I made a promise. And I don’t make promises that I can’t keep.
(Stream of consciousness. It has to come out quickly.)
Knock on wood. I think I might be turning a corner!
A corner in the labyrinth of depression may lead one to –
* a straight and narrow path, brightening as one draws near to the exit.
* deeper into the dark, twisted heart of the very malevolent creature we whisper of.
And there are moments, moments such as these, where we are thrust into a corridor by an errant –
Force. Something completely unseen. Others go completely undisturbed, maybe slightly gusted, but completely unharmed. And they walk along.
The world is upside down and I am inside out. In this place, there are no rules. Gravity? Puh. Things are magnetised to another without reason. But, there is always causation. Life, living, any plane of existence is contingent upon cause and effect. The question why goes largely unfulfilled. Is there ever a complete answer?
I want to eradicate why from my vocabulary, and live as if it never existed. I want to be. But, that is deeply nested within the strong desire not to be. Again, nested, rooted deeply within one another, life-death, life-death, life-death.
I died so I could live, and I lived so I could die.
Dozens, upon dozens, upon dozens of times.
Why always the threes? Psychologically, three is the liars number.
It’s true. Interrogation of a liar will prove it. Lies. 3AM. Only 3 times. Even for someone to remember something, it will have to be repeated six times. Six divide two (because there are usually two people in that situation) is three. It happens in threes. Everything in the whole world happens in threes. Births. Deaths. Bad luck. Good luck. Two people plus an outside catalyst is three. We live in a sea of threes.
But, for me, it’s not a sea anymore. I stared blankly for awhile, overcome by it all, drowning in it. I watched it break apart, like fractured, old drywall. Piece by piece, with the reality of it still flickering within the shattering images, I watched it fall away.
My head hurts. I have this funny feeling in my head, and my words on this screen are as loud as a stadium speaker system in my head. The whole thing makes me tender and nauseous, completely fucking raw, blistered, and splintering.
I am loading up on benzos. I don’t want to do anything regrettable. I am twitching, and the air is being vacuumed out of my lungs. I am in a silent room, save for the overburdened furnace. I need to know if this is real.
My head is blank. The stadium is completely empty, while I blair into it. On my soapbox, spinning whimsical tales that the Grimm Brothers would envy. My life, all of this, the various realities I live in are stranger than any fiction. I don’t lie. That’s the strangest fact of them all. The threes are some sick obsession, some fact that keeps me grounded. Maybe I am a liar. Maybe I lie to myself.
I know the pieces fit, because I watched them fall away.
I need to cry, but the tears won’t come. I admonish my mother for being stoic, and yet, I will not release whatever this is. When did I stop being good at any of this? When did I stop being good at my life? My chest aches as it caves around my withering heart.
I want to blurt everything out, vulgarity intact. I need to smoke a cigarette before I come apart. Before this disintegration pulls the stitching right out. Because, you know that’s all that I am made of, right? Leftover parts, stitched and stuffed. Ragdoll to rule the ragdolls. I’m hardly fit to be the dog’s chew toy.
Now, I will write the words I fear will be true. But worse, I fear the reproach from others, and all of the criticisms that I cannot sustain.
I do not make this world a better place. It is futile for me to try, not because one person can’t make a difference. Because I am not the person who can lead the way.
I am of little worth outside of my tangible self. And not so much in the other respect. I earn money. I care for my son. I clean house. I cook. And all of those are just plain piss poor jobs.
I may never actually believe that I am worthy of love, admiration, affection, or any of the sort. That is why I don’t take compliments well. I cannot believe them, not for the sake of worrying about ulterior motives. It’s worse when they are truth, and I simply cannot absorb them.
I will never get out of this. I rarely use the word never, but it is appropriate here. I may cycle up, but only to tumble back down. I will spend my whole life doing this. I will fail at everything because of this. Or, I will shuffle through everything, doing a half-assed job, because I don’t have it in me. I am kidding myself when I think that there is something besides this.
And if I could wish myself out of existence now, I would use the first two wishes to bless my dearest of friends. All of you. Each encouraging message, lovely compliment, endearing sentiment, and empathetic passage. They have been my world in the last nine months.
There is no way out. And I want to feel. I want to feel the pain I cannot express. I want the punishment of what I have done and have failed to do. I want the streaming tears and the rooftop screams.
I want out of my fucking tortured brain!
Instead, I will eat milligram after milligram of benzos until I am either numb enough to just be, or unconscious. It’s not really my choice.
