BY: Peter Dunn – “The Cynical Dreamer”
It is currently 2:04pm. My latest blog deadline was this afternoon. However, I’ve now completely deleted two articles and am starting anew yet again. Why you may ask? At 6:35am this morning, I had similar feelings of committing suicide, much like the ones I experienced six years ago.
Six years ago I tried to kill myself. People always like to say that attempted suicide is a cry for help. Mine wasn’t a cry as much as a silent peace sign to myself and a simply planned goodbye. I didn’t tell a soul until I told my mother a couple years later. I had simply decided I was over the battle and that my time had tapped out. “Go out while you’ll be remembered as a good person” is literally what I said to myself in the mirror one day. I planned this for a month from that day.
I made a brunch reservation for a large group of my closest friends and my mother. I designed an itinerary of fun activities with my friends after brunch, ending with fireworks and margaritas on the rooftop of the Gansevoort Hotel. If I was going out, I was going out in style, because if anything, I needed to end my life still being true to me. I wasn’t going to allow my depression and anxiety to take that last bit of my identity.
I spent that next month being the kindest soul that I could be. Reminding those that I loved them, spending as much time as possible with those people. I lived as if I had stage four cancer and was told I had 30 days left. And a month later, as I experienced my last ‘Ultimate Sunday Funday’ with my friends, I swallowed an entire bottle of pills and then walked out of the hotel without saying goodbye.
I walked down to the Hudson River and I laid down. As terrible as this is to say, lying down in that grass was one of the most peaceful ten seconds of my entire life. Things felt clear, things felt decided, and for just a moment, my brain didn’t feel like this burnt out, oversaturated monster that I’d felt like it had become. After that ten seconds of peace though, came all the thoughts of the post-reality that I was creating for those that love me. My mother, my niece and my dog began burning images in my head that I will never forget.
While I don’t believe suicide is a cry for help, I do believe it is a selfish act. I know it is. I always say ‘life is already hard enough…Stop. Making. It. Harder. For. Other. People’. There is no more painful realization than wanting to truly say goodbye to the world, but realizing that your goodbye will hurt others even more than it hurts yourself. People like to tell people who have attempted suicide a multitude of things that are wrong and that are terrible, such as “you didn’t really mean to” or “you just weren’t ready”. Nope. I did mean to, I premeditated it to a disturbing degree, and I was ready to leave. But more importantly, I wasn’t SUPPOSED to leave this world at that moment.
After a couple of minutes of trying to aggressively fight the urge to care, I got up, staggered my way to a cab, went to a hospital and told them what I had done.
This stayed with me as a dirty little secret for years, until I finally told my mother. It has also remained a secret to about 98% of my friends. To those I have spoken about it with, the constant response is genuine disbelief: “you must be lying”, “you must be over exaggerating on some details”, “You couldn’t possibly have done this”. Their disbelief lies in the fact that trying to commit suicide goes against my character and everything I stand for. And that is true. But so is my story. I can’t express enough that we do not know the battles that others are constantly fighting. The happiest people can be the unhappiest. The people that make you laugh the most, can be the ones who spend all their time alone crying. The ones who love you the most can be the ones who feel they are undeserving, or unworthy of receiving love themselves.
Which brings me to this morning. I’ve been having a rough time. I had decided to take a “creative break”. I came to the realization that I was saying yes to too many things. I was filling my schedule with projects, shows, and side gigs, as a way to literally fill my life, so that I didn’t have to focus on me. If I can’t focus on me, I can’t focus on problems. If I can’t focus on problems then I can’t fix or change things. So it was time to take a step away.
Stepping away has been great in many ways. I rediscovered that I actually love sleep. I’ve been reading and catching up with people who mean the world to me. I’ve been eating food for my soul, listening to music for my soul. I have been able to say yes to activities for ME, as opposed to my normal answer of “let me check my calendar. Nope, sorry, can’t.” And what I realized since taking this ‘step away’ is that my life can be filled with so much light, that there is no need for any darkness.
