How the hell do you start talking about the fact that your mother attempted suicide? I had been sitting here for the last few days thinking about it myself here, coming up with no real answer. Do I sit here and talk about sitting with her Saturday morning at the emergency room watching the ER nurse talk on the phone to her kid rather than take care of my mom? Do i talk about calling 911, having Kent County Sheriffs department show up and the cop asking me if I was the one who OD ‘d? How the hell do you start a conversation about that?
Perhaps we should go into the back story — maybe that will explain it a bit more.
For as long as I’ve been writing TLC, I’ve talked about the fucked-up- ness (if that is a word) about my family. My own mental health up and downs, my failures and successes with my life, and touched on the bit about my fathers death and the almost estranged qualities my mother and I had.
Several weeks ago, I received a phone call from my mother, which is rare as I had always called her. Her voice was monotone and almost hypnotic when she spoke. Due to diabetes, her vision was getting worse by the day and she had become a hazard on the road. She didn’t know what to do, she couldn’t qualify for early retirement, she couldn’t get Social Security. She felt like her life was failing and she saw no need to go on. She told this to me, to Jeff, to the on call nurse at St. Mary’s, to the doctor, to everyone.
Friday 6-29-01, I called my mother on my way to work when she sounded horrible. She had called me the previous day to let me know she had resigned from her job — and I was begging her to wait till 7-3-01 so that I could drive up there. She didn’t know if she could make it. That afternoon, after getting everything squared away at work, I went ahead and drove from VA to MI, rolling in at about 3:30 am Saturday morning. My brother, who was in Oregon for a basketball camp, flew back home Sunday afternoon. By Monday morning, the whole family was together for the first time in nearly four years.
Monday 7-2-01 my mother attempted to OD on insulin by giving herself twice her normal value. Tuesday 7-3-01, we decided that she needed more help than we could give her and attempted to get her admitted to PineRest, which is the local (Grand Rapids) mental hospital. But my mother pulled the rug out from the shrink’s eyes and they agreed that she just needed a change in medication. She came out of Cornerstone, happy and nearly bouncy. She came home and attempted to get her life in order and then the next day, she slept for the next 36 hours.
Saturday 7-7-01, my brother came and woke me up. Mom took 200 units of insulin, he said. She is attempting to kill herself he repeated, and I woke up with a start. I held onto her while he called poison control. Jeff started making her drink OJ with sugar added while I got on the phone to 911. Within an hour, she was stabilized at the local hospital.
And now the choice is, where do we go from here?