Seeking Quiet- Mental Health, Meditation, and How Phillip Marlowe Saved My Life

CW: Talk about suicide, suicidal ideation, and depression.

Eight months ago, alone at work with a heavy to-do list and late in the afternoon, I wanted to end my life.

I was beyond exhausted and frustrated. It was shortly after Passover and I felt lonely, lost, and hopeless. I felt like my career was at a dead end, and I was burning myself out in an increasingly thankless, stressful, and miserable job for no gain. I was drinking too much. I was taking too much caffeine. My relationships with my family were suffering. I felt resentful of everything and everyone.

All my coping mechanisms that had carried me through so much- meditation, exercise, reading, even writing- were failing me. I was sore and exhausted and bored with exercise. My meditation was rote routine and fruitless. Reading was still good, but I had lost the ability to calm down enough to read a paperback. Audiobooks were just entertaining noise in my ears. I was always stressed about the next shift, the next week, the next month, and what new nightmares would be coming down the chute that I would- inevitably- have to handle.

I never had a plan for how I would off myself, but I did debate how to take care of Emily beforehand. How could I quietly empty my bank account into hers to cover as many expenses as possible? How could I redirect bills? Farther and farther, deeper and deeper as I stared into an abyss of tart shells and almond paste.

Then I thought “What the actual fuck am I doing? This is fucked up. I need to pull out of this fast. I need to put something else in my brain.” Fortunately, I had just finished downloading a new Raymond Chandler mystery novel on Libby. I plugged in headphones and finished my shift to the sound of Phillip Marlowe getting his ass kicked by Los Angeles mobsters.

The nadir of my mental health at that point took about ten minutes. I have been an EMT. I have been in car accidents, lost patients, been actively threatened and assaulted by patients, tended to grotesquely injured people, some of whom didn’t survive.

This was the most scared I have ever been in my professional life… and it was because my mind, body, and heart just couldn’t take it anymore.

A pair of bare feet on a narrow plank. Either side indicates the person is standing at a great height.
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