Stepping away has also been a little hard on me, to say the least. First, separating my being from what I do as an artist, producer, and a voice has proven difficult. “Who. Am. I?!” when I am not doing those things? And how much do I matter, when I am not doing those things? Also, having the time that I’ve wanted to be left alone in my thoughts has been a constant battle. When you’ve stripped everything down around you, and it’s just you and a mirror, your mind can be the scariest and most dangerous place on earth (*cue Kenny Loggins’ Danger Zone song*). Sorry y’all, I had to throw some Kenny Loggins in there.
This past week has proven especially hard for me. I’ve had men of my past resurface & as well as those who are part of my present, making me feel less than. I’m in the worst shape I’ve been in in years, and I’ve learned in a pretty harsh way that others are starting to notice this too. I’ve spent hours pinpointing and writing about bad cycles that I’ve created and really brainstorming on how to begin to fix them. And I’ve started wholeheartedly trying to change bad habits and lifestyle choices that I want to, and need to change. I also was sexually assaulted this past weekend which triggered hardcore PTSD from childhood abuse, found out my dog is going blind and realized that there are some situations that simply aren’t going to go the way even though I’d like them to.
This isn’t a pity party but I’m sure it sounded that way. This is just the reality of my past week, and it had left me feeling alone in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever possibly experienced. I saw a movie recently where a character said: “I think loneliness kills more people a year than cancer.” It struck a chord because I believe that that is indeed true. My state of loneliness has been so heavy, and the worst part was that most of it felt self-inflicted. I have been alienating myself and falling out of touch with so many people who have simply tried to love me. All the while giving anything and everything to those who have simply wanted to take, take, take.
Please, please, please know, that eventually, you will indeed run out of things to give. Any relationship in your life must be a scale. There must be balance, otherwise, you will be left empty, and when you are empty, you are no longer you. I stress this to others constantly, but of course, as a lot of us do, am painfully horrific at taking my own advice.
I felt lonely all day yesterday, and yet I still tried to give, give, give. But I had nothing left to give. I was empty. And I, in owning responsibility for my actions, got very ugly towards a friend that I probably wish was more than a friend. I thought driving him away was the easiest form of letting him know I had nothing else to offer him.
After that, I was left alone in my thoughts, and shit got real. That tiny little gear in my brain went *click*. It became a kaleidoscope of every terrible thought, comment, action, and memory that could possibly flood my brain at once, shapeshifting at a rapid pace. Then my brain went *click*, again, and my thought was “you can make all this stop.” And again, my brain was clear for two seconds. It’s that clarity that scared me the most, yet also felt the best. It’s as if a sea had parted, and as opposed to treading water, I could see land.
Yet, again, this ‘land’ was not my preferred destination. That’s not the island I want to spend eternity on. I am a fighter and I still have so much more to offer. There are so many more chapters left to write, so much more music left to sing, so many more nights left to dance, and so many more people that I want to lift up in the air and show them how good the sun feels. Light. All I want to do, every day, is show people that they are the definition of light.
In 32 years, I have never asked for help. I’ve hinted at it before, but I’ve never once blatantly said: “I need someone to talk to”. I did that for the first time this morning because I didn’t know what else to do. At 7am, I had an extraordinarily beautiful human being call me (and everyone who knows me, knows how much I loatheeee talking on the damn phone) and talk for three hours till I literally fell asleep.
Maybe I don’t hate talking on the phone as much as I think I do.
Like every blog I write, I worry I may regret having it published. Honestly, I think I’m just doing this as a form of accountability. The older I get, the more I realize how important it is to be accountable for one’s actions. It is so, so vital to become the best person you can be. Also, sappy AF, but you, yeah YOU, guess what? You’re not alone. I’m a mess too, and we’re going to get through this. Why? Because we have to.
You are not alone.
You are light.
Now, I have some phone calls to make. Xx
Peter William Dunn is a born and raised New Yorkers, who is currently a freelance writer, producer, director and sometimes actor in the city.
His professional passions include: film, music, literature, helping other artists thrive and all around storytelling
His personal passions include: puppies, babies, black and white milkshakes, and attractive men with accents (he has an extra strong track record for attracting emotionally unavailable men, but don’t tell him we told you that, and don’t yell at him for speaking in third person right now).
His current loves are his dog, Domino, a whiskey neat, and in case you didn’t know, his mother is the greatest human being on earth❤