DISCLAIMER: As most of the people that read my blog, or talk to me in person, I’m sarcastic, cynical, nihilistic, crude — hell, I could keep going, and it’s not just that I’m beating up on myself. It’s the truth. Seriously, I have difficulty taking things seriously sometimes, and I have a way of saying things that some, if not a lot of people, may not agree.
To that end, what I am about to write about is an important topic, and I’m not going to hold any punches back, but I need to get this out of my system. I need people to realize that there is “hope.”
Here we go.
I’m a three-time suicide survivor.
No, not in the sense that someone close to me committed suicide, at least not directly close to me, but I was the one who either talked and made the preparations to commit suicide or attempted to kill myself.
Why? Because on those three separate occasions, I was depressed. I was stressed. I was miserable. I couldn’t take the constant struggle anymore, and I didn’t know if I could keep doing it.
The very first time was in high school. I was a nerd. I wasn’t just a nerd. I was ALWAYS a nerd since kindergarten. I always got picked on, I still got picked last for games, I didn’t have a lot of friends, and I used to get beat up. More frequently than I care to, which made me who I am today.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to high school “nerdom.”
I got mediocre, if not poor grades for my school work (when I was doing it!), and because of all those things I said before and the fact that I didn’t understand why I wasn’t doing better in school, I couldn’t take letting down my parents any longer.
I had this knife with a six-inch blade that I got for selling greeting cards from one of those services you saw on the back of one of the many comic books of the time. Initially, I wanted walkie talkies, but because of an error of putting in the wrong order number for my prize on my form that I sent to them, I got a knife and an ax.
Great. Just what I always wanted.
So, back to that awful day. I was feeling horrible. I was miserable, and honestly, I didn’t know what else to do. So, I grabbed the knife, and wrote my mom a letter apologizing for being a horrible son, and told her in the note that I was going to end it all. I moved my bed (which was a reasonably large twin bed, mind you!) in front of the door to my room so no one could come in. I grabbed the knife, and I put it next to me. For the next several minutes, I was trying to figure out how I was going to commit suicide with that knife. Was I going to slit my wrists? Or, was I going to plunge it into my chest? The first option seemed like it was going to last a long time, and I wanted it to be over quick. So, I started to consider the second option.
I unsheathed the knife from its leather holder, and placed the blade against my chest, not unlike a samurai about to “fall on his sword.” I pressed it repeatedly, but gently, against my chest. I was afraid. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t see another option.
Then, my mom came home. She saw the letter and came up to my room. Outside the door, she told me to open the door, and that she wasn’t mad, and that everything was going to be okay, and, we need to talk.
I’m a pretty good kid. Believe it or not, I listened to my parents quite a bit when I was young. Sometimes, it was to my benefit, and sometimes it was not. This particular time, it was better I listened to my mom and put the knife down, and, through tears, move the bed away from the door, and talk things out with her.
Did I benefit from it? Yeah, I survived my first attempt at trying to take myself out of the equation. Did things get better? No. I still got beat up. I passed high school with a “C” average, and I had one friend, who has been my lifelong friend. In fact, after a little under 40 years, we have been friends ever since. So, okay. I had some happy things.
Fast forward a little around ten years. My wife and I, who hadn’t married yet, were working full time and living on our own in a small studio apartment. Things weren’t awful, but they were about to get much worse.
The first psychiatrist I saw diagnosed me with “adult” ADHD — not just ADD — and was being medically treated for it with different medications. Being prescribed drugs wasn’t my first stint with prescription drugs for mental health; I was diagnosed with depression at a younger age and was put on anti-depressants for a while, which I didn’t think was helping, so shortly after, I stopped taking them. They had me on a couple of different medications until they put me on Adderall.
Adderall. You fucking beast. Adderall is what some druggies call an “upper.” The medication is an amphetamine. Add a little extra, and you get meth.
Don’t worry. Mine didn’t go that direction. But, it was similar.
