It confused her whenever it happened. And it was at least partly confusing because she couldn’t always anticipate when it would happen.
Sometimes a chill curled her spine, sometimes her temples throbbed, sometimes her knees ached—and then sometimes the world blinked off and on without warning or the slightest provocation, at least as far as she could tell. (more…)
“My passion was dead. For years it had rolled over and submerged me[…]” –Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea
Suicides aren’t always dissatisfied with life. They’re certainly not cowards. Few people who consider themselves brave could commit the ultimate act. In the aftermath of suicide, those left behind search for answers or meaning. Sometimes they can find answers, sometimes meaning doesn’t exist, sometimes the suicide is the result of a brain wired differently and given free rein to act on its impulses.
If you reduce the physical universe to its most basic components, you’ll find most of the building blocks are comprised of empty space. When I experienced suicidal depression, I experienced the sensation of the emptiness of the physical universe. Every second of every day. Every atom contains emptiness. Since I was composed of atoms, I was mostly empty–physically and emotionally.
And that emptiness weighed on me. It strangled me. It assumed a three-dimensional form and embraced me, suffocated me, asphyxiated me. I was never more informed or aware of the emptiness of the universe than when anxiety and suicidal depression descended on me. (more…)
It was sometime around Thanksgiving, maybe a day or two later, when my boss wanted to talk to me. He spoke in an even tone, not somber but not enthusiastic. I’d be out of work at the end of February, he’d said. My position–data entry and accounts payable–was going to be automated.
I couldn’t respond, didn’t know how to respond–I’d held the job for nearly eleven years, showed up day in and day out, without suspecting anything, taking my job for granted, and now, over the course of a single conversation, I was obsolete.
Anxiety consumed me. I felt frozen, locked in a state of inertia. Eleven years. Gone. A stable job. Gone. My future: uncertain. With a wife and two kids, with rent and bills, with debt, I couldn’t afford to dawdle. I couldn’t afford to coast through life, hopping from one dead-end job to the next. I had to act decisively.
But I froze.
Time stood still.
Is this the future? Locked into a job only to watch it disintegrate as algorithms replace people? If I’m so easily replaced by reams of code, then am I worthless?
Where do I go from here?
What am I going to do? (more…)
Tour my house, scrutinize it, and you won’t find a single visible universal product code. I
loathe them. If I’m drinking from a can, I spin it when I set it on the table so the barcode isn’t facing me. In the kitchen and the bathroom, the bedroom and the living room, from cereal to toothpaste, books to condom boxes to movies–barcodes never face me.
I detest them.
“What do you know that we don’t?” my friend Chris often jokingly asks, as if I’m aware of a conspiracy few others know or understand.
But there aren’t any conspiracies–at least as far as barcodes are concerned. As far as I know. No, I turn or obscure or hide every barcode in sight for aesthetic reasons. I can’t stand their look. I don’t know why, but I find them aesthetically unappealing. And since UPCs are ubiquitous in our society, I spend more time than I’d care to admit hiding or destroying or ignoring them.
Source amnesia prevents me from knowing when or why or how this detestation started. I’ve despised them for as long as I can remember. As a child, I’d shiver on seeing them. They filled me with annoyance as a teenager. Now that I’m an adult, I tend to treat them as an art critic stumbling on a low-rent art fair might treat the canvases: with revulsion, then dismissal. (more…)
50% of all proceeds generated from this ebook will be donated to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
A couple discovers an alien-like element, a woman locked in a ward tries to grapple with her mind, an ex-junkie encounters a possible solution to her problems, two men—broke—just want to get drunk, and, in an infinite story, a man encounters a woman who may hold the key to life and the universe.
A Peculiar Arrangement of Atoms is a collection of sixteen moving, funny, and enlightening short stories written in a variety of styles. Individually, they explore human experience. Together, they represent a bleak yet hopeful, and at times comic, portrait of humanity and the human condition.
Part John Barth and William Gaddis, part Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace, part Kurt Vonnegut and William S. Burroughs, but in a voice all his own, Dickey has crafted a short story collection that will linger, that will haunt you, that will entertain and, most importantly, stick with you.
People who say suicide is an act of cowardice or an act of weakness lack empathy. People who say that suicide is neither an escape nor a solution lack an understanding of the darker sensations experienced by human beings.
Suicide was the spring that released the tension coiled around the Thing devouring him.
Suicide isn’t a solution, it isn’t an escape—it’s more like a painkiller.
People who don’t suffer from suicidal depression can’t understand how thoroughly it devours you.
Hollowness and emptiness, grayness and death, ashes and isolation; nothing feels real yet everything feels hyper-real; everything is bleak and bad, destined only to get worse: these thoughts, these feelings, these emotions consume you until they become you. They soak through every fiber of your being.
Every minute of everyday is a struggle to put off that overwhelming sensation to end it all, and to function. Every action that keeps you functioning is an act of resistance. Every action that keeps you functioning is a skirmish meant to overcome the urge to kill yourself.
A person suffering through this wages the battle on a second-by-second basis. But it takes its toll, and it wears some people out, and they become too exhausted; they can’t resist the overwhelming urge any longer.
We shouldn’t view suicide as cowardly—or ignoble. We should, instead, view it as the tragic culmination of years—sometimes decades—of a seemingly endless battle, the final bugle call screeching over the remains of an internal battlefield.
We shouldn’t pity or condemn him for how he ended his life. Instead, we should praise him for how long he managed to successfully wage his battle.