Oslo, in February this year

[Content note: this piece is about suicidal ideation]

If mental health was a CV, I have extensive experience with wanting to kill myself. I think I first started thinking about it twenty years ago and it’s always been there, a sexily alluring concept on the edge of temptation — like the craving for a cigarette — ever since.

It’s prompted a few life crises, beyond the regular ‘should I kill myself or not’ kind. I didn’t expect to live past 30 so I’m pretty unprepared for what the hell I do with myself now, no real designs or ambitions for a stage I didn’t imagine getting to.

Sometimes it’s less — there have been a few points where something made me imagine a future or even start planning one but they didn’t happen and on the dark days, which is most of them now, they seem like bitterly regrettable moments of naïveté. How could I even play myself so stupidly, those things are not for people like me.

I don’t really want to die — actually, I really, really don’t want to die and that’s why I’m still here and constantly having to put up with living like I want to — but I do think I should probably kill myself. Which if you haven’t experienced it, sounds like a total anachronism but if you have, is just the daily grind.

Suicidal ideation is not romantic, it’s incredibly boring and mundane and it makes me really angry. I used to be able to shove it aside most of the time by keeping busy, doing things, making myself feel useful. This year, for me, that stopped — like it did for a lot of people — and it’s been eight long, dark months now.

Tiny things gnaw at me, I don’t have any self esteem — a cushion I spent more than ten years building against the darkness — left to absorb stuff. It frustrates me that all the resilience I’d constructed over so long was dismantled so quickly but that doesn’t rebuild it any faster. I don’t really know how to go about putting the planning permission in, even.

It’s stupid and tedious and won’t be fixed chemically, so I have to do incredibly annoying things like avoiding all my hobbies because enjoying something is extremely dangerous to me. If I just sit being miserable, it’s the baseline but if I try and do something I’ve previously thought I was good at and it goes wrong — and given most of the things I have been good at boil down to ‘being confrontational’ this is likely — then the internal klaxon starts going off about another inevitable, maybe terminal, meltdown.

And I don’t want to die. So I have to stop myself doing things. Even though doing things is one of the ways I have of stopping the suicidal urges. And it’s not as though there are many things anyone can even do, these days.

Until 2020 I don’t think I’ve ever had a sustained period like this, since I was a teenager. My parents went a bit Virgin Suicides on me and kept me in, effectively, lockdown for my later teens and so perhaps this was all just a trigger and stuff like feeling financially useless and a pointless drain on everything around me feels, rationally, like the sort of thing that would obviously signpost the way to that familiar, dark place. Like the eerie memory of a favourite childhood spot, uncomfortable to bend your way into, now.

But I’ve wanted to kill myself since February. I’m not going to. Even my more ambient attempts — like a lot of people who think about suicide, I self-medicate — aren’t sincere. And there’s plenty of me still trying, in here and jesus christ, if there is one thing I have in my arsenal it’s an unlimited supply of sheer bloodymindedness to keep doing something.

I don’t enjoy things though. I hope I will, at some point. I’m optimistic to a fault and I think — maybe tomorrow, if it’s a good day rather than one like this, although they come and go interchangeably — there will be times where it’s not a case of gritting my teeth and furiously, painfully, getting through the time between waking up and fighting sleep.

There isn’t a point to this. There isn’t something profound to learn from wanting to kill yourself, it’s just there like the petty buzz of my tinnitus, equally closing myself off from things I could enjoy. Like so much of 2020, it’s just something to live with for as long as it’s there and maybe, at some point, there really will be a new normal that’s beyond this.

Professional motorsport journalist who puts things here when I know nowhere will really take them but think they need writing.