My favorite book, James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, came with me to the hospital. The narration takes place during a single night during which the main character, David, faces his reflection in a window while recounting the events that led up to that night. We, the readers, are not waiting to see how the story will end. We are told in the first few pages that Giovanni will be executed when morning comes. We want to know why it has come to this and what David has to do with it. The story is in the avowing, the telling itself.

            Giovanni’s Room was one of the novels I wrote about for my master’s thesis, which I should have submitted in December and defended in January, but one day in early December, I overdosed on medication. I submitted in May and defended in June instead. The other works I studied were the novel Caucasia by Danzy Senna and the film Boys Don’t Cry directed by Kimberly Peirce. I studied identity with respect to race, gender, and sexuality through the motif of the mirror which is present in all three works. For my defense, I was asked to prepare a short presentation and talk about such things as how I came to choose my topic and difficulties I encountered while writing the thesis, before answering questions from the expert and my supervisor. When it was done, I felt only sadness, no pride whatsoever. I felt I had not spoken. To me it was a very superficial defense, because there is so much more I would have wanted to say, but that would either not be appropriate for the context of a defense, stray too far from the topic of my thesis, or would make me too emotional to speak. If the June defense was the “public” one, think of this, then, as my “private” defense.

“… ‘I know what you mean. There’s another truth they’re not telling. But newspapers never do, that’s not what they’re for.’” –James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

I wanted to add to my presentation that in the past seven months I have broken three mirrors, two on purpose and one on accident, and none of them belonged to me. I wanted to add that I have had David’s problem too. I have internalized the closet and become separated from my own body, existing only as an image, an answer to real and imagined expectations. I wanted to add that I have felt like Giovanni too, having shared a room with someone who would never love me back, though for me it lasted four years and was totally unexpressed and unrequited.

I did not talk about the dizziness towards the end of November. Or of all the nights after that one in December during which I have slept on my right side, afraid of my shattered heart’s sick beating, afraid if pressed against the mattress, it might decide to let go, afraid of the very thing my mind has so often sought. Or of kicking to be free when an imaginary someone came to cover me with the sheets and suffocate me. I did not talk about the atrocious limbo of deciding how to tell my parents. Or of my chest, burning and tightening with every slight emotion. Feeling the hurts of the past 10,000 fold, the rage exhausting me. The months of closing my eyes and seeing one of two things: the space-capsule whiteness of the CHUV emergency room or my shirtless skinny body standing in front of the bathroom mirror at the psychiatric hospital in my eternal red velour pants, under the harshest of lights, how thin and winter pale I was. Wondering if my body really existed, trying to find some substance in my thinness to know where all the suffering could possibly have come from and if it had been enough or if I had really suffered at all, for can one suffer if one does not exist?

Does all of this sound too personal? This may be unsettling – for me and for you. But, we have more to gain in my sharing of this, than in letting it fester inside of me.

Were I dead, my story would in some way be more visible. More people would be aware of what had happened. But the story would not be told with my own voice (and on top of that violation, I would also be dead). Why it happened would by and large be missing. So, I will speak now, for I know many are not so lucky. I will emphasize, also, that I am speaking for myself and from my experience. My story may parallel that of some, but have nothing to do with that of others.

INTERPRETATION

In trying to interpret my act, I wanted a name for it, a concept, something that would make it possible to communicate the pain. I knew, somehow, the closest thing was suicide, but that it was not suicide. Desires that should be mutually exclusive were present all at once, like moons pulling the tides of intention apart. It was so irrational, and yet seemed, at the time, like the most rational thing to do. Stemming from factors too various for me to fully detail here, but I will highlight a few.

The act was deliberate, calculated. I wanted to give my body to another power, to translate the emotional pain to physical pain. I wanted to hurt myself so someone would care. I wanted a release, to give in to these thoughts for once, to prove my willingness to flirt with the lethal. I wanted to be forgiven. I was tired, dizzy, under pressure, and angry… I “calculated,” (one cannot really calculate, for each body is different and many factors are involved), but I also intentionally chose a drug with a narrow therapeutic range (meaning that even a “small” overdose can be lethal). I overdosed, but I phoned the emergency number myself. I almost took more on the way to the ER, but I did take myself to the ER. Early on, I came to see it as anything ranging from “merely” having taken too much medication to a partial suicide attempt. Ah, how can there be such a thing, you ask? Isn’t a suicide attempt whole or not at all?

