I never tried to hide the fact that I have been suicidal, nor that I have attempted suicide. I don’t shy away from conversations where people say that it’s selfish or unfair of a person to take their own life. I am not going to debate that right now, though. This isn’t about excuses or forgiveness. I speak for myself and only myself. In doing so, I hope that even if no one changes their views, maybe someone at least considers another way to see things. Nothing is as cut and dry as people want it to be.
When I was 27, I moved back in with my family. My mother, brother and sister lived in one house. Next door to us were our ex husbands and ex mother-in-laws. Somewhat strange arrangement. I still just call it the family compound. It was good for my brother and sister, though, as after my mom and dad separated, they didn’t have to go far to travel between households. It is hard to move back in with family as an adult though. No one knows where to draw the lines between roommates and parent/child. It’s messy and frustrating.
My depression worsened severely due to the inability to find a medication that would work decently and the inability to find a doctor I worked well with. I was back off of all of my medications again. This was never a good sign. I still had the random bottle here or there of medications I hadn’t finished, but I wasn’t taking anything regularly.
I was crying often, unable to do much of anything. I had a lot of trouble sleeping, so I would often be up through most of the night. My brother and sister were teenagers. I was thirteen when my brother was born, fifteen when my sister was. They were now at that stage where they were moody, not going to bed on time and not doing what they should around the house. Anyone that has had a teenager or been one knows this stage. Our actions were very similar but the reasons were so far apart.
While depressed, it’s almost impossible to see the good in things, especially yourself. It’s very easy to believe the lies in your own head. Mine told me I was worthless and incapable and a burden to my family. It’s even easier to believe these negative things when someone else says them to you, even if they are said out of frustration during an argument.
My brother stayed up one night watching television in the living room past four am. My mother woke up to get something to drink, saw the TV on and yelled at him to go to bed. The next morning at about nine o’clock, my mother stormed into my room, screaming at me to get out of bed. She ripped the blanket off of me (which felt very demeaning since I sleep naked), and kept yelling. I found out later that she had done a similar thing to my brother just before. I couldn’t understand why she was so angry, but I just tried to get something to wrap around myself. She continued on when I finally emerged into the living room. “It’s your fault they’re like this. You’re setting a bad example. You stay up to all hours. You don’t pull your weight around here. They don’t do anything they’re told to do. You need to set a better example.”
Now, we’ve already covered that this is normal teenaged behavior. We’ve covered that this was said in frustration (please don’t judge my mom on this, we have ALL said things in anger). To me, this was all proof that I was a bad influence on the family. This was proof that I didn’t belong here. This was proof that my mother’s life would be easier if I was gone because my brother and sister would not be seeing my bad behavior. I retreated back to my room. A little bit later, my brother came in and sat with me. Mom had been screaming at him again for not refilling the dishwasher. Dad wouldn’t let him go next door until the dishwasher was taken care of (one of the few times I remember a united front in punishment). My brother put some things in a bag and left to go to a friend’s house.
I sat there crying again. All I could think was how much more difficult I made everyone’s life. My mother didn’t deserve to have me being such a bad influence on the kids. My brother and sister deserved better role models. I couldn’t do anything right. They would be so much better off if they didn’t have to handle the burdens of my illness, of my existance. I found two bottles of medication, one full, one half full. They were a benzodiazepine and a sleeping medication. Overdosing on either could be fatal. I took both bottles and put them in my purse with a bottle of Baileys. The alcohol wasn’t for my nerves, it was because overdosing can make you puke and Baileys sits well in my stomach.
I walked out the door and down to the water. My family lives on a river so it was only the end of the street next to the house. I sat down on the other side of a small grouping of trees so I could barely see the house. I took all of the pills. I swallowed them in handfulls with irish cream. After I took them all, I sat there a moment and realized I hadn’t left a note so I dug around in my purse and found a pink envelope… The only thing I could find to write with was purple lipstick, so I scrawled “Sorry” on the envelope and lit a cigarette.
As I stared out over the water, I thought about how much better everyone’s lives would be. I figured my brother and sister would be more focused so they would get better grades, go to better schools and get better jobs. I felt my mother would be less burdened so she’d be able to enjoy her time that she wasn’t working so much more. She wouldn’t need to yell at the kids so much so she’d have less stress. Somewhere between one drag of my cigarette and the next, the thought crept into my mind, “Wait… what if this means my brother and sister will need psych help, to deal with the trauma and grief? What if they will need to go to all the doctors I have to go to? What if I will be the cause of them needing medication?” and I panicked. I realized I might make their lives harder and I didn’t know, any longer, if this was the right decision.
I finished my cigarette. Yes, after all of this I still just sat there and finished my cigarette because I needed to be sure of what I did next. I stood up and walked back to the house. I walked in the door and said as I was walking by “Mom, you might want to call an ambulance.” “What?!? WHAT DID YOU DO? WHAT DID YOU TAKE?” She was screaming again and I couldn’t handle it so I went back to my room. Her boyfriend stopped me and had me walk in circles because he knew I should not fall asleep. We walked in circles until the ambulance came. I don’t remember anything after passing out in the ambulance.
Obviously, I didn’t die that day. I’m glad I didn’t. I am glad I was still alive to tell my brother that he couldn’t have changed anything and that it was not his fault. I am glad that I have since gotten a lot more psychiatric and psychological help. I have since found much better support systems. I encourage everyone to seek help if they need it.
Depression lies to us and it confirms fear that it has no right to confirm. Depression may make us look selfish or lazy or stupid but we are not. We can not only survive it but learn to live with mental illness but know it takes a LOT of work. I am not here to say “I survived and you can because I did.” I am saying that I did survive and anyone reading this should know that it was a choice I almost didn’t make. You don’t know who is around you right now that may be making that same choice, you don’t know their decision… so please if you notice signs of depression in those around you, reach out. We are not contagious.