I attempted suicide once. I guess I missed the YOLO memo.
The thing is I really wanted to die in the quickest, most painless way. It wasn’t even planned in advance – I ponied up on some pills when I couldn’t take it anymore.
Nobody ever tells you with suicide you affect more than your golden years. I guess they figure, “Meh, one less plate setting, so silver linings, people.” I didn’t know how devastated those around me would be. That’s selfish to the hilt, but I thought they would be better off without me fucking up. I’d been assaulted and got put on a very, unmerry medication for my migraines (side effects included suicide, which I guess is one way to solve the problem), and I tornadoed into depression with an Oklahoma ferocity.
If that offends you, get off my nipples. My family almost lost their daughter and best friend because of this. They would have been no less destroyed, and I don’t say that out of ego. I say that because…I spoke to them just after the overdose to tell them goodbye.
“Mom? I just…I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
“Baby? What’s wrong?” Alarmed, she’d come fully awake.
“I’m so tired. Just going to sleep. I wanted to say I love you.” My words were slow and thick, difficult to expel. My vision was growing fuzzy around the edges. I hoped it would not take long.
“Where’s Anna? Brittni, Brittni! Get Anna! We’re coming! Mike, talk to her!” She screamed, begging me to get my roommate. Inside, I felt a spark of alarm, regret bucking it’s head against my action. The anguish in her voice had been like a butter dipped razor, slicing through me to bone.
No, I thought, even as my mouth began feeling as though it were stuffed with wool, it was a mistake. Not at this price, not for them…They don’t deserve to pay this.
My father got on the phone, broken some place where only I had been able to reach. “No, baby, no. Please, just…stay with me. God, baby, stay with me…please….Don’t do this. You didn’t have to do this…Please, baby…”
That was the actual phone call. I can never banish it entirely, either. Knowing how much I hurt them and even how proud they still are of me makes me remorseful and grateful all at the same time.
My best friends made me swear, “Don’t you EVER do that again.”
I kept my promise, but I’m still haunted by the act. It’s like a devil monkey on my shoulder, whispering in my ear:
-Shitty day? I’v’e got a solutions. Now, hear me out. I’m thinking the old ‘pill in a bottle trick’.
-Failed at something? You’ll never get it right. You know, suicide could really work wonders for your complexion. I bet they’d have you looking like a hot, young Roseanne Barr once they do you up proper at the funeral home.
-Bullied or discriminated against? I’ve heard the best way to stop that is stopping your heart. Just a suggestion! You don’t have to listen to me, because I’m obviously just a consultant and not a practitioner.
Suicide is the most selfish act you can commit. GTFO my nipples. I have first pill experience. Do you?
“I’ve thought about it.”
But did you try to DIE today?
Then STFU and listen, because this is important.
I know that muck you’re in, the fuckered end game solution you think will solve things. I know that it’s like a swamp. Trapped in the middle, every time you venture toward the shore you’re overcome by a water-logged, hidden pit. I know that gets frustrating and feels like you’re not making progress, but if you have a map of the swamp, you’d see you’re much closer to the shore.
I was like you. I was in the swampy pit. I’d been taunted and raped by the time I was 19. I had acne. I had an adult body. My breast were large at a young age, and that made me a ‘slut’. Honestly, if I’d slept with all the men claimed in my hometown, I would have started charging.
Anna, who swept me up to haul me to the hospital after my Mom called her, hysterical.
“You know, the morning it happened I butt-dialed Paul. He said his phone rang and he was like, ‘Hello? Hello? Hello?’ He could hear me asking over and over, you know, ‘Brittni, what did you take? Brittni!’ He hung up and when he found out what had happened figured he’d wait until the funny time before telling me.”
I smiled, my throat hurting a little from the strain of talking through tears. Leave it to *Paul to crack the first joke about my suicide attempt a decade ago.
After the words – aged on the backburner of my mind like Kobe beef and hopefully just as tender – rushed from my mouth, I was terrified. I waited for her response, fearing bitterness or anger. But…it felt good to have finally voiced what was in my heart for so long. I would not have held it against her had she vented. I still feel I deserve it for what she went through on my account.
