Each night laying in bed, I look at the faces of two little boys that almost didn’t exist. Watching them sleep night after night, I am still awe struck by where I was just 3 short years ago, and where I am today.
2018, was by far one of my toughest years. I started the year off mourning the loss of one of my dear friends who died of cancer on Christmas day…. She was a young 35 year old single mom of one son.
I will never forget the last doctors appointment I took her too. We were going to get the results of her last MRI.
As we patiently waited in a tiny appointment room, cracking jokes about the little red sprouts beginning to grow back on my friend’s fuzzy head, the doctor enter the room looking through the baby blue folder he held in his hand. Briefly greeting us, as he sat down with his back partially facing us, he wasted no time getting right down to business. In a soft low tone, he began rambling off the results of her MRI as if he were speaking with one of his medically trained colleagues. His vocabulary was like a foreign language to both of us, but we both just sat there intently listening, nodding our heads in agreement as if we knew exactly what his medical jargon meant. She asked him a few simplistic questions, prompting him to simplify his previous gibberish. I could see the frustration grow on my friend’s face, still not understanding the point the doctor was trying to drive home. As I listened to his words twisting and turning, my heart grew heavy; I knew exactly the direction this conversation was going . Getting nowhere with her inquiries, my friend withdrew any further questions she may have wanted to ask. Nervously, I mustard up the courage to speak on my friends behalf so that she wouldn’t have to leave this appointment still not understanding the totality of her situation. I kept it short and direct, ” are you saying there aren’t anymore treatments left to keep fighting her cancer?”
The doctor directed his attention to my corner of the room, took his glasses off, and took a deep breath. “I’m afraid that is correct,” he replied. In disbelief, my friend nervously laughed as if the doctor was just pulling her leg, ” come on doc, what are you saying? Am I really dying or what?” The doctor lowered his head, now speaking directly to her, “I’m afraid so.” Momentarily, she went back and forth with the doctor, digging, begging, pleading for something, ANYTHING! Ultimately, still ending up at the same conclusion.
Have you ever had to pick a friend up off the floor, after being told the fight for their life has come to an end? It’s one of the most helpless feelings I have ever had; almost as helpless as watching someone you love slowly succumb to the cancer mercilessly consuming their body.
My sweet friend lost her battle to cervical cancer on Christmas morning with her son by her side, and surrounded by all of her family and friends.
While my friends all ushered in 2018 with gleeful cheers, over zealous toast, and radical resolutions, I spent the new year at home, snuggled up tightly tucked under the safety of my warm sheets, still unable to process the events from the previous 6 months. This was only the second time death had personally affected me; the first being my 62 year old heavy smoking granny, whose kids were all fully grown with families of their own, and she had already lived a very full life when she passed over. This time, it was different. Lacking healthy coping skills, it was then that I first began withdrawing from the outside world.
Luckily, not many noticed since I was a full time college student taking 15 credit hours, while also working a full time job. My company, at the time, had started the process of integrating new accounting software, and I was recruited to be apart of the integration team.
I buried myself with work and my studies, to avoid having any idle time alone with my racing thoughts. January seemed to fly by! At work, I was working between 60 and 100 hours a week. We worked through lunches, arrived before the sun did, left after the moon had risen and the busy parking garages had emptied; more often than not, most nights and weekends at home, were also spent with the work laptop open still completing projects and testing programs. And each night, before I could rest my eyes, I would have to tend to any homework assignments needing to be completed for the week. I can honestly say, I have no idea when or how I slept, ate or even showered that month.
That entire month of January is such a blur. By February, the lack of healthy sleep and nutrition became painfully evident. I had dropped a significant amount of weight, my face had sunk in, and I was sporting colossal sized black bags that sagged below my heavy eyes. In school, my perfect 4.0 GPA was dropping, my marriage was rapidly crumbling, and at work my boss and I were not seeing eye to eye, even though I was giving work everything I had, and more.