One of the significant benefits of the Adderall is that it gave me more energy, probably more than I needed. I wanted more, and I knew the doctor wouldn’t give me anything else, so I looked for other options. Along with my Adderall, I took two different types of ginseng, ginkgo biloba, and Metabolife, which, if I remember correctly, aside from my Adderall, had all those other things in it, plus much, much more.
My god. What in the holy hell was I thinking?!
I slept very little over a two-year time span. During that time, the supplements and the Adderall were causing me to have episodes of rage. You know how you hear about people who see red when they get furious? It happens. And then, you become very uncontrollable. Then, you start growing manic in the comforts of your own home around the only person that is supposed to trust you. And, that was my wife.
For two years, my wife lived in fear. She loved me, and I loved her back, but she was afraid of doing anything that would bring out the “monster.” I was angry all the time. The increase in energy was driving me insane. We argued. I would go into binges of mania that would last for up to eight, ten, at the most twelve hours. People at work joked around about the fact that I was “hulking out” whenever I would get angry.
Life sucked. We were spending money on frivolous things, but still keeping up with the bills. We bought a light up, silent keyboard so that I could be on the internet at night, because of insomnia. But my mind was full of random thoughts. I thought the world was out to get me because we could not afford to have a better life, even though I was the one putting myself through hell.
After months of arguments, horrible hours at work, failing at college, and just being “all around” unhappy, I decided I couldn’t go on.
I didn’t tell my wife what I was planning on doing. I just said I needed to meditate, and I had a habit at the time of laying in the bathtub with my ears just below the water to drown out most of the noise and would chill. Except for this time, it was going to be different.
I closed the door and climbed into the tub. I was planning on drowning myself. I figured it would be less messy on my wife, and because she wasn’t suspecting that I was doing anything differently than I had done before, I could do it quietly.
I started to fill the tub, putting the stopper in so that no liquid could escape. The water was rising. At this point in my life, I wasn’t as afraid to die as I had been before. I just wanted the madness to end. The water kept rising, and because I was of average adult male height, I had to bend my legs so that my head would rest on the bottom of the bathtub. The water rose past my ears, and I knew that soon I would finally be at rest.
Something went wrong. The water wasn’t rising much higher. Why wasn’t the tub filling any higher?!
The fascinating thing about bathtubs, even some sinks for that matter made in the last 50 + years — they have this valve, or hole, somewhere around the middle of the tub so that it doesn’t overfill.
How the hell am I supposed to die if I can’t? My frustration kicked in, but I was not going to give up. I turned my head to the side and started to breathe in water. I choked immediately and turned my head to get air into my system out of the brain’s reaction to wanting to live.
I tried again.
Yes, three times I tried to drown myself in the tub and failed at every attempt. I finally gave up. Draining the tub, I dried myself off, and went back to feeling the same way I did, and never discussed it with my wife.
Now, we jump ahead twenty years to November of 2016.
I was under a lot of stress in my life. I was 40 years old, I was feeling unsuccessful at being famous or making a name for myself creatively, work was expecting more than I could handle at the time, I had all these great things I wanted to get done, and on top of all of that, my wife and I wanted a second child.
As far as my psychiatric mental health was going, I was having treatment for bipolar disorder, adult ADHD, and anxiety disorder. I was taking my medications as directed, and every week, I would set up a weekly pill case that filled with my morning medications and supplements, my midday emergency anxiety medication, and then my bedtime medications and supplements.
Starting that November, I would occasionally look in the medicine cabinet where we would hold all of the pills and imagine what it would be like if I took two to three times as many bipolar medications that day. Maybe I could be happy, and the stress could go away if I weren’t around anymore.
Additionally, I wondered what would happen if I fell in the shower while it was running. Would I crack my head open? Would I break my arm or leg? I was already hurting mentally; maybe I should hurt physically too, and avoid having to “adult” for just one day.
So, I shifted to the left of the shower, and slipped, landing on my side and successfully hurting myself, just not bad enough to stop being an adult for one day.
Between November of 2016 and May of 2017, I fell in the shower three times and fell down the stairs twice, purposely in an attempt to damage myself. And, I would continue to fantasize about the pills. Why can’t the pain go away?