But was any of this ever my choice?
Warning: This post has controversial and potentially disturbing content surrounding suicide, psychic trauma, and child abuse. Reader’s discretion is strongly advised.
It started as a whimpering, jaw tight with a lip curled over. Soft, pattering, high pitched little noises, not much to even notice over the ambient noise. The realities of what played out in front of these oceanic colored eyes, glistening with anticipating tears, struck hard, and relentlessly roared inward and outward. The sheer force gusted forth a sharp wail, the same violently held hostage in the same dusty box of voices moments earlier.
Thoughts, voices, dialogues, monologues, scenes, words, swamped and overwhelmed this consciousness. Bits swarming together and fashioning a patchwork quilt for the minds eye to finally behold. Nowhere to turn, the newly formed blanket enveloped every last portion. Inescapable, imprisoned in truths, half-truths, past, present, and future. Sobs and tears erupted like a furious geyser, spattered with guttural words.
I can’t make you happy.
Please, stop crying.
Mommy cries too.
The tiny voice murmured indistinguishable speech, only heard through the hitches. His presence shifted, but only once removing himself to procure a gift. Eyes squeezed shut, tears slithering though hands to fall where they may. Again, he joined the wailing, wolves howling in the night. He fashioned himself as a koala, and held tight.
– – –
Curled on the bed in sullen agony, with lead curling in tendrils up and down each limb. The tiny voice said, “Juice?” A raw, numb voice replied, “Go get your cup.” “My cup, my cup,” he repeated for a scant few moments.
A frustrated cry, and a strike on the back. Another. Laying there, absorbing the blows in hopes they would soon cease for good. Another, then a few in succession. A pause. A warm circle in the direct center of the back, a scrape of teeth.
A memory flashed, and I shot right up. Without thought, I slapped him on his right cheek, but in a nanosecond held back, but couldn’t entirely stop the motion. His face pucked, tears welled and spilled from his eyes, and he screamed. I pounced.
“We do not bite! We do not bite! We do not bite! We do not bite! No bite! No biting! No! We do not bite!” I belted until I ran out of air.
Stop! Before you hit the X in the corner, and do your mandated reporting, read this. This is an isolated incident. I has never occurred before. I had no malice or ill intention for my child. This was a snap reaction that I am now extremely cognizant of. So please, at least read the rest of it before you contact authorities.
We both were there, staring at one another, gasping for breath. He threw himself into my arms. I enbraced him for a second, only a second, and put him on his bed. I stood and sighed, “We both need a time out.”
I started for the door, and his screams grew wilder. I turned to look, and he was now curled in the bed, hysterical. Poisonous daggers jammed deep into my heart. His pain was mine, but the urgency for me to abandon him was too great. Stay and harm him, or leave and harm him?
I sat down at my desk, and lit a cigarette. As I exhaled, I choked back more tears. Sinking, cigarette smoke swirling around me, all of the menacing thoughts rose to prey on my guilt to intensify my pain.
I am a bad mother.
I am. Another monster in a history of monsters. What was the flash in my mind that drove me to these horrific actions?
He was enraged, tearing through the house, screeching. I became smaller than small, for I already was small. I clutched my plastic cup, hoping I could disappear. I was in the basement, and the elephants trumpeted and stampeded back and forth, trampling throughout the house.
When his feet hit the cement floor, his eyes fixed on me. He made a run for me, and I dashed for the stairs, for the safety of my parents, a room with a lock, anything. And in that stairwell, he lunged on me. He sunk his teeth hard into the center of my back and I let out a blood curdling scream.
I screamed and screamed, tears pouring out. It had been the worst pain I had ever experienced up until that point. My parents were removing him from my back before even addressing me or my wound.
My father helped me to my feet and my mother was nowhere to be found. The pain intensified anytime I moved.
And all he could say was: “It doesn’t hurt that bad.”
I made a painful realization. I cannot remember a childhood before eleven for a reason: My parents let my autistic brother brutalize me.
It’s no excuse. None. This is no feasible And as I furiously dragged on that cigarette, I determined that my son, my family, would be better off without me.
It could be done with ease. I would call into work and tell my boss I couldn’t make it in. I’d neglect to tell my parents, and my son could be safe with them. And, I’d empty the Vicodin bottle with the Wellbutrin bottle into my mouth, and wash it down in one big gulp.
Then, I’d prepare my note. I would not want to leave this world without at least a few words to as a testament to my own failures, not anyone else’s.
