September 26, 2011 was the day I thought my life was going to be over. Not in the ‘dramatic, teenage thinking that my life was ruined because of something that happened while walking through the dreadful high school halls' kind of way. I faithfully thought my life was going to be over that night.
I had planned on it.
Obviously, I’m here writing this blog so my plan did not work out. I’m here today to explain to you what happened that night; what I was thinking leading up to that night. And, how my depression almost won 11 years ago today.
Key word is: almost.
As I’m writing this, it feels like there is a huge lump in my throat. My palms are sweaty. I’m anxiously tapping my legs as they feel like they’re about to fall through my second story apartment floor. I’ve been staring at this bare document on my laptop for days now. My saliva is disappearing as I bite the inside of my cheek—so hard it started to bleed; without me even realizing it until I could taste the blood. I’ve been looking out my bedroom window, blank faced, emotionless, begging for any type of distraction for hours.
Writing this blog is going to be the hardest one I’ve ever written. But, at least I’m here to be able to write it, right?
Here we go.
Depression has detonated my entire life for as long as I can remember. Even though depression has consumed me and my day-to-day life since I was younger, I was constantly putting on the ‘happy, she’s got it all’ girl facade–lying to myself and everyone around me. Throughout my high school years, my depression got worse. It got worse by the day. It was inevitable because I was doing nothing productive about it. From self harming regularly, engulfing myself in distractions like basketball, to crying myself to sleep–only to wipe the tears and put on a brave face; depression was winning. Depression was the Most Valuable Person in my life. The real MVP.
I’ve been doing mental gymnastics with my depression for as long as I can remember. Depression was all I knew. It’s still all I know. It’s flipping and twirling in my mind daily. Constantly. It catastrophically makes me feel like my world is ending… all the damn time.
I want to preface by saying that my suicide attempt didn’t come out of nowhere. I had been thinking about it days, weeks, months, probably even years prior to putting my attempt into motion. I constantly wanted to end my life. I persistently wanted my life to be over. I never felt excited for the next day to come. I never felt grateful that my feet were hitting the ground in the morning. I was waking up pissed, defeated, disengaged, never wanting to look to the future, and not having a care in the world.
I was utterly numb. But, I was OK with that.
I knew that I was making irrational and manic decisions that I wouldn’t be making if I was in a proper headspace. I knew what I was doing to myself was detrimental to me and my life. I knew it. I was fully self aware. I just really didn’t care. I can’t express that enough. I never, ever, felt like there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I was constantly submerged in my depression. I was barricading myself from reality. I never even considered things for my future. All I wanted to do was extricate myself from who I was; who I was with my depression. The unnerving daily experience that my depression was giving me is something so hard for me to fathom. It’s so hard for me to explain to someone who may be reading this that doesn’t understand. Trust me, I barely understand it. Yet, that's all I know.
September 26, 2011 was a day that I decided to finally feel relief. I was finally getting my way out–with no thoughts of the repercussions that were to follow. Again, I didn’t care. It never crossed my mind who I was leaving behind, the future that could’ve been, and I never thought about who would’ve found me, lifeless. Reading this, the word ‘selfish’ may be flooding your mind. And that’s OK. Back then, I probably was selfish. I was selfish because I never even tried to talk to someone about my depression. Never once. At first, I didn’t know what I was feeling was suicidal ideation. I thought it was ‘normal’. I thought everyone was thinking about taking their own life at least once or twice. It wasn’t until the plan of taking my life was embedded in my brain. I couldn’t shake it.
I didn’t want to.
The beginning of September, I remember a phone conversation with my grandma. For some reason turning 20 truly was unbearable. I told her, “Grandma, I don’t know if I want to turn 20.” Looking back, I know this was me screaming internally. I was screaming for hope. I was screaming at the top of my lungs for these thoughts to stop swallowing me whole. I knew what it meant for me to finally be saying it out loud. Finally saying the words out loud that had been immersed in my head for years.
Little did I know, after that conversation, my plan was put into fruition. It was foreshadowing the event that would happen on that cold, dreary, Monday night in 2011.
The morning of my attempt, I was finally at peace. I finally felt joy for the first time in a long time. Something I was so desperately searching to find for years now. I remember waking up smiling. I wasn’t suffocating anymore. I could finally breathe. I could actually feel feelings. I wasn’t numb anymore. My smile was genuine. The food I was eating actually tasted good. The fall smells outside were actually enjoyable. The fresh air was calming. I was excited for this day. But, I was even more excited for this day to end.