I thought it had been a gamble, a tossing of some hazardous white die. My psychiatrist/psychotherapist (the same person) suggested it was a bit as if I had played Russian Roulette— not specifically aiming to die, but willing to risk my life. I did not intend to die, but also did not really care if I did. That seemed to put me somewhere between a dangerous game and an attempted suicide. Such a wide spectrum, I found very unsatisfactory.

In the weeks following my overdose, my psychiatrist started a sentence one day when referring to my act with “After your suicide attempt…” This made me very angry and I refused the term. I thought I had clearly taken steps to show that my intention was not to die. You cannot want to survive a suicide attempt because then it is not a suicide attempt. Not so fast! Suicide is not black and white. It is messy and full of ambiguity. There is rarely a single factor that leads up to an attempt (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2018). Even if the acts themselves often take the greatest risk (death), they may be the result of conflicting desires and the enormous tension that builds up between them. One could conceive of a kind of suicide spectrum, on one end not wishing to die at all, but risking one’s life in some way, and on the other wishing only for death and not just risking, but ensuring the result. But, inbetween, there is a lot. What I will describe here is just a facet of suicide, one that may apply to some, but I am certainly not speaking for everyone…

Statistically, I would be considered a suicide attempt. Nonetheless, my psychiatrist apologized for her imprecision. We started calling it my “partial suicide attempt.” When I was at the hospital and right after, when I would try to explain to close friends or family members what had happened, I would often say something along the lines of: “I overdosed on _____, but I was only/just trying to hurt myself, not kill myself.” What I would say now, is that I was trying to protect them, and protect myself from the shock of what I had done. I was too weak to understand, to confront the entirety of the pain. Every time I had to tell someone, it hurt. I desperately wanted them to listen, but I thought that in telling, I was hurting them. Additionally, saying “only” or “just” reduces the severity of “trying to hurt oneself.” What is more, in such an irrational state of mind, you can kill yourself when “only” trying to hurt yourself. Finally, saying I was “trying to hurt myself” was only partially true. And partiality is excruciating.

As in control as I felt, I was, in fact, like a puppet with multiple puppeteers, pulled in all directions by various desires. Death was of the party, yes. I was willing to risk everything. But, I was crying for help. I was trying to cure one hurt with another. I was trying to express myself and all other outlets seemed inaccessible. I was trying to be taken seriously. I was trying to find relief. I was trying to make my pain visible.

A few months after the incident, I came across a word that appealed to me: parasuicide. It fit best and captured the essence of risking death, but not wholly intending to die. Here are a few definitions:

“The deliberate infliction of injury on oneself or the taking of a drug overdose as an attempt at suicide which may not be intended to be successful” (dictionary.com)

“An apparent attempt at suicide, commonly called a suicidal gesture, in which the aim is not death.” (medicinenet.com)

“A non-habitual act with non-fatal outcome that the individual, expecting, or taking the risk, to die or to inflict bodily harm, initiated and carried out with the purpose of bringing about wanted changes” (De Leo et al. 2004)

The Greek root “para-” means “at or to one side of, beside, side by side” (dictionary.com). Parasuicide can be conceived of as something right next to suicide. I find this a useful term because it gives us a more comprehensive view of suicide and emphasizes the complexity of attempted suicide. Moreover it points to the “intent of achieving some kind of change,” suggesting that the desire for something other than death needs to be expressed and attended to.

Yet, I am drawn to say that for all intensive purposes I have attempted suicide. It is time for a grammar lesson. “For all intensive purposes” is what is known as an eggcorn (merriam-webster.com). The correct phrase is “for all intents and purposes” which essentially means “for practical purposes.” “For all intensive purposes” is acceptable in speech, but not technically correct. But, I would like to say that for intensive purposes I have attempted suicide. For the intensity of the pain and the overwhelming pull of death on my life, suicide is the correct term. Some may say it is the wrong term. Some may say it is absolutely the right term. And some may yawn and wonder why it matters at all. The paradox unravels itself. The point is not so much whether we should say that I have parasuicided, attempted suicide, or played Russian Roulette….perhaps it is all three… but what matters is making sure that the pain is expressed. The question we should ask ourselves is why we (I and you) cannot accept extreme pain for what it is – extreme pain. Why does it have to be translated to something so terrible and so dangerous? Why should anyone have to seek help by risking their life, and if surviving, risk ending up with more pain, no answers, and no recognition? Why should pain require death to be legitimate? Why can we not express the pain sooner and in more benign forms?