“Some of it I haven’t thought about. I’ve, you know, blocked it out. It took a long time…”
I held my breath, afraid she would say it took her a long time to forgive me. Hearing her say she had to block the memory was bad enough, hearing her say she still wrestled with forgiving me would have knocked a knothole clear into my lungs. In other words, I would have cried like a sissy but sat there and taken it like a man…with breasts, or something. No, wait, that’s a Drag Queen. Though fabulous, not the image I’m trying to invoke. So, let’s just stick with the standard, here. I would’ve sucked it up, because it was the dues for the hell I put her through.
“-for me to understand what a dark position you were in to feel like that was something you needed to do.”
When I opened my mouth and finally felt the words trickle out (I donned a guppy expression for several minutes trying to respond, at first), it was both easy and difficult to discuss with her. The familiarity with her was instant, like a comforting blanket. To me, adding a suicide discussion into the mix was like setting the blanket on fire. It‘ll either warm ya up or cook ya, but either way you‘re about to get nice and toasty. I shrugged my shoulders, not knowing how to describe crazy in a sane way, “I felt like I couldn’t go outside, you know? I mean, I couldn’t leave the apartment and the only person I let in my room was *Logan. I would look forward to that all day, him coming at night and staying in my room and we’d just watch Burly TV. He wasn’t asking me to get better or demanding anything from me and I felt safe with him. I needed to feel that after what had happened, you know? It wasn’t enough, though. His presence, I mean. It still wasn’t enough, because I felt like I was still sinking…and it just, it was like, I don’t know—every day was further down and farther away from not being a burden. So, I did it because I thought it would fix things, like things would be better off for everybody without me around.”
I asked my old roommate, Anna, to write about what it had been like for her the morning I overdosed on pills. Talk about your awkward conversations. At least it should have been. As we sat at Western Sky in San Angelo and reminisced I realized how much I missed her – missed her as my roommate and friend. I wondered how she could smile at me after all I put her through. Inside, something wriggled and squirmed and batted itself about inside my rib cage, trapped by a dormant fire which had swirled about my lungs for a decade. On impulse, I asked my husband to take care of the check. I wanted to talk to Anna alone.
Breaking down, I cried as I explained I was writing a book on suicide. The tears were not entirely for the book, though. I needed to finally talk about the morning of the attempt and ask her to forgive me. This was the Alien threatening to burst from my chest and my words were the pill I hoped would subdue the beast.
Here’s what happened in her own words:
I wrote this in first person as though I was writing it for someone else. I hope that’s okay with you. I was originally going to write it in the form of a letter to you, but I could get my thoughts to flow better doing it this way. When I tried to do it as a me-to-you letter it got all jumbled and rambling. Feel free to use this information in any way you feel you need to.
Know that I am so thankful that you were a failure at suicide. Especially since you usually accomplish whatever you set your mind to.
As hard as I try, I cannot remember what happened that day, or rather, the day previous. I don’t remember the events of the day from morning to night or anything that occurred all day. I don’t even remember what day it was, or even what month, but I think it was closer to the end of the year. Maybe it was September or October. It makes me sad that I don’t remember that. I feel like I should remember those details, but since I don’t, all I can do is start with what I do remember.
It was the middle of the night sometime. I was restlessly sleeping in my bedroom at our shared apartment, when Brittni knocked on the door. When I opened it she asked if she could sleep in my bed with me because she was having too much trouble sleeping and was uncomfortable being alone in her room. I let her in and went back to sleep. I knew she had been having a rough time and that her emotional state lately seemed fragile. But having known her for some years, I didn’t think it was a major concern because I had always known her to be a very strong person. Thinking back now, I feel I did not take the whole thing seriously enough. The next thing I remember is her getting up and leaving the room. I thought she had decided to go back to her room or maybe to watch TV since her having trouble sleeping was not at all unusual.
