I believe in choosing life over death.
This is not an essay about abortion, a topic with which I have not solidified my opinion nor feel competent enough to weigh. This is an essay about suicide.
When I was born, it was discovered that I had a genetic illness that might eventually kill me. My earliest memory is of being in one of many cribs in a massive children’s ward that seemed to have no walls begging my parents, arms outstretched, to take me home. I did not understand why I felt so betrayed when they did not. Since then, I have struggled to form strong attachments to them and to other people, always suspicious of peoples’ motives for choosing me as a friend. I even stopped believing in God at a very young age. I went through the baptism, the liturgies, the serving food to the poor, in a haze of submission and confusion, not wanting to stir up a storm of disappointment and anger from those I respected about my disbelief at worst, and weak faith at best.
Attending university far from the country I was raised in, living alone in my apartment and, constant ambulance rides to the hospital led me to the conclusion that no big loss would occur if I died by my own hand. To fight this ideation, I bought a dog, tried to teach myself violin, I even voluntarily committed myself to a psychiatric hospital when one bought of depression took a sharp turn. I moved to a new state, changed my major and career choice several times. Most of these choices did not cure me, nor did psychotherapy. No amount of giving to the poor, teaching in Africa, being really good at one thing gave meaning to my life. Even with my physical limitations, I cycled, ran, swam. None of these things, which I still enjoy immensely, helped me to conquer the darkness. Even now, I attend church but am not really convinced about God.
Independent of this, I believe in choosing life over death. I remain stubbornly convinced that there must be more to life than the empirical. And I hope to eventually get what it is I need to make me whole. This, I believe, is the form of faith I need to achieve that goal, possibly an irrational choice to continue when there is admittedly little happiness in the activities I make up for myself. I want to have a family of my own. But I will not live for my spouse, nor will I live for my children. I will live because I choose to live…in spite of.