Suicide watch: support the Polarised Project

Charlie Smoke

Charlie Smoke is a queer writer and activist living in North London. Between bouts of duvet dwelling (depression) and 48 hour parties (mania), he's working on his first book, various projects, attempting to smash all sorts of oppressive tomfoolery and, allegedly, a degree. He likes Sylvia Plath and Jack Kerouac. A lot. @charliesmoke91

Depression is a cancer inside you. Lapping against the shores of yourself like an oil slick, it ferments, bubbling and stewing – awaiting its moment to erupt.

I always miss its outbreak by at least a day, putting the rumble of the dark liquid down to anything but its true source. I hope it’s simply a wobble, rather than a another bought of numbing emptiness. I retreat into my duvet to wait it out, clutching myself.

That retreat happened weeks ago. There were moments of brief reprieve, sudden explosions of light, but they have all but died away now.

I have been languishing in my covers now for days, rotting into them. I’m glued to the cheap cotton by cigarette ash and sweat.

And I hear it:

Cancer. You’ve got cancer.  You are cancer.

The idea pinballs around my head. There is nothing else to it. This is the end.

The knife I stashed away in my drawer is blunt, but I precede anyway, thrusting it deep into my skin, carving the word FILTH into my forearm. The blade shunts my sinews around as it knocks against my bone, it tears my skin as I bring it out, protracting the withdrawal, relishing in the pain. I turn the blade to the veins on my wrist, jabbing quickly, decimating the skin but missing my target.

There is a bottle of whiskey stashed under my pillow which I crack open and pour down my throat.

I head for the stacks of tablets. The green and yellow of my antidepressants sit garishly against the pink of my mood stabilisers. Sleeping tablets lie with anti-anxiety medication on a bed of paracetamol and ibuprofen.

I scoop them up, handfuls at a time and thrust them down my throat. The bottle of whiskey in my hand has transformed into a bottle of bleach. I lost control hours ago. Huge gulps of the stuff follow the tablets down my throat, overwhelming my sinuses’ with chlorine fumes.

I look back into my hand and the bleach is empty. The world spins faster around me and the minutes blur into each other as my stomach unfolds itself onto my lap. Huge spurts of bile coat the laminate around me, pooling in the unevenness of the dilapidated floor. Small clusters of half digested tablets clutch to each other, floating in the liquid misery. I pick them up and force them back down my throat, like a desperate dehydrated man at an oasis.

…blackness…

I wake up, feet away from a pool of vomit and blood. Cuts and slices spread out across my body, transforming it into a lattice panel. I manage to stand and stumble towards the bathroom.

In front of me, inside the mirror, a ghost stands. The spectre looks decidedly like me, but grey as a cadaver, and with a detached look cast across their face like a shadow. Chalky white sick has congealed on their neck, around the hack job cuts that have narrowly avoided their jugular.

Dried blood is smeared up my arms, and there is a trail through the flat. A smeared fingertip here, a pool there, a paint by numbers summary of attempt number 3.

I remember wanting to cut off my hair, to jump out of the window, to hang myself from the flimsy light fixture – anything to try and stop the pain.


In a 2012 survey, it was reported that 6% of gay and bisexual men have attempted suicide, as opposed to less than 1% of heterosexual men – making young GBQ men at least 6 times more likely to attempt than their heterosexual counterparts.

It’s the stories of these people, and the thousands of others young LGBTQ people that have been lost behind the glitter encrusted veil of same-sex marriage. The matching hers and hers bathroom sets conceal the knives we use to cut ourselves, and the pills we use to keep ourselves afloat. The flashes of the paparazzi desperate to get a photo of the first marriage blot out the young person behind, camping out in a cardboard box, destitute, alone and homeless.

The Polarised Project is a documentary that I am involved in making that is looking to tell these stories. We want to explore what it means to be LGBTQ and mentally ill in 2014 and to make ourselves visible.

If you want to find out more, or help us raise the money we need to make polarised a reality, visit our indiegogo page.

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