HALF-LIFE

One may feel relief at the thought of dying, but one cannot feel relief when one is dead. Feeling is part of living. I wondered for a long time if what I did was “serious enough” to warrant attention. All these years I feared that if I did communicate the full force of this desire, it would be too much, no one would be able to listen or to stand me. In some cases, this may be true. But, by and by, I am learning to cry for help – with my voice. And to those who have listened, I am very grateful.

“…the way to be really despicable is to be contemptuous of other people’s pain.” –James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

Pain is not measured on a scale from 0 to death. Do not dwell too long on comparing or ranking the miseries of the world. Rather listen. To your pain and that of others. Never dismiss someone’s pain, your own included. It is trying to tell you something. And we must learn to express our pain before it sours into life-threatening situations. So I will talk about the death in me, so that I do not end in death.

Listen to me.

The past seven months have been debilitating. I did not die, but it does not seem I lived either. I have felt half-dead or all-dead, I have not wanted to be alive. I have felt the ripples of the emotional shock every day, I have feared… am I safe, in my own self? There has been guilt, pretending, barely pretending, the mask slipping, a cloud in my brain. I have felt invisible, but it has also been increasingly difficult to hide my pain. Something has been leaking through the fissures, my weakness is more than shadow. Yet, few contexts have really allowed me to express my pain either. Large groups of people, which I often see, have been unbearable.

It is hard not to see this event as the epicenter of my life. But, just as an earthquake is the buildup of years of pressure, this event is the result of the past nine or so years, and in some respects, my whole life. So often I have had these thoughts, this desire, and here it reached the tipping point… For most of my adult life, I have wanted to die…dying is not so sad as an end to suffering, but as an absolute end to the potential for living well. It is confusing also, to have this desire so present, when I would also say I have many reasons to want to live. And this is where much of the guilt comes from. But part of what makes suicide so painful is the indecision. For the desire to die is most often accompanied by other desires, notably the desire to be oneself, and to live. And it is precisely this war of desires, this literal life or death battle, this wanting in the most opposite of directions, that is so painful and pulls the self apart.

Gravity pulls on the body as death does on life. Life is a fall towards death. Running is controlled falling, not a crashing chute, a way to counter and make use of gravity. Likewise we must learn to control the fall of life, to run not just with our bodies, but with our entire selves, so that we may gain momentum from death rather than being overrun or knocked down by it. If there has been one certainty in my life, it is that I must keep on running. Right before my overdose, I had gone for a run. But that day, I was not really running. My body went through the motions, sure, but with every step, my mind was taking the plunge, sinking towards the act. After the overdose, I could not understand. How for the first time in my life, running, which had so often been my refuge, which had so often helped me cling to one more step and one more day, which had, without fail, been there for me, had now betrayed me.

I only know now, what it really means to run. Living is movement. Living is running. To run is to live, to take death in stride.

I believe in something between life and death now. If nothing, it is at least a useful way to understand these kinds of situations, to understand how I have felt all these months, but also how all these years I have been half a person.

Are life and death really so absolute? I suppose when one is 100 percent dead one does not come back to life. May be if we were 100 percent alive we would never come to death. But neither would we have that pull which drives us to make the most of what aliveness we have. There is an equilibrium to be found: a large dose of aliveness and a drop of death, enough to be aware of it. The desire for suicide is already too much – it is a partial death in that it prevents you from doing other things, making other choices. A permanent solution is not a solution at all. Built into the idea of a solution is that it could take a different direction, another choice can follow. Suicide is the inverse of a choice, a non-choice.

THE MIRROR

Mirrors, the lens through which I studied the works in my master’s thesis, are objects that may at first glance appear to be openings. Basic knowledge of interior design tells us that we should use mirrors to add space to a room. Visual space, that is. Nothing we can step into. Mirrors, through this illusion, can be cruel and unforgiving instruments. If you stand in front of them too long, you are not really being, you are just looking and this observation is what controls you. It is dangerous to look too long, to be consumed by meticulous observation, and by meticulous observation, I do not mean of one’s physical appearance – though of course that is at play too – I mean of one’s despicable insides.