At this point, the hustle and bustle of staying busy was no longer keeping the intrusive thoughts at bay. They were no longer just quiet nagging whispers that came in the stillness of silence; and they were no longer just internal taunts poking at the “what if” scenarios fueled by my fear of failure. My reality and my insecurities had now come full circle, confirming the truth behind what I once fought off as lies. I was failing school, work and my marriage; just like I had failed my friend.
By the time March had arrived, the beautifully crafted mask I once used to hide behind, had began to shatter.
The week before March 18th, I had to leave work because my anxiety had spun out of control, and following an intense meeting with upper management, my heart rate became so rapid I fainted while walking back to my desk
As a result of passing out, my boss cut my hours and removed me from the implementation team. I felt like the ultimate loser. I had sacrificed my marriage, my grades and my health for my job, and for what?
As the weekend approached, deep regret sank in, and reality came crashing down all around me like a ton of bricks.
March 18th, 2018.
I remember every minute detail of that day like a lucid nightmare playing on repeat.
It was a Sunday at home in my little cabin in the woods discreetly tucked away from the outside world, just behind the aged oak trees and overgrown brush. This was the first weekend, in several months, that I didn’t have work to bring home with me. Where most would be excited for a relaxing weekend free of obligations, for me that meant idle time; which, was something I had been avoiding since December.
That morning before I could open my eyes and pull myself out of bed, the racing thoughts had already started. Naively, I resorted back to the only coping skill I knew and I immediately forced myself up, and got busy. I began making my way through a list of task meant to keep my mind distracted from the growing madness. After completing homework and some household chores, I decided to work on my downstairs bathroom, which I had started remodeling months prior. I grabbed some paint, and a brush, and hurried off.
Unbeknownst to me, painting is not good busy work if you are trying to avoid your own thoughts. With each stroke, the battle raged on in my head. Every mistake, every situation, every decision I made over the past 6 months, I questioned and re-evaluated.
With each scenario my thoughts grew darker…you alone will never be enough to keep him satisfied; what kind of idiot are you to not see the signs he was being unfaithful? Are you ever going to be able to hold down a job? Why can’t you just be normal?
With each passing thought, panic set in. I wanted to scream for help, but the lies kept coming, keeping me paralyzingly silent. I began praying, God, please make it stop!
But the battle for my life, had only just begun.
As the four walls of that tiny bathroom began closing in, I stood up from the place where I had been painting, and came face to face with the mirror. I stood there for a moment, but I was unable to recognize my own face. What I saw, was terror and loneliness staring back at me from deep within a strangers eyes..
My hands began to shake, as I connected to the reflection looking back at me. My fingers went numb, and I lost my grip on the paint stained brush that now fell to the floor. I grabbed for my ears like a frightened adolescent child who heard the shrieking howls of a midnight ghost. I covered them so tightly my knuckles turned white, as if I thought I could mute the flood of insecurities pouring into my head externally, rather than internally.
I closed my eyes tightly to try and make the vision in the mirror, nothing more then the product of a bad dream; but, the haunting image remained.. the eyes of the stranger gazed back at me like an portal looking directly into all the places my hurt once hid. I prayed, God even if my words are silent, let my eyes remain open to reveal this pain burning inside of me.
Broken and hollow, I walked into my marital bedroom and stood directly in front of my husband. I needed him to see me, to REALLY see me! Not with his eyes, but with his heart. He was my last hope, I needed him to help save me from myself… Standing there, I held back silent tears that threatened to pour like streams. I was drowning in the darkness, and all I needed was for him to SEE ME.
The seconds felt like an eternity, with each one passing by with him not even looking up from his brightly glowing phone, horizontally positioned in between each of his large masculine hands.
Obviously annoyed, he defiantly refused to look up from his phone for even just a moment to acknowledge my presence. Reluctantly, he cleared his throat and managed to mumble, “what?”
