Disease

Jack shifted in his seat. “He died of suicide.”

His turn of phrase struck me. Why not say that he committed suicide, or that he killed himself? “You make it sound as if it's a disease.”

Jack nodded. “It is a disease.”

He would know—he has bipolar disorder, and all too frequently battles the urge to commit suicide. “We don't want to die. It's a compulsion we fight.”

Something inside me settled. It was if exhausted after a long night of tossing and turning, I was finally able to melt into the embrace of a nest of soft pillows. Thinking about suicide as a disease dissipated the shame I felt for having suicidal thoughts, shame that had dogged my footsteps ever since that first time, a couple of months before the surgeries, more than six years ago.

A few months later, I was lying in bed mulling over the events of the past couple of days, the stress, the angst. And without warning, a thought popped out of the recesses of my mind, like the dormant herpes virus awakening in the shape of a cold sore.

“They'd be better off without me.”

Maybe it was time to increase my meds, to keep the disease in check.