mwendawazimu (Swahili)

Plan One: I’m in the middle of the country – trees, farmland and woodland all around. I ‘ll get a knife from the kitchen and I’ll walk through the fields and into a copse (just the word copse seems to suggest suicide). I’ll hide in the undergrowth, crawl down into a hidden space and then I’ll use the knife. I get as far as the kitchen, one day when I think no-one’s around, and then I hear movement. Scared that someone will see me in the state I’m in, crying for the whole 5 hours I’ve been alone, I abandon the knife and flee. Failure One. After, I think it’s unfair that someone might find me, possibly weeks afterwards, and have to deal with that. After, I think it’s unfair if no one finds me. How would my parents deal with that? I make a new plan.

Plan Two: I’ve left the countryside. The anonymity of London is better. I check into a hotel. I organise myself. All my bags neat and packed. I’ll sort out some decent clothes and put on some make up. I make sure my hair is dyed and everything’s tidy. I don’t know why these things are important but they are. I plan to do a tour of the chemists’ and stock up. Bottle of wine, pills, plastic bag over the head. I’ll do it in the shower and leave a note on the ensuite bathroom door with an explanation and a suggestion to call 999 so any cleaner who comes along doesn’t come in and doesn’t have to see me. I get to the point where I only have to buy the pills and then a friend contacts me and we make plans and we fill the time and then I leave the anonymity. Failure Two. I actually owe someone my life. I wonder if I’ll ever tell him.

Plan Three: pills and wine. How unoriginal. My body rebels, throws them all up. I’m too tired to try again. Plus I have no pills or wine left. Failure Three.

Plan Four: razor + wrists. What can go wrong? Nothing except cowardice and incompetence. It’s harder than it looks in the films. A few thin lines and a pathetic trickle of blood. Failure Four.

Plan Five/Six.. I decide the best way is to make it look like an accident. Then perhaps the guilt won’t hold me back. I can’t decide: wander into the sea for a swim and get out of my depth or head into the mountains in adequate clothing and wait for hypothermia to get me? I do neither. Failure Five/Six

And lots of ideas since then – over and over again, trying to find the most effective way that causes the least pain. I know that most people won’t care (I know that most people won’t notice); I know a few people will be temporarily shocked or even saddened and then will move on. But I know my parents will be shocked and devastated and that’s what holds me back. I haven’t made any attempts or failures for over 6 months, which is something. But I can’t say I don’t think about it and I can’t say I haven’t made plans.

The goodbye notes I wrote a year ago remain ready to send and on lonely nights like tonight, I think about them and think about failures one to six.


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