My gut sank. The man I had spent 13 years of my life with, and he couldn’t even look at me… I knew the connection between us had been strained, but I wasn’t aware that it had been completely severed. His overtly cold demeanor and dry response was a clear message to me that to him, I no longer held any value in his life.
Still, I was desperate…..
I desperately needed his attention, I needed him to look at me, I needed him to see that I was internally begging for help. I wanted so badly to just say I need you,
But I couldn’t……
Instead, I decided to pick a fight with him about how he never helps me around the house, hoping that he would at least be annoyed enough to look up from his phone and engage in a conversation… Then, maybe just maybe, he would be able to see what I saw in the mirror just minutes before, and would at minimum ask me if I was okay..
He never did.
Without looking up or missing a beat he rolled his eyes made a snide comment and went about his business. As tears poured out of me, I asked how he could say such things to someone who is suicidal, he responded, ” I say crap like that all the time but I never do it”.
In that moment, an eerie calm fell over me. I walked to my side of the bed and grabbed my car keys. Walking barefoot towards the front door, I stopped at the foot of the bed. Looking back at my husband, who still sat playing on his device, I softly said in a trembling voice, ” the difference between you and I, is I follow through.” No more words were spoken as I walked out of the room, and out the door.
Pulling out of the driveway, I could no longer hold back the anguish that had been building for months. From the deepest pits of my stomach, I gripped my steering wheel and scream at the top of my lungs! Forcefully, angry, sorrowful tears, quickly beaded together rolling down my red flushed cheeks like a warm stream.
As the sun set on that cold Sunday night, still wiping away the remnants of my temper tantrum, I pulled my car into a vacant middle school parking lot and parked on the side of the building.
For some reason on this night, none of the parking lots luminescent lights had been turned on, and the moons radiant splendor was hidden behind the cloak of heavy clouds that had stalked the morning sun just hours earlier.
I turned off my cellphone, and the headlights to my car. I cracked my window just enough to hear the soft humming of my car engine, and to smell the freshly cut green grass mingling in the puddles of rain water that had fallen earlier that afternoon. As I sat there taking in my surroundings, I knew my battle was over.
Words cannot describe how incredibly alone I felt. It felt as though, while I was still breathing in life, I had already ceased to exist.
The darkness, sitting in that massive empty parking lot with not a soul in sight, seemed to stretch as far as it did wide; at any given moment, the black void would surely come for me.
I sat there for a least an hour desperately praying for God to intervene! Praying for another way! Praying that, even John, would come driving down the road by the school looking for me because I had been gone for so long……
But when no body came.. when God didn’t intervene, I knew what needed to be done.
I couldn’t keep selfishly staying when I was just hurting everyone around me that I loved the most. How could I stay, knowing my mental health was damaging my girls daily. I refused to keep failing them, and I wouldn’t keep hindering their futures by continually setting such a horrible example for them.
When my tears ran dry, and my mind was quiet, I leaned down and picked up my prescription bottle from the floorboard of my front seat. I took the cap off and grabbed a handful of pills. One after the other, over the next hour I ingested enough pills to kill me twice over, if that were possible.
When I started to feel the side effects of taking too many pills, I instantly regretted what I had done. The lies swarming my head for months were now gone, allowing room for more logical thought processing. Immediately, my heart filled with sorrow as I thought of my girls… I didn’t want them to forget me… I didn’t want them to be sad… I didn’t want them to think they weren’t good enough to fight for ….. I picked up my cell phone fumbling it between what felt like jello hands and tried turning it back on; but, by this time, things had become distorted and more complicated since the medication had begun to enter my blood stream..
My cognitive functions were significantly impaired, and I could not, for the life of me, figure out how to call for help…..
