The snow was still falling hard when I looked out the window. I found myself sitting in a small beige room. Water stains tracked paths across the ratty old acoustical tiles on the ceiling. I traced their paths as my mind wandered back across the twenty fours hours that brought me to that decrepit room. I was barely aware of the people around me. I was awash in so many emotions. An utter sense of desolation and sadness enveloped me. I could hardly breathe under the weight of it. I had failed at my attempt to take my life. Part of me mourned that. I couldn’t understand how it had all gone so wrong. I had planned it down to the minute. I knew what I was doing. I had not planned for a major weather event. I hadn’t thought about minus zero temperatures and 40 mile per hour winds. I never once thought to myself, wait a day till the weather improves. I was so devoted to my plan. My mind had grown hard and inflexible over the days leading up to it. I had this precise vision, and that is all I saw.
I couldn’t adjust or calibrate for the changes. I didn’t realize how much of an impact it would have. When I stop and rewind, and go over that night, I realize it is what saved me. Had I waited a day it would probably have ended differently. I wouldn’t be blogging about it. I think the act of suicide is as much about the fantasy and the visualization of the plan, as it is about the execution. For whatever reason it becomes something you fixate on. It has to be THAT way, exactly. Why it is like that, I have no idea. I just know that is how my mind works.
When I had my first series of suicide attempts it was different. I was young, impulsive and angry. Once I failed the first time, it became more and more difficult to act. I was on a locked ward being watched. The more they took away, the more desperate I became. By the time I was left sedated and in restraints alone, I was beyond out of control. As the earlier post about the yellow gown illustrated. That is what landed me in those restraints. What they did not realize is that I was going to get myself out of them. It didn’t take me long. Less that a couple of minutes. I am very flexible, and they were not properly applied. In that instant I just reacted. It was split second and impulsive. The exact opposite of my night in the storm. More than a year led up to that. Strangling myself with restraints was impulsive and wild and full of rage. Fuck them and their gowns and fucking restraints. fuck everyone, and their medications and therapy. fuck this place and these lunatics. I did want to die, don’t get me wrong, but I wanted to die for all the wrong reasons. My depression had moved well past the pain and suffering. It was now combined with a sense of injustice and a rage against a system I didn’t understand. I took me under ten minutes to break a bone in my neck and need CPR to bring me back. I awoke from that episode with someone sticking a needle into my wrist to get a blood gas level. I looked her in the eye and thanked her for saving me. I will never forget that moment. So how did everything change so much from 1995 to 2006?
I changed. My experience of mental illness changed. I didn’t see my life as a fuck them, I’m out of here. I only felt pain, and stress and an endless undercurrent of anxiety. Like a live wire, it was a constant. When I look back over things I have written over the years, I realize just how big a component it is. Anxiety wears you down, it exhausts your resources. Cripples your ability to cope. When combined with a suffocating depression, it is deadly. I didn’t see a way out. As each day passed and the symptoms grew worse, my planning grew more defined.
It always starts out as a fleeting thought. Just a quick blip on the radar. Barely registers, blip…..and then another. It isn’t unusual for me when I’m depressed. I usually note it and move on. But it got worse, and the thoughts became more intrusive. The year of the Nor’Easter they were frequent. A couple of times a day. Instead of brushing them away, I’d stop and marvel in them. I found refuge there. It was a way to sooth myself. I know that sounds strange. But when the suffering is that severe weird things are soothing. I spent hours each day lost in my thoughts. Planning and thinking. Researching and reading. The internet is a double-edged sword. For each resource for the suicidal there is one with information on how. I knew I would stay on the same path I had started on. Even though I had firearms, I could not even bring myself to consider using one. There is something very violent about a firearm suicide. It strikes me as impulsive. What I was planning was not impulsive. I wanted it so careful and accurate, never mind the thought of the mess.
It was the process, the soothing and the time spent that meant so much to my survival those last months. I know I went to therapy, I talked and I went through the motions. For that I am sorry. I hate that it was deception that got me to that tree. But, it was indeed deception. Secrecy is critical to getting it done. Nobody was going to let me just kill myself. I perfected the plan while in plain sight. I just went along, never wanting to catch anyone’s attention. I didn’t want to end up back in the hospital. So I made a choice, a choice to remain silent. A choice to walk away from all the help that was within reach. The months passed and they all got so far away in my head, they all but disappeared. I couldn’t see them, even if they were standing in front of me. My mind did that. I did that. It was that isolation, that solitude that accompanied me that night.