Dorothy was right.

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

“Resume,” Dorothy Parker

Growing old sucks.

This thought intrudes into my consciousness right now because I have hurt my hip. I’m not sure exactly how, but I think it was related to me in a fit of spring fever mowing the lawn a couple of weeks ago, instead of nagging Railfan to do it. (Northern California seems to have skipped winter this year.) The hip hurts to the point of tears. I am breaking down and seeing the doctor, after minimizing medical appointments due to COVID-19.

I’m not old by many measures. And I feel as though I stopped getting older at the age forty. Due to mental illness, I never expected to live past then. I felt it was a pretty good bet that, if I didn’t die from outside forces (car accident, flu, etc.), in the depths of depression I would slit my wrists or take a bottle of Klonopin washed down with Cuban rum.

As some point when my children were young, suicide turned into an ethically insupportable choice. I had a social worker baldly state the grim statistics for suicide among children of maternal suicides. “Do you really want to do that to your children?” she demanded. All I could do was shake my head. “You need to find a reason to live for yourself, but in the meantime, I’ll take it,” she continued gently.

All during my children’s childhood, whenever I thought of self-harm, I would chant to myself, “Suicide is not an option.” When they grew up things were trickier, but by that time I had entered into a “Cooperative Care Contract” with my family. On page three, among other clauses about taking care of myself and seeking help, in 36-point bolded type is “If I am a danger to myself or others, I will contact my doctors or go to the emergency room.”

It helped that a) I have a sense of responsibility to others, and b) Railfan is, ahem, a rail fan. He explained to me that engineers who are driving trains that run over people suffer from severe PTSD. I to thought about the effect my death on other people: the bus driver who would run over me, the EMT that would have to resuscitate me, basically every person who might have to deal with my body after I killed myself. Not a pleasant thought. I would never want people – my family or anyone else – to suffer emotional pain on my behalf. Not to mention that I had signed a contract, right? I try not to think of the lack of enforcement mechanisms.

Oddly, I fear death now. Life has a lot of problems, and the world s a scary, scary, place, but most days I can find something good.  So here I am, well past 40, dealing with all the issues resulting from aging. I even find myself grumbling about “kids today” occasionally. Growing older sucks.

But, as Maurice Chevalier said, it’s not so bad when you consider the alternative.

This entry was posted in Health, My life and times, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

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