October 14, 2016

Fighting The Stigma: Let’s Talk Suicide, This Is My Story

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Photo by OnaArtist.com
Photo by OnaArtist.com


It’s been three years I’ve been avoiding that word.

I don’t know why. Virtually mostly anything else in my life is an open book. I’m not ashamed to answer explicit questions. I’m not ashamed to write vulgar poetry about the boys that broke me.

Most of my writings are in-your-face and don’t need much deconstructing. I fucked you. I hate you. I’m still turned on by you. There it is.

But suicide…

Our generation has abused and overused this word. It’s become a trend to use it as a cute blog descriptor that sometimes it can be difficult to discern whether a person is suicidal because he is born suicidal, or he’s suicidal because that’s what the media or the internet are telling him to be.

Sometimes I think the word has lost its urgency. Is it because I’ve grown apathetic to young people romanticizing pain? Or is it because there are a lot of mentally sick people that are still unheard and uncared for that we’ve normalized human beings taking their own lives as a desperate attempt to escape internal suffering?

I’ve never talked about my own experiences. Maybe partly because I’m scared. I’m afraid someone who knows me in real life gets to read my post and will ostracize me for it.

No matter how much society has claimed to be enlightened, people still don’t understand what it is to be depressed, suicidal, anxious, or mentally ill. I feel like a freak walking on egg shells.

Are they talking about me behind my back? Do they know?

FUCK. Stop whispering about me. Breathe. You’re okay. No one knows. Yet.

I would not blink if the entire universe knew about my promiscuity. But the thought of people in real life finding out the sordid details of my suffering? No thanks.

Maybe it’s my superiority complex. The thought of anyone knowing I’m anything less than what I present myself to be is crippling. They’ll see I’m weak. They’ll smell blood. And they’ll attack me, again.

I’m still not totally comfortable talking about the entire bit-by-bit details of my ordeal. But I will share what I can.

I never understood depression before nor did I know such a thing existed.

Living in a third world country, you’re not really informed about mental illness. So all my life, since childhood, I’d find myself curling into a ball, crying for no reason at all. Or sometimes be so devoid of emotion it would scare me. Solace was the underside of a bed or the inside of a closet. I’d hide in there and just feel so heavy that even breathing was a labor.

I remember I’d sob for hours. A seven-year-old me, confused at the strange emotions boiling inside me. I was a friendly and imaginative child, but lonely. I’d inexplicably break down in the middle of playing with my toys. Who knows why? I didn’t. My frustrated parents didn’t.

Fast forward.

I can’t remember (or maybe my subconscious is blocking this out on purpose due to trauma) how it started three and a half years ago.

I remember I was in my third year of University. I was on top of the world. Forlorn, most days empty, but from a practical perspective – on the path to success. I was on the honor roll, the Editor-in-Chief of our department paper, chosen to take part in TV interviews, documentaries, and seminars for selected young students. My writing was being published in the city paper and had won some small school contests. Despite being such a quiet introvert, upperclassmen were inviting me to join their parties as a candidate to run for University office that year.

It sounds like I’m bragging, but I’m trying to paint you a picture of how good I had it despite how empty I’d feel. I was unhealthy, but somewhat stable. At least I had purpose, something to keep me going and keep up the spirits. (And it’s kind of integral to the story)

There was a strike going on in the paper. Everyone agreed on quitting because we didn’t like the attitude of our publisher/classmate. I can’t even remember what he did that offended everyone so much.

Our publisher/classmate (who is gay, not that it’s relevant) messaged me on Facebook asking for a meeting after school. I was still angry due to whatever it was he did, so I didn’t reply to his message.

Later that afternoon I’m sitting in one of my classes when suddenly the door bursts open. It was him.

He started screaming at me at the top of his lungs:

Why didn’t you answer my message? How dare you? You’re not even beautiful, you have no right to act that way!!! Do you think you’re so beautiful you can ignore me like that?!

And a string of other insults I probably didn’t hear due to freezing from shock. The professor, who is a famous journalist and is good friends with my classmate, didn’t do anything to stop his tirade.