I never leave my cell phone turned on at night. Why it was on this night, I don’t know. I have no explanation for it except perhaps Divine intervention. It was 6:34am. Funny that I don’t remember the day or month or anything preceding this part, but I do remember the exact time the call came in. The number that came up on the caller ID was unknown to me except for the area code. I answered the phone (also unusual because I never answer when I don’t know the number) and one the other end was a very hysterical Candy, Brittni’s mother. She was screaming at me, “Something is wrong with Brittni, you have to go to her!” Suddenly, I was wide awake. “What happened?” I asked. “She’s taken something and she needs to get to the hospital.” That statement gave me chills. “Okay”, I said as I rushed into her room (thankfully not locked, for once).
She was lying in the bed on her cell phone with her dad telling him that she loved him and she was sorry, though she seemed out of it, kind of dazed. I walked up to her and said her name. She turned her head towards me as though to look at me, but our eyes never connected. She was hollow. It was this moment when I began to panic. The next thing I knew, I was shouting at her, “Brittni! What did you take?” Candy, who I still had on my line, asked if she should call an ambulance. I told her no, that I would get her to the hospital. I hung up with Candy after she said they were on their way to town and put my phone in my pocket. I grabbed Brittni by the arms and hauled her out of bed and walked her to the living room. I walked her to one flip flop and let her go to grab the other one from across the room. She fell when I let go of her. I ran back to pick her up off the floor and instructed her to get her feet into the flops. I looked over to the coffee table and saw several of her medication bottles tipped over with some pills spilled out. One of the bottles I recognized as having been new and sealed closed the previous day. I kept repeating, “Brittni, what did you take?” over and over again as if I couldn’t help myself.
When we started down the stairs I made sure not to let her go. One of her flip flops came off and fell to the bottom of the stairs. “My shoe. . .” she said. “I know” I said. “We’ll get it”. After getting the shoe, I loaded her in her car and raced to the hospital. I don’t remember actually driving to the hospital. I remember pulling up outside the Emergency Room door and running around the car to get her. I walked her in the doors and started shouting for someone to help me. I told them she had taken a bunch of pills, but I wasn’t sure what exactly or how much. They immediately got her to the back and started working on her. They asked me about who was I and where her family was and I told them her parents were on the way. I stayed until they were rushing her away for further treatment.
As I walked to back outside to go park the car in the parking lot I was trying to work out in my mind how this happened and even exactly what happened. Obviously, I knew the physical particulars, but I couldn’t comprehend how things had come to this. To this day, I don’t think I know “how” it happened, just that it did. I called her parents to let them know that she was being treated and that I would stay there and let them know of any new developments before their arrival. Then I sat in the car for a while. I tried to think of anyone I might need to call, but couldn’t think of anyone who needed to know that didn’t know. I thought of our mutual best friend and considered calling her, but couldn’t bring myself to do it right then. I told myself it was an accident; she would never deliberately try to harm herself. Would she? Were things so awful that she was unable to deal with it any longer? Was I so far removed from the situation that I didn’t see she needed help? What kind of friend was I? Why hadn’t she told me things were so bad? I lived with her, saw her daily and never knew things had deteriorated so far. I had completely failed her as a friend. It’s not that I felt it was my fault that she did this, I didn’t think that. But then I thought about our fights. We had some big ones, but at the time I had always thought she knew that underneath that we were friends. Then I remembered she hadn’t grown up in a family where yelling matches were normal. Maybe she didn’t realize that arguments didn’t change the foundation of our friendship. . . I should have been a better friend, should have been there for her more. I should have been more alert and should have seen she was in trouble. How did I not see this coming? At some point I just broke down and cried sitting in the driver’s side of her car in the hospital parking lot. What now?
After some time, I managed to get myself together a little bit and went back inside to the waiting room where I sat for I don’t even know how long. Eventually, I was taken back to her after they had pumped her stomach. I remember seeing the black charcoal everywhere and there was the distinct smell of bile. She was still a little incoherent and kept repeatedly asking the doctors about her treatment and if she had taken enough that she would have died if she hadn’t gotten to the hospital. At some point her parents arrived and were immediately taken to her. A little while later she was moved to ICU where only one person was allowed to visit her at a time and I wasn’t able to see her for several hours. Her mother hugged me and thanked me for saving her daughter’s life, but I didn’t feel as though my actions were anything special. I was just glad that she was going to be okay. If I hadn’t taken her to the hospital or hadn’t been there, her mother would have dispatched an ambulance, so my actions that day weren’t of any note, but I was relieved that Candy didn’t blame me for what had happened.
