CN: depression, description of suicidal thoughts
It was just a fluke, it meant nothing. I stood frozen in the shower, one hand reaching for the razor. I was going to shave my legs but all I could picture was me slashing my arm… the blood streaming down to my wrist and pooling in the water below. It was so vivid and seemed like the absolute right choice. Instead I backed into the corner, turned around and sobbed; my head against the tiles. At least Jeremy couldn’t hear me. He didn’t need to know that anything was wrong.
I couldn’t give up and I couldn’t slow down. Lenny and I were going to live together in England and I needed to be fully employable in order to move there. All that kept me going was the thought of having him beside me when I slept, so that when I woke with my heart pounding in my ears, I’d have him beside me. That was a comfort and I’d lost all other comforts. Every morning I’d put my uniform on and drag myself out to work. My store is fast paced, with two drive-throughs, and my manager is friendly but sarcastic. I struggle with sarcasm, struggle with knowing if someone’s being sarcastic or is mad at me. So I ended up feeling like everyone was mad at me all day. Plus almost everything in the store beeps and buzzes. Every oven… every order… multiple full pots… low ice cap mix. And most don’t stop beeping until the machine is filled or a button is pushed; which is done when people have time. The store is often busy, so people wouldn’t have time. Plus every order station has a conversation… and the people in the lines talk… and the drive through staff talk. I’d end up rocking because I was overwhelmed. I’m rocking now at the memory of it all, even though I’m sitting by myself in a quiet house.
I struggled to read novels and hoped to write but was usually too tired for both. I couldn’t even watch Doctor Who videos. They were too confusing… I’d lose the plot… and I’ve seen them all before. Bedtime dropped from nine to eight to seven and I was still exhausted. I’d promise myself I’d go downstairs for a swim then put my pjs on after work. Then I’d wake at 1… 2… 3… 5; my heart pounding too loudly to sleep. All that calmed me was the thought of someday lying in bed, listening to Lenny breathing beside me. I had nothing else.
I stood on my balcony to enjoy the view and look at the budding trees. Soon the view of the lake would be mostly covered by leaves. And it would be so simple and easy just to flip over the railing. There was even a garbage bin directly below so I wouldn’t inconvenience anyone. They could take me away with the rest of the trash; no fuss or bother. No one would miss me, my family would be fine without me. Jeremy needed me so zie had a place to live but I knew the family would step up. Zie wouldn’t end up on the street. I was just an internet friend to most people, they’d be sad but would move on with their lives. I was nobody, nothing. Life would go on just fine without me. But seven floors. People had lived from falls that far before. What if I ended up a quadriplegic? Chances are I’d be too disabled to try again and then I’d be stuck. I backed off the balcony, almost tripping on the ledge, and closed the door. Then I cried again. Why did I keep crying? The corners of my room looked like it had snowed because I kept overfilling the garbage cans. But I didn’t have the energy to change them.
I could feel Lenny pulling away. His usual answers dwindled to “okay” and when I leaned on him (through messenger), he complained he was too sore instead of writing he’d put his arm around me. But he swore he still loved me and wasn’t breaking up with me. I could trust him because he was Lenny and he promised. So I tried to write and even pulled out my novel and edited a few paragraphs… the first time I’d written in over a year. I went to make dinner but didn’t have the energy to cook or even to pick up the electric grilled cheese maker from its place on the floor. I made myself a sandwich with a slice of vegan cheese and went back to my room and found a message from Lenny, begging me to just be friends because he wasn’t ready to be in a relationship.
It took a few seconds to hit and then I couldn’t breath. Literally couldn’t breath. My lungs had stopped working entirely and all I could do was gasp weakly as tears streamed down my face. I wasn’t even sure my lungs were still there as my whole chest was empty. Luckily Lenny recognized my panicked, misspelled description as a panic attack and told me to get an Ativan. Soon my lungs came back and I could breath again but the tears kept falling. I cried almost non-stop for two days then I got up at 4am and went to work. My head was pounding, it hadn’t stopped hurting since the break up, and I was light headed and felt like I was going to throw up. I got sent home after an hour. I cried all the way home then texted Lenny once I got inside, telling him how I felt. I pondered posting on Facebook and the first thing I saw was a post by a friend about how much she hated when people posted about feeling suicidal when they obviously were just being narcissist. I shared the post with Lenny and he assured me people wouldn’t think that. I decided it would wait until after my nap. I was so exhausted. I’d been up for two hours.
Lenny said I should post so I did. The words poured out, raw and heartfelt. I pressed post without even proofreading. If I went back and re-read, I wouldn’t post and Lenny thought it was a good idea. It would show him, though, that no one really cared. It would be my last proof. I curled up, sobbing, in my chair. My head throbbed so hard I could barely think. I was worthless… useless… and I’d just shown everyone how pathetic I was. The phone rang. It was Karen calling from work. She’d seen my post. Could she do anything to help? I didn’t know. I couldn’t think. All I wanted to do was sleep but I kept waking up. She got off the phone and I cried some more. She called again. She’d talked to the crisis team at the hospital and I could go down there for an assessment. Did I want to go? It sounded okay but I didn’t have bus money. There was a pause. She was going to drive me.
