My Suicide Story is Not My Own
|Photo by Velizar Ivanov on Unsplash|
I’ve suffered from depression for as long as I can remember and have had suicidal thoughts more times than I can count.
That’s normal for me. I’m used to that.
I know to ask for help when my thoughts start verging on planning. My need to stay alive and well for my children’s sake keeps me in check, and I trust that I’ll ask for help when I need it because of that.
When it comes to other people, however, I can’t trust that they’ll ask for help when it gets serious. Too often, the ones that are serious, don’t ask for help because they don’t want to be talked out of it.
My first brush with suicide was by a few degrees of separation. In high school, one of my best friends’ brother hung himself in the city park. The rope broke and he’s now paralyzed from the waist down.
By that time I’d already started having suicidal thoughts, and this event brought the harsh reality of suicide crashing down on me. I saw what my friend’s family went through, and I couldn’t imagine doing that to the people I loved.
After high school I became close with a boy I’d gone to school with. He also suffered from depression and would call me saying he was going to kill himself. I eventually realized these were cries for help more than declarations of intent. I would talk him down and we’d repeat the process a few days later. I went from being terrified he would follow through, to treating it as routine.
The big one, however, and the reason for this post, was my ex-girlfriend. If anyone has ever had good reason for major depression, it’s her. She has a history of sexual assault, undiagnosed mental disorders, and she was going through a divorce and had been separated for a while before I met her.
Her soon-to-be-ex-wife was using the children as leverage in the divorce. My girlfriend was terrified of losing her children and couldn’t imagine life without them.
So, one night she bought a pack of razors from a gas station. She went to a parking lot, turned off her phone, and slit her wrist.
I had been trying to get hold of her all evening. She showed up at my door crying, with her wrist bleeding.
She was admitted to an inpatient facility for nearly two weeks after that. I went to the ER to be with her the day she was admitted. I went to the inpatient facility while she got checked in. I went to every visitation the facility allowed. I kept in contact with her best friend and mother who I’d never even met, to keep them updated on her condition and assure them I was there for her.
I moved her into my house to make sure I was there for her when she needed me. She had no income, and, though I could barely support myself, I was determined to take care of her. You see, this was the first time suicide was right in front of me; the first time it was something that couldn’t be ignored, and a second attempt was entirely possible.
My anxiety was at an all-time high.
I got to where if she didn’t respond to a text, I would immediately panic. My heart would drop and start thudding in my chest, and all I could think of was her bleeding out in a parking lot somewhere. She had this terrible habit of sending ominous texts about her soon-to-be-ex being awful and trying to hurt her again, and then not saying anything else for hours. In those hours I would be convinced she was somewhere with her phone turned off, trying to end it all.
In the end, her soon-to-be-ex won and turned back into not-an-ex.. She used the kids to get my girlfriend to go back home, and I had to stop worrying about her well-being, because it was no longer my problem.
The three-pack of razors is still in the console of my car, months later. I’ve avoided opening it. I can’t bring myself to look at them. I think the fact that they’re there keeps me in check. I haven’t had suicidal thoughts since that incident. Not wanting to hurt my family has always been enough to keep me from making plans and following through, but living through that hell seems to be enough to keep the suicidal thoughts away altogether.
Or, maybe I’ve just been lucky.
So, my suicide story isn’t my own. I’ve never gotten quite that close. But suicide has definitely had an effect on my life, and it’s definitely a bitch.
If you or someone you love is at risk for suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.