Where My Story Began (part 3): Suicide Attempt

Posted: March 31, 2015 in Bipolar, Bipolar Disorder
Tags: , , ,

My bipolar episodes, once I came to learn and understand what exactly they were, can be easily indentified in looking back over my teenage years, as I have written in the first two parts of my Where My Story Began series, from cutting to obsessive relationships and destructive and dangerous behaviour. My highs back then were generally characterized by some of these behaviours- drinking, partying, destructive behaviour- while my lows were very different. I would withdraw from friends, activities, family, where as my balanced stages and highs were very social. I had many friends, a wonderful mother, and a sister that I was very close to for most of our high school years. However, when I was struck by the periods of depression my life seemed to consist of nobody and nothing. I was sad, angry, felt betrayed by the world and everyone in it, and at times, I felt did not want to live anymore. 

In the eleventh grade, while still in a rocky and unhealthy relationship with Jay (I introduced him in part 1 of the Where My Story Began series), I would hit the lowest stages of my young life.  This relationship was volatile during much of it, which spanned nearly 2 decades of my life. It was during this time when I attempted suicide more than once, although it was only one time that my attempt was nearly successful. 

It was a Friday night. I was 16. My parents had gone to some sort of special service at church, my sister was at her boyfriends house, and I was home alone. Jay and I were fighting on the phone, over everything and nothing, but one particular topic that kept surfacing was a girl he has dated recently while we were broken up. She had been a close friend of mine at one point in time, and since they had broken up we had been slowly getting back to being friends. I was convinced that he still had feelings for her, and he tried to avoid the subject all together which only convinced me more that I was right. The telephone conversation ended in a screaming match and one of us hanging up on the other. I spent the next couple of hours in tears. 

The exact details of the next couple of hours are a blur, with the exception of tears and feelings of hurt, anger, betrayal, and despair. At one point I called my friend, the very one we had just argued about, only to learn that he was at her house. Her current boyfriend was also there, however that fact was lost on me at the time. In my unstable mind, my world had just fallen apart. 

Before I continue, I feel it is important that you understand the vast contrast of my reactions and emotions between the high and low phases. Had this particular incident occurred during a high phase, I would have laughed, told Jay he was a complete ass and I could do better anyways, went out with my friends, gotten drunk, maybe made out with some guy, and forgotten the whole thing. 

Unfortunately, the low phase had a total opposite effect on my reaction. I was furious and devestated!  Anyone who has bipolar disorder, or is close to someone who does, can understand how intensified emotions often are. This anger and hurt inside of me was so extreme, so strong, so far from a normal reaction. Combined with this fury was a feeling of complete and total betrayal. Why was he doing this to me? Why was he trying to break my heart? Didn’t he love me anymore? What was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I enough for him?  In my unstable mind I listed off endless things that were wrong with me. I wasn’t pretty enough, slim enough. I was ugly and scarred. No one could ever love me. The voice of bipolar. 

How the series of events progressed isn’t exactly clear but I found myself searching the medicine cabinet for pills. My Dad had a lengthy history of illnesses and I knew there would be a fair supply of prescription and over the counter medications at my disposal. I downed whatever I could find. I didn’t count, but I knew it was enough to do the job. While I could still do it, before unconsciousness gripped me, I wrote a note. Again, what exactly I said in the note is unclear. I do recall blaming Jay in it, which in retrospect, I knew wasn’t fair,  but telling him how much I loved him and how I wished he had loved me as much, apologizing to my parents and sister and telling them I loved them, and I’m fairly certain I tried to make them understand how horrible and worthless I had felt. The thing with mental illness is there is no way to make anyone understand. 

Hours later, I’m unsure how many but probably 2 or 3, my parents arrived home. I don’t recall them finding me. I was nearly completely unconscious. My next memory of that night was of my mother crying and I remember feeling so much guilt. She had always been such a good mother, she didn’t deserve this. I remember bits of being in our car, cold air from the open window blowing on my face, and my mothers voice continuing to talk to me, trying to keep me awake. 

My next clear memory was being at the hospital, swallowing a thick, chalky substance, followed by wretching and vomiting and so much pain. My stomach convulsed violently, and for hours I would vomit regularly every few minutes.  My parents were always close by. My father cried. I had only once witnessed my father in tears, after my mom had miscarried their third child just a few years prior, but here he was now, the father I had never believed loved me, crying while standing over me. Lying on my back, unable to move with the exception of the intense periods of vomiting, I couldn’t even find the strength to think. More than ever I wanted to die. Lying next to me in an hospital bed that the nurses had wheeled in the room for her was my mom. She had been awake by this point for nearly 72 hours, having worked double shifts for 2 days just prior to that night. She was exhausted, and worn out, and scared. Again, the guilt consumed me. 

The pain and vomiting lasted for hours and by day break it had finally subsided. I was weak and had no fight left in me. As the sun rose my Mom pushed me in a wheelchair to the sliding glass doors of the ambulance entrance and we watched the serene view of the sun rising slowly in the sky. 

I was alive, but did I want to be? My head felt a little clearer than it had the night before, the horrific experience having shaken me to my core, but the feelings of hopelessness were still there. The anger and hurt had not been thrown up into the waste basket next to my hospital bed with the entire contents of my stomach. All of the feelings that had lead me to this point were still there, just hiding beneath the surface of what was now relief, not because I was alive, but because the horror of the night before was over. 

I wish I could tell you that the night in question changed me in some way, that it opened my eyes to the problems at hand, that it had a lasting effect on me, but that wouldn’t be true. That night was followed up by an appointment with a psychiatrist who pumped me full of pills that kept me in a zombie like state day in and day out, and were not long after flushed down the drain. The doctor didn’t get to the root of my problems. She didn’t even ask why!  Secretly, I had wanted her to ask, wanted someone, anyone, to figure out what the hell was wrong with me, and to fix it. But that person wouldn’t be her, and the whole experience with her had left feeling more alone and crazy, as well as instilling a profound lack of trust in doctors. If she, a psychiatrist, couldn’t or wouldn’t help me, than who would? 

As I said, that horrible night didn’t change me in any profound way, nor did it stop me from trying to take my own life again. I would swallow pills again a few more times over the next couple years. The only difference was I had gotten smarter about it, hiding a few pills here and there for when the time was right. My attempts were never discovered again- I simply slept them off. 

Looking back I now know how lucky I was. Had I been successful in ending my life all those years ago I would have missed out on so much, including  being a mother, a role that has changed my life forever. I would suffer in the darkness of this unknown disorder for more than twenty years before a diagnosis was made and treatment began, but my suicidal tendencies ended about a year after high school when I became a mother for the first time. I thank God for that, and for my children everyday, for they are a ray of sunshine in an ordinarily dark world. 

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Comments
  1. coastalbeach says:

    Thank you for sharing, I too am frustrated by the lack of help I am getting from my psychiatrist.

    Like

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