9.26.2013

Thoughts on Suicide: Part Two - Celebrating Life

Precisely a year ago, I was sitting in a Starbucks a block away from my dingy one-bedroom apartment. We had no WiFi in our cramped residence and I "needed" to do my daily routine of checking trivial news sites and social networks. I wanted an analysis of Sunday's NFL games. What Magic the Gathering cards were going up in price? Which one of my favorite bands would be releasing new music soon?

Somewhere between all that nonsense, I decided to lazily kill a few minutes browsing the world's most polarizing social network monstrosity - Facebook. Before I mention what happened, I've a few questions for you.

How many of you have had a significant other? Good, that's easy. How many of you have broken up with that significant other? It's rough, but probably many of us have. How many of you have gone through the process of blocking them/un-friending them on Facebook? Silly, but we need to protect ourselves.

Now, the embarrassing question: after the breakup, how many of you are guilty of checking/creeping/stalking that former significant other on Facebook? You wonder if they are having a good time. You flip through their pictures to see all of the exciting things they are doing without you. You may resent them for seeming happy while you pine away in misery. Of course, you check every status update and every photo for an unfamiliar face or name, one whose smiles and hands encroach upon the person you so dearly held once. Maybe you're happy for them, but I'd wager that many of you weren't.

I wasn't.

Why we do things like this to ourselves is beyond me. We all want to be cherished by someone else, but it seems we are addicted to our own destruction when it comes to certain relationships. We stand at the door, the keys in our sweaty hands, knowing that what lies on the other side will hurt us more than standing on the outside. Despite that, we turn the keys. Of course, they are a perfect fit, but it takes us several attempts to unlock the door. Perhaps we drop them or put them in upside down. In the end, we'll finally hear the clicking of the lock, followed by our frantic entrance.

I've been at this crossroads many times, and I can't remember a time where I chose to hold back, take a deep breath, and walk away from discovering something that I have no business knowing about because it would hurt more to know than to not know.

I made this mistake on this day a year ago, and being the fragile human that I am, I decided to go through all the stages of an inappropriate emotional response. I couldn't stop looking at the pictures and stories of someone I once loved as they featured new characters that were unknown to me and ignorant of my role in the story they were now taking over. This led to frustration, grief, and eventually a manic mindset. It took me less than five minutes to make the decision to click open a new tab in my browser and immediately buy plane tickets to go and see this person. I'd confront them and they'd see that I still meant something to them. They'd see that these new characters in their life were characters that could only play minor roles. No one could intrude upon our story. No one.

I'm the king of making knee-jerk decisions in the heat of being emotionally overwhelmed, and this was no exception. However, it only took me a matter of hours to realize what I had done. It was wrong, and it would never amount to anything. A frantic gesture like that would not explain anything to anybody. If anything, it'd further cement the fact that my role in another's life was over because of these very same things. I decided I wouldn't go through with it. I'd forgo the trip and embarrassment of making yet another impulsive decision. I was down several hundred dollars, but that was a welcome price to pay as opposed to what would await me on the tail end of that long plane ride.

So I thought, Instead of going through with this, I'll just kill myself.

Being no stranger to suicide attempts, I felt that this time would be different. My previous foray into this field of surrender was much a product of the same circumstances, but was more a result of despair, lack of motivation, and the crushing weight of inadequacy. This, coupled with the combustible condition of my emotionally exhausted heart, helped spur the decision to want to die. Two Wolfgang Puck knives resulted in the longest night of my life, followed by a week-long stay in the scariest place I've ever been in, and a diagnosis that made far too much sense, with the pills to prove it.

I didn't want to mess this one up. I wanted to go out as calmly as possible. I wouldn't surrender to the weakness of my heart. No, I'd resign myself to my fate, as a general surveying his army in the face of insurmountable odds would. A silly metaphor, but an accurate description of my mental state. Much like a prisoner enjoying his last meal, I bought an unhealthy brand of cereal, eating a huge bowl of it alone in my apartment while watching The Men Who Stare At Goats. I'd enjoy this last little bit as much as I could, so I figured some good food and a comedy would do the trick. Of course, I grew impatient. I left the film unfinished and packed up my belongings - a box of Teddy Grams for snacking through the final moments, a ripped out page from David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, and a bottle of antidepressants that would hopefully see me through to the other side - and set off for the hospital.

Why would a person ready to end their life go to the hospital to do it? I had the perfect setting for it - a lonely apartment devoid of any emotional attachment. I knew the answer then and I know the answer now. As much as I wanted to be done with my shortcomings, I wanted someone to save me. I wanted someone to talk me out of it. Even with the resolve I had, hidden deep within me was that fierce and natural instinct to want to survive.