The mirror looks at me and not me at him. The mirror is my executioner – the guillotine that threatens my every move. That has created the illusionary split. I was made to believe the image in the mirror was me. But it is not. I am me precisely because I will never look at myself. Through its exacting silver, the mirror has made me believe I am a criminal. But if I have committed a crime, it is that I always carry the mirror with me, always need the mirror, this extreme self-consciousness, this constant validation. Rather than affirm myself, I bow to what I believe an other’s judgement to be, respond to others’ expectations. The sum of which is perfection. The mirror is the executioner of the body, separating one from the space one inhabits, from the space one IS and moves in, the material substance where desires originate and travel – the unquestionable affirmation that one does indeed exist. Reflection, then, should be a response, not a substitute for affirmation.

The mirror is suicide. The more time one spends in front of it, the more one is consumed by the desire to kill oneself. The desire to kill oneself takes hold because other desires – those for love and self-expression for instance – are present and seem impossible to satisfy. Suicide is a sort of mirror in which the desires for love and self-expression in reversal are death. A mirror image may at first seem like a copy of the body it reflects, but a mirror image is, in fact, a kind of reversal. The image certainly has the traits of the body it represents, but it is not a copy.  Once one is cognizant of this distortion, one can begin to free oneself. For you see, the desire to kill oneself is the mirror image of these other desires. A reversal of these desires. And it is true that these desires often have a trace of death in them, which is singled out and exposed by the suicide mirror like the stitches on a sleeve turned inside out. The desire for death, however, is insubstantial compared to the other desires. That is to say it feigns three-dimensionality. It is the reflection of a desire, the image of a desire, a terrible illusion that can be believed wholly true and can be debilitating and destructive, but it is not a true desire. Death does not belong to the body, the body is nothing after we are dead. Love and self-expression, however, do belong to the body. What has substance are your desires; embody them and do not let the image take over. Let there be no more mirrors, only movement.

For me, there may forever be a shadow of death in these desires, but to stand in front of the mirror wondering if they are legitimate… is neither death nor life, but something in-between. Standing in front of the mirror only makes these desires stagnate and the death rise in them. I will instead go forth into the world and be my raging poetic self.

FORGIVENESS, PERFECTION, and HEADACHES

“The hours of this night begin to dwindle and now, with every second that passes on the clock, the blood at the bottom of my heart begins to boil, to bubble, and I know that no matter what I do anguish is about to overtake me in this house, as naked and silver as that great knife which Giovanni will be facing very soon. My executioners are here with me, walking up and down with me, washing things, and packing, and drinking from my bottle. They are everywhere I turn. Walls, windows, mirrors, water, the night outside — they are everywhere. I might call — as Giovanni, at this moment, lying in his cell, might call. But no one will hear. I might try to explain. Giovanni tried to explain. I might ask to be forgiven — if I could name and face my crime, if there were anything, or anybody, anywhere, with the power to forgive.” -James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room

At the hospital, Giovanni’s Room was my companion, my witness. I could not really read, except for the quote above which I read over and over again and memorized. I had tried to do something “wrong” so that I could be forgiven, but having done nothing wrong enough to warrant it, what I wanted was forgiveness for my existence. But I did not commit any crime, so where did the desire for forgiveness come from?

Initially, I felt that my act was a “failure” because I felt the physical consequences were not severe enough. I slipped short of perfection and suicide, I fell short of life and next to death. Yet, the fact that I “failed”— had “insufficient physical symptoms” – was really about my pain remaining invisible, illegitimate. You see the act is neither a success or a failure. It is something else. Something entirely outside of time and judgement. The frustration stems from not allowing myself to fully express the pain.

The act made my pain partially visible, but not completely (and severe physical consequences may never have sufficed). One of the physical consequences has been the chronic headaches/backaches which are a result of the emotional shock. My pain cannot be invisible anymore, my body refuses it. One friend suggested that these headaches are like a kind of guardian angel. An annoying one, yes, but I know immediately when something is bothering me, when there is conflict inside of me. The headaches increase and I am pushed to express myself. I also know when something is good for me because the headaches start to go away. The problem is that speaking about the pain of the headaches is easy, it’s concrete and accessible to everyone, but speaking about the pain that is causing the headaches is not, and I rarely have. The truth is my head has been aching for the past nine years. Aching from the pressure of real and imagined expectations and bottled up desires.

