Wednesday, January 26, 2005

I'm a survivor

I've wrestled with deciding to post this for several weeks. Some may question why I would post such a private thing on a public forum, and all I can say in my defense is that I need to. To let others with similar stories know they are not alone; to publicly renounce my preoccupation with self destruction; to encourage anyone facing their private demons to seek professional help. Anyway, if this is too dark for you, pass on by. No harm done.

I'm a survivor.I've tried suicide twice. At the time, it seemed like the correct thing to do. It's not that my life was such a mess, although it was stressful. It just seemed like, no matter which way I looked, the future seemed bent toward becoming an emotional drag on everyone that knew me. I didn't want to be remembered as the sniveling whining wreck that I saw myself becoming. I wanted people to think of a funny, clever, hard-working woman with a good husband and two great kids, with a successful scientific career and friends who would miss me. I felt, instead, like I was losing my mind, dwelling on incidents that occurred 50 years ago and about which I (even now) had doubts had ever occurred. Everyone involved was dead but me. If I was dead, too, then it DIDN'T happen, right? And all the madness, the voices, the lost time, the nightmares, the sleepwalking, the cutting, none of it would be real either. And so I took the drugs, after careful research into how much and what would be fatal, and still I lived. Did you know, if you survive a serious suicide attempt and end up in the intensive care unit, that you won't be treated very well by the staff there? You're an anomally, the sick person who did it to themselves, and somehow not deserving of the same sympathy or consideration. They made sure any new nurse coming on-shift knew my background, in very blunt terms, and did it where I would overhear. They handled me roughly, spoke brusquely, wrote me up in their daily notes because I got up "without permission" to use the bathroom. They wrote that I lied about my symptoms (when in fact I was confused and barely aware of where or who I was) and that I was "sullen" (although I can remember smiling at them ALL THE TIME because I so wanted their approval and recognition). If it hadn't been for being closely watched I would have tried to finish the job; my psychiatrist and therapists knew that and made sure I knew that if I had been successful, they and my family would have been devastated. They let me know that I was worth saving. In the end it took a lot of therapy and a lot of work by myself and my therapists, and the love of my family, to get where I could again think of myself in a positive light. I take meds, and probably always will. I can't ever take my mental health for granted, and I watch for signs that I'm slipping before I get too bad. I don't ever want to have to do this again. And I feel overwhelming sympathy with anyone who has ever faced their inner demons and clawed their way back from the edge, for their courage and will power, and I know that when someone is sucessful in committing suicide, it isn't because they are weak or narcissic or pettily vengeful, but because they were in so much pain they literally could not think past it. And I know that once you have taken the step to end your life, you will have crossed into territory that only another suicide survivor can recognize, you are profoundly changed forever in the way you regard life and death. There will always be a residue of that decision to end your life, and you can't unknow what you know from that time. But you can take strength from the beating of your heart, the air in your lungs, the resolve in your deepest spirit that didn't let you go when everything looked the blackest, and you can know that all life is a struggle for everyone. It's how you face the challenge of continuing, how you just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on to the next chapter, that determines whether your story is read as a success or a failure. I'm a survivor.


Anonymous said...
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Fidget said...

