Saint Jerome Writing by Caravaggio
[Crossposted to Medium]
First things first: I’m collecting donations for the Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention 5K walk which is happening on November 5. Here is my story:
When I was 17, I attempted suicide. It was through a suicide prevention crisis hotline that got me the help I needed. I am also bipolar and the National Health Association report those with mental disorders are 30 – 70% more likely to attempt suicide. I know too many people who have either thought of or attempted suicide and I want those numbers to be 0. I tattooed a semicolon on my wrist to be a constant reminder my story, and everyone else’s, is not over.
I’m also walking for my mom who attempted suicide in 2001. Suicidal thoughts know no age, no race, no income barrier, no religion and more. Please help me fight against suicide prevention by donating to my walk.
The resulting donations have been amazing! My original goal was $200 and I doubled that in the first two days, and tripled it within a week. If you have a few bucks to spare, please considering donating!
This essay has changed topics at least twice before final publication. First, it was a meditation on spiritualism of the pagan variety which is long overdue and definitely needed. Then on to recounting seeing my mother for the first time in over four years which turned into talking about suicide.
Which, you know, is a sunny topic.
Suicide and I have a complicated relationship: I started writing a book when I was in my pre-teens about it (which made for interesting fare for research at the library) and then there is my own attempt at 17 which was a revelation and a curse. A revelation I was not alone in my attempt though at the time it seemed like no one had ever felt that way and a curse as just like talking about mental health is a stigma (let alone having any mental illness) so too is talking about suicide, especially if you attempted. I rarely talk about my suicide attempt and enough years have filled in from then to now the recollection of what happened is hazy: the smooth move of my arm to the bottle, the bottle opened, the drugs down my throat, then as the drugs took hold, the very thing pushed me to die was now attempting to have me live.
(I need to note here friends got to me just in time and force fed me hamburger whose grease had not been drained which prompted me to throw up every last thing in my stomach, which of course included the drugs. The EMTs were called, which led to my mother being called, which led to them not taking me to the hospital as I had already thrown up the drugs and my mother is/was a nurse so I should be “fine.”)
What I didn’t mention to my story in AFSP was my mother’s reaction – something along the lines of “I got called out of work for this?” to direct quote, “Next time you try, don’t use my pills.” While contacting a local suicide hotline IS true, the motherly lack of care of me and my brain following my attempt never happened.
When I attempted suicide, there was some reasoning behind it: I didn’t feel like I belonged; I wasn’t loved by anyone; no one was there for me. When mother attempted suicide in 2001, we never really found out why she attempted — or the whys when she attempted again a few months later. Perhaps there were no reasons on the attempts but here she is, 15 years later on still being an asshole to everyone and ruling as if her suicide mattered and mine did not.
Nothing has changed. Everything has changed.
As the decades have passed, I catch brief glimpses of that day. I know it was spring/summer. I know my action was spur of the moment and not planned though it was never far from my thoughts. I know that singular attempt was enough to want me to live a life worth having. I wanted to go to college, see the world, maybe get married and / or have kids.
All the things I have wanted and continue to do.
I want a life not just to live but to be alive.