Contains references to self harm & suicide.
Six weeks ago, I received the best present I could ever have hoped for. The answer to my prayers from over a decade. Today is the eleventh of September, 2022, my Big Day at long last. When I received the fabulous news, I highlighted today's date with a bold circle of fluorescent orange in my diary. Every morning since then, I have awakened to the thought that I am one day closer, and crossed off another square with that orange marker pen.
Perhaps I should explain. I guess my story really started with a diagnosis of acute depression back when I was just eleven years old. That is what the doctors first called it anyway, before deciding it should be called a borderline personality disorder. The rest of my school life blurs into one incessant traumatic experience. The other kids did not understand me. They were cruel and called me a freak. I had to endure the stigma and their vicious taunts for three more interminable years before being interned in a psychiatric hospital for a further two. Since then, other medical teams and experts have added various other grandiose-sounding mental health issues to their list. The psychiatrists tell me I suffer from a “chronic attachment disorder” as well as a “severe anxiety disorder”. At some point along the way, they have included psychosis and described me as “chronically suicidal”.
Myself, all I know is that each extra day I am imprisoned here in this twenty-eight-year-old body of mine is unbearable! I’m marooned inside a head that feels like it is constantly being pummeled and pounded to a pulp with a sledgehammer. There is literally no cure here on Earth for the pain within my brain when those Voices vent their fury.
What started with small, seemingly silly tasks like “Hey, pull out five strands of your hair one by one and lay them in a line on the desk!” rapidly progressed to orders such as “See that jug of water on the table over there? Pick it up then go and pour it over the teacher’s head”. You can imagine what trouble that got a thirteen-year-old-me into at school. If ever I refused to comply, the threats, screams and raging insults would begin. Words I didn’t even know the meaning of, let alone ever use, would ricochet around my head, deafening me with their intensity. I soon learned not to disobey their demands, I can tell you.
It wasn’t very long before they wanted me to attack my mum and hurt her. I was so scared for her, terrified that I might give in and follow their orders. One night they woke me up and ordered me to take a carving knife from the kitchen drawer and go to my parents’ bedroom. That was when I started slamming my head against the nearest wall or whatever hard surface I could find! The agony was the only way I could silence them. For a while, at least…
Psychotherapy, anti-depressants, uppers, downers – I have tried them all, believe me I have tried. Take a look at these ugly, uneven tufts that remain of the hair on my head. I took the scissors and did that to myself last week after the Voices had been on at me. I am incapable of ignoring them when they start giving me grief. We battle daily and I can only prevent myself from hurting others by harming myself, although I would rather not show you the proof of that here on my arms. The scars I bear are not a pretty sight!
Under current Dutch law, euthanasia is only allowed if the doctors are satisfied that a patient’s suffering is unbearable with no prospect of improvement. That is very straightforward in the situation of someone diagnosed with a physical disease, but not all cases are black and white, are they? Take my circumstances. I do not have a physical terminal disease, but that does not mean I am not in constant pain and distress. I suffer from terrifying psychiatric experiences every single day of my life.
Death is inevitable for us all; it is the final stage of life. It is my wish to be allowed to die with dignity, and without hurting anyone else. Jumping in front of a bus would traumatize the poor driver for the rest of his days, wouldn’t it? That would be unfair.
This path I have chosen is far from easy though. There have been some extremely tough moments. It was ever so difficult having to say goodbye to my friends and family. I feel terrible for them, I really do, but it is not enough to make me change my mind.
My dear parents have promised to take a boat and scatter my ashes over the sea. I will then be free, and able to find peace at last. I love watching the waves. If I had not been given permission for euthanasia, I think I would have chosen to jump from that jetty there outside my bedroom window. Instead, I am being allowed to die by physician-assisted suicide.
Last night, my closest friends held the most beautiful farewell dinner for me. Along with my beloved family, those wonderful people will be here soon to stay with me when the two official attending medics hand me the small sealed bottle containing their liquid. They have told me it will taste bitter, so I’m going to down it in one, just like a shot. Afterwards, I shall lay back on my bed surrounded by the people I love and drift away.
I am telling you this now, as I want the world to know that mental suffering can be so awful that death can be the lesser of two evils - a longed-for release. Do I have doubts? No! Not a single one! I have never felt more certain about anything in my whole life. I wish to die and I am ready to do so. Please do not judge me, but pass this, my message and legacy, on to the world on my behalf.
As from this point onwards, I will no longer be available...
This tale of severe mental suffering and a very difficult decision is a fictional piece of writing, although inspired by a true but tragic story.