatory waiting period expired. Forget cutting myself as I mentioned above. And hanging myself would be impossible because no doubt my kids would have taken all the ropes, belts or any other hanging implements around the house and lost them. We’re still searching for a remote control!

I realize that I may be exhibiting classic signs of depression, but I just can’t simply afford to not be depressed. I certainly can’t take a day off from work to sit on some shrink’s couch and talk about my “mommy and daddy” issues. Not to mention, with four children, who can afford all of the medication that will certainly prescribe to make me feel “normal” again. Sometimes, I can’t remember what normal felt like. On the other hand, a lot of my favorite authors led depressed wretched lives. Isn’t it true that by emulating them, I will eventually become like them. Wait…many of them killed themselves. Maybe I need new heroes?

Recently, an acquaintance made the decision to take his own life. He didn’t announce his intentions and didn’t offer signs to serve as the obligatory cry for help. As far as I see it, without knowing what was going on in his personal life, it seems he just made the decision to stop living. I admit, of course, that this dim view of the situation is most likely very far from the truth.

The news of his passing was very surreal. I’ve lost many people in the course of my life, but suicide is different. There is a lack of closure, a desire to know why a person would-or could do this to themselves and finally feelings of guilt that you didn’t see the signs. For those who were closer to him, some have begun to show signs of anger. I know this only a part of the grieving process, but this reaction seem to come rather quickly.

His decision caused a great stir within me. I began, for the first time, to think of all the consequences that my loved ones would endure if I left this world. The burden I’d place on my wife to raise the children alone. Sure, she’d eventually remarry, but how difficult would it be until that time? My children would be deprived of my teasing, not to mention my kisses and hugs. My parents without a son and my brother without a sibling.

And think of the guilt I would put on everyone if I caused my own death. The betrayal, the abandonment, the feelings of inadequacy for my wife and my children. Would they blame themselves for not seeing the signs, for not helping me? How would they know if I didn’t tell them?

The truth is, we don’t just live our lives for ourselves. Too many people depend on us and we can’t let them down. Perhaps if my friend could see from the other side of the fence, to see how his decision touched those near and far, maybe he could have found a way to keep living…one day at a time.

As for me, I plan to take it easy. To lighten my work load. Besides, if I’m not going to be recognized for my efforts at work, then why am I trying so hard? I will not emulate Sisyphus pushing his rock up the hill just to watch the fruits of his labor go to waste when the rocks rolls back down. Such a futile existence that will surely lead to my doom.

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3 comments

  1. I totally agree with you and feel a lot of your sentiments about the ‘being taken out’ by some outside source. But yeah, I’d never inflict harm to myself.

    I too have decided to not take life so serious and to try very hard to not be stressed by a job or whatnot.

    Glad to see there are others out there who I can relate to. Thank you.

  2. Thanks so much for the link to this article! I enjoyed the read very much. My struggle with depression and thoughts of suicide are many, many years behind me now. As I considered what you wrote and about your friend, I was sad for him. It’s too bad when a person comes to the point where they feel that they have no other option.

    In my own experience I found that I didn’t consider the consequences of such an action, beyond the concern that my children would be traumatized to find their mommy dead. The other concern that I had was for the children’s safety had I followed through with some of my morbid imaginings on how I could end my life.

    As for any other people that would have been affected by my decision I didn’t have the mental capacity to process those ramifications with any kind of sensible reasoning at all. I was far too engulfed with my own pain and despair to be able to consider anyone else’s reaction or possible pain that would result from my suicide.

    Unlike you, I was able to inflict injury to myself, but only under extreme stress and provocation. My ex-husband was a great example of what could ‘inspire’ me to such drastic and negative actions. I put a knife to my wrists at one point, and didn’t care if I bled out. I was hurt and angry and told him that I could hurt myself more than he could ever hurt me. I was fortunate that the wounds to my right wrist were only superficial, and the wounds to the left hand weren’t life threatening and I didn’t do any permanent damage to myself. (My ex had grabbed me up and wrapped up my wrist and got me medical help.) I had to have internal and external stitches to repair my wrist. I got on an airplane the next day and stayed with my family while I recovered from my self-inflicted injury. Still, I was emotionally crippled for many years following that incident and when the depression took firm hold, I was a danger to myself and my well-being.

    Those days are so far behind me that even writing about them leaves me as an outsider, looking in. I believe that I had to experience such depths of despair in order to be able to share the hope that I now have in my life. When people truly see where I have been then they can appreciate how far I have come and understand that there really is a God who is able to make the crooked places straight and to find a way for His children when there seemingly is no way.

    In my memoirs, Even in Silence: The Journey of a Lady Preacher, http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/creativepreacher I addressed my severe depression and my thoughts of suicide. Funny though, I don’t believe that I ever mentioned that I had hurt myself pretty bad once… Smiling. Some things just kind of fade away into nothingness. I could be wrong though. I have this gift that I’ve acquired; it’s called, the gift to forget

    1. Well said. Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

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