After I had cooked dinner, made a blackberry cobbler and sent my girlfriend off with her best friend for the evening, it was time.
All of my life, my mother had kept the pistol in the cupboard by the back door. Behind the plastic cereal container. To the right. On the top shelf.
My hand searched. Reached back. Nope, it's gone. She must have moved it. That's what I get for going off to college. She moves the one thing I need right now.
I'm going for the quickest way possible. Finish this off. Right now. But the damn gun is gone.
I wonder how many sleeping pills I can find. Perfect. Daddy just had his prescription refilled and there are 30 in the bottle. Diazepam. Not as fast, but I can Marilyn it up and get the job done.
I'm 25 years old and it's the Fourth of July. To say that things aren't going my way is a phenomenal understatement. My girlfriend and I are on the verge of calling it quits. I have no clue what to do with my life after another semester in the Clinical Psychology Master's Program. And I work for some very bad people. Very bad.
I got a phone call yesterday telling me that if I talked, there wouldn't be enough room in this town for me. He knows that I know. Sean would kill him for scaring me that way, but Harry is scared. Scared that I'll talk and everyone will go away to prison. I'm scared, too. But Sean always told me, "Knowledge is power, as long as you keep your mouth shut." I plan on keeping my power.
So I won't talk. Anymore. Ever.
I'm tired of all of it. Life. Love. School. Everything. I'm just going through the motions of living. I'm existing. Doing the bare minimum to get through this time in my life. But I can't try anymore. I just don't want to.
It has been a couple of years coming. Things have gotten worse and worse. It seems as though there is no way out of any of it. No light at the end of my tunnel. I have taken it and taken it and taken it until I am full of hopelessness and agony and I can't stand one more day on this planet. I don't care where I go, I just don't want to be HERE anymore. Don't want to live MY life anymore. Don't want to be ME anymore.
I have great friends in the Clinical Psy program with me and they know I'm down. We talk about it. And I let them think they help. My girlfriend, Diane doesn't know what to do besides love me. And frankly, it's not enough. I need something more. But I don't know what IT is.
I set the pills down on the kitchen table that I've eaten at since I was 7 and head to the bottom kitchen cabinet by the phone. That's where Mother hides the liquor. There is plenty there since neither of them drink much. It's mostly for friends and holidays. I find a quart mason jar of shimmery clear liquid. Welcome to the South. A quart of moonshine makes a great gift.
I remember that it's the Fourth of July. Just 15 years prior, when I was ten, I was baptized into the local Baptist church. I was saved and I'll die on the same day.
Damn, it's like jet fuel. I take the pills in three swallows and force the rest of the moonshine down. I'm drunk before I even finish the moonshine. I throw my head back to get the last drop and set the jar down, "Ok God. Let's see you get me out of this." I know it can't be done. I've taken enough moonshine to prevent me from asking for help and the pills will finish me off. Silly to even say that. But I want the last word. God surely isn't going to have it.
I sit down in the easy chair that my Mother watches TV in to let things take their course. I know she'll be sad. I'm her only child. But at the same time, other memories rush forth. Asking her to play and being refused because her "show" is on. Being whipped too hard. Desperately wanting to be understood. Always feeling like the black sheep. I close my eyes and know it will only be a moment.
The phone rings. In my drunken stupor, I answer it as it's sitting right beside me. It's Suz, an ex girlfriend. Her girlfriend is a nurse and they are my best buddies. I'd told her that I was going to be out of town this weekend, why is she calling me. And here? Why's she calling me here?
I don't even know what I'm saying. Just answering and being polite. She knows something's wrong. Shit. She gives the phone to her girlfriend, Kim. I ask if she knows what diazepam is and she does.
That's the last thing I remember.
Through my hazy eyes, I see a firefighter. He's over me. Busy. Much later, I see him again. I'm in an emergency room. On a hard bed. He asks, "Boyfriend troubles?" I shake my head no as tears roll down the sides of my face. "Girlfriend?" I nod. My heart sinks a little lower as I realize that I've failed. I'm still here.