I have been passing. In sociology, the term passing refers to the act of being perceived as a member of another identity group, one that is different from the group one is usually assigned to (by others) or that one assigns oneself too. Valerie Rohy defines the term as “a performance in which one presents oneself as what one is not, a performance commonly imagined along the axis of race, class, gender, or sexuality” (Rohy 1996). One can argue  there are no “authentic” identities and that all identity is performance and therefore passing. And perhaps it is so. I believe what matters, however, is being able to choose the performance you feel corresponds best to your own self. The only passing that should matter, then, is when you yourself feel that you are inauthentic.

Nobody is perfect. You have certainly heard that one before. Yet, I passed for perfect. I am not perfect by any means, but I have believed that I had to be, and it has worked sometimes. I have heard the word associated to my name enough times for it to become a kind of identity. Perfection does not like mistakes. Every slight mishap put me in danger of being found out and punished. How careful I was. How long I held on. Passing for perfect made me pass for other things that are not me. I felt like an incomplete human all along. Incomplete and with little confidence in my abilities, for if one is not allowed to make mistakes one does not build or trust in one’s resilience. Being perfect is too extreme, too dangerous; the risk of plunging is always there.

I wanted to do something “wrong” so that I could be forgiven. I wanted to be forgiven for not being perfect. I wanted my imperfections to be visible and to be allowed to exist in spite of them. I sought forgiveness from other people, but my gut told me I needed it from mirrors. The person I needed forgiveness from all along was myself – but it was impossible to get this from the perfect Johanne. So I had to destroy her.

FICTION

I mentioned earlier that I broke three mirrors in the past seven month. None of them were mine. The first I found while running in the forest along the Venoge River. It was long and tall and seemed to have been waiting there for me in the winter dreariness. I picked up a rock and with a Sharp. Crack. Broke it with delicious precision. The second was a traffic safety mirror that I had tried to break the week before my overdose. One day I came back and made sure the rock would not bounce off. Most of the shards stayed in the frame. The rest fell in a grassy fenced off area beneath where nobody walks. Oddly, the city came to clean up the shards, but they still have not replaced the mirror. The third was small, I broke it at a friend’s house, dropping it accidentally. There was a fourth, but I did not break it. In May I hiked up to the Dent de Jaman with some friends. On top there was a mirror. But, that day, I did not feel the need to break it. The Sunday after my defense I went trail running with a group of friends and we ended up going to the Dent de Jaman. The mirror was still there, but it was broken, and not by me. Now this may all sound like some work of fiction, but it is perhaps rather the work of fiction. For better or for worse, our “real” lives are invested with a lot of fiction. The narratives we need and would like to tell ourselves and the ones that are told, can all be one and the same, and can both free and trap us.

Could this narrative, this avowing, free me of mirrors and be the start of my affirmation? Much remains untold…

 

HUMANS

There is something I really enjoyed about the psychiatric hospital. Yes, you read right, enjoyed. Don’t get me wrong, the thought of going back is atrocious – not because the hospital is a bad place – but because of the pain I experienced there. What I enjoyed was that you did not have to pretend. You could suffer in your own way and however much you wanted to. What I enjoyed was the raw human emotion, the vulnerability. People could share hard intimate things if they wanted to or not speak a single word. I enjoyed the human friction and fuzz.

I hope with all of my heart that Cyril has somewhere safe and warm to sleep, and that he does not think that he needs to jump in front of a train for someone to care. And that he will win the battle against his addictions. I hope someone will come visit Madame Abba, really visit her, not just drop off some clothes. And that she will be loved, make friends, and see her daughter again someday. I hope Madame Chessau is happy, as she is, where she is, in that mind of hers that none of us will know. I hope Paula does not feel ashamed or think she has failed her husband and her daughter, for judgement has no place in illness. I hope that she is recovering, and is gaining as much or more in happiness and health as what her body recovers. I hope with all of my heart that Elodie is home with her beautiful baby boy and husband. That she is stable, but the ardent mother I know she must be. I hope she knows I think of her and our laughs often, laughs that came during a time when laughing seemed impossible. I hope she knows that I think of her when I see the Venoge flow by. I gave her that poem when I left. I hope she knows that when I want to die, I think of the letter she wrote me. I want to acknowledge our suffering and our humanity. We – and I mean all of us, not just the above – are real people, amiss, askew, magnificent, deserving of love.