I'm cutting and pasting from my blog, it's something I WANT YOU TO READ
In January of 2000 my on again off again boyfriend killed himself. He listened to "Last dance with Mary Jane" laid down on his bed and put a gun to his head. The moment it happened I was out dancing. I got so dizzy I almost fell down and did not know what was wrong. 2 days later his brother was pounding on my door screaming for me. I ran down the street praying that it was a joke. Ran up to his room - the neighbor tried to stop me "Is he dead? Just tell me is he fucking dead?" He didn't know so I had to go in. The smell of rot clung to my face and I looked down at him. His face had bloated and distorted into a weird bloody triangle. There was blood in his golden curls and spattered on the wall. I had to touch him to look for a pulse and he was dead... Just dead. I stumbled down the stairs screaming about how I knew he shouldn't have a gun. I fell out his front door and into the grass. I was rolling in an ant pile but everyone was afraid of my grief and left me to be bitten. His phone started ringing and I heard his voice. I wailed "Close the damn door he's dead and talking to me!" The breeze blew the scent of his cologne to me and I started dry heaving. His brother had been living in the house for 2 days with a dead body and didn't think to check. The smell was horrific and he didn't think to check. The overwhelming guilt that belongs to the survivors is enough to crush a person forever. The anger, the what ifs, the missed signs... It took me so long to get past it. I dreamed that he came to me and asked me to come with him. I had to tell him I couldn't because he had killed himself. He got a half smile on his face and said "I really did it?" I said yes and that meant we could no longer be together. He skipped away looking relaxed and the happiest I'd ever seen him. I guess one would have to hope that something good came out of something so damned awful. I think of David often and what might have become of his life had he never enocountered Hydrocondone, GHB, or alcohol... what he could have been had he never been abused... he just couldn't find his way in the darkness and did not know how to light a candle or ask for help.

I'm sorry you have had to struggle like this. Medication is nothing to be ashamed of, I take Paxil. Perhapse if David had this type of medication he would be with us and finding his way to happiness.

marie b. said...

Ooh, someone trying to act tough behind their computer screen, and yet posting hatred anonymously.

There's a big surprise.

Anyway, thank you for sharing your story with us. It took a lot of strength.

Anonymous said...

For some reason I cant log on and have to post anonymously...but my name is Marcia here is my site there is my email..
I read your story and it hit home too...I too am a survivor. I tried three times to leave my misery, that is what I felt my life was at the time, I ended up in the hospital two times. I did not tell them what I did they just assumed I was sick. The first time I tried I had taken a hand full of mini-thins which is very strong ephedrine. All it did was make me puke my brains out. The second time I took even more while I was at work. I was found lying on the floor and rushed to the emergency room. The third and last time I did it I took even MORE!! And just ended up puking...
Guess it was not my time to go either. Now I see my life as it is and I know why it was not meant for me to go. I have two of the most beautiful kids you have ever seen. My purpose in life is to be their mom.
Bravo to you for being a survivor!!!


Anonymous said...

bravo to you for getting it out, that takes strength (no matter what the trolls think).
mine was pills also, though I didn't have the forsight to do any sort of research to find out what would do the trick. I, too, survived...but the baby I carried didn't. it has taken me many years and two children to even begin to get past it and few know the whole story. it hits me still at odd moments and it drastically changed the way I look at life, motherhood, and death. I know the fight to hold on to sanity and to keep from sliding. stay strong, we will make it.

Anonymous said...

Where you married or had a boyfriend at the time? Not that it matters to me personally, but if I had a girlfriend who tried to or did kill herself, I would see that as my personal failure.
And happy some-days-after-birthday!

Michael Paul said...

Glad your alive and pressing on.

Michael Paul

dazeymae said...

Thanks for your story.
Sometimes, wrestling with these thoughts, I feel all alone Thank you. I have bookmarked your page, so that I can remind myself to go back and read this.
Thanks again.

Carolyn said...

I'm so glad you survived, aren't you? I admire your spunk for posting this and I must confess, I suffer from depression too. I know there are millions out there that do, but we usually think we're in it alone. We're not, and sometimes it takes someone like you, a suvivor, to remind us of that. I'm also a musician & singer, and depression is often linked to "those types", but I don't think it's necessarily so.

I hope you feel much better these days. I currently do not take meds for it, but I've found that writing helps, thus my blog of poems and short stories. They may not all pertain directly to me, but letting my imagination run with a story line or writing about someone else gets me out of myself for a while. And sometimes a break from myself is just what the doctor ordered.

Thanks again for posting this, and most of all for "surviving"! :)
Carolyn @ The Ginger Quill