I eventually told my wife all the lies I was hiding from her about how I was feeling and what I was doing to myself and told her I needed help. She stated that I should talk to my psychiatrist at the time and see what he said.
On a side note, I despised my psychiatrist. Every visit was the same questions about my life, almost like he was never listening. But, per my wife’s advising, I told him what I told her. He “upped” one of my medications, and stated that if I ever feel like hurting myself, or worse, to go to the hospital and let them know immediately.
I was in more danger to myself than I realized.
Shortly after Father’s day, I couldn’t handle any more stress in my life. I wanted to die and get rid of the torture that was my life.
I think it was a Thursday, and I knew I wanted to kill myself, and all morning I was trying to figure out how. I decided that I would drive my car off the interstate loop, sending my car off the ledge, and crashing into the ground. I didn’t know if it would be possible, but I was going to do it, and I was going to take as many people with me as possible.
Then, I remembered what my psychiatrist said: “Go to the hospital and let them know immediately.”
I knew I couldn’t take my car without putting myself in danger, so I called my wife. I was crying and told her that I needed to check myself in. After talking to me and trying to at least calm me down as much as she could, she asked if I needed her to pick me up or if I could get someone to take me to her so she could get me somewhere safe.
That was when I had to admit to my supervisor and my boss what my intentions were. There is nothing more embarrassing than having to confess to the people you work for that you have a problem, especially one this big. They were very understanding, and my supervisor took me to my wife. After he dropped me off, my wife left her work and took me to my daughter’s childcare to pick up my daughter, and then we all went to the hospital.
The car ride was very long and quiet. When we finally arrived at the hospital, I went into the emergency room and went up to the window, and when asked what brings me to the ER, I stated, “I want to commit suicide.” For the next 6 hours, I repeated my intentions, my insurance checked, and they told me that they were going to send me someplace “safe.” That place was called Two Rivers, a psychiatric hospital the next state over.
That is where I spent my next week, and I suppose in ways it may have helped, but the pain never went away. Not completely. Shortly after my stint in the center, I went and got two tattoos, one on each wrist, to remind me to “live life.”
It’s been over a year now, and I’ve contemplated suicide to my wife at least once during that time, but never went through with trying. I just kept going.
I guess what I’m trying to say here is, “There is hope.” I know. That is a lot to hear from just one person, especially when you turn on the TV or radio and here a story about another famous figure committing suicide. And, the rise in teenage suicide keeps rising every year. Life is getting harder. Not just for me, but for everybody. There is part of a quote that Anne Lamott, a famous author who has written many books about her life and faith and hope and struggle, which her father once told her brother who was struggling to write a report on birds that he waited until the last minute to write. He is sitting there crying, stressed, with all these writing materials and books in front of him, and his father consoles him, and with his arm around his shoulder, states, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”
There is a lot to that quote. Take it day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year. Take things one at a time. I mean, that’s just a few ways, but there is a lot into that sentence that people can take out of that.
I’ve recently been taken off Remeron, an anti-depressant, and put on Trintellex, another anti-depressant. I know that there is a stigma that some people have about taking medications, but in my case, I have a chemical imbalance. I have to take the medicines to remain “stable.” Since starting the Trintellex, it has been a “life changer” — within the first two days of taking the medication, I felt happy. Genuinely happy. I haven’t felt this happy in over 20 years. And, I’m much more positive, optimistic, and energetic. I finally feel like I can get things done. Which is where I come back to my point: “There is hope.” Whether it’s through a medication change, being placed on medications, or talking to someone before actually doing what you’re thinking of doing, because, trust me, I’ve been there. Almost no one can talk you out of “it” unless you are willing to listen.
I’m not a “special” case. I’m just lucky. I have a supporting family and supporting friends in my life that continuously watch my back to make sure that I am okay and I remain okay. Some people aren’t that lucky. Some people are hurting so much that they feel no one can help them, but there is. There is always someone to listen. Even a stranger.
I hope this goes past the regular channels that I have been posting. I hope people out there listen to what I have released. If you need help, please, PLEASE, get help. ASK for help. BEG for help, because someone will listen.