After repeatedly dropping my phone, like a drunk girl trying to call for a cab, I gave up. I then dug through my car desperately trying to find a pen and paper… I had decided, if I was going to die, my girls at least needed to know that I loved them, that this was not their fault and how incredibly sorry I was that I did this to them…
The only paper I could find, was the pamphlet from my friends funeral. Her face was plastered on the front cover. For just a minute I stared at her picture and thought, how selfish could I possibly be! She fought so hard to stay alive for her son and here I am, healthy trying to voluntarily leave my kids with no mom. My eyes were getting so heavy now, so I briefly apologized to her one last time, and I attempted to coherently scribble out a note for my girls…
To this day, I am not sure if that note was ever found or if it was even legible. After tucking it away on my dashboard, I laid my seat back and awaited the consequences of my stupidity….
I’m not sure if hallucinations were just a side effect of overdosing on the particular medication I took or not; but, what happened next, I vividly remember. While I laid there, in and out of consciousness, I very clear here the distinctive sound of a car pull up beside me. As the sound of the mystery cars engine got closer, I opened my eyes and saw the bright beams of light from headlights glide across the ceiling of my car. Then, the sound of two car doors open and shut, followed by footsteps walking across the gravel parking lot headed towards my driver’s side door. I heard the voices of a man and two women who began to speak near my cracked window. When I heard them I quickly sat up, I was so excited that someone had found me; for a moment I felt a glimpse of hope. You can imagine my shock when no body was there….Dazed and Confused, I laid back down terrified that i was possibly hallucinating…. Was the end coming for me? I wondered, if this was a sign that I was in fact dying like I had intended when I swallowed my lethal cocktail. . But then, I again heard the same people conversing right outside my car door, almost in a soft whisper but loud enough that I could hear them over the hum of my car door… this time, I slowly sat up again and just like before… No one was there. At this point, I was convinced I was hallucinating and that this surely was the end!
I threw myself back down and fear consumed me again. I was terrified. What had I done!!? The voices CONTINUED talking back and forth with one another.. They were discussing my current condition. The two women explained what I had done to the man, and explained my survival chances, were slim to none. The man interjected, reassuring the doubting women that it may not make sense now, but I would be okay…
Shortly after I heard them walking back to their car, they get in and again I see their headlights flashing through my car as they pulled away.
After that things get a little more hazy. All I can remember after that is coming in and out of sleep in the back of an ambulance with my sister sitting beside me smacking me in the face.
Apparently, my baby sister had received a text from me at some point that night that just said , ” I love you.” That text made her uneasy, which prompted her to reach out to my husband to find out where I was… He told her I had left several hours prior and he wasn’t sure where I had gone. Instinctively, she knew I was in danger and immediately left her house to go look for me. Along the way, she enlisted the help of my other sister to come search for me as well.
They searched for so long, unsuccessfully. They also contacted the police department, who also could not find me. Right before they called it a night, my baby sister decided to check one more place… The middle school closest to my house. She had already previously driven by this location several times and did not see my car, but this last time she felt like she needed to pull in and check the back of the parking lot…. Finally she had found me. I’m not sure what happened next; however I do know, according to the hospital doctors, had she found me much later, my chances of surviving were unlikely .
To this day I don’t know how to explain what I felt that night. I didn’t want to die… I just didn’t know how to live anymore.
The morning following my attempted suicide ,I felt incredibly stupid, but very thankful that I had survived. People who are feeling suicidal need to know, that the majority of those who have survived an attempted suicide, have instantly regretted their choice! While I am so beyond blessed that my life was spared, so many others are not and I want to help be the voice for the ones forever silenced by suicide. This is why I’ve made this my mission!
March 18th, 2018, will forever mark the day my plastic smile fell away.. Living my life after the fall, still has its many challenges and battles that come with every day life; but I assure you, I will never take this second chance at life for granted. I will show my girls and now my two sons, what it means to be a fighter. I will teach them how to keep standing in the face of adversity, and I will cherish every single day, for the rest of my life, for each precious moment I get to spend watching them grow.
Please, if you or someone you know is struggling, don’t stay silent….. Get help today!
On my resource page I have provided some link to instant help or to someone one you can just talk to right now! Keep fighting warriors!