There was five minutes before class started so it was still break. The hallway was shoulder-to-shoulder packed. When he screamed at me, all the buzzing from the crowd of students stopped. There was dead silence. Nearly every single person in the hallway heading for his/her classes, STOPPED, LISTENED, AND STARED AT ME. Probably because all the people in our classroom were staring at me, too, as my incensed classmate glared at me from the front of the room.

The professor allowed my classmate to scream. He literally just sat there and pretended nothing happened when my classmate was done yelling. My classmate was not reprimanded.

He even said, “I’m sorry for my outburst, sir. I hope you understand. I just needed to get that out and express it to her.”

And the professor just nodded to him in silence and let him leave.

I tried to save my composure, but ended up bursting in tears. I was treated by all 300 of my batchmates as an outcast. Even my own group of best friends didn’t side with me. I heard from people they even said stuff about my mental illnesses behind my back.

Albeit some were probably true, but still. You get my point. I was alone.

The only thing I clung to was my boyfriend at the time which wasn’t saying much because our relationship was abusive, and my outbursts were taking a toll on him.

That weekend my mother, who has her share of habits, was berating me again for some petty thing. I actually think it was as insignificant as the way I dressed or forgetting to buy her something she wanted? The smallness of the incident was not proportional to her cruelty and anger, though.

I had a breakdown at the mall. My boyfriend grabbed my hand after he saw I was climbing over the third-floor railing, and I literally screamed until people were staring and he had to let go to save us from further embarrassment.

I went back home, locked my room.

And popped about at least 60 pills.

I became dozed. I remember lying on the floor and then… it was kind of like I was half-awake half-asleep. My consciousness was blurred and cottony. I heard my boyfriend and dormmates opening the door with a spare key, probably.

I think I blacked out because next thing I knew I was being rushed through the bright walls of a hospital.

I felt peacefully numb. I could still hear what the nurses and my boyfriend were talking about as they rushed me in. I tried to say something, but it felt heavy to move or talk, and it just felt so… nice and numb. No more triggers, no more trauma, no more aching hollowness. Just a quiet calmness.

I vaguely recall people flurrying around me, trying to get a response. I just wanted to sleep. Why couldn’t they just let me sleep?


pain. An outburst of pain and nausea.

The doctor had inserted a tube down my nose to pump out the pills from my stomach.

It was like being jolted back to life. Maybe most of the hazy effects of the pills were psychological. I don’t know. All I know is once I felt that physical pain again after that blissful peace of numbness, my eyes burst open and I fought with everything I had.

I ripped the tube from my nose and started screaming. A couple of nurses tried to soothe me as they attempted to reinsert the tube, but I just kept scrambling away from them, flailing, fighting, screaming, “IT HURTS IT HURTS IT HURTS.”

This, I think, went on for five minutes.

I managed to squish my face against the hospital bed so they couldn’t access my nose or mouth. My nails dug into the metal bed frames. I was so fucking desperate.

The nurses called for help and I think it took at least five people to finally restrain me. All I’m sure of is my bed was completely surrounded and several pairs of arms pinned me down as I squirmed helplessly, and the doctor finally put in again the tube through my nostril, down my throat, into my stomach.

I hurled.

And I heard the doctor yell at me, “It hurts because you did this to yourself! You have no one to blame but yourself!”

I swear all the doctors here have no sympathy for mentally ill patients. In this third world country, being depressed and suicidal is not a real affliction. They shrug you off as being overly dramatic like in the soap operas. Nobody takes you seriously. Everybody keeps telling you it’s your own fault.

Today, I do understand I did it to myself and I have no one to blame.

I may be wrong because I’m not a doctor, but I feel like that is something you NEVER EVER EVER tell a suicide survivor or patient. You’re just making us feel more crap for not being able to successfully kill ourselves and giving us more reason to be determined next time.

The nurses were horrible, too. I was still weak from the pills and even weaker from the tube. And the nurses kept talking about me, theorizing about my personal life and why I would kill myself. Literally gossiping right in front of me as they monitored my stats.

