Remembering the day, five years ago, when I made a fateful decision
Author’s note: I know very well trigger warnings don’t work — at least they never did for me — which is why I’m not putting one on this essay. If you are suicidal, this is your opportunity to change your path. Don’t dwell on suicide and look for reasons to do it in other people’s writing. Talk to someone. If you don’t have anyone, send me a private note. Talk to me! I’m not an expert or a doctor, but the important thing is that you ask for help. If you don’t like me, call a hotline. Call anyone.
Ask for help. I was lucky. I didn’t ask for help and I attempted. I didn’t die. You might. You might damage your brain or body and be left with regrets. I will always regret I didn’t give someone, anyone, the chance to help me.
Get help. Do it right now.
I was scared. I could feel the effects of the pills. I couldn’t control my legs. I knew I was slipping. I no longer wanted to die, but it was too late. I wanted to be upstairs in bed with Flora and Zoey, not fading fast in a beanbag on the kitchen floor.
My whole body went numb.
Help me. I’m scared. I don’t want to go!
The last thing I remember is wiping away the tears. Then everything went black.
Every time I remember those last moments, I start to cry. As I write this on May 29, 2019, at 10:57 a.m., five years from the day, my shoulders are heaving with sobs I can’t stop.
No one tells you that before you die, you realize you wish it weren’t over. If I had jumped from a tall building, I bet I would have spent my last seconds wishing I was in the arms of the people I love. The people who weren’t as lucky as I can’t look back with regret. They are gone.
I think of how close I was to missing out on the joy and pain of the past five years. These have been the best years of my life, and I almost missed them.
What got me to the point that I thought killing myself was the only way to stop my pain?
The darkness of life
When you suffer from a mental illness, the constant battle can become too much. I don’t think of myself as a strong person, and I could not take the bombardment of negative emotion.
I tried to kill myself four times. The first three were nothing more than cries for help. I was never in danger of dying from my injuries. But I attempted. I messed myself up to the extent that I still carry the scars. I can trace the pain of those first three attempts with my finger. My arms are a roadmap through the worst parts of my life.
But five years ago it was different. I had come halfway across the world to the Philippines to change my life. I thought I could leave everything behind and start fresh.
But it was the same. I was still depressed all the time. I was asleep more than I was awake. When I was awake, I was anxious and close to panic.
I couldn’t focus. The voices were so loud that they drowned out everything else. I couldn’t get the medication I needed. When I needed help most, nothing was available.
If I had tried harder and asked more people, maybe someone would have helped me. But I had given up.
Flora and I always fought. She couldn’t understand why I was always in bed. She couldn’t understand what was happening. She was angry. She lashed out. She didn’t know I was dying inside.
Nobody could understand. Not Flora, not the doctors. If I had tried harder and asked more people, maybe someone would have helped me. But I had given up. I gave in to the voices and the suicidal self-talk.
I no longer wanted anyone to help. I was tired. I wanted it all to end.
At first I didn’t know how I was going to do it. I was scared. I didn’t know if I had the courage to actually take my own life.
I spent a few days planning my exit. I searched Google for the least painful ways to kill yourself. I read blogs about suicide, brushing past the trigger warnings like they were nothing. If I was trying to convince myself suicide was the only way out, I was doing a very good job.
I never did anything halfway.
May 29, 2014
I woke that morning feeling good; so good I forgot about my plans for a time. I sat on the porch and smoked, drinking my coffee and closing my eyes against the bright sunlight.
Flora came downstairs, raging about my smoking habit. Maybe I made the mistake of letting the smoke float into the house. But it was just the beginning. When she got started, she didn’t quit for hours.
I let her yell until I couldn’t stand it, then went upstairs and put a pillow over my head. The plan to kill myself would go forward.
Nobody loved me. Nobody wanted me. I couldn’t be a good father to Zoey. I knew my death would be hard for her, but in the long run it would be better than having a crazy father.
Thinking about Zoey almost changed my mind, but I had already passed the point of no return.
I went through the day in a dreamlike state. I would look at something and think it was the last time I’d ever see it. I sent notes to family overseas to check in and hopefully cushion the blow of my death.
I was sad, but also relieved it would soon be over.
Later that night, after more fighting with Flora, I kissed Zoey and put her to bed. I was crying, but I didn’t let Flora see because I didn’t want her to know I was feeling anything more than anger.
I didn’t want her to help because I wanted to punish her.
If Flora knew what I was thinking, she would have tried to help me. Even though she was angry, she loved me. She had learned to love me despite my illness and the hell I put her through. She was angry, but she also couldn’t imagine life without me.
I went downstairs and wrote a 14-page suicide note. It took me until 1 a.m., but I finished. When I had written all I wanted to say, I knew it was time.
May 30, 2014
I set up everything so I only had to press a button for my note to be published on all my social media accounts.
I was ready.
I went outside and had one last cigarette, savoring the smoke filling my lungs. I was scared, but I’d made up my mind, and there was no turning back.
I grabbed every pill bottle I could find and emptied them on the table. These were pain pills and medication left over from unsuccessful drug trials. I don’t know why I kept them, but they were about to come in handy. Some of the pills were time-release, so I crushed them into powder.
I got a big jug of water, took one last look around the house, and swallowed everything. I gagged repeatedly but kept it all down.
I was numb.
I sat in my beanbag and pressed the button that would publish my suicide note. I closed my computer and turned off my phone.
About 15 minutes later, my stomach got very upset. I knew I’d have an accident if I didn’t do something, and the thought of them finding me covered with shit horrified me.
I somehow got to my feet and started up the stairs to the bathroom. I was very dizzy and weak, but I made it to the toilet and did my business. The way down was much harder, but I sat down and took one step at a time.
I made it back to my beanbag, willing myself not to throw up.
I couldn’t move my legs. Fear crept up from the pit of my stomach and froze me in place.
I started to cry. All I wanted was to be safe, tucked in next to Flora and Zoey. I wanted to take it back. The reasons I had for killing myself no longer made sense.
I wanted to live!
But it was too late. I was dying.
Knowing I was dying made me cry even more. I wiped away the tears and knew no more.
I woke the next morning, and Flora managed to get the right kind of help. An ambulance took me to emergency. They put a tube in my nose and pumped charcoal into my stomach. I still have a scar on my nose from the tape holding the tube in place.
In the hospital, I was allowed to realize what a wonderful life I had. So many people loved me, and they only needed to hear me asking for help. I wanted to punish everybody because I thought they didn’t care, but I was the one pushing them away.
If you read this whole experience, I hope you understand everything can get better if you just ask for help.
I know your mind is telling you no one loves you, but they do.
Your mind is lying when it tells you the only thing you can do is end your life.
Take it from someone who lived to tell: You will regret it if you try to kill yourself. Why would you take the last resort when all you have to do is ask someone, anyone, to help you?
True courage is asking for help. It doesn’t take courage to kill yourself. It takes courage to live.
Ask someone. Ask me if you have no one.
Ask for help.
We are waiting.
If you are struggling with thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please do not hesitate to contact the The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1–800–273-TALK (8255). This is a free, 24/7 confidential service that can provide people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, or those around them, with support, information, and local resources. For more information, call or visit www.suicidepreventionhotline.org.
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