My sister called, before that train of thought could steam along into action. Sometimes, there is a such thing as divine intervention. She rarely calls that late in the morning. While idly listening, I mustered the courage to face my son. I nervously peeked into his room.
My little boy was sleeping, with the angelic, peaceful look all children have while slumbering. Eased for a moment, but then sinking again. I knew I would not be able to apologize before I left for work.
He may never know how incredibly ashamed, guilty, monstrous, and sorry I feel. He may never know how much I hate myself for seemingly not loving him enough to stop myself. I won’t try to justify it. The only thing I can see is the traumatized look on his face, the tears glistening as they poured down. And all I want to do is to walk to a bridge, any bridge in Pittsburgh will do, and leap from that great height to plunge into water that would guarantee near instantaneous death if the fall didn’t do it first.
This is not a testament. I am miserably, but safely at work. This is my aching, broken heart pouring out. This is my confession.
Note: There was a lot of hesitation about posting this once it was written. If you have harsh reprimands, please keep them to yourself. I’m in a very fragile state right now.
Warning: This post has contents that may be hazardous to mental health. It contains strong themes of suicide, suicidal behavior, and substance abuse. Reader discretion is advised.
Have you ever had a moment where you heard the distinct and deafening sound of your own clock ticking down?
I have only heard this sound a handful of times. The first few times, it was difficult to distinguish from the other garble in my mind. But, the last time this occurred, the sound was unmistakable.
It happens when my physical state is badly threatened, but I’m not mentally aware. That is my defense mechanism that seems to be biologically programmed to protect me. It is what creates the Heath Ledger paradox.
And that’s what I experienced.
The Heath Ledger Paradox
Personally, not proudly, I have attempted suicide between a half of a dozen and a dozen times in my life. I don’t really keep score; there is no tally anywhere. In fact, in total, I have only left a handful of notes behind. They don’t always correspond to the actual attempt, though.
I am not a violent woman. My method of choice was almost always centered around substances. My very first attempt landed me in a bathtub with a belly full of pills. It was an unintentional coincidence between Sylvia Plath’s and Virgina Woolf’s suicides. I know this to be truth, because I was only in my early teens at the time. I had yet to read about these authors. And despite these attempts, even some carefully orchestrated with blatant drug interactions, I never succeeded.
What was different about me that made me a survivor of my own wretched malice? Many a person has done these things accidentally! Marilyn Monroe, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Lee, Brittany Murphy, and many others are examples in our modern culture of how accidental overdose happens.
I met a guy in college that I stayed friends with. Eventually, we ended up working together. He was dismissed for failure to attend, and we all suspected he had a drug problem. A few days later, he was found dead in his apartment from a multiple-drug interaction. The guy ended his own existence with his own carelessness. How could he do it by accident and I couldn’t possibly do it on purpose?
That’s the Health Ledger Paradox. It is easier to succeed when the mind is unaware.
Last night, I accidentally set my foot onto the other side of the fence for a moment.
I still have impacted wisdom teeth on both the bottom left and right sides. These wisdom teeth have risen up partially in the back, causing skin pockets to form. Occasionally, I will get something trapped back there and a small infection will form. If I treat it immediately with a rinse and keep the pain manageable, I can usually escape a trip to the doctor and an antibiotic.
I detest going to the doctor to hear the same thing repeatedly. Yes, I know I need to have those teeth out. Though, I now have dental insurance, I do not have the money for a serious co-pay there. I just had a major surgery a month and a half ago. I don’t have the time or energy to spend in recovery. And I always feel worse on the “cillan” antibiotics than I did with the infection. Other women will feel me here. I usually end up with a worse infection in the end.
I had some Vicodin remaining from my surgery. Admittedly, I hadn’t taken many. I had a problem where the Vicodin would cancel the Temazepam out. I would be up for hours, sleepless and still aching. I decided that my body needed rest more than I needed pain relief. I had to heal. Last evening seemed like a good time to take it. I don’t know how I let the situation with my teeth go from uncomfortable to agonizing. But, it happened more quickly than my mind could have processed. So, I took the Vicodin.
I spent the rest of the night staring at the white porcelain bottom of a toilet bowl. At first, it was akin to other bad reactions I had to other narcotics. I do not respond well to Oxycontin or Percocet. And this was a similar episode. But, by the sixth hour, I knew there was something terribly wrong. My stomach had already emptied itself twice and was going for a third. This time, only water remained.