“Did you see her boyfriend? Maybe they had a fight. Wasn’t he cute, though? Looked Chinese. Maybe her love life is going bad. Maybe she’s pregnant. I also know someone who tried to kill himself. Tried to hang himself. Crazy, huh? Did you hear what the doctor said? She was furious!”

It literally took me an hour to gather enough strength to give a shaky and weak, “Stop talking about me.” Before I puked again.

My body was heavily pumped with charcoal the entire day. It was so disgusting and uncomfortable. Imagine feeling sick and dizzy literally every nano-second and having to vomit black goo from your body almost every time you breathed. It was the worst physical ordeal I had to go through. I was there maybe around 3PM, and it lasted until 11PM.

Time had never crawled so slow in my life.

All I could do was to try to fall asleep. Whenever I moved a little, the tube would move, too, which would stroke my gag reflex and I’d puke. I kept puking until I had nothing to puke anymore.

I was so desperate that I begged my boyfriend to find a doctor and take the thing off. As with any hospital in this sorry country, we only found a doctor after two hours. They interviewed me and made me sign a waiver that they wouldn’t be held responsible if I died because they stopped treatment.

I lied and told them I just took 10 pills. They believed it.

I slowly and painstakingly made recovery.

Though very weak physically, mentally, and emotionally, I went back to school a couple weeks later but could not go through with it. It felt like everyone was staring at me, and judging me, and talking about me.

I had kept my attempt and hospitalization a secret. Only two close friends were told. They made the mistake to invite a third friend, who they thought could be trusted, too. My friends assured nothing would happen and that their cover story for my absence in school was Dengue Fever.

But some people are just horrible. That third friend spread the rumors (or rather truth) that I had attempted suicide and was hospitalized to our entire class of 300. I also heard that the classmate who had been bullying me was angry I had stolen his spot on the honor roll and as Editor-in-Chief of the paper. I’ll let you imagine how much cruelty and pettiness young people are capable of.

I quit Uni. Bailed out in the middle of the semester. My dad was heartbroken. Thousands of money couldn’t be refunded.

When I got back to my hometown it wasn’t over. People kept bullying me via Facebook. We had a chatroom for our class so we could share discussions on projects or homework. Some people who KNEW I could get notifications and read their group chats would talk horridly about me. Laughing at me and mocking me “pretending” I couldn’t read that they called me a psycho, or crazy, or pathetic, or an attention-seeker, or how they were so very glad they weren’t born as fucked up as me. I also got some pretty mean anonymous online messages basically saying the same things.

I took a break from school and social life for a year. I was a recluse. I refused to see anyone outside my boyfriend.

Things are fairly better now. I have a book published. I’m no longer in an unhealthy relationship. I have a husband, a job, a home. I have my own set of friends I can comfortably talk to about what I’m feeling or thinking without being made fun of for it. I’ve changed a lot, still depressed and coping, but I haven’t done anything as drastic and such a close-call attempt since then. I’m in a good place. I found surfing and poetry. I’m trying to be a little more independent.

Happy? Cured? Not really. But better. Healthier.

Still not comfortable with this post, though. I think I have it ingrained that it’s something to be ashamed and embarrassed about. “WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK?! WHAT WILL THE NEIGHBORS SAY?!” The thought of real life people who know me reading this or knowing about this part of my life still makes me cringe so I don’t know why I wrote this now.

But you can’t really cure a sickness unless you admit you have it, can you?

I guess… I’m just trying to be okay with it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t be scared to ask for help and to admit you need it. More importantly – stay. You don’t have to stay strong right now because I promise you, one day, you will be. You don’t have to be strong all the time, either.

Healing will be difficult, entail a lot of hard work, and often seem pointless but it isn’t. Don’t believe in your depression’s lies or other people’s malice. Believe in your own light.

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart. I am, I am, I am.” – Sylvia Plath

You are worth it. You deserve to live, to be here, to exist.

Stay, stay, stay. TC mark

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