A nurse stomps in rushing around and hands me a bottle of something. Says that I must drink it. It will taste awful. But it must be done. It's charcoal to absorb what's in my stomach. What I PUT in there to get rid of me. It's like drinking mud. Undoing mud of what I've done. But I do it because she told me to. I've always tried to be good.
This is not what I wanted. The nurse thinks that I wanted attention. That I was crying out for help. I wasn't. I didn't want any more help. I didn't want attention from anyone. I just wanted a way to go. To be gone. To finally wither inward into nothingness.
She treats me as if I've personally offended her. Nothing nice comes from her in word or deed. She's made her point. I'm an inconvenience. She forces the tube down my throat to suck out the contents of my stomach. I feel the suction on the inside of me. It feels like a forced vomit. But the tube prevents the awful taste of it.
I'm so sorry. So very, very sorry. Not for what I did. But that it didn't work. I'm sorry that I'm still here and that I'm her problem.
Then I'm gone again.
There's a bathroom chair right beside me and as I open my eyes I know that I need it. Close. The Undoing mud is coming out of me. Rushing out of me. And will for the next 12 hours.
My nurse is the most angelic woman I have ever met. She's as heavenly as the ER nurse was hellish. Nothing but kindness and empathy. She looks at me and says, "You didn't mean to be here, did you?" I have no words. Just more tears as I shake my head no.
I'm in a private room in the Intensive Care Unit with my very own angel. Tubes and wires snake around me preventing me from moving without her. I look up and see the number 38 on the monitor. The number that she's keeping an eye on. I know that whatever it means, it's way too low to be good.
I spend hours coming into consciousness and going to the bathroom chair. Every time I need her, she magically appears. Helps me. Is never rushed or angry. It's as if I'm the only thing she has to do.
I haven't seen anyone I know but my angel. I don't even wonder about anyone else. The peace of this place and the drugs to calm me are doing their tricks. My number is starting to go up and I know that's a good thing.
I feel saved. Safe. For the first time in a long, long time.
Things start to clear up and the reality starts to hit me. I didn't die. How the hell am I still here? I remember that my Aunt Gladys was in the ER with me. She was going to call my parents who were out of town for the holiday with the rest of my family. That means everyone knows. They'll all think that I am one of those weak people who just want attention. Who put themselves in a situation so that everyone must be focused upon them.
They walk in and I feel like their child again. I'm her baby. Her only child. I can tell it's breaking her heart to see me like this. I see the pain and guilt in their faces. What ifs float above their heads and swirl around the room silently.
They smile through their sadness and ask me how I'm feeling. I still have no words, only tears. They can only stay a few minutes. I need my rest. Just seeing them makes me tired. The angel asks them to leave.
Later, a lady comes in. She wants to talk and asks if I feel up to it. She's evaluating me. Seeing if I know what day it is, who the president is. She says that I can choose to stay if I want to. That no one will know I am here. I will be invisible to the world. She thinks four days would be a good stay. But it's up to me. I will be admitting myself. No one's committing me. My choice.
I say yes. But not for why she thinks.
You won't tell anyone?
No. No one.
I make a list of people that I want to know that I am here. She begins the list. Parents? Yes. Aunt Gladys? Yes. Anyone else? My family. Is that it? Yep. Your ex girlfriend? No. Boss? No. Friends? No.
If anyone else calls, they'll tell them that I am not here. I'm not in this hospital. I disappear. The funny thing is, that's what I have been wanting to do for a long time now. I just didn't know that there was another way besides dying.
I was brought up to care how other people felt. But right now, I don't. I only care how I feel. What I want. Right now, I want to hide and feel safe. Heal. Recover. Not care. Be dependent.
The nurse brings a bag of my things. I guess my Mother got them together for me. She's so thoughtful. Everything that I would need for a vacation is packed for me.