By the seventh hour, it became clear to me. I leaned forward and wretched. It felt like my stomach was turning itself inside out, in hopes to vacate an invader. I literally felt empty, as if I had evacuated every ounce of anything I’d eaten in the last 36 hours. And it dawned on me. My body was having a reaction – but why? I had taken Vicodin before with great success. I took it after my surgery and this didn’t happen.
I couldn’t muster the strength until the morning. I had only slept five hours out of fear that I’d never awaken again. I decided to refer to the almighty Medscape Mutli-Drug Interaction Checker. I thought I remembered doing this. Typically, I screen all new medications coming in. As I was trying to rattle my brain for all of my prescriptions, it occurred to me. I did do this, but I had forgotten a very important medication, Wellbutrin.
Significant – Monitor Closely
bupropion + hydrocodone
bupropion will increase the level or effect of hydrocodone by affecting hepatic enzyme CYP2D6 metabolism. Significant – Monitor Closely.
lamotrigine + acetaminophen
lamotrigine decreases levels of acetaminophen by increasing metabolism. Minor or non-significant interaction. Enhanced metabolism incr levels of hepatotoxic metabolites.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg there. That’s among four additional interactions. Those are the most important though. That’s the reason I was hugging the toilet, wondering why my sedation was outrageous and my pain relief was minimal.
And I realized, I just set foot on the other side of The Heath Ledger Paradox. If it wasn’t for that mechanism, that beautiful inborn, DNA encoded device inside me, I would have been dead. Something in me told me not to take more medication when my pain relief was marginal. And that same thing kept me safe by alerting my body that there was a dangerous toxin that needed to be rejected from my stomach. There was still a tiny bit of knowledge encoded from some source that this was life-threatening.
Not everyone has that, and most people with it can bypass the safeties with enough of a loading dose. That’s the aim in a suicide – to get past the safety, just like a gun. Except, when most people knowingly stand on that ledge and look into the void, they turn back. The point with accidental overdose is that all of that is gone. It’s like playing with a gun without knowing if it’s loaded or if the safety is on.
That gun was loaded last night. Thank the powers that be in the universe that I have a safety.
Today, I learned about a tragedy that occurred in the life of a woman who had a profound impact on T.D.’s growth and development. She helped our family so much, and even helped me, though she was not my therapist. She was T.D.’s Developmental Therapist from Early Intervention and came into our home and lives every week for nearly a year. And she is one of the few absolutely saintly people I can say that I know.
Dev fell in love with a man three years ago that was in Medical School. His reserve unit was called out, so he had to drop out of school in his 3rd year. He did a tour of Iraq jumping out of a rescue chopper as a medic.
When he came home, the PTSD was crippling and he couldn’t return to his life. The VA alleged he didn’t finish his tour, so he wasn’t entitled to benefits. Dev loved this man with all of her heart and soul. But, he was living in extreme poverty without access to adequate psychiatric services.
The PTSD was too much. He took his life.
I have been a friend to several people who have taken their lives. In every case, they did not have access to adequate psychiatric care.
I have been on both sides of this. I know what it’s like to be overtaken by an illness. The pit is dark and dangerous when you’re dodging the pendulum. And, I also know what it’s like to feel the profound loss and sadness of a suicide survivor.
But, there’s a unique view that a person has from standing on both sides of that fence. From the one with the handful of pills to the other in a casket.
I feel an overwhelming empathy for the victim. I always wish that they could’ve had an extra few minutes to get to The Moment. The Moment has always come at, what seemed to be, excellent timing. It was always a millisecond of mental clarity that produced a phrase or a feeling that would stop me. If they could have hung on, just one more minute…
The loss is unspeakable. Death before due time is always tragic. But, it’s never more tragic than when it’s at one’s own hand. Friends and family are choked with profound emotion they never knew they had. And who do they blame? There is no definitive perpetrator in a suicide.
I’m not sure that a person can truly know their way around suicide at all. It’s confounding because it violates all self-preservational instincts. There are no distinct causes and effects of suicide. Why does one person only attempt a suicide and another succeeds?
In all fairness, I should probably be dead. I won’t go into all of the gory details of every attempt. This is a situation I call the Heath Ledger Paradox. My last attempt, over a year ago, involved an attempted overdose and intentional drug interactions. How is it that Heath Ledger can do it by accident and other’s can’t manage to do it on purpose?
The Moment is the only thing I can even think of.
My heart weeps and heaves at the subject of suicide. I mourn with the mothers over their children and the wives of deceased husbands. I am a mother and a wife; there is nothing more precious in the universe than my family. People are not made of materials. They cannot be manufactured and replaced.