I went on with my day like it was any other day. I went to campus, turned in homework, wrote in my overly organized planner for upcoming assignments, and talked to classmates about the upcoming weekend. A weekend I knew I wasn’t going to see.
I harbored my favorite fast food meal while I washed it down with a pint of cheap, rubbing alcohol tasting vodka we had left over from the tailgate to the Michigan State vs. Central Michigan University football game just a few days before. What was my dessert? My entire bottle of my anti-depressant medication. Every last one I had left.
I put on my favorite Drake album and listened to only one song on repeat; that song still haunts me to this day. I decided to do my laundry and pick up my room. Not because I was expecting to live until tomorrow to see it, but because my thought process was when someone was going to find my body, I didn’t want them to see the disheveled, mess of a room that symbolized the epitome of my life at the time. I settled numbly at my desk and wrote my “goodbye letter.” A letter I was hoping would get to the person I wrote it to–thankfully, it never did.
Then, I laid in my freshly made bed. Waiting. Waiting to fall asleep and never wake up. Like I said before, I had planned on it.
As I laid in bed, I texted the 4 most important people in my life. A simple: ‘I love you’ text was sent to my mom, dad, brother, and cousin. I want to preface by saying that my attempt was not about hurting those that I was leaving behind. It wasn’t about the 4 people I texted, or my roommate, my on-again/off-again boyfriend at the time, or my best friends. I think this is often the preconceived notion about people that take their own lives or attempt to take their own lives. This was solely about me. Outside of those texts I sent, I never once thought about anyone else but myself. That’s what depression does. It’s you and your depression–no one, or anything else.
I don’t want to go into the dark details about what emerged after attempting to take my own life. However, let me just say, it wasn’t pretty. It was an unglorified evening. Hallucinations, vomiting, out of body experiences, feeling embarrassed, and angry is a quick synopsis of what happened in the following hours.
After a sleepless night, laying on the cold, vacant, bathroom floor hugging the toilet, I knew I needed to let my therapist know. A brief phone call transpired to a visit with her, followed by a phone call to my dad, quickly resulting in a mandatory visit to the emergency room. Simple questions from the nurse culminated in me getting my stomach pumped, my shoelaces taken from me, and being questioned by strangers for being in the bathroom longer than 30 seconds.
This was my new hell. I was living in hell again. A hell I truly thought I would never face again. Now, with eyes constantly on me, I had to live with the thought of this failed night over and over again. Even though it felt like hell at the time, the phone call to my therapist, then the therapy session, and the immediate visit to the hospital ultimately was the start of saving my life.
The heinous thoughts that depression has made me feel for years now finally felt like they were about to end. The thoughts were finally going to stop. I guaranteed it that Monday night. My suicide attempt seems so wired in my identity now. The assemblance of my identity felt like all I was for so long was just a suicide attempt survivor.
How am I supposed to unpeel myself from my attempt now that I wasn’t successful?
This day will always have an immense impact on my life. The day my life almost changed forever. This day still continues to linger in my mind, 11 years later. Am I ever going to be more than someone that failed at taking their own life? How can I not even be successful at that? I felt like such a failure. Still to this day.
My story isn’t pretty. My situation isn’t orthodox. My mental illness is far beyond comprehension. The day after my attempt, I so desperately wanted my therapist, my psychiatrist, my nurse, my family, my friends, or even a stranger to ask me two simple words: You OK? I was itching for that question to be asked of me. I wanted so badly to tell anyone, literally anyone, that after the unsuccessful attempt, I am so far from OK. I didn’t feel at peace that I survived. I didn’t feel regret that I even attempted. If anything, I felt worse. I felt like a failure. All I needed from someone was to ask me if I was OK. I needed to scream from the rooftop that I wasn’t.
That question was never asked. Never asked once.
It wasn't until 11 years after my attempt that I finally got asked that question. I finally got to share with someone who has been through something similar, that I was far from OK. I finally explained what I was feeling and finally felt like someone got me. I didn’t feel like a failure anymore. Now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, I know that I am not alone. I know that I don’t have to mask my depression. The facade I’ve been putting on for years now, is finally disappearing.
WhiteFlag, thank you. Thank you for saving me.
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