I Almost Died, Because I Wanted To

Person peering over cliff edge

The morning of March 29th, 2021, was unlike all others. Rather than waking with the intention to live my life, I planned to end it.

I had grown weary of existence. I hated the pursuit and management of capitalist resources. I hated the abundance of ceaseless errands and chores. I hated the obligation to comprehend and act within new, often arbitrary information streams (e.g., tax codes). I hated that at the end of my self-imposed 6-day work week, I often felt unable to extract any pleasure from life. Come Monday, the cycle would repeat. And if I wanted things to change, to get better, I felt I’d have to work even harder.

My disillusionment with adulthood had been growing over the last few years. But my unshakeable feeling that life was better left unlived was nothing new. I had struggled to rationalize my continued existence and stave off persistent depression for about a decade. Only now, it was time to act.

The Jump

I had already settled on where I would jump: a hiking trail with high, rocky summits. I had paid all my outstanding debts. Written a will describing how my funds should be divided. And left a letter for my family and partner expressing my apologies for leaving them so prematurely. I packed a bag with some hiking essentials (water, snacks) and took one final look at my apartment. I hoped it would be my last.

Next, I drove to a nearby shopping plaza for breakfast. Figuring that this would be my final meal, I opted to indulge: namely, a hefty Burger King egg sandwich and french toast sticks slathered in maple syrup. I ate in my car and wiped my mouth clean. The final step was writing “DO NOT RESUSCITATE”  with a Sharpie across my cheeks — a message that would stay conveniently hidden behind my COVID-19 face mask while in public.

The drive to the trail was on the longer side, but I hardly noticed. Behind the wheel, I felt focused, at peace. I’d knew I’d soon be liberated from existence. I would cease to be human and forfeit my “privilege” of overbearing autonomy. But most importantly, I would eliminate the possibility of enduring any further suffering or pain: two forces that are inescapable for the living.

Arriving at the trailhead, I left my car and began my ascent. I moved swiftly, driven by the same desire that had once fueled my other pursuits in life. During the climb, I hardly experienced a shred of hesitation or apprehension. “This is my fate, this is my destiny,” I told myself. Eternal freedom was only minutes away.

Strangely, I don’t remember jumping. I don’t recall peering over the trail’s rocky ledges and staring nervously at the ground far below. I don’t remember falling through the air and flailing my arms. I don’t recall the pain, the blood, or the broken bones.

In actuality, it’s as if nothing happened, as if the intention was enough and the universe took over from there. Like crossing a boundary in a video game and being repositioned elsewhere after fading to black. Of all my experiences, it’s the one that makes the strongest argument for a simulated reality. But perhaps that’s a post for a different time.

The Reawakening

In the real world, my broken body was airlifted to the nearest hospital. Doctors and surgeons quickly got to work, performing a litany of surgeries. But in my concussed and sedated state, I experienced a different version of events. For a time, I inhabited a nightmarish dreamscape wherein I forcibly became a test subject for a sadistic company. Under their knife, my body became a testing ground for all manner of experimental procedures. I was poked, prodded, and affixed with tubes. I later realized that these sensations might’ve been echoes of what the real-world doctors were doing to my body. Hopefully, the rape, physical abuse, and near-killing I experienced weren’t also “inspired” by real events.

Finally, I woke up in a hospital. I was relieved to discover that the hellscape I had been inhabiting wasn’t real — and to be reunited with my family.

I was quickly brought up to speed about my condition. My injuries were severe, and I later learned that for the first few days, my survival hadn’t been guaranteed. I had fractured my eye socket, ankles, tibia, fibia, femur, lower spinal disc, and ribs. And yet, the doctors had been impressed with my recovery. One later remarked that “it must’ve not been your time to die.”

I, too, felt optimistic. Considering the circumstances, I had gotten off easy. I could’ve been paralyzed, sustained a heavy brain injury, or both, or worse. Instead, the person I was before was largely intact, and the pain was fading.

Nevertheless, being alive wasn’t the outcome I had expected. The road to recovery seemed long, and I’d have to relearn how to walk. But the optimism persisted. The fall had brought me back to my family and gave me a second shot at life. Maybe I could take it. Maybe I could face what had led me to jump and change it for the better.

The Recovery

After a five-week stay at two hospitals, I’m now recovering back at home. I’m under the care of my partner, who is helping me stay safe, healthy, and sane.

I can’t do many things on my own now. I urinate into a plastic container. I’m bed-bound while dozens of steel plates buried in my flesh help heal many bone fractures. This will likely be my life for some time.

And yet, more now than ever, I consider myself lucky. I’m grateful to those who mended me. I’m thankful to my friends, family, and partner, who have reminded me of their warmth and compassion. And I’m eager for what’s to come.

Photo by Lane Smith on Unsplash

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4 Responses

  1. larry says:

    Thank you for so eloquently putting your feelings out here for all of us to read. I wish I had the words to express my gratitude that you are both alive, and feeling better. All I keep doing is hitting back space so I’ll leave you with I love you so much!! Get better Stef!!

  2. Bennett Taylor says:

    Hey, this was an enlightening post. I had a lot of questions about all this but it felt like I tough thing to ask. I was worried lots of people were having you explain yourself for why you went and did this. So I’m glad you’ve shared here how you were feeling. I’m still curious of some things still, but maybe thats something for future conversations. And thats something I’m especially glad of. That there WILL be future conversations. Imagining a world without you in it was heartbreaking. I’m so glad that you’re still here and with us and still sharing. I love you!

    • Stefan says:

      Thanks, man! For future reference, I intend to be an open book about the whole thing. Love you too.