On a Monday I attempted to take my own life, for reasons that had very little to do with living. Reason thankfully prevailed, and I found myself in the ER.
The great thing about suicide attempts, likely the only thing is that you do not wait. AT ALL. Those are magic words my friends, and you can feel everyone growling at you in the waiting room. You are whisked away into the back, never to be seen again. Quickly surrounded by very concerned and hurried nurses and doctors, all of whom had that look on their face I’ve seen a few times before.
I don’t much care for that serious look from medical staff. While it means I won’t be waiting, it also means I might be dying.
I’d seen it before-bleeding out after birth, the nurses would get that pinched look, the worried, no small talk or friendly sarcastic banter look. The stern questions and answers. Red cheeks.
They scurried around me questioning questioning when did you take them? How many? How many? When? What do you weight? How many?
Your liver. The stern lecture about my poor, unfortunate liver. (Apparently, Tylenol and your liver are not BFF’s. Apparently they are more like, say, Yoko vs the Beatles.) I heard this lecture a few times. I appreciate it. But at the time, I didn’t much care.
It was easy to be flippant at first, as they missed the vein, somehow on my arms that cause most nurses to drool. As they reassured me that this kind of thing happens, that no, I wasn’t a fucking idiot, and yes, I’d be fine. They heard me when I said I didn’t want to die.
They handed me that first cursed cup of charcoal, that horrid, disgusting singular reason to never EVER do that again. As I was drinking it I could feel my neck getting rubbery, my body detached and light. They started the IV up, gravol and whatever they were giving to neutralize the tylenol’s affect on my liver. Dizzy, swimming in dizzy.
I was awake, yet felt asleep. I managed to finish the charcoal, only to be given another cup with the admonishment to not let it settle. It took much longer to finish that one, as I’d find myself almost paralyzed, lying against the flat pillow, staring without seeing the nurses in front of me, as the odd smell of cupcakes wafted past me continually.
A man came in, followed by corrections officers. They moved me out of the ER and into Acute care, telling me I’d be just fine. I remember, vaguely, passing out.
And waking with a start an hour or so later with the most intense urge to completely rid myself of my stomach.
If you ever plan to try and kill yourself, and you use pills, don’t. If I thought the charcoal was bad going down, I was very misinformed as to how it would feel coming up. I felt like some kind of demon wrestling with her conscience as it spewed across the floor, tearing my throat apart. It was, simply awful.
I made it over to the bathroom after that, managing to flush in time to get the rest of it out. Decorating the walls, floor, myself even the seat with black specs. Which were there for hours after I noticed.
Back to bed. Collapse. Sporadic checks by changing nurses.
Wake up 6 hours later faced with the sweetest LOOKING mental health nurse who turned out to BE Satan. I’m glad I wasn’t actually suicidal, because she was hateful and passive aggressive. How does the bipolar woman who just ate a fistful of drugs tell the nurse that it had nothing to do with bipolar, not really?
She doesn’t. She plays the part, and waits for the awful woman to go away.
No one talks to me for hours after this, except the sainted soul who brings trays of food full of, well, stuff I can’t eat. I’m not suffering through the agony of eating eggs in public no matter how hungry I am.
I beg two on-call docs to go home. They point to the IV and remind me what it’s doing, and that it takes about 20 hours. AND I need to see my pdoc.
My shrink shows up, finally. Ironically enough, I had an appointment with her that day anyway. She gives me the look I’m very much used to now, the “no matter how old you are, you’re still a foolish child” look. I shrug. I explain things as much as I can. I repeatedly tell her I’m not actually depressed, just a moron, and it won’t happen again. I refuse to spend another night-on night and day in Acute Care was really bad enough, and by this point, I felt bad that I was taking up the bed. She glared. I glared. I won.
I watched that fucking IV like a hawk. The two books I brought with me weren’t exactly suitable subject matter and I had finished them, and was left listening to the teenage boys next to me talk about anal sex, pro (“I just popped it in there and surprised her! snurt!”) and con (“dude, that’s TOTALLY an exit man“) before their mother came back from some heart test to demand someone do something for something they hadn’t figured out. Very meta.
Once that IV ended, I bored a hole in the head of any nurse until mine finally came and released me. One more blood draw and I was free.
And then I was.
This is flippant, sarcastic and likely sounding a little bitchy. I know it shouldn’t. I know I should have something deeper to say about nearly dying, about dancing that tedious line for the second time in my life, for willingly trying to end my own life, destroy myself.
That’s the problem. I don’t have anything deep. I didn’t emerge into the cloudy day thinking I’d start over, I’d be a better person. Frankly, the only thing on my mind was how fucking stupid I was, and how close I had been to seriously harming myself. I could have died. An hour later, two hours, maybe if I had fallen asleep instead of stared at a picture of my daughters, I would be dead, my ashes perhaps now floating into your eyes. All I could do was curse at myself and remind myself that I was a fool, and nearly a dead one.
I know that isn’t very melodramatic or interesting. But it’s the truth. It was a turning point for me, a bitchslap in the head, a hand around my throat, a reminder.
I want to live. I want to LIVE!
I want to raise my daughters into women. I want to love my family. I want to produce magical art. I want to be someone worth knowing. I want to be alive.
I’ve never known that feeling clearly before. So used to the feeling that I was just there, a thing, with no purpose and charge. Not that I feel possessed by purpose or anything, but I have a clearer understanding of how fragile the line between here and not here is.
It’s not very wide. If it was a fence, it would be chain link, porous and easily circumnavigated. Think of string, floss even. It’s that brittle. I felt my fingers pushing that boundary, for the second time in my life, probing it, thinking about it.
I’m curious you know, but not THAT curious.
Facing it wasn’t scary. It wasn’t weird. It just was. I’ve come out of it curiously unaffected because it only reinforced what I believe-that dying is merely part of living, and nothing more.
But I’m not ready, not just yet. It can wait awhile still.