The First Time I Died Was a Friday…that much I’m sure about.
The rest is a bit fuzzy. I think I was maybe 11 or 12. I don’t remember. I was injured in a car accident when I was 13 and it was before that. That much I’m also sure about.
I don’t even remember feeling “depressed” or “sad” …or suicidal. I don’t even know if I knew what suicide was at that age. I grew up in the south where things like that weren’t talked about. Where emotions and feelings were replaced by tradition. Where you did things because that’s how they’d always been done so who are to change that now?
My grandmother wasn’t the typical southern belle. She was the main (sole) breadwinner of the family. She was the patriarch in a dress. The entire family, distant and near, followed her without question. Showed old fashioned respect just because. Something you don’t see a lot of today. My grandmother was also very open minded. She welcomed things that disagreed with her preconceived notions of what should be. She was willing to change if she came upon something new that showed her a better way. And she didn’t really care what anyone thought of her either. She was her own drummer and she created her own beat which she marched to. I could have told her anything. And I often did. I spoke to her daily. I told her things that I barely even shared with myself. I showed her the inner workings of my innards and she made me feel “seen”.
But the darkness was buried so deep, that I didn’t know it was there. Maybe if I had then I would have told her and life would have been different. But that’s too many what if’s so we’ll not go down that road.
I don’t remember planning it. Then or now, it really was just a spur of the moment decision. I was watching TV in my room on a Friday night. I don’t remember what but considering we only got 3 channels, it most likely was something boring just to pass the time. I remember biting my nails and having a hang nail. I remember going to the bathroom to get the nail clippers. To be honest I’m not sure if this part is true or something I’ve told myself so much over the years that I now believe it to be true. The one thing I am 100% certain about is I went into the bathroom to get something.
I ended up taking the entire content of the medicine cabinet. No one is 100% certain how much I actually took. Not even me. I don’t actually remember taking anything. What I do know because I was told later is they found two empty bottles of Xanax, which should have had 60 pills total, an empty bottle of tylenol, another 30ish pills, and a bottle of vicodin, another some 30 odd amount of pills. Total was 100 give or take a few here and there. By all means, I should have died. Usually overdosing is not seen as a real attempt because most people underestimate the amount needed to kill themselves or they just do it so “someone notices.” My attempt was as real as if I’d put a gun to my head and pulled the trigger. I died twice that night.
It was pure luck I didn’t stay dead. They guess a few minutes after I took my drug cocktail (their words not mine), my mother found me. Which if you knew how absent my mother was at the time, that alone counts it as a miracle. She was going out and decided she wanted to wear some clothes or shoes that were packed in boxes in the closet of my room. When she opened the door, she thought I was sleeping at first. She opened the closet and heard a familiar gargle sound. My aunt (her sister) was severely disabled. One thing she had was seizures. My mother knew the sound of a seizure and turned to look at me. My body squirming like an electric shock was surging through my veins. White foam around my blue lips. As she ran to the bed, she stepped on an empty bottle. Picked it up. It read Xanax and she knew. She screamed for my grandfather, the only other person home that night. He put me in her car and she drove me to the hospital. I know all of this because we spent a year in family therapy. She would tell the story many times. Always casting herself as the goodie two shoes mother who had come to rescue of her mentally unstable daughter. In reality it was just pure luck. I hadn’t seen her in nearly two months before that day. Fate decided I would not be the master of my own ship. That’s my only explanation for why I’m sitting here able to type all of this.
I don’t usually talk about my suicide attempts. (Yes there were more after this, but this was the first). I never left a note. Had my mother been five minutes later, or had the bottle rolled under the bed, had any number of things happened seconds later, my family would probably still be asking themselves WHY. How could they understand when even I didn’t understand. When even I didn’t know how far down the rabbit hole I’d fallen. I didn’t plan it. I didn’t even KNOW I wanted to die. It was so deep within me. I had buried the pain so deep that I had hidden it even from myself. It was that part that took pill after pill after pill. That part that somehow managed to close my eyes so I couldn’t see what it was doing. Swallow after swallow. Sometimes people say those who commit suicide are selfish. But I think sometimes, people themselves don’t truly realize what they’re doing. They don’t see their actions as an end. Just a momentary pause to the pain they feel. Just a second to catch their breath. I never meant for it to be forever. At least I don’t think I did.
As I sit here today, medicated, and the sanest I’ve been in my entire existence on this planet, I still don’t know what drove me to take that many pills. I still don’t remember feeling like I wanted my life to END. I’ve replayed that day or what I can remember of it over and over and every time I’m left with a blank. A part of me wishes I’d written a note so that I’d know why. Why I chose to die?
I guess if there’s a moral or point to this entire word vomit, that it’s sometimes there isn’t a why. There’s only a just is. Sometimes it’s not a true choice of forever. It’s that we’ve buried ourselves so deeply that even we can no longer see the actions our bodies are taking. We don’t know that this is maybe the last breath we’ll take on this earth. We didn’t choose to leave you. We were simply carried out to sea by a current that was too strong for us to fight. And no one is to blame. Because how could you see something that even we ourselves couldn’t see.