Post Suicide Attempt: Chapter 3

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Post Suicide Attempt: Prologue – https://sophiebuck.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/post-suicide-attempt-prologue/

Post Suicide Attempt: Chapter 1 – https://sophiebuck.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/post-suicide-attempt-chapter-1/

Post Suicide Attempt: Chapter 2 – https://sophiebuck.wordpress.com/2013/11/12/post-suicide-attempt-chapter-2/

When I was transferred to the unit in the psych hospital that had lower security, I was given a tour by one of the nurses.  I was a little afraid because I had no idea what to expect.  But the fear and hesitation I felt was nothing compared to where I was before.  This unit was much nicer.  There were sofas, the patients were allowed to open the windows and change the tv channels themselves, there was art on the walls, and I got my first glimpse of sunlight in days.

I was taken to what would be my room, where I was introduced to my roommate.  She was my age, and very friendly.  I was also introduced to another patient who showed me all of the ropes and made sure I had someone to sit with at dinner.  I was also quickly introduced to some other patients, but I didn’t really get to know them until later.

My nurse also explained “privileges” to me.  There were different levels of privileges.  The lowest was on-unit privileges, which meant that you were not allowed to leave the unit except to go to classes.  Next up were in-house privileges, which meant that you could go anywhere you wanted inside the hospital as long as you signed out and were back every hour to confirm that you hadn’t run away.  After that you got grounds privileges, which meant that you could go anywhere on the hospital grounds (you could go outside and breathe fresh air!) as long as you signed out and came back every hour.  I was immediately given in-house privileges since I had behaved so well in the previous unit.  Your doctor could also grant you evening and weekend passes so that you could spend some time at home as long as you were with a family member at all times.  And if you misbehaved, you could have your privileges taken away.

Finally, I was given a schedule.  The schedule listed all kinds of classes that were available.  These classes included horticulture, yoga, art therapy, wellness (which was super boring, but it was the only class we absolutely had to go to), and some other activities.  Our doctors also referred us to groups that were more specific to our particular issues.  I was assigned to Women’s Group (a bunch of women who sit in a circle to share their issues and support one another), Managing Emotions (learning how to identify what you are feeling and express it in a healthy way), and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: Skills for Anxiety (learning tips and tricks to help understand your triggers and how to cope with anxiety).  I can’t really share too much about these classes because we had to sign some confidentiality forms; all I can tell you in that they existed and I learned things.

I started to get used to the routine, and I got used to eating eggs every single day because that’s what they always served the vegetarians.  Don’t get me wrong, eggs are delicious.  I just got a little tired of eating them every single day.  My original roommate was released after one night, and I was assigned a new roommate.  She was mostly bedridden, and she asked me who I was every time I entered the room.  But I made friends elsewhere.  I am even still in contact with a couple of them.

I was also finally allowed to go outside when I had a panic attack and freaked out because I felt like I was being confined in too small a space, so that was good.  It was freezing outside.  I got soaked by all of the falling snow, but I GOT TO GO OUTSIDE!  Seriously, don’t ever take the fact that you are allowed to go outside for granted.  And really, how good can it be for someone’s mental health to never let them breathe fresh air?  Even prison inmates get to go outside for an hour every day.  I’m not going to get into that right now because it’s not really relevant to my story, but I was thrilled to finally be allowed to go outside!  It was the best I had felt in months!  I even called my parents to tell them the exciting news!

There were also many challenges that I came across in this unit, and there were several things that went on outside the hospital that I felt like I was helpless to do anything about.  My school, for example, was a source of many issues.  But I’ll talk about that next week.  See you guys then!

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The Hospital

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I have gone to the hospital for mental health-related issues more than once, but I want to share one of the times I went.  I was sent home that night, a few hours after getting there, so this post is more about the emotions I went through than any kinds of treatment.

This story starts with me in my residence room.  I was sitting on the floor with all of the pills I had in my room, as well as a bottle of gin (or maybe it was vodka), in front of me.  I wanted to stop feeling so fucking miserable all the time.  I didn’t really care whether I lived or died, so it was fine with me if dying was what it took to stop hurting so much.  I was trying to decide whether or not I wanted to swallow all the pills, and then chug the alcohol, to end my life.

As I pondered what to do, I used a knife to cut into my calf.  I watched myself bleed, and then the thought of dying became very real to me.  For a split second, I really did not want to die.  I mean, I didn’t really want to live.  But I didn’t want to die.  I don’t know how to really describe that feeling, but you would know if you’ve ever felt it.  I decided not to try to end my life.  Instead, I texted a friend.  After talking to her, I decided to go to the hospital.  She told me that she was proud of me for being so strong.

Everyone who was staying in my residence that weekend was drinking that night, so I drove myself to the ER.  I don’t remember when I started crying, but I was definitely crying at this point.  My vision kept getting blurred by my tears, so I really had to focus on the road.  When I got to the hospital, I got into the line of patients waiting to see a nurse so they could wait to see a doctor.