I'm in my sweats following down the corridors of the hospital to huge, double green doors. They are secured. We are let in. She tells me again. No one will come through these doors that is not on your list. No one.
She also tells me that they're only locked from the inside. I can leave if I want. I am not a prisoner. I am here of my own volition.
The Psych nurse asks for my bag. She needs to check it for things that can't be on this wing. She removes my fingernail polish. Someone could try to drink it. No hairdryers. Someone could electrocute themselves. My nail file. Someone could stab themselves.
I explain that I'm feeling better. But it's not about me. It's about all of us. We're all on suicide watch. She takes damn near everything that I have. The nail file. My curling iron. I'm going to look like hell.
They ask if I want to be in a room with someone or alone. Alone, please. I'm not in the mood for conversation or company. I don't feel like making nice. I just want to be. Breathe. Not worry. Not look over my shoulder for who could be following me. Not wonder if the FBI is going to question me again.
It's late. I use the soap that comes with my bathroom and lie down. I'm tired. I've put myself through a lot. But I'm feeling better. Until I hear the screams. People rush down the corridor to her room. Someone cracks the door to check on me. I'm okay. They're helping her. She's crying now and I can hear all of it muffled. More screams come. More checking on me. They know that it's unnerving to the rest of us, so they move her somewhere more secure.
I sleep soundly for the first time in a long time. Safely locked behind the green doors of the crazy wing.
"Tell me about the events that led up to you attempting suicide."
I elaborate. I tell someone for the first time. I tell him everything. About how I know too much. About how scared I am. About how I was almost pulled into an elaborate scheme that would have put me in prison, too. People around me went. They spared me. Lied. Said I knew nothing.
"I can see how you thought that suicide would be your only way out. I'm not going to prescribe any medications. I don't think you're clinically depressed. I think what was going on was entirely situational. As a matter of fact, I might consider the same thing under those circumstances."
I didn't expect such understanding from a psychiatrist. I thought maybe I had overreacted. It feels good to be understood. For someone else to validate my feelings.
I head back to my room without any drugs. It's nice to talk to someone who can't repeat anything I've said to him. It feels good to just say it all. Get it out in the open.
I spend four days going to group therapy, individual therapy and finally therapy with my parents. I tell them with my own voice that I'm a lesbian. And now they know. For sure.
I leave this place with feelings that I haven't felt in years. I feel joyful. Happy to be alive. Hopeful. Light-hearted. Happy. Loved. Understood.
Recently, I spoke with someone that is very down. I wrote this for her. So that she can see that there is light. You can get help. If the therapist who is supposed to be helping you right now isn't, you can find another therapist. Keep looking. Go right now. It's okay if you go through 42 different therapists as long as you find the right one that will help you. Don't worry about hurting THEIR feelings. Screw 'em. You do what's right for you.
Listen to me...there is hope. Your life can be so different in a month that it would be impossible for you to believe.
After I started writing this, someone else came up. She had been on the other side. We both thought the other couldn't understand our perspective. I hope that I've given her mine. I would love to hear her side. If she ever decides to talk or write about it. I, for one, would love to know her story.
Trust me when I say that writing this was difficult. I've never told this story in this much detail. I've told it, briefly. But never with the feelings. I've brushed it off as something that happened years ago. That I'd gotten past. And I have. It is in the past. But if bringing it up again helped either of them or another person reading it, then it was worth the tears that I've shed over the past few days as I revisted my 25 year old self.
I know that I didn't tell you everything. I can't. I don't know who reads this. And knowledge is still my power. I'm keeping my mouth shut.
In case you're wondering, not once since that time have I ever tried suicide again. It has crossed my mind. But that is a totally different place than doing it. I hope you understand. You never know when you might use what you've learned here. Keep it in the back of your mind. Somebody...somewhere might need you to help them. To show them where they can get help.
If you're feeling like suicide might be the answer. Don't do it. Get help.
Friday, January 18, 2008
After I had cooked dinner, made a blackberry cobbler and sent my girlfriend off with her best friend for the evening, it was time.