In 2010 I was severely depressed, suicidal, and feeling like a failure at life, so I tried to kill myself—obviously I was a failure at that too, thankfully.
I had been working myself into a depression, which then turned into a suicidal state, for a good couple of years. My “best friend” was probably the most toxic influence on my life outside of my own hyper self-critical and negative brain. I had graduated high school in 2007 and since then I had dropped out of two colleges and was working a dead-end job at some mom-and-pop pizza place while the rest of my graduating class was entering their senior year in some of our country’s most prestigious colleges. While they were enjoying study-abroad programs, I was flipping burgers for less than minimum wage and living at home with my mother.
I felt like a complete and utter failure. Not only wasn’t I living up to my expectations of where I thought I should be in life, but I felt as if I wasn’t living up to my parents’ or my family’s expectations, either—which was worse because I love and highly respect my parents and the rest of my family and viewed them as accomplished and respected individuals. I felt like a black sheep, a black stain, an embarrassment to the family name, and so I estranged myself from them. I stopped talking to them; I stopped calling and returning emails. I stayed cooped up in my room, binge-eating ’til the wee hours of the morning, only getting up to shit or go to work at 3 in the afternoon.
I started thinking about suicide. I thought that after the initial shock of my suicide my family would be better off without me. I figured I was the problem and the best way to solve that problem was to remove myself completely. I started cutting myself shortly after, doing it correctly but shallow up my arm. If someone happened to notice I would just say I burned myself at work; no one really gave a second thought. Then one night after my 20th birthday and before my mother’s birthday, I finally broke and decided to do it for good this time. My mother and I had a huge blowout fight, me in my depression and her in her feeling of helplessness watching me drift further away. But all I heard was that I was hurting her and she didn’t know what to do and couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t keep hurting her.
Weeks prior I had contemplated how to best off myself. I was too heavy to hang, and there weren’t any decent places to hang a rope anyway. I had no bathtub I could use to soak in and keep my slit wrists from clotting, and because of my weight, I wasn’t exactly sure how many pills I really needed. So I decided to combine a few just to be safe. I already had the razor, but I bought a bottle of Jack, a bottle of aspirin, and a bag of weed. I figured I’d get drunk, take a bunch of pills, and if the pills weren’t enough, along with the alcohol they would thin my blood. The weed would just help me to drift off to sleep. I thought it was a pretty well laid out plan; hell, I even had a built-in contingency plan. I was determined.
Apparently I am a lot harder to kill than I thought. My mom woke me up the next evening when she got home from work because I was late for work. I could hear her crying as she walked down the stairs. The anniversary of my failed suicide attempt will be four years ago this September, and I have learned a few things since then…
1. The worst day of your life is not the day you decide to kill yourself, or even the days leading up to it. It’s the day after you failed and you wake up covered in your own blood, piss, and vomit and have to clean up your filth.
Yeah, that happened.
It was a miracle that my mom didn’t notice any of this. I had passed out on my stomach, lying on my wrists curled up in a ball under my quilt. To my surprise, none of my mess showed. Besides the vomit, piss, and dried blood, I had a horrific headache and couldn’t hear very well. It felt like my brain was trying to split through my skull and come out my ears, blocking a majority of the sound from the inside out. I was OK with the idea of my mother finding my cold dead body, but I was not OK with her knowing that I had tried and failed to end my life. I didn’t want her to take me to the hospital, and I definitely didn’t want to end up in a psych ward. I was not ready to have that conversation with anyone, especially my mother.
I was in pain, my head was pounding, I was nauseous, my body ached, and my wrists hurt like a motherfucker. Apparently I was too fucked-up on pills, alcohol, and Mary Jane to cut deeply enough, because while there was a significant stream of dry, caked blood around my wrists, I still had full mobility. I stripped my bed to wash my sheets and went to start a nice hot shower. I had to go to work, otherwise my mother would know that something was wrong. Trying to scrub the dried blood off my skin left the surrounding area of my already tender wounds red and raw. Removing desiccated, crusted blood is no easy task, and the water stung like thousands of tiny needles, but the pain was different from the cutting. It felt cleansing, and not just because I was washing away my filth. That day was simultaneously the worst day of my life but also the day I began to put my life back together.
2. People are assholes and will always judge you; do not join in with them.
You may occasionally find in life that no one is in your corner. Fine, fuck ’em, who needs them? Not you. The only person who always needs to be on your side is you. You need to treat yourself right, and I’m not just talking diet and exercise. If you are in a toxic relationship, END IT. If you need a change, then YOU need to make it happen. Don’t beat yourself up, don’t put yourself down; other people will do that enough for you. LOVE YOURSELF. Love every inch of yourself. Love your scars and congratulate yourself on surviving them. Love the good, the bad, and the ugly in your life. Those experiences shaped you. Learn from them and grow from them, and then for the love of god, move on.
3. Find your passion and embrace it, whatever it is.
Find your passion, finding something that motivates you, or something that you can strive to accomplish. Finding something you love helps you relieve stress and tension, and while you are doing whatever it is you love doing you will not be thinking about all that bullshit that life likes to throw at you when you are least able to deal with it. Finding a passion will help keep you sane and will help keep your priorities in order. Trust me on this one.
4. Set a goal, any goal, just make it something ACHIEVABLE.
Once you set a goal make a plan to meet your goal. Baby steps there, dear. Small accomplishments are key. Cherish every little triumph; they help build confidence and self-esteem and make bigger long-term goals seem more manageable and a lot less daunting.
5. The sooner you realize you can’t control ANYTHING in life, the quicker you can learn to roll with the punches.
Shit happens; get over it. You always have at least two options. You may not like your options, but they are there, and not making a choice is the same as choosing. You’re an adult, so take responsibility for your own actions. Your two options: A) there is nothing you can do, in which case you move the fuck on; or B) there is something you can do, in which case you DO IT! Don’t bitch and moan because you do not like your options. You are not a four-year-old; you are responsible for what you do in your own life, so deal with it and move on for Christ’s sake. The longer you linger on a problem the bigger said problem becomes. DO NOT DWELL.
6. Learn to be content alone with yourself.
You hear it all the time: “If you can’t love yourself, how can you expect anyone else to love you…?” But really, it’s more than that; you have to be comfortable in your own thoughts and your own skin. Everyone inevitably brings baggage or drama to any relationship. Don’t bring drama into your own life. Drama is exhausting; it is draining emotionally, mentally, and physically. Being alone and unplugging yourself from the world can give you time to recharge and restore yourself, but only if you can stand being alone with yourself.
7. Lastly and perhaps most importantly: Learn to ask for help.
You are not alone in feeling this. Even though your grief, your sadness, your heaviness is uniquely your own, you are not the first nor are you the only person to experience such a completely exhaustive desolation. People have been there and gotten through it. Hell, I’ve been there and gotten through it. And what’s more, I am glad I did. Sure, I still have terribly shitty days where it seems difficult to breathe and where everything goes from shit to fuck.
But after almost four years since I woke up from my botched suicide attempt, those days are few and far between. For the most part I enjoy my job(s) and like the types of people I work with. Looking at where I was compared to where I am now, I am proud of myself for what I have accomplished, for the pieces I have been able to fit back together. Sure there is still more that I want, but I am constantly moving forward. I am proud of my strength, proud of how far I have come. I am grateful I survived. I am grateful for my second chance at life. I am content with knowing that if I die tomorrow I will do so being at peace with what I have done and accomplished. I am even more fulfilled knowing that I do not want to die tomorrow.