Many ways to die, but I don't really know why

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A not-so-satirical account of how bipolar disorder is like a monster that eats you from the inside, and infects you with suicidal ideation even though there's no apparent reason for you to feel that way.

Life was perfect. I had a great family. A great set of friends. Good grades at college. Other interests that kept me engaged. Why then did I want to kill myself? | Pixabay

She had locked herself inside the room at 3.15 in the afternoon. Four hours had passed. Nobody had asked her to open the door yet. Nobody cared. She looked at the ceiling fan. From it hung a thin, pink rope. “More like a fat, pink thread,” she muttered to herself. It was the nada from her mother’s rose-coloured petticoat. She stood on the bed and tried making a noose out of the pink rope. All she got was a knot. It looked so simple in the Tamil serials that played every evening in her paati’s room. She tried a second time. Again, a knot — a bigger one this time. Frustrated, she pulled at the rope. The fan swung violently, making a loud, creaking noise. Terrified, she jumped off the bed.

Death by thin pink noose was alright. Death by a ceiling fan smashing her head to bits? Thank you, but no.

*

She counted up to 10, took a deep breath and climbed the last flight of stairs. It felt strangely euphoric. Walking to the edge of the tank, she looked down. It was a sheer drop. Eight-and-a-half storeys. Earlier in the day, she had read on the Internet that seven storeys is all it takes. The eight-and-a-halfth one was just in case.

She looked up. It had stopped raining a while ago. A faint rainbow was forming in the east. She looked down again. She extended her left leg, let it hover and pulled it back. “What if gravity gives up on me? What if I float away into oblivion instead?”

Let’s try an experiment. She would drop the first thing she could get hold of. If it floated away into oblivion, well, mission aborted.

She turned and there, in a corner lay a grayish-white pigeon feather. She picked it up, went to the edge of the landing and dropped it. It fell a few feet. Her heart skipped a beat. Then it rose. Her heart skipped another beat. And floated away. Into oblivion.

*

It was past midnight. She knew it because she had just heard her neighbour make strange noises to Midnight Masala on that Telugu channel. She plugged her ears with two balls of cotton, put the toilet lid down and sat on it.

Her uncle’s shaving kit lay in front of her. He  had just flown in from Delhi last night. In it was a razor. No extra blades. She removed the blade from its groove. It had bits of his stubble sticking to it. She held it under the tap. But the stubble stuck on.

Suddenly, she heard a loud moan from the other side of the wall. Startled, she dropped the blade. It fell headlong into the hole of the wash-basin. She sighed, packed the shaving kit, washed her hands and went to bed.

The next morning she woke up with a start. Her uncle was running about the house in his towel, “Where the hell did my blade disappear?” She smiled sleepily. She had never liked that man anyway.

*

She was washing clothes. Her mother made her do it whenever the maid didn't turn up. She hated it. First, the three failed attempts. Now, having to wash clothes. And then, her eyes fell on it. A transparent plastic bottle with a white lid — washing powder.

“This will definitely work.” Better now than later. She sat on the floor and opened the bottle. She decided to smell it first. Jasmine?

 

She took a pinch of the whitish-blue powder, smelt it again and put it in her mouth. She felt nothing. And then it hit her. A burning sensation in her throat. She spat it out. How could something so fragrant taste so awful?

She gulped water from the tap. It was the same water that she used to bathe with. It didn't smell good. It didn't smell at all. But it tasted better than the detergent. She decided that if she was going to die, it would have to be a watery grave. She smiled at her pun. She frowned. Was there a pun?

*

Water. As usual, she had done her research. Jumping into a well was out. The well near her house smelt bad. And what if there were other dead bodies floating in it? Jumping into the sea from a ship was out. She didn't know any captains who would take her to the deep seas. Jumping from anywhere was out. What if gravity gave up on her again? And then, she found it. You can die from drinking too much water.

That was it. She would drink too much water and die. Peacefully. The logic was simple — drinking too much water washes away the minerals in your body, thus leading to death. She sat on the floor of the bathroom and with her steel tumbler. She dipped it into the bucket and drank the first glass of water. This was going to be easy.

By the time she reached the 17th cup, her stomach was full. By the time she reached the 22nd cup, she felt like throwing up. By the time she had reached the 28th cup, she couldn't take it anymore. She popped three sleeping pills, lay in her bed and waited for death.

The next morning, she woke up late. Very late. She had slept a sound sleep.

She felt something wet. She touched her bed. It was soaking wet. Watery grave, eh?

*

That she is me. What I wrote might sound like satire, but it sure as hell is not.

Life was perfect. I had a great family. A great set of friends. Good grades at college. Other interests that kept me engaged. Why then did I want to do this to myself?

During the five months in which the aforementioned events had occurred, I was under self-imposed curfew. I hadn't stepped out of the eight-storeyed building we stayed in. I hadn't spoken a word in weeks. I only ate when Amma force-fed me. I wanted to kill myself. But I didn't know why.

After many failed attempts, Amma and Appa finally cajoled me into visiting the doctor. A tall man with a long beard and eyes so sharp, it was as if he were piercing into my soul.

The next day onwards I was put on medication. Six pills a day.

That was 12 years ago. Things are better now. I only take five pills a day.

A year after that visit to the psychiatrist, I learnt that I had a condition that explained why I felt and behaved the way I did.

They called it bipolar disorder.

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