I was a teenager. Full of all the angst and fury and fear that teens can be full of. Angst at who I was. Fury over a lack of control and fear that I could never become what I so desperately wanted to be: good enough. Good enough to be noticed for something. Loved. by someone. (Other than my parents- as a teenager they didn’t count.I was weird.)
The details of my story don’t matter- because they could be a Madlibs of issues. You could insert your own nouns, verbs and adjectives and end up with the same ending. A suicide attempt.
Or, maybe it was a beginning.
In this story, the beginning came after the ending.
At least what I’d planned to be the ending:
My dramatic exit from this earth. It looked like this in my head: To be found asleep in my white eyelet canopied bed- suicide note pinned to the canopy. After which, the world would know how much they’d lost when they lost me.
Of course- I’d also be done with the angst. The fear, the depression and self loathing and fury.
I waited until bedtime- went into the bathroom and swallowed all the Tyelnol I could swallow. Then- I went to bed. Fully expecting not to wake up. Irony: did I really want to kill myself? I think so- however- I ironically bypassed the bottle of aspirin because I am allergic to it. So maybe somewhere in my brain I didn’t really want to die. Or I bypassed it out of habit.
Either way- what happened instead: I failed.
I woke up vomiting the most horrific “Exorcist” like stuff you’ve ever seen. And I woke up: scared. This HURT. This was not my dramatic slip into the netherworld- plan.
What followed was a flurry of a drive to the hospital- a transfer to children’s hospital a lot of tubes inserted into a lot of places- and blood work taken every hour. Apparently the ibuprofen I’d chosen instead of the aspirin I was allergic to had done enough damage to my liver to almost carry out my plan. Plus: I remember feeling like the biggest loser before the show existed- only the biggest loser in the universe- because I could;t even kill myself right. I was disappointed. AND hurting. That’s a rude awakening.
I’ll never forget the hurt in my parents eyes.
I’ll also never forget the chicken wire like windows that were in my “suicide watch” room. I’ll never forget the timed phone calls in the hallway like prisoner in a movie. I’ll never forget the gag order put forth to keep other kids from copying my attempt. (Suicides often happen in waves. They aren’t contagious- but almost. I was :”sick” I hadn’t tried to kill myself. Except: I had. )
I don’t remember going home. I do remember going to counseling.
I also remember years later- when my mom brought me the evidence of her broken heart- my suicide letter- that she had carried in her purse for years. I remember the guilt of the hurt I caused.
I remember the freedom I found in burning that letter. I wish I could have burned up her pain along with it. I couldn’t.
I’d love to say that Jesus showed up in that chicken wired room and took away the depression and all the insanity that had led up to my attempt. But, he didn’t. At least not in the dramatic way I’d prefer to write into this story. (Although- if I’d told them Jesus showed up in my room- I think they would have extended my stay… justsayin.)
Instead- I slowly got better. Over the years-I learned that depression doesn’t haven’t to be terminal- but it does tend to cause recurrences.
It almost was terminal for me.
Except I failed. And 30+ years later, I think that was my best failure to date.
I am my own living “It’s a wonderful life.” I know what I would have missed- the good the bad the horrific and frightening and amazing had that plan “succeeded.”
- 3 incredible man-children.
- A husband who adores me- even at my most crazy.
- Encounters with a God that give me meaning, purpose, grace and mercy and unconditional love that I longed for and still do.
- Friends and family that love and “get” me. In part because I’ve learned to let them: know me.
- A calling and purpose that is bigger than myself.
This is just a tiny slice of what I would have missed…..of course I’d have also missed grief, sickness, pain, feeling helpless in the face of my husband’s cancer and a whole host of other problems….
But what I know now- is this: suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem and most problems- are temporary or can at least be managed.
Depression is treatable- in my life it’s like diabetes in my brain. I have to care for my brain like a diabetic does their blood sugar. I take my necessary meds- I do the hard work of dealing with emotions, and I keep trying. It gets better. Depression doesn’t usually hold the MainStage of my life- but it’s sometimes playing it’s song in the orchestra pit.
Lives can be changed.
There is help.
Depression does’t have to be terminal.
I’m glad to say- my failed suicide is my best failure ever. I wish Robin Williams would have failed, too. Because he was an amazing, brilliant, gifted and well loved man.
So are you. Whether you believe it or not.
Want to help? Click the same link and either donate or volunteer.
Or be brave enough= reach out to a friend who you think might need help. You matter. They matter. To me- to God and to the world… even when you don’t feel like it.
PS: I wish I could erase the pain I caused my parents. Now that I’m a mom- I can think of no greater pain than to lose a child- or to have a child want to die. I can’t- but I can help others- so today- I’m offering this in hopes that it helps someone. Moms- watch your kids. I’ll admit I’m hyper vigilant about mine. (They’d probably call it paranoid.)
I hope this: saves a parent the heart ache of child a lost.
A child the trauma and loss of a parent lost.
Or, just plain lets someone know they aren’t alone.