25 years to Life


I am assaulted by the irony of today's writing prompt:  Cicero said, "The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living". Write about someone you are remembering today.

In the wake of the news about Robin Williams and his apparent suicide yesterday, he is the obvious choice.

I was on the phone crying about how unlovable I was, the first time I attempted suicide. I drank my beer and swallowed a handful of Vicodin while I sawed away at my wrist. The guy on the other end of the phone thought it was a joke until it became apparent to him that it was not. I lay down on the bed to die and he called my sister at work and told her I was scaring him. The rest has been told to me. Ambulance, hospital, charcoal drink, stitches. I regained consciousness covered in the aforementioned charcoal, sobbing about how screwed up I was because I couldn't even DIE correctly. Attempted suicide is never a joke once you go to the hospital. I was put on a 24 hour "hold".

5 months later, I made a more serious attempt. This time I set it up so that I would be successful.  I left my job early. Forwarded my phones and lied about an appointment. I drove out to north San Diego County and paid for a day pass at a lake. I was not going to be discovered this time. I found a site, with a view of the lake, laid out my jacket behind a large boulder, ate my Snickers bar (last meal? really), took out my Rolling Stone magazine, opened up my 10 pack of razor blades and went to work.  I knew from experience that it takes forever to bleed out if you slice a wrist so I went for the bigger veins. In the crook of my arm this time. Both arms, big "blood drawing veins". I tried to cut my femoral artery but I couldn't, so I sliced both wrists and both ankles for insurance.

I will spare you all the graphic details that followed. Within about 30 minutes I was close to losing consciousness. I knew I would be discovered if I didn't make my way down to the water so I did just that. It was almost completely downhill and the brush was high. I stumbled and fell and tumbled about 20 feet down where I came to rest and drifted away.

A man came through the area and his dog was pulling him off the path and barking and yipping. This man discovered my near lifeless body thanks to his dog's insistence. I flat lined in the ambulance and regained consciousness in the E.R. long enough to hear someone say...."suicide attempt". I remember being so angry. Just beyond pissed. I really wanted to die. I was THAT sad. I was THAT depressed. I felt THAT helpless.

From the outside looking in, I had it all. I was so good at playing my role as the successful, fun loving, confident gal that my suicide attempt stunned almost everyone I know. But inside. Inside I was broken. Deeply self-conscious. Plagued by dark thoughts of how unlovable, unsuccessful, ugly, fat, and on and on...I could not accept the love and care my sisters were trying to give me. I could not believe the words they said. I refused all help. I just wanted out.

I received amazing care and treatment after my suicide attempt. I was in a program that filled me with tools and realities about MY life that helped me heal. It took months for me to be able to face my loving sisters after what I put them through. I took anti-depressants for years. I went to therapy. I belonged to recovery groups. Years of good work, hard work, got me through to the other side. A little over three years later, I was getting married to my husband.

Less than two dozen people know this about me. It was 25 years ago. Thus the title of this blog: 25 years to life.

I don't know exactly why Robin Williams committed suicide but I know how he felt when he decided to do it. I don't know why he was successful and I wasn't, but today I am so glad I failed.

I am sure I came to that point because of so many things. Alcoholic parents. Abusive parents. Body issues. Sexually inappropriate step-father. Attempted rape by the step-father. Debilitating breakup after a 9 year relationship. Cross country trip to flee that relationship. I spiraled into such a deep depression that death seemed like a picnic compared to the way I was feeling on a daily basis. My sadness caused me physical pain. I just wanted to die.

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