On November 10, 2015, Daniel Fleetwood, succumbed to cancer. He recently trended on the Internet when his wife made a desperate plea so that Daniel could get his dying wish – to watch Star Wars the Force Awakens before its December screening. He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and he was holding on long enough to at least watch the latest installment of the saga. The hashtag #TheForceForDaniel soon was making its rounds on the Web and was picked up by major news outlets, and eventually, the news was heard by J.J. Abrams, the director of the new Star Wars movie, and the powers that be in Disney. A few days before his death, Daniel got his wish and he and his wife got to watch an unedited version of the film, a bittersweet ending to this story.
It reminded of my own story but my circumstances are vastly different. If you have been reading my blog you would have read somewhere that I am manic-depressive. To be diagnosed as such, you have to at least one manic episode and at least one episode of depression. If you have read along those lines, you would have figured out that I am suicidal (surprise!), at least part of the time. If you knew me in real life, you would be surprised at this statement. There is nothing that should be making me feel this way. I am generally described as a funny, outgoing person. I was the clown, but they say that saddest faces hide behind the painted smiles.
My first suicide attempt happened when I was 18 years old. In my second year of college, I was kicked out of UP Diliman. I was not going to any of my classes so my professors had to fail me. I did not know why I was not going to classes. The idea just seized me and I ran with it. I realized now that this was what mania was all about – you lived in a world where the rules do not matter anymore.
When I failed, I pretended to go to school. I would ride buses all day and return at night. I would spend hours in Powerbooks and just read and read. When it became apparent that I could not pretend anymore, I tried to kill myself. I locked myself up in a room and I had a cutter in my hand. I tried slashing my wrists. I could not do it, I just made dull scratches on my arms. I did not know if this was cowardice or a lack of conviction but something stopped me that day. You know what it was? I remembered that Lord of the Rings was coming out. What saved me was a superficial desire to watch a movie about a book that I loved as a kid. I cried all night after that and I owned up to my parents. I went through counselling, transferred schools and graduated with honors. I started serving the Church. Of course, I watched all three Lord of the Rings movies.
My disease lingered throughout all those years and I had a few minor episodes here and there, nervous breakdowns that I just could not control. I did not know why I experienced so many highs and lows. It all came to a head a month ago. The stress at work had gotten to me and some terrible idea in my head crept in that I had to kill myself. So I got myself four vials of insulin and 50 tablets of metformin. I locked myself in a restroom and injected myself and swallowed all the pills.
I thought what would happen was I would fall asleep and never wake up again. I was so wrong. A little research would have told me what would happen if my blood glucose went too low. Convulsions. Violent convulsions. You did not die immediately. Instead of dying peacefully, I chose an excruciating way to die.
I got myself to a hospital and the rest is documented here in this blog. I recovered of course and I learned from my psychiatrist that I am bipolar. Manic-depressive.
Daniel Fleetwood’s story reminded me about myself. Although the gravity of our diseases are very different, my disease still kills nonetheless. Daniel clung on to life because he wanted to watch the latest Stars Wars film, back then I clung on to life because I wanted to see Lord of the Rings. The worlds of the Empire and the Rebellion, of Jedi and Sith, made Daniel forget that he was dying, as my fascination for Middle-Earth did for me.
Now, what makes me clutch at life is writing. This blog has given me the opportunity to express myself in ways I cannot do in the real world. In a way, I must thank all of you who have been with me for the past few months. By being with me on this journey, you have saved me. Thank you all.