We parked the car and she suggested maybe I play things up a bit so I could get help. I didn’t think I’d need to play things up, I just needed to tell the truth. Lenny hadn’t said so but I knew he’d want me to be honest. And that meant being honest with myself. The first stop was triage, where we waited in a little room with a variety of people and the most annoying speaker. It kept playing the same announcement over and over, in 20 second intervals. Please remove your coat and have your health card ready. Thank you. *ding* There was an EMT in the room. He kept smiling as Karen snuck me rice crackers.
“Only one more,” he joked as the lady he was with got called. Karen nodded and snuck me one more.
We were next. Blood pressure, temperature, health card. “Why was I here?” I told the truth.
“You’re going to stay with her right?” the nurse asked.
Karen affirmed then the lady gently gave me directions to the nurses station. From there I was directed to a room to wait for a doctor, who listened to me and directed me to a waiting room to wait for a psychiatric assessment. I got called in less than 10 minutes later.
I don’t remember much of what was said. I told the nurse about my plans and I remember her writing 7 on the clipboard and circling it. Apparently she felt 7 floors was enough of a concern. She handed me pamphlets, which I looked at with dismay. There could be all the help in the world on the other side of that number. The chances of me picking up the phone and accessing it are nil. She assured me that they would be calling me. That was okay. I can answer the phone.
We went back out into the waiting room and Karen bought me a sub and a drink. I didn’t think I was that hungry. I’d probably have to save half for later. I devoured it and the chips we’d bought to share. Karen had to leave and our Mom came over and held my hand until the psychiatrist was ready to see me. We went back to the same room as the first assessment. He couldn’t hear me either, although I was speaking as loud as I could. Then he came to the final question, the important one. “Why didn’t I jump?” He told me my answer was crucial so I told him the truth.
I could stay or I could go. The risk of suicide could be minimized in the hospital but I could still be creative and kill myself, or I could go home. I got it. I was a liability there. No one wanted a dead patient in the psych ward.
“I’d rather she stay until her medication is working properly,” my Mom told him.
He shrugged. “The medication will take two or three weeks to kick in and we can’t keep her that long.”
My Mom offered for me to come home with her and I agreed, which meant a quick trip home for pjs, and a promise from Jeremy that zie would clean the apartment and would prefer to do it by zirself. The last was very, and rudely, emphatic.
So here I am. The thing about depression is you often can’t see it. People think of depression as someone moping around and, sure, my family noticed changes. I’m more quiet, spend more time on Facebook rather than talking, but I’m still smiling and making jokes. Depression involves a lot of masks, not just for other people, but for myself. Quite frankly, I don’t want to take them all off. Taking them off means lots of crying and a huge headache. But stuff leaks through anyways.
And Lenny was right. Neither of us are ready for a relationship. People keep commiserating with me except I didn’t lose Lenny. He’s still here, still loves me, and we still talk almost constantly. I commented on Facebook yesterday that we’re each other’s soul dragons and that makes more sense than anything (although sadly there’s no relationship option on Facebook for that). I’m seeing him in October and am counting down the days. 161 if anyone’s interested. But the sad reality is I’m probably not going to be able to work more than part time and I really don’t know when I’ll be ready for that. The doctor wrote me a note for 15 days off, to be further determined at our first official appointment. I’m thinking 15 days is wildly optimistic.
I’m not up to immigration’s standards and neither is Lenny and killing myself to achieve those standards is pointless. People want to pin the blame of my depression on the relationship and the breakup but I was depressed before the relationship started and suicidal before the breakup. If anything, the relationship was what kept me from killing myself months ago and it’s still there, it’s just not aiming for marriage now. Blaming the breakup is like blaming the windows exploding out of a house as the cause of the fire. It might be what made other people notice the flames but it wasn’t the cause.
Lenny was right about the post too. My friends stood up and showed me that I’m cared about. I’m meeting one friend for coffee tonight and another (possibly) for lunch next week. Another friend is graduating and offered me a free hour long massage. I want, need, non-sexual contact so badly. And she’s going to take me for a walk and lend me her DSLR camera for nature shots. Yet another friend is driving eight hours from the States to spend the weekend with me. I didn’t think anyone cared. And I can’t cry again. I’ve cried so much already.
Karen’s husband gave me the biggest hug. He lost his only sister to suicide. I didn’t think that I mattered enough to anyone to make them worry. That hug expressed a lot of worry and relief. I was the one who made it.
I took my medication this morning, the new dose, and need to make a phone call and then, who knows? I need to take things pretty much one breath at a time for now until the medication takes effect. But it’s a beautiful day and I’ll likely take pictures.