This year’s been a tad crazy for my friends and family. I had two people I care about seriously contemplate taking their own lives late last year, and one my close friends tried and almost succeeded in taking their own life a couple of months ago. My emotions were kinda shot by the time christmas came around.
I wish I was a stranger to the thought of suicide. I tried, when I was younger, to take my own life during a bad relationship. I had had a miscarriage at work and no longer wanted to be with someone who was controlling, who threatened to hurt my younger brother if I ever tried to leave him. I thought it was my only way out. If I didn’t exist he wouldn’t be able to hurt my brother. He would be safe. This led me to the motel room where I decided I would sink the biggest bottle of tequila I could afford for precisely that reason, and swallow every pill I could find at my ex partners parents house; tramadol, nurofen, codiene, asprin, gout pills, “gout pills!?!” (I laugh at that now), declofenac – anything I could find. Luckily for me (although at the time I was definitely thinking otherwise), I was also clumsy as hell and knocked into almost everything in the room, and somehow managed to turn the volume on the tv up really loud. Residents complained. I felt so terrible about the damage I’d caused to the motel room, but not as bad as how I felt for my family. My younger brother especially. I had let him down most of all. Odd because I told no one in my family about what had happened for years, for a number of reasons. I was whakamā (shy/embarrassed) as I had been told not to be with my ex. I didn’t listen. I was concerned that my actions would have a bad effect on my brother (he’s seven years younger than me. I was 21 at the time) and I didn’t want him carrying that. I didn’t want to shame my grandparents memories; to be that family member either no one talks about, or who they cry over whenever my name is mentioned. No. I didn’t want to be that person. I also didn’t want to admit that I had almost put my whānau in the position of doing those necessary jobs that come with preparing someone for their tangihanga/funeral. Of everything, the thought of what my family would’ve had to endure had I succeeded brought me squarely back to Earth. I then understood why some people thought suicide was the weak way out. I became one of them over the years. I have, over those same years, changed my mind about suicide and depression again. And thank bloody goodness. It took me more strength to stay. And I’m so frikkin glad I stayed.
The craziest thoughts ran through my mind when my friends and I all got *Lucy’s text and photos of what she’d intended to do. My eyes couldn’t focus when my husband said, “What the?! You get that!?!”. I got it alright. My brain had switched to auto pilot already, trying to figure out where the people she had sent her text to were.
Lucy has only a couple of blood relatives in the country, the rest of her family are her friends. Us. Old work mates, all of us. Her parents and the rest of her family are in her home country. She had not spoken to or sent any of her family members anything to say what she had intended to do.
When we got to the house I was on auto. I had arranged for her flatmate to race home from work to check on her after a group of us had received her text saying goodbye. I live on the other side of town so her flatmate was closer to her than I was.
“Check her vitals. Keep her up. Check her vitals. Keep her up. Don’t let her go to sleep. Don’t give her water, we don’t know what else she’s taken. Slap her hard if you have to. Just keep her up.” She was semi conscious, lying on the floor. Pills scattered on the table. Bottles of wine, emptied. Eyes rolled back into her head. Pale brown in skin colour. Shallow breathing. Limp in body.
We finally got to A&E and my thought pattern started to change, “She’ll be ok. The Ambo’s said she’ll be ok. She’s spewed already so that’s a good sign they said. Shit. If she dies, how tf do we tell her family that we couldn’t look after her while she was here?”, “How do we tell them that we couldn’t help her?”, “How do we tell them that their daughter is dead?”, “How do we tell them that we didn’t get to her in time?”, “How do we tell them what she left behind? How? How do we tell them?”
Everything came flooding back. My own attempt. My two friends’ attempts at two different times, earlier in the year, and now Lucy. I literally would have lost the plot if I had been on my own, but my husband and another friend, *Anna, were there as well. I had to stay strong, for Anna at least. I cried a little, away from them, while expaining what was going on to friend #2 over the phone. When I went back to Lucy’s room they were administering antidote, and she was throwing up.
Good, chuck it up girl.
She had been angry that she was still alive the whole time we were in A&E up until she started her antidote drip, whispering things like, “Why the f am I still here? I shouldn’t BE here. Can’t even do that properly. F’n usless”, “Shouldn’t have saved me. Why didn’t you f’n leave me alone?!? No one cares. F off! You can all just f off.”. I just kept saying, “Shut up egg. You just keep throwing up so I can give you shit in the morning. Good girl.”
The next afternoon Lucy was still drowsy, still wanting to throw up, wondering what, when, and how, and 100% embarrassed but glad to be alive. She couldn’t remember much. I bloody told her, amongst tears of gratitude for her being there and friendly/motherly rage. She complained that she looked bad … I told her she looked frikkin glamourous compared to the night before. She said she needed proof, which I knew she would say, so I showed her the photo I took the night before. She agreed – she definitely looked glamourous. She was keen to hurry up and leave the hospital but she was still under watch. Everyone that had had a hand in her care within our friend group was still coming to terms with the fact that we could’ve lost Lucy the night before. I was still reeling from the very real and very scary memories that had resurfaced from my youth and earlier in the year. We were all tired and scared for our friend, but all very glad that she was alive. She asked for a recount of what happened to her, and I obliged. The way I saw it, if I lied, she would know, and I didn’t want to lie to her.
She asked about her cats. She had, in an earlier conversation, stated that if she ever tried to take her own life, that her cats would go with her. The night of her attempted self one out, my first concern was to make sure she was home. She lived not far from a boat ramp and I was scared she’d carry out what she’d said earlier and use her car to end everything. Her fur babies were fine.
It’s been a fair few months since Lucy’s attempted suicide. She’s a little different than before, and that’s a good thing. She’s more understanding of the fact that the choice’s she makes affect more than just her. Her choices are like ripples in the water after someone’s thrown a stone in a still pool – they affect everyone in her immediate circle just as much as they do in the furthest circles of her life. She is more tolerant of herself. More forgiving of herself. She is more true to herself. She is stronger in herself, and it’s been wonderful to see her break down bounadries bit by bit. She still has down days, don’t get me wrong – depression is still depression – but she knows what triggers to look for and takes a step back to assess her situation and calls on us if and when she needs us. She knows now, that we aren’t going anywhere. And that we love her. We all still text, visit, and call her daily. We’re all still a little cautious I guess.
If you need anyone to talk to, please, confide in someone. Anyone. You have friends and family. Open yourself to them. Let in the light. There are also professionals online, and are a phone call away. You are worth more than any jewel in the world, and you are loved.
*Not their real names.