By Karen Szabo of The Antsy Butterfly
I’ve been trying to figure out a way to talk about something that I never talk about. Something that I want to talk about, yet not sure how to.
You see, I’ve spoken out about my depression and my anxiety. I’ve written about being an anxious mother and about my postpartum depression, but what I haven’t touched on my suicide attempt — or my suicidal ideations — and for good reason: before today, every time I started writing, my sentences turned out scattered. They were incoherent, and even when I tried writing about the popular Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why, I was unsuccessful.
However, I’m ready to try again. After months of staring at the computer screen and with the help of a found diary from my teenage years, I am ready to put my words to paper.
When I was sixteen years old, I honestly didn’t think I would make it to eighteen. I thought this world is too hard to live in. I had no idea what was going on in my head or why I was acting the way I was. My moods were all over the place. There was no consistency, and I was going from being happy to miserable as fast as a race car goes from 0-100. I would freak out at school, scratch my face, drop to the ground, and I couldn’t control it. I would scream and cry, unable to hold myself together. People everywhere stared at me wondering what was wrong with this girl on the floor, and I had no answers.
My diary tells me that I was angry, and my memory confirms it. I read that I was frustrated, negative, tired, and sick a lot. I also read that this was around the time when I started playing with the idea of suicide. I say “playing” because while I had three attempts, with the first two being more like trials for me. “What would happen if I took this may pills?” I don’t believe that I was serious about suicide at that point, but I was intrigued. I wanted to know what it would feel like to overdose. Sounds a bit crazy, doesn’t it? But that’s what was happening in my mind.
My first overdose was on ibuprofen and was described in my diary as a “lazy attempt” over a guy.
My second attempt was an overdose that didn’t go as planned, as I didn’t take enough. I had thrown up and wanted to be in the hospital but wasn’t. That made me mad. I felt so useless because I couldn’t even kill myself properly. My cry for help was so clear, but no one knew about it.
As I read through my diary and the events leading up to my last suicide attempt, all I see is more anger and more frustration. Most of what I read was filled with negative self-talk: I’m a loser. No one likes me. I’m ugly. I’m fucked up. I’d be better off dead. Everyone would be better off if I disappeared.
Later on, I go on to explain how I’m tired all the time and how everyone thinks I have mono. I go on to say that I don’t care if I have it or not, I just want to die. In retrospect, I believe I’m tired because I’m living with depression, a disease my family and I knew next-to-nothing about.
June 1, 1995: my last attempt. I had a nervous breakdown at school over math. I got a friend to drive me home, waited for my sister to leave the house, and popped every pill I could find. As per my diary, I was happy. I’m dying and I’m happy. And while my mom was in the process of trying to find someone to send me to, I was busy taking matters into my own hands.
Until something clicked.
Yes, clicked. What the fuck am I doing? Here I am, sitting on my parents’ bed, watching television and waiting to die IN THEIR BED. What kind of asshole am I?
I will tell you something though: it wasn’t until that click that I realized what I had done and called my mother. I wasn’t ready to destroy my family. I didn’t want that burden. I didn’t want to ruin them. And ultimately, I didn’t really want to die. I just wanted to numb the pain.
I remember the reactions of my friends and family when I told them about what I’ve done, and been doing. I remember the despair I felt. The guilt. I remember my father looking at me, tears in his eyes. I’ve broken his heart. My mother standing over me. Petting my head. Her baby. My sister’s reaction when we got home, her sadness. I will never forget that. Ever.
“Why?” was everyone’s question, and I had no real answer. I couldn’t describe why. I couldn’t put into words what I was feeling. I couldn’t explain my desperation to stop feeling the way I did.
There’s no blame game here. I didn’t do it because of anyone. I didn’t do it to anyone. I did it to me, because of me. When I was going through the motions, I wasn’t thinking about you, or you, or you. I was thinking about me. I was thinking about removing me. I was thinking about how badly living felt. Though, once I got to the hospital and was given that god-awful charcoal to drink, I started thinking about you, and you, and you. I started feeling sad and feeling guilty for not being brave enough to stand up to these feelings.
Don’t get me wrong. They aren’t completely forgotten feelings. They are feelings I believe I will always have, as if they are a part of me. Only, they are feelings that I know I won’t act on. That I can’t act on. These feelings remain dormant in my mind like a dusty book that I know I won’t ever touch again, but that I’m forced to keep around.
After the birth of my son and while I was going through postpartum depression, suicide was a daily thought. It was, for me, the only escape from the crying and the lack of sleep and the torment I felt at the time. Of course, it wasn’t my only escape as I am here today.
No one can say how much is too much for one person to take. Only that person knows. Some may say I was selfish but who are you to say that I was? Who are you to say when enough is enough for anyone?
It is now 22 years later and I’m here and I’m ready to talk about it. I’m ready to share my experiences if it means that I can reach just one person. I’ve taken up writing as a way to deal and to reach others.
To anyone out there listening, I hear you. I’m here.
You are not alone.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen lives with her husband, her busy kid, and her tiny pup. With a long history of mental health, she is finally putting her thoughts to paper, hoping to reach others by saying it all out loud. She writes on her blogs, The Antsy Butterfly, and her work has appeared on The Mighty. Follow Karen on Twitter: @AntsyButterfly.