For everyone out there that might feel suicidal – hang on!!! There is help. You won’t feel this way forever. Call someone. Call anyone. If you don’t feel like you can, call a suicide hotline. They are there to help. The link provided lists national and state hotlines in the US. Don’t wait.
For suicide survivors – I cannot even pretend to imagine what it would be to lose a loved one in that way. I know the way I feel about my loved ones. I would be devastated. I can only say that I deeply sympathize with you.
And with all of the love in my heart for my fellow bloggers, let us be honest with each other, in the very least. You are not alone. You don’t have to be in that dark place alone. We are here as a community to help. If anyone feels suicidal, speak up. I promise to do the same.
I hadn’t been dressed in over a week.
It was about then that the buzz of the accident was over and the heaviness of the real world settled on and around me. I was still unemployed. We still had bills to pay, and now we have more. And I was mostly a single parent.
But none of that was really different before the accident, was it?
It’s circular logic. Do hard life events bring on a depressive episode or does depression beget hardship?
I’ve been trying to outrun it for awhile now. I’m well versed in the signs and signals of it’s approach. Suddenly, I have the urge to be alone. I have lost interest in everything I work so hard on and I have lost pleasure in all of academic and creative pursuits that I pride myself in. I start spending more time in the house, and even more time gravitating toward the bed. Everything is a laborious task. Showering even seems inconvenient and exhausting.
It went above and beyond. I started cancelling important appointments. I didn’t want to see anyone at all. I didn’t return any of my phone calls. In fact, I stopped answering the phone entirely. I didn’t have anything to say. And I didn’t want anyone to notice my condition.
I can’t say that I didn’t try to head this off. I still invited friends over. And I enjoyed their company. It was nice to put all of this in the back of my head for a minute. Until the moment I said, “Take care!” and latched the door behind them. Then it all came flooding back, like a tsunami of emotion with an anchor around my neck.
I’ve been a zombie. I see the dishes pile up in the sink and can’t bring myself to do them. And when I don’t, then the guilt and depression deepen. I lay there and stare at the television while my son brings me toy, after toy, after toy. He just wants his mommy to cheer up and play. For a moment, I sit up, and smile weakly at him. I hug him hard and try to play. But I’m not all there. And it’s not fair to him.
I’m taking medication but I never seem to get completely better. I’m better for awhile and then I gradually backslide. I’ll notice an episode here and there. But they’re pretty short lived and not very intense. But it grows. The next episode is longer and suddenly I’m thinking that I might not be able to handle my life. Until finally, I am here.
Where is here? It’s all too familiar a place for me. This is the deepest, darkest pit in the whole bleak and treacherous landscape of my bipolar mind. The is where the pendulum flings me when it takes a hearty swing and I can’t hold onto it any longer. This is the place where the shadow monsters live. All of the bad things I’ve ever done and all of the things I never could be exist in this place. And I’m never sure how to get out.
And in this place today, I went to the home that resembled mine. The rooms were dark and the house was still. I went into my drawer and took some medicine – ya know, just to take the edge off. I went into the bathroom and stripped down to nothing but my astrological charms, my engagement ring, and my wedding ring. I sat down in the tub with the shower pounding on my head and back as I put my head on my knees. And I cried.
These delusions are greater than me. “Your husband hates you.” “You are the reason your son needs extra help.” “Your mother considers you a burden.” “Your father only loves you for your son.” “Are you going to keep killing everyone’s souls with your illness?” Every ache from the past rose to the surface until it felt like I had better battered.
I cried for everything I cannot be, cannot have, and cannot do.
All I wanted to do was bleed. And I pulled out a razor and went to it. I was hoping to gauge whether I was ready to go for the vein. Or if the blade was even up to the challenge. I hardly broke skin – and I gave up. For now. I didn’t have the right tools and time was up.
Pruned-up and water-logged, I dressed and hid the evidence. I patiently waited for everyone to be in bed for their naps and I took some more medicine. And a little more medicine. I wanted to be out of my mind this time. I was hoping some crazy concoction of depressants that I put into my body would be enough to do the trick. I’d drift off and never awake again. I found a sharper razor. But not sharp enough. I barely drew blood on an already open wound. But it was just enough pain to put everything else to rest.
Alas, alack, I am here. I just wasn’t meant to go through with it.
I need to go to the doctor. But what use is a doctor when you’re still completely alone with this?