When I was finally able to get into the ICU room to see her, I tried to be strong for her. I walked in, solid as a rock. I sat down and looked at her. Neither of us said anything for a few minutes, but I remember how thankful I felt to be able to look into her eyes and see that she was in there again. Then she said, “I’m so sorry.” And I broke down. I grabbed her hand and all I could say was, “Don’t you ever do that to me again.” It sounds like such a selfish comment now, but I don’t do well when shocked. I get stupid.
I don’t remember the rest of that conversation. Brittni was later admitted to the mental health unit of the hospital, where she was kept for a few weeks. I was only allowed to visit her one day a week, but when I did visit she seemed like she was returning to her old self again. She seemed upbeat and even though she didn’t like being there she was making friends and making the best of it. Just like the person she had always been.
To this day, I don’t know what caused her to take such actions. We never talk about the horrid details or events that caused my friend to do something so drastic. We both know that is completely out of character for my friend. Though we don’t talk about that day or that event, we share a bond that cannot be broken. If we talked every day or didn’t speak to or see each other for years that bond is there, unbroken.
Anna, I love you. I will always love you, and not just because I’m alive today thanks to you. You really made me laugh and probably helped me wait as long as I did. So, thank you. Thank you, thank you. You’re in my heart. Make yourself at home.
That being said, nothing that happened as far as fights contributed to my Get Me The Fuck Out of Here. It was a selfish act by a person with blinders on. Knowing I hurt is something I can never make up for, but hopefully one day I can at least make it partially right.
If a loved one committed suicide, it is NOT your fault. To be honest, they were saturated by their pain and couldn’t take it any longer. NOBODY thinks someone they love will try that unless the person has tried previously. That’s not negligence, that’s hope they’ll get better.
For my personal life and future, I’m tired of feeling like I have to uphold a IDGAF attitude. If I want to get better, I have to incorporate all parts of the person I am into myself. What this means to you is if you do not find you can take my language, my past or my intended future in stride, get your damn self off my subscription list. Yes, we went to school together. Yes, I love your writing; I’ll maintain that follow for your work. Yes, I want to get to know the you for YOU. No, I’m not allowing you to be a personal hurdle which trips me up. I have a bucket full of stand up to perform, bits I am anxious and itching to do, again. I have a fantastic husband I love every inch of, all 76 of them. I’ve written three books and am trying to get them published. But there’s something I need to take care of, first.The act so far in my past is a chain around my neck, the likes of which would put Mr. T in chiropractic care. Some people are only ever going to see the act, though. They’ll never care about what lead up to it and what I’ve done afterward.
So, here’s the benefit of the doubt for you and the coming out the crazy closet for me. First and foremost, I have to emotionally deal with this so I can be the best person I need to be for all of my loved ones, both friends and family. I will be there for you if you need it, any time and every time, but I will not hinder myself by catering to your Oh mo! sensibilities in the process. Basically, as long as I give a ten cent damn about opinions on my suicide attempt, this entire effort isn’t worth a penny for the thought. So, make your peace with all of this or remove me. I give you the options to use at your discretion. I don’t check my list for precisely that reason
Here’s the unprotected truth of what I am working on; all apologies and pleas for forgiveness never seem like enough for what I did. Thanking someone like Anna for loving me and caring for me in the midst of and after my suicide attempt always feels hollow, like I can never fill them with the right amount of appreciation to be appropriate. I still cannot put words to the action well, not in person. I am currently immersed in an I-will-stab-you-if-you-watch-me-cry mindset with set plans to start crying. I hate crying. I hate being seen cry. Lately, lots of completely ridiculous content makes me breathe deeply and fight back tears, like an episode of Better Off Ted or the song Stand By Me. Hell, even a commercial can throw me out of whack. I almost feel bad for the therapist, but fuck it; her career choice. She has to nipple up, sometime. Might as well be with a thorn like me.
