The 1975 10cc song "Iceberg" begins and ends with the chant: "Life is a roller coaster that we all ride." It's the weakest song on How Dare You, not so much for that line but for its forced cuteness. But that line has stuck with me for four decades, because, to me anyway, it is dead accurate: life is up and down and out of control, and if I'm going down fast enough, "dead" quickly moves to the front of my mind.
Which explains why I spent about 45 minutes in the wee hours of Friday morning talking to someone on a suicide-prevention line; I was indeed that far down. It had been a fairly bad month anyway, with my supposed "recovery" seemingly permanently on hold, and then an advice from CFI Care (not its real initials) that they had undisallowed a claim they'd previously disallowed — and since the provider, apparently selected while I was under anesthesia, was about a thousand miles out of my network, I would have to pay him somewhere on the wrong side of $7300, pushing my out-of-pocket for the year to over twelve thousand dollars and making a mockery of my alleged "deductible" of half that.
This, to me, was even worse than it sounded: I am sustained these days by the smallest of victories, and one of those tiny triumphs was having taken care of the previous medical bills, with a little help from my friends. (A GoFundMe set up by a friend brought in nearly $3,000.) Now suddenly, or however long it takes the provider to render a bill, I'm in twice as deep a hole, and I don't have the resources to pull myself out of it.
And suddenly all the terrible things that had been happening to me were gathered in a circle in front of my face, and all I could do was cry: "Make it stop!"
Of course, it wasn't going to stop. It never does. And in a matter of minutes, despite attempts at Twitter intervention, I started looking for ways to get off this frigging planet altogether. One thing I had in my favor: I had filled nine prescriptions that week, giving me approximately 300 tablets, some combination of which would surely do me in. I'd already checked for drug interactions, and found one the medical profession designates as Major; that, I figured, would be the way to go.
During a Twitter exchange in which basically I whined to the world, someone gave me a link to a Web site and urged me to try it. In the sort of cosmic joke that controls my life, the link came back 404. That pretty much iced the deal: this time, apparently, I'm supposed to die. The correct link was proffered, and I decided I did not want to have a heartfelt chat over a Web browser. They did, however, have a telephone number.
During the monologue — the intervention specialist tried not to interrupt too much — I had moments of weepiness, the worst of which came when it dawned on me that rather a lot of people from long ago in my life seemed to be coming back into my orbit. I concluded from this that I am expected to right all those wrongs, after which it will be time for me to go. The specialist, inevitably, did not see the obviousness of this conclusion.
The last time I was on anything resembling suicide watch was 1988. I'm not particularly pleased to be hanging around that neighborhood again. But it is what it is, and a life mostly devoid of hope is barely worth enduring.
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Copyright © 2016 by Charles G. Hill