MENTAL ILLNESS

I will not write extensively on the topic here, but without mentioning mental illness this post would be incomplete. I have one and it has been a factor in all of this, sharpening the turns of my life. An illness may sometimes appear to be just a name, a label. But it is also a way to recognize and describe symptoms, to acknowledge one’s predispositions. It is an approach, a way to get treatment. It is a description that will not correspond one hundred percent to one’s actual way of being, but that can help one situate oneself in the landscape of being and manage the symptoms.

I am very grateful for the professional help I have received. Progress is hard-won, but it has come. I am lucky as well for the support of my friends and family (though part of the problem was of course to rely on and ask for that help in the first place).

MAKE ROOM

I have learned something very simple these past seven months. I am a real person. It seems obvious, but it is not.

“It was hard work, it was insane work, but I did not have the energy or the heart to stop him. In a way he was doing it for me, to prove his love for me. He wanted me to stay in the room with him. Perhaps he was trying, with his own strength, to push back the encroaching walls, without, however, having the walls fall down” -James Baldwin Giovanni’s Room

“Giovanni’s insane work on the room symbolically demonstrates how he tries with all his strength to make room for their love in a society which ostracizes it, but without having the whole system collapsing” -Emilio Amideo

I am making space for self-expression, rather than letting it collapse in on me. And one must start with the space of one’s own self.

“I know one thing I never knew before, though I had been told, that happiness or unhappiness are very unimportant, it is the getting right with each that matters.” – Ruth Mallory

More often than not we do not control our emotions, or at least their arrival – they come to us in the mixture of our personality and the events we partake in and are surrounded by. Could Ruth Mallory have avoided sadness when her husband George Mallory died during a 1924 Everest summit attempt? No, of course not. But she could “get right” with the sadness, so to speak. She could feel her way through it and manage it in the best way possible. Happiness is great, but health is the most important. Her words, taken from a letter written to a friend of George’s after his death, to me do not mean that there will not be any pain, but perhaps that a sort flow can be achieved from one emotional state to the next. Emotions are there, they are not wrong or right, they must simply be felt and worked through. What is more, when we express ourselves we show others that they can too. And we should strive to be aware of others’ pain, open and ready to listen. But how can we, if we do not fully listen to our own? Sure, it may work for some time, years even, but slowly and surely you will be incapacitated by your own suffering.

Pain is trying to tell you something. Pain needs to be listened to and seen.  Sometimes that is all it needs. But if it needs more, making it visible will help you get help. Some forms of pain – broken bones, cuts, and bruises – are already visible (and of course one can talk about them as well). But headaches and mental agony are often not. Make them visible earlier rather than later. Not necessarily to everyone, but to someone you can trust whether that is a family member, a friend, a professional, or a hotline. Express pain until someone listens. If they are not ready or willing to listen, this does not mean that your pain is illegitimate; they may simply be dealing with their own pain or not prepared to hear what you have to say.

If someone tells you they are in pain: 1) Listen. 2) Acknowledge how brave it is of them to tell you (it can be very difficult for someone to even get to the point of talking). 3) DO NOT JUDGE THEM. Do not tell them how they should feel, for instance that they should be grateful for the life they have or that other people are suffering more than them. Ranking pain does not relieve it; rather focus on the individual’s unique experience. Making connections to other experiences can certainly help, but focusing on the pain at hand is the most important. 4) If you feel comfortable, ask them about how it feels, what the pain is like, and where it is coming from, but do not pressure them to answer. 5) Ask them what you can do for them and help them get more help. 6) Hugs go a long way…

My story, which you have heard in part now, is my own, nothing more, nothing less. I am happy to discuss more, in person or in writing and would like to thank you all very much for reading. I have been very lucky and have had access to a lot of resources and support. Thank you again to my family, my friends, my psychiatrist and all the other professionals, and anyone who has ever offered support along the way. Should you or anyone you know be feeling unwell or wanting to harm yourself/themselves, I have included hotline numbers for the United States and Switzerland below (and links to hotlines in other countries as well).

