Warning: This post contains potentially triggering content.
By Briton Underwood of Punk Rock Papa
The hot shower fogged up the mirror. As I wiped it away with my towel, catching my eyes. Even after a hot shower, there was this disheveled look about me. A tiredness behind those eyes.
Sometimes it gets a bit messy in my head. On days like today, being stuck in my head isn’t a very good place to be. Opening the medicine cabinet, my hand gripped around the only bottle of pills in there.
In one hand I held a full bottle of 500mg ibuprofen and, in the other, my cell phone loaded searches of what would happen if I sat down and washed the bottle down with a cold beer.
Ibuprofen. What a joke. The side affects would include nausea and an impending stint in a hospital.
There were plenty of knives in the kitchen. We had rope somewhere around the house. A toaster and a bath tub. This bottle of pills was one of many alternatives to waking up tomorrow.
My mind raced through the different options I had. A part of me created reasonable solutions for not killing myself.
An image of my wife crying and holding on to our three sons burned itself through each well-thought out attempt. As if some suicide Christmas Carol, a ghost of future showed a woman in over her head with three young boys, cursing my name because I wasn’t filling my end of the bargain.
The end. I don’t even know why I wanted to kill myself today. I did though. It was like a bad habit. I wanted a fix. I wanted my brain to shut up for a second. I didn’t want to worry. I didn’t want to let anyone down. I just didn’t want anything but to be gone.
The stigma of suicide was a cross I didn’t want to bear either. Even if you live to see another day, someone has to explain why you’re not around. Someone has to explain to your boss that you won’t be at work for a while because you decided to try and kill yourself.
I already worry enough what people think of me. Last thing I want is to have to face my in-laws after deciding to swallow pills and cut into my wrists.
As I caught my reflection in the mirror, I could almost see the battle being waged inside me. Disheveled.
A hot shower can’t wash everything away.
Putting the pills back in the medicine cabinet, I avoid the knife-laden kitchen; opting to make my way to bed. I toss my phone onto the bed where it lands facedown. Pictures of my family show up from the custom case I splurged on just so I could always turn my phone over and see their smiling faces.
I spent the money for the custom case not so much because it was cute, but because I needed it. I need the constant reminders not to swallow a bottle of pills. I surround myself with reminders so that, on nights like tonight when I crawl into bed feeling ready for the last sleep, I know I am needed and wanted tomorrow.
I run my hand along the case. A photo of my wife holding our twins. I remember that day at the cider mill like it was yesterday. Same with the picture of her holding our youngest son for the first time. I force my mind to take a break from trying to destroy itself. I force myself to remember.
To search for that nostalgic tug. The rope that keeps me from drifting.
Not every day is a struggle. On the hard days like today though, every second is. I don’t know that I want to kill myself. Whenever I get this way, the odd thought of will someone find me in time always crosses my mind. Maybe, I am scared. I am scared if I reach out for help, I will be weak. If I tell someone the battles I am fighting, I won’t be taken seriously. I live with this battle over not wanting to die and being too afraid to ask for help.
And when I want to kill myself, the sadness is coupled with an embarrassment. I can hear the whispers: why would he want to do that. He has a job, a wife, three children. Why would he do that to his family?
And I try to answer that question. But I don’t know.
I don’t know.
I look at the reminders I surround myself with and hope these feelings pass. I spend the next few hours laying in bed fading in and out of nightmares and fighting demons. When I unlock my phone, the search for what would happen if I swallow the bottle glares up at me. I read through a few more results. Pain. Pain will happen. Not just for me, but for the people in those photos on the back of my phone case.
I pull myself from bed and drag myself through the motions. Get dressed. Go to work. Smile a fake smile at my boss and speak company talk and short ‘yes, Sir.’ sentences.
The feelings linger, but they are gradually subsiding as I grow excited to see my children’s smiling faces after a long night of work.
I make it through another day. Win another battle. I promise myself I will seek help next time my head gets too loud. I wonder if I will always win this fight.
I look at the back of my phone and remind myself that I have to.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Briton Underwood, better known as Punk Rock Papa, is a parent above all else. When he gets sick of being at their beck and call, he likes to escape to his Facebook page or website, Punk Rock Papa. He writes about any and everything he wants, but mainly about his twin boys or his newest addition: another boy.