The night I arrived home after four years away I tried to kill myself.
I pulled into the driveway after three days of driving across the country alone – only caffeine pills and nicotine left in my system – and saw the familiar faces of my family through the dimming sun of the muggy East Coast August afternoon.
Overwhelmed isn’t adequate enough a word to describe what I was feeling in that moment. I had returned to a place that I swore I would never return to, four years after I said goodbye for what I thought was for good. Four years after making a life for myself independent of anyone who had hurt me in the past. Four years after finding my strengths and weaknesses, faults and power.
Four years after cultivating a new family in a foreign place, of travelling the world, of creating myself. And here I was, once again, standing in the cracked driveway of a house that would never feel like the home I had just left.
I didn’t plan on returning. I couldn’t get my shit together after graduation, and couldn’t afford to live in Boulder anymore. Moving home – something that was never an option – was now the only card I had left to play. I was humiliated – everyone I left for greener pastures was watching me return – empty handed and defeated. Back where I began.
I don’t know what did it – seeing my family as a unit which no longer functioned with me in it, the familiar sights and smells, my mother’s sharp criticism already jabbing at my side like a dull knife – but I decided that I would kill myself that night. Among the boxes and crates of every item I owned sitting in the back of my car, I made sure that my bag of pharmaceuticals was the first thing I brought inside. God forbid I miss a dose of Prozac, try to drift asleep without a trazadone, make it through an evening without a Klonopin. These drugs were my companions, and now they would help me end my life.
I drowned out the dismal thoughts in my head with a bottle of wine – pretending to celebrate my arrival. I smoked weed with my sister, feigning bonding. I was getting ready for the main event. My bulimic tendencies probably saved me in some small way that night – after my mother commented on how much pasta I had eaten, I threw it all up in our small downstairs bathroom, along with much of the wine I had consumed.
After everyone else went to sleep, I climbed up the stairs into the makeshift room I was to be sleeping in. Sitting in front of me was the same twin bed I had slept in since I was five years old. I felt small, deflated, and the silence that surrounded me now was deafening compared to the always-bustling house full of roommates and friends I had just driven away from three days before.
I knew I wanted to die.
I knew I couldn’t survive this. I texted all of my best friends individually and told them I loved them without hinting what I was about to do. I wanted them to know that this wasn’t their fault, and that if anything, their love and friendship had only prolonged my inevitable demise.
I grabbed a bottle of sleeping pills and poured them into my hand. White and round, the dust from their edges gathering on the indented lines which lined sweaty palms. I shoved as many into my mouth as I could and gulped water – their voyage down my throat easier than I had expected. I sat upright for the next few seconds, head spinning, realizing what I had just done, and then I gave in to the void. I laid back and waited to die.
I remember my phone began buzzing shortly after I conceded to the fact that I was about to die. In the moments before my body began to give out, I read messages from my friends who were responding to my final messages of love. They were all responding with happiness and hope, congratulations on my safe arrival and excitement at seeing me in the future. It was in that moment that I knew I had made a terrible mistake. I dragged my limp and tired body to the bathroom and purged.
Tears lined the toilet seat as I begged my body to keep fighting, as I threw up but couldn’t see the outlines of the pills I had consumed. When I did all I could I returned to my twin bed, which was now littered with little white pills and pleaded with my brain to stay awake. I knew that if I fell asleep I might not wake up.
I couldn’t control my body through the dizziness and vertigo. I was only a functioning brain stuck inside a broken vessel. I was certain I was going to die, and it was in those moments that all of the good in my life began to flood into my periphery. I spent hours drifting in and out of consciousness, waking with gasps for air to make sure I was still breathing – lying my hand on my heart to make sure it was still beating.
By the time the sun rose I still wasn’t sure if I was going to live. I kept awaking to the fear that I was actually dead, stuck in the purgatory of this twin bed, in this old house, unable to move or speak or tell everyone in my life how much I loved and needed them. When I finally realized I was going to live was the first time I let myself cry – to release what I had just put myself through and to feel the pure divine joy of living another day, no matter how sad or monotonous or unexpected it may be. It was a night of profound transformation and clarity.
The very same night I arrived home after four years away and I decided I wanted to die was the same night I realized I wanted nothing more than to live.