I had told Anna my idea behind the book. Accounts and opinions of friends I knew before and friends I met after my suicide attempt are inserted between chapters, because understanding suicide is pointless if all taken into account is what the impact was on the person who made the attempt. If you want to submit, with your name or anonymously, I’d be thrilled. The words of family and closest friends are necessary to grasp the scope of suicide, and though not easy, it is necessary.
To my beloved Anna, I owe the world.
I thought about a Thank You Gift Card, but all the possible stores I could have gotten one from seemed like a bad pun.
You know, like: Bed Bath and Beyond my suicide.
Thanks for getting me to the hospital on time. Get a coffee table from Ikea on me!
You saved my life. You rock! Now, think of me and go buy something racy from Frederick’s of Hollywood!
That just ain’t right in any kinna’ way. So, the best thing I can do is make both of our experiences stand for something far better in the long run, preventing others from inflicting the kind of pain I caused on those they love.
To do that to the best of my ability I have to proceed my way and on my own terms. All of you can get it or get out. If you choose the former, I won’t hate ya. That’s a promise. But I can’t ‘do me’ and keep worrying about you, or I’ll never get to where I need to be in order to make this meaningful and effective. I hope you all can understand. Even more so, I hope you can deal with it. The choice, however, is yours.
To suicide survivors families, it is NOT your fault. What if’s are the last thing your loved one wanted. They could only see their own misery. Remember them as the one you loved, not as them at their worst. Take it from me, its not something they want. They don’t want you to suffer and didn’t even realize you would. If anything, they want you to have the laughter they found impossible, like they were behind a brick wall with bloody fists trying to get beyond it.
LIVE, please. Live, because as someone who was in their shoes, I never wanted to hurt my family. I didn’t know it would. The last thing I would have wanted is to render hell unto the heart of family and friends. They loved you. Don’t cheapen that by blaming yourself, just enjoy everything they found impossible to do. And if you have any questions you wish you could ask to them, I’ll be here – no matter how seemingly painful of awkward the question. Just say what is on your mind and I will do my best to provide some semblance of answers.
Viscous, that’s what it is, like running in jelloed water. You see other people pass, smiles on their faces, goals in their eyes. You want to call out to them, but this is a race and you’re just another rat. Why would they stop to help? And what’s the point of running? It’s exhausting.
How am I supposed to react to that? Do I fight, try to hide the fact I’m struggling? Do I scream for help? ME? The strong swimmer? Do I splash along and hope nobody pays attention?
What do you do when life becomes a trap? Why is that so hard to answer?
Personally, I’ll be fine, then one day KERPLUNK! I plop into a mire, and in the process of trying to climb out, everything inside me dehydrates. My contact with others recedes like the ocean. I’m left high and dry on a deserted island of Hell wherenothing hears me weep or scream in frustration.
Communicating is painfully slow and tedious, perhaps because inside I’m yelling from that island removed from human understanding. It’s like I’m in two places at once, yet not fully in either one even for a second.
I have to struggle to say the right words – the good expected words people seem to want to hear without any sort of real obligation to lend a shoulder.
“I’m fucking drowning and I don’t know why. I want help, but asking for it scares the crazy right out of me.
I know how it feels. I know what it feels like. And I can tell you there is life that trumps suicide. You won’t always be fat. You won’t always have acne. You won’t always be sexualized. You won’t always be bullied. At some point, the devastation from others’ cruelty dissipates and you realize, “Dude, I’m fucking awesome. Why did I listen to the worst car salesman at Smash and Grab Auto, when I’m in college and he’s still a dick?”
You’ll realize their words were as wrong as Miley’s six inch wedgie on her Mac and Me alien looking ass. You’ll realize no matter how cruel the comments, they’re only true if you let them be. So, don’t let them be.
Comment, text, talk, or listen about it. Stashing suicide in the shameful shadows only makes it impossible to admit and start to recover. HIgh school is Hell. Kids are vicious. But the FUCKING FAILURES of their PARENTS to raise someone who respect others is not worth your pulse, tears, or time.
You Are Loved.
All my best,