Peace, love, and health,

Johanne

 

US HOTLINE: 1-800-273-8255

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

SWISS HOTLINE: La Main Tendue
Hotline: 143
Website: 143.ch
E-mail Helpline: verband@tel-143.ch

https://www.143.ch/fr/

LISTS OF INTERNATIONAL HOTLINES:

http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html

http://ibpf.org/resource/list-international-suicide-hotlines

 

WORKS CITED

Amideo, Emilio. “Queer Tidalectics: Sea-change in Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin.”          L’Orientale. University of Napoli, 2016. 101-15.

Baldwin, James. Giovanni’s Room. London: Penguin Classics, 2001.

De Leo D, Burgis S, Bertolote JM, Kerkhof A, Bille-Brahe U (2004). “Suicidal Behaviour:       Theories and Research Findings.” Hogrefe/Huber, Göttingen, p 17-39.

“para-.” dictionary.com. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/para-

“parasuicide,n.” dictionary.com. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/parasuicide

“parasuicide, n.” medicinenet.com. https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=21820

Rohy, Valerie. “Displacing Desire: Passing, Nostalgia, and Giovanni’s Room.” In Ginsberg,       Elaine K. (ed.). Passing and the Fictions of Identity. Duke University Press, 1996.          218-33.

“Suicide Rising Across the US: More Than a Mental Health Concern.” Centers for Disease    Control and Prevention.  11 June 2018. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/suicide/index.html

“The Eggcorn Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree.” Merriam Webster.

https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/eggcorn-meaning-and-examples

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“The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.” -John Muir

“¡Los he visto tan tristes, que me cuesta pensar
cómo siendo tan tristes, nunca puedan llorar! …

Y siempre son así: ya sea que la tarde
los bese con sus besos de suaves arreboles,
o que la noche clara los mire con sus soles,
o que la fronda alegre con su sombra los guardo. .

Ya ascendiendo la cuesta que lleva al caserío.
entre glaucas hileras de cafetos en flor…
o mirando las aguas de algún murmurador
arroyuelo que corre bajo un bosque sombrío.

¿Qué tendrán esos ojos que siempre están soñando
y siempre están abiertos?…
¡Siempre húmedos y vagos y sombríos e inciertos,
cual si siempre estuviesen en silencio implorando!

Una vez, en la senda de una gruta florida
yo vi un buey solitario que miraba los suelos
con insistencia larga, como si en sus anhelos
fuera buscando, ansioso, la libertad perdida …

Y otra vez bajo un árbol y junto a la carreta
cargada de manojos, y más tarde en la hondura
de una limpia quebrada, y en la inmensa llanura,
y a la luz de un ocaso de púrpura y violeta

¡Siempre tristes y vagos los ojos de esos reyes
que ahora son esclavos! Yo no puedo pensar
cómo, siendo tan tristes, nunca puedan llorar
los ojos de los bueyes…”

-Alfredo Espino, “Los ojos de los bueyes”

 

These poems came for me,
lassoed my throat,
demanded my life’s savings,
taking me for a sunset ride.

These poems were graffiti scrawls
along the alleys & trash-strewn tunnels of my body,
the metaphoric methadone for the heroin hurling
through my bloodstream, the lifeline I already had inside
and didn’t know.

These poems were pool sticks, darkened gangways,
a swirl of sunrise after the graveyard shift,
a blood-black yelling behind torn curtains,
a child shrieking and nobody coming to help. 

They were a woman’s scent after a night
of lovemaking, a sweet touch of hand to face,
cascades of hair on a pillow,
a moan during an elongated kiss.

These poems were shadowed intents,
startled doubts, sorrows without grief,
the moon without sky,
unknown melodies…
the falling inside that happens
when you push razor onto wrist.

They came for me as I sank into my suicide,
while fidgeting in a chair,
inching under the skin,
as I wondered why I even came.

José, David, and Pedro
—I was never the same after this.
They came for me and I’ve never let go.
They came for me and I’ve perspired poems
ever since. They came for me—and all my addictions,
my sorry-ass lies, my falling masks,
my pissed-off wives, neglected children,
angry friends, and back-to-back failures
could never, ever, take them away.” –Luis J. Rodriguez, from “Fevered Shapes”

“Running is many things to me: survival, calmness, euphoria, solitude. It is proof of my corporeal existence, my ability to control my movement through space if not time, and the obedience, however temporary, of my body to my will. As I run I displace air, and things come and go around me, and the path moves like a filmstrip beneath my feet.” –Audrey Niffenegger The Time Traveler’s Wife