I didn't think much of it as I swallowed twenty five pills and wandered the parking lot of the ER. Once I started to lose control of my legs, I went into the waiting room, attempting to hide in a corridor between the check-in desk and the seating area. I kept walking to the bathroom to see if my face looked any worse than it did five minutes ago. It always did.

Eventually, it was all I could do to lean against the wall and fight through the convulsions that were racking through my body, dulling out my motor skills and piercing through every fevered breath. It won't be much longer now, I had hoped.

Still, the desire to want to live kept fighting against the will to die. My thoughts had taken on a split narrative; I had done everything necessary to achieve my goal, but I had gone to a place where I was the least likely to succeed.

Nurses and other people were starting to notice me. I averted my heavily dilated eyes.

The survival instinct eventually won out, sealing my fate as a coward again. For the second time in as many years, I couldn't end it.

What followed was another long night. The tears I hadn't shed a year ago came out in a hospital room, but a different one. The nurses gave me a substance called charcoal - which is the most vile thing I've ever ingested - to counteract the pills and get them out of my system. My body hated me, but my mind hated me more.

I wasn't able to call my mom until much later that night from the overnight ward where I'd be staying. She had no clue as to the events that had transpired. That was one of the hardest phone calls I've ever had to make. Can you imagine answering the phone call of a loved one to hear them tell you this: Yeah, I tried to kill myself again. No, it didn't work...again. I'm in a safe place but I have to put my phone away. I'm ok now. I'll call you when they give me my phone back - and then hang up?

Kids, don't ever do that to your parents.

Upon my release, it obviously took a while to stabilize. Friends who were mostly unaware of my mental state had to endure long explanations. Employers who had called as to my whereabouts were filled in. I had to file a claim with the airline company, having my PCP sign documents stating that I wasn't "mentally fit" for flight so I could be compensated. My family braced for the all-too-familiar speeches of shame I had given them a year ago.

You know what is lost in the majority of this narrative? Hope. There's not much good about what happened, but what little good there was I remember well. For example, referencing my previous paragraph, I was reminded again and again of the good that can come from people. Two of my good friends who were largely unaware of my condition answered my phone call upon my release. I was stranded in a city twenty minutes north of my home and I needed someone to pick me up. They came, no questions asked. They stayed with me the rest of the day. The family I worked for (I worked as a nanny and still do) were completely understanding. They cared nothing of the days I missed and repeatedly asked if I was ok. They gave me all the time I needed to gather myself before coming back to work, inviting me over to dinner to talk more at length about the events. My dad paid for my mom to fly up here for a week and help me gain some solid footing. She drove all over the county with me that week to help me find counselors and solutions that would benefit my health.

I know that several of my posts may come across as melodramatic and/or preachy. The redundant themes of depression and suicide are heavily prevalent in this blog. I know that this might seem like an artificial entry because I spent 95% of it detailing gloomy and morose topics followed by a weak deus ex machina ending. That could probably be a blurb written about the story of my life, resulting in negative reviews by the critics for being too predictable. For those of you who have lived through similar events, it's anything but predictable.

Today, I'm going to get in a car with my girlfriend and some other friends to travel 12 hours to northern California. We are going to witness two of our friends get married this weekend. It's going to be a long ride, but well worth it. A year ago, I wouldn't have possibly imagined that I'd be able to do something like this. I didn't think I'd have the type of friends who'd invite me to their wedding. Fun fact, the groom is one of the two people who picked me up from the ward I stayed in after calling for a ride last year. I didn't think that a shipwreck like me would find myself cared for to the point where a significant other would want to spend 12 hours with me anywhere. But those things happened, predictable or not.

Hey, people love you. It may not seem like it, but if one or two people can put up with me after all the absolute insanity I've put them through over the years, then I'll be damned if there isn't a person that doesn't wake up thinking about you everyday. I don't know you, but I know that that's true.

I apologize for the seemingly anticlimactic ending to this post, but as the person living the story behind these words, I've come to accept any ending that brings the least amount of surprise. Surprises should be good, right? It's a surprise that I'm still alive, but I'll no longer be caught off guard by living.

Celebrate life, friends.

JDS



Words: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
Lights: Kirby's Nightmare in Dreamland, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Breath of Fire II
Sounds: Moving Mountains, Balance & Composure, Night Verses, On and On

3 comments:

  1. Hope you enjoy some respite from your thoughts while with friends and celebrating a wedding. You're not alone in wading into the water but your instinct to survive stops you from drowning. Plath did the same. Let's hope neither of us take the same end as she.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the encouraging words. I've no intention of joining her :)

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  2. My husband died by suicide May 30, 2013 ... Your story (although long, lol) was eerily familiar ... I am happy it is so dramatic because to you, probably, and to him for sure, reality in those moments are actually so much worse!
    Please take a look at my blog, taviasbeadifullife.wordpress.com ... I just started it, but I am breaking the silence as well ...
    I will be looking forward to more! I like hearing the other end of it ...

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