remember not to die

Complicated relationships with suicide and the meaning of death.

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.

gather your bones

Dear Internet,
I’m currently sequestered up at the cabin in Northern Michigan, closing it down for the winter for TheExHusband. It’s beautiful up here, as it is always beautiful up here, at times it makes my heart ache. I came up too late, missing the last summer hurrah at the beach; my fat girl bikini remains unworn. The weather has dropped considerably since I’ve been here, which means apple cider, cake doughnuts, and decorative gourds will be all the rage for tourist traps, those damn trunk slammers.
Coming up to Throbbing Cabin, I knew there was lack of Internet, which was fine. Lots of the cute as balls villages around here have libraries with said resource. I checked and double checked I could access many of the programs I use “in the cloud” (quoted because that makes me giggle), such as Dropbox and Evernote offline. Many of these programs keep local copies on the hard drive, thus making it easily accessible for me to get to without Internet access. Easy peasy right? Slowly close down the cabin AND have plenty of time to work on my masterpieces.
No. No 1000%. Just checking email (chock full of images these days) and websites ate into my data like mad. I begged and cajoled with TEH and he agreed, if he wanted to rent this place out, WIFI would be needed. So tada! I am on the internets.

Yesterday marked the end of National Suicide Prevention Week. To “celebrate,” as it were, semi-colon tattoo is now living on my right wrist.

Tattoo #17. Go big or go home.

To also mark the occasion, I passed around my suicide attempt essay and not my mother’s attempt. Not intentionally, surprisingly, but because of my divorce of her, I haven’t given her a thought in months. So why would I remember to mention what we have in common?
Strikingly, no one wanted to talk about the pieces other than my mother’s reception towards me after I attempted. Top pieces read in a very long time but nothing about my attempt. Not a, “glad you didn’t go through with it” or “how are you feeling these days?”
Wasn’t one of the main points of suicide prevention week is to stop the stigma? Weren’t we supposed to open up and talk about suicide, how to prevent, how to better equip ourselves when having a dialog on mental health?
And yet, nothing really changed, has it?
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half a world away

I’m in love with one of my classes, Advanced Composition, because the professor is NOT a hard ass. This is not to say the professor is not difficult, she is, but she also gives us a lot of freedom for the subjects we write on and they can be personal, which rocks. There is something about dry academia that turns me off and since she’s pretty liberal about what topics we can write on, it’s great for me in terms of writing growth.
An assignment given to us recently was in response to an essay we read by Adrienne Rich called “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision” and our response to that in terms of how we have grown much in the same way that Rich has.
For my topic, I picked my mothers attempted suicide, which you know is always a big hit at parties. The essay will be a discourse on societal views and the ‘hush hush’ topic when I mention — which is always matter-of-factly and people cringe! Cringe I tell you because it’s a ‘secret’, don’t air your dirty laundry in public, blah blah blah.
Writing about it tonight is a catharsis, because it seems appropriate after being on the phone with one of my aunts for nearly two hours and I had this strong urge to call my mother and tell her I love her. When I got her on the phone, she was in a hurry to get me off because she was going to go play poker with her cronies.
My how the world has changed in a little over two years.

pictures galore

This summer has been pretty busy, with my mom attempting to commit suicide, Paul and I calling off the wedding, and me getting inked/pierced galore. Plus include my obsession with Power Girls, my puppies and getting acrylic on my nails, it has been strange. To keep you interested until I get the website up and moving again, here are pics taken with the new digital camera I got for my birthday, indexed per subject.

power puff girls thong

desktop as of 8.24.01

my bathroom

my cube, side a

my cube, side b

my cube, side c

my 25lb cat that currently lives with my mom<

Pugsley, Wednesday and Lily (left to right)

ankle tattoo was done 1/1994

arm tattoo was done 7/14/2001

lower back tattoo was done 7/5/2001

repierced for the 3rd and 4th time on 7/15/2001

left calf tattoo done 8/11/2001
eyebrow pierced 8/11/2001, nose pierced 3/1993
10g barbell put in 7/1999, pierced 1996
mom’s name ‘marietta’, two different variations
picture taken summer of 99
tongue pierced, 7/1997
Paul’s dragon, left upper arm
Paul’s right wrist


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?

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