As written by someone who’s grateful she did.
On January 3, I tried to take my life.
I swallowed 60 of the antidepressants I had stopped taking months before and swallowed them all at one time. Just to be sure I mixed in some Xanax and Ambien for good measure.
I’d painstakingly crafted a note to my sister and nieces with instructions.
During the previous 6 months things had gotten progressively worse and I was too embarrassed to speak to anyone about it. A bad business investment and business partner didn’t help. A relationship ended; though it was toxic from the beginning, it made me feel like I had someone.
After that, I had no one.
My panic attacks were getting out of control. I would wake up in the morning, go to work, come home and then not leave the couch until the next morning. When friends reached out I would do anything possible to avoid committing to plans.
I admitted I was depressed to my sister and brother after Thanksgiving. On September 17, I had admitted it to my father. Others noticed but I did my best to avoid the conversations. I did my best to try to hide it.
Yet by New Year’s Eve, I felt there was no hope. I felt like I was a burden to my family and friends and would be better off simply ending my life. After all, I thought, I had taken antidepressants; while they worked to a certain level the side effects were too much for me to deal with. I didn’t think there were other options in terms of medication.
Now I can say, without hesitation, I am lucky to be alive.
By what I call divine intervention, the dog walker found me in a pile of vomit and urine on January 4.
He left a phone by my side. I couldn’t see the screen and wasn’t entirely coherent. I started pressing buttons. One of the buttons happened to be my Aunt Mary. The next thing I remember my Uncle Bill was at my bedside. Along with my Uncle Mark and Aunt Barbara, they made the decision to call an ambulance (apparently, I thought I was OK and it wasn’t needed).
The ambulance ride is a blur. I vaguely remember getting sick on the medic. I have some recollection of the emergency room, where I spent several hours.
I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep. I was so dehydrated I couldn’t produce urine and I was too wired to drink water. I had so much of the antidepressant in my system that there were concerns about long-term damage. Some of the initial cardiac and neurological tests came back with signs doctors found concerning, so more tests would be needed. I was admitted to the hospital for further testing.
I didn’t sleep the whole night. It felt like forever.
They couldn’t give me any medicine to calm down my racing thoughts, my illusions, or to help me sleep. I had to wait until morning, until there would be another blood test. My blood work had to come back without toxic levels of the medication.
I had cords hooked up to every part of my body for monitoring. The godsend was that, because of the suicide attempt, which I admitted, they couldn’t leave me alone in my hospital room. I had what they called a “sitter” with me until morning.
She was my angel without knowing it.
I couldn’t sleep and was so anxious; she calmed me down during my panic attacks and just listened. I think I talked for four hours straight. I told her things I hadn’t shared with anyone. Things from childhood, college, adult years, etc. Things I had stuffed down so deep it shocked me how much I remembered.
I shared with her the secrets I’d been too afraid to tell anyone else.
The next morning they took more blood. The results were sufficient enough for anti-anxiety medication. I needed that to help get me through the CT scan, MRI, and additional cardiac and neurological testing.
I was still throwing up and getting all of the toxic medicine out of my system. It took three full IV bags before I could produce urine. I was lucky as hell because after all of the tests, all of the concern and fear, I hadn’t caused permanent damage to myself. Someone was looking out for me.
Then the really hard work had to begin.
The deep dark work that no one talks about or prepares you for. The work that is freeing and exhausting at the same time.
I had to work on myself, my demons and the mental health issues that had held me back for too long.
I received a new diagnosis, which in time I accepted was just a word, the same word that affects many others I know. Some days it really bothered me. Most days, at least now, I know it’s just a word.
After several days in the “regular” hospital, a stay at the psychiatric hospital followed.
I went voluntarily because I knew, deep down. that I needed the help and that I couldn’t live with these demons anymore.
I couldn’t do it myself, and I was ready to accept the help that I finally admitted I needed. I needed help learning how to deal with my mental health issues, my anxiety, my depression; I admitted I was neither ready nor able to do so without help.
And though I’d had help to some degree before, I had never been as open and focused on getting better than I was after gaining this new lease on life.
I was scared but tried so hard not to show that fear to anyone else. I didn’t know what to expect, and memories of Angelina Jolie in Girl Interrupted scared the hell out of me
The psychiatric hospital was equally scary and wonderful.
The staff was exceptional. The nurses, doctors, therapists, psychologists and pharmacists worked in tandem with my overall mental and physical health and continued progress being the ultimate goal.
Group therapy, talk therapy, individual therapy and art therapy (my least favorite) were all vehicles meant to get to the core of the respective issues affecting myself and the others hospitalized alongside me.
While, on paper, none of us were similar, we all shared similar core issues. We were there because we wanted to get better and needed help getting there.
Anxiety, depression, mania, bipolar, schizophrenic — the diagnoses, the words, didn’t matter. They were simply words that placed us together on this journey.
For some of us, the journey has been easier than it has for others.
Some people I met in the hospital are still struggling daily. Some are still in the hospital.
I feel incredibly thankful that I was able to spend time in a place where I learned so much, where I was challenged so much, and where I was accepted with my flaws and still loved.
After sufficient time in the hospital, I graduated to outpatient group therapy several times a week, along with individual therapy weekly.
Going back to my house was scary, but there were going to be scary things I encountered every day and I couldn’t continue to let them hold me back.
I was responsible for monitoring my medicine, getting myself to therapy, and easing back into real life. I’d have my cell phone back and would have to start letting those closest to me in on what I was going through. I couldn’t live in the bubble anymore.
And, as scared as I was, I was open with those closest to my (maybe) for the first time in my life.
To my sister, brother, their spouses, my aunts, uncles cousins, and closest friends. I will be forever grateful for how you never judged me and were simply there to be there.
My best friend told me that January 5 was day one of my new life.
I, along with my doctors and nurses, agreed with her.
It’s been four months. Four months of change, Four months of growth. Four months of learning and accepting and a lot of uncertainty.
It’s been four months of that word — the diagnosis — that I now accept is simply a word that I share with so many others.
It’s been four months of figuring out who I am and what makes me happy. It’s been four months of reflection: deep reflection — some good and some bad.
It’s been four months of learning how to love myself, flaws and all.
I’m proud of myself; it’s the first time in my life I’ve ever been able to say that.
There are some people who are no longer in my life.
These are the people who want apologies from me for talking too openly about this or for not including them in my close and small circle.
To them, I respond that unless we talk about these things, openly and honestly, the stigma will continue.
I wasted too many years being sad, hiding because I feared that word (the ultimate diagnosis) would be thrust at me, or that I would be judged. I went to therapy but refused to dig down to the real issues, thereby continuing to stuff the real issues away as deeply as I could.
The person it hurt most was me. It caused so much chaos in my life that could have been avoided by proper medication, real therapy and letting people in.
By finally being open about these issues, I have no embarrassment in asking that if you sense someone is struggling, despite what they tell you, be there for them.
Be there without judgment.
Because you being there can make all of the difference in the world.
It can, literally, bring a person back to life and allow them to see past that word they fear will define them. It can change their life.
We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to speak confidentially to a trained crisis worker.
If you liked this story, read more like it on Yourtango.com:
21 Brave People Reveal What Life Is Like After Attempting Suicide
To Anyone With Suicidal Thoughts — You May Be Lonely, But You Are Not Alone
What I Learned About Suicide Contagion When My Friend Killed Himself