When I saw my nurse, I told her that I wanted to kill myself.  I told her that I didn’t want to die, but I was worried that I would end my life if I didn’t get help.  She brought me to a room with nothing but a bed.  There were three solid walls, and one wall that was glass with a sliding door.

When I was left alone, I started bawling.  One of the nurses kept offering me water, but I declined.  She told me that if I needed anything, I should let her know.  While I was waiting to see a doctor, the friend who had encouraged me to go to the hospital kept apologizing for not being able to come be with me that night because she was in a different city and had no way to get there.  She told me that she wanted nothing more than to be with me that night.  Since she couldn’t, she made me promise that I would keep texting her to keep her updated.  She also made me promise to ask someone who was in the same city as me if they would stay with me that night.

I texted a friend who lived on campus and wasn’t drinking that night.  I asked him if he would come stay the night with me when I left the hospital.  I told him that I was afraid that I would hurt myself if I was left alone.  He said that he wouldn’t and told me to ask someone else.  I told him that if the positions were reversed, there was no way in hell that I would let him be alone.

My doctor came in, and after telling him about how I felt, he said that I seemed like a smart girl who was just on the wrong path.  I was sent home, but I was told that I had to go to my mom’s house.

When I went outside, it was pouring.  I walked to my car in the rain, getting soaked.  I started the drive to my mom’s house, but by the time I got to the highway it was clear that it wasn’t safe to drive.  My eyes were extremely puffy from crying, tears were fogging up my vision, and my windshield wipers weren’t able to keep up with the rain.  I couldn’t see anything.  I was also so frazzled that I got lost going to my own house.  It was clear to me that if I tried to get home, trying to not kill myself would be a complete waste.  If I tried to get home, I would have gotten into a car accident.  I pulled over, and I texted the same friend that I had already asked to come over.  He said that he would come over if I really couldn’t get home.

I called my mom to let her know that I wasn’t coming over that night, but that I would come over first thing in the morning.  At this point, she didn’t know what was going on.  She kept asking if I was okay, and I told her that I’d tell her everything when I saw her in person.  I was still bawling my eyes out, and I was occasionally hyperventilating.

I started my car again, and I drove back to my residence.  I walked from the parking lot to the building in the rain, but I was already soaking wet.  It didn’t matter anymore.  I went back into residence.  Everyone was yelling, and it was really loud.  Nobody noticed me come in and go to my room.

When I got to my room, I set up my extra mattress for my friend who was coming over.  He didn’t come in the end, but I’m not getting into anything about him right now.  That’s not what this story is about.

When I found out that I would be alone for the night, I put on a movie to distract myself.  I don’t remember what movie it was, and I didn’t really watch it.  I just kept cutting into my calf until I was too tired to stay up any longer and went to sleep.

When I woke up, I had several voicemails from my mom.  She wanted to know what was going on and if I was okay.  I sat on the floor and called her, and I told her I would be home in an hour.  A little over an hour later, my mom called.  She wanted to know where I was.  I had been sitting on the floor, feeling completely drained and weak, so I asked if she would come get me.  When she arrived, I went to let her into the building.  She cleaned up my room, packed some clothes for me to wear, got me to get dressed, and then she took me home.  If she hadn’t come, I don’t think I would have gotten up off of the floor that day.  I don’t know if I would have gotten up off the floor that week.

I spent the whole morning thinking about how I could still end my life.  The only reason that I didn’t was because I didn’t want my mom to be the one to find me.  I felt hungover because I was so dehydrated, but I didn’t care.  I didn’t care that yesterday’s makeup was now a smeared, black mess all over my face.  I didn’t care that my room was a complete disaster.  I didn’t care that I was alone the night before.  Nothing mattered to me that morning except that I wouldn’t let my mom find me dead.  She did find me broken when she came to pick me up, but I wouldn’t let her be the one to find me dead.  If I were to end my life, someone else would have to be the one to find me.  It wouldn’t be my mom.  That would be too hard for her.

For a while after this happened, I felt as though I had died.  I felt numb, and I didn’t care about anything at all.  I lost a lot of weight because I didn’t really bother with making myself food, and I stopped reaching out to people for help.  That night made me feel like it was too much trouble for other people to have to worry about me, so I didn’t tell anyone what was going on.  I had been told by a “friend” that night that my issues were making them unhappy, and I decided that I wouldn’t put my issues on anyone’s shoulders again.  That night was the turning point in my illness where things just kept spiralling downwards.

In retrospect, I should have seen how much my one friend truly cared about me.  Even though she couldn’t be with me in person, she did her best to make sure that I wouldn’t be alone.  I should have seen how much my mom loved me when she came to my residence to try and put me back together.  I also had another friend who I confided in, and she was determined that I would not stay in bed all day every day.  She told me how bad she felt that she hadn’t been in residence that weekend, and she said that she wished she could have been with me.  But in the frame of mind that I was in, all I saw was the bad.  I felt alone despite the love others had shown for me.  One of the things that really keeps me going now is thinking back to how wrong I was then.  I was wrong to think that I was nothing but a burden to people, and now I keep holding on to that knowledge to keep myself strong.

This post is dedicated to Jenessa Murray and Erin Brookes for being such great friends.