Is it just me, or are you emotionally spent? That bastard called depression has claimed another one of our own.
Look, I don’t want to dredge up the past and write extensively about my suicide attempt openly so I can get attention here. So bear with me as I write a long, meandering account of my half-assed spur-of-the-moment suicide attempt which took place during Christmas break 2002 in my childhood home in Connecticut.
No, please, don’t call me brave. I am anything BUT brave. Like Robin, I was born with a “creative bent.” I’ve always been just a little off-kilter. For as long as I can remember, I have retreated to my fantasy worlds. As a child, I played games where the kitchen would become a magical forest. My backyard wasn’t the yard that everyone else saw—no, it was a sailboat! I get you, Robin. I understand. I’m not bipolar like Robin was, but like the “sad clown” with a “smile on the outside but tears on the inside,” I often feel the inexplicable need to hide my true feelings. Whether at school or on a job interview, there’s a part of me that is always whispering, “Don’t tell them everything you’re thinking. Don’t let them see who you really are … change yourself for social situations.” People look at me and they just see the nice house and nice job and loving family and lack of any actual problems and think, man, she probably is doing OK. But you never know what sort of hell a person might make up in their own head.
Now, I admit it’s hard for me to gather my excessively open and honest recounting of the fateful events of family Christmas ’02. The poems, songs, and xojane submissions are all in different diaries. One essay that was published in the local paper entitled “Suicide Is Not Just A City Problem” is completely lost in my parents’ basement.
Here’s what I remember. My mother was making friendship bread in the kitchen. That means someone gives you a little bit of a starter loaf so the bread will rise, and you, in turn, save a bit of starter to give to someone else. There’s love in every bite.
But suddenly, there wasn’t love in every bite. There wasn’t love anywhere! All my classes from that year came crashing down on me. I felt totally buried. I didn’t want to take sculpture classes, I wanted to switch my major to photography! After that, it was all a whirl. When the brain takes off, there is no stopping it.
See, when I was a kid, I used to be 30 pounds overweight. And although I lost the weight in Junior High, it is just one of those things that will stick with you for the rest of your life. You’re always the “weird kid” in your head. Always the “fat whiny fuck” who “won’t share her toys because she’s a bitch.” Never getting invited to parties because “you don’t fucking shut up about yourself.” Sure, I lost the weight, but the names stay with you forever. It was then that I noticed a bottle of grape juice on the stairs that mom was waiting to take down to the second refrigerator in the rumpus room. I grabbed like, five or six Benadryl and started guzzling the juice without stopping, without breathing. It