Translation advised by Sean C
...Continued from Round 3
Chased by the Bubble
“If I start to work for a company, I won’t have my life anymore”
That was how I felt, so I didn’t graduate and instead chose to stay in university. But I was only allowed to stay for two more years. After that, I would lose my social status of “student”. Which meant that I would no longer have a place in the world.
I overheard another hikikomori mentioning quite recently (long after my university years), “I used to think ‘If I can’t be a full-time working regular employee, I won’t be qualified to live as a human”.
My worldview in those days was fairly close.
In 1986 we had not yet used the Japanese-made English word “freeter（フリーター）”, meaning “free-time jobber”, “temporary employee” or “A person who survives through irregular employment”. People took it for granted to think that when they started to work in a good company, it would be the lifetime employment, and they designed life based on that.
I couldn’t find any precedent in the form of someone who lived without being permanently employed by a company, nor was there anyone advancing to a graduate school career. I was immature, my world was narrow, and my mind was rigid. So I did not have the capacity or the energy to cultivate a new field of life by myself.
A compassionate friend of mine got worried about me and took me to a mental clinic. There, I was diagnosed with "depression".
The word "depression" was too commonly known in Japanese society, so I had heard of it many times, but I did not know what exactly it meant until that time.
However, just by my knowing that I was "depressed" nothing was improved. At the mental clinic I was constantly prescribed a mountain of meds, which I sometimes did not consume but had to pay for nonetheless from my small amount of funds.
Every time I took the meds everything felt blurry, and I was not able to do anything all day. Regardless of whether I took them, I was in the same condition: unable to do anything for the day.
"If I spend every day like this, my savings will run out and I will starve to death."
I never thought of asking my parents for help.
My parents were my enemies. I would be defeated by my mother if I showed my weaknesses to her. If I owed something to my parents from this kind of occasion, I could never imagine what kind of terrible things my mother would repeat to me for the rest of my life.
Thus, I faced a dead end.
So, I thought of dying.
I planned to terminate my life before I was kicked out of university.
What is the Guaranteed Way to Die?
"If you try to commit suicide, you cannot fail."
That was my principle. If I failed, I could not imagine how furiously my mother would continue to blame me. She blamed me endlessly for the same issues. To avoid this, I looked for the perfect way to die.
The controversial book "The Complete Suicide Manual" had not yet been published; it would come out in 1993.
At that time, I had only one book about the methods for suicide on my bookshelf. I can’t even remember the title. All I remember is that it was written by a young French philosopher and it was about the freedom to commit suicide. It posed the following as a method to commit suicide perfectly and without failure.
You should reserve a room for two nights at an ultra-famous high-class hotel beforehand. Check in there with advance payment. Put the tag "Do Not Disturb" on the outside of the door, and take more than one of the following medications up to the fatal dose.
I suppose the reason it had to be an ultra-famous high-class hotel was probably because such hotels were accustomed to dealing with problems.
Several kinds of medications were listed in the passage.
I discovered that one of them was the medication I was being prescribed by my psychiatrist.
"I see! If I take this a lot, then I can accomplish my aim"
I felt a light, that was similar to a hope, coming into view.
Saving Medicine on the Path
The fatal dose was a fair amount. I kept going to the mental clinic every week for months, and never took the prescribed medicines. I saved them all like treasures.
"Most of the guys committing suicide end up failing because they usually try it impulsively, like hanging themselves without full preparation or jumping from windows suddenly. I will do it systematically on a steady basis, so I will never fail."
I was so convinced. I could not wait for the day when the fatal dose of meds would accumulate, like a young man waiting for the birth of his own baby.
When the fatal dose was nearly accumulated, I realized it was time to reserve the place for my suicide. According to the manual I was supposed to take a reservation for a luxury hotel for 3 days, which looked impossible.
Since I was a poor student, the luxury hotel existed outside of my living world. I had heard some of their names, like the Imperial Hotel or Hotel New Otani. But for me these were almost fictitious places like Xanadu. I had never even stepped into those luminous and solemn territories.
It was an extremely difficult task for a young guy with excessive self-consciousness. I was afraid of people and society, and I was unfamiliar with high-class city-life. How could I make a reservation at such a place? Nowadays you only have to click a few buttons to reserve a hotel room, but you had to make a phone call in those days.
Unable to Make A Call
I was naturally bad on the phone; that is, speaking to someone without seeing them face to face. The tendency to shy away from the telephone was especially heightened because the depression exacerbated my fear of other people. My mind was occupied by fears and tensions, so the delusion grew rapidly and steadily in this way.
“If I make a call, the person answering will be the hotel receptionist in charge of reservations, who must be a young lady, perhaps around the same age as me. Since she got a job at such a gorgeous hotel, she must be a very excellent girl.
What would she think of me? Maybe I will be confused in my speech, enough to utter many many unnecessary things. She must be used to dealing with various sorts of people, so she will immediately get to know that I am an uncool, unstylish, and unsophisticated guy who doesn’t even know how to make a reservation at an expensive hotel. It is a shame. It's a tremendous shame. She will despise me.
When asked, should I tell her my real name? It won't be a good idea. It is dangerous if only the enemy knows my real name. Keep it a pseudonym. But will she notice it is a pseudonym because of my trembling tone? Then isn't it safer to tell her my real name?
If I sound too suspicious, wouldn't she sense something? "Oh, this guy is dubious. He may be causing a trouble here." Then she may report it to the police immediately….”
My delusions did not stop. While I could not make a single call, I had already accumulated enough medication for the fatal dose. The fact that I had not yet secured the right place put an increasingly urgent burden onto me.
In those days there were no cell-phones, and we were using black fixed telephone machines. I sat in front of it and tried every day. I picked up the receiver, made myself get ready to start, tried to dial the number of the Imperial Hotel, hesitated, got annoyed with myself, and growled and groaned. That was how the days had passed.
Eventually, I hung my head.
"No, I cannot die in Japan."
I thought I would have to find a country overseas in which to die safely.
I thought I might go to Africa.
...Continued to Round 5
…To the Japanese Version of this article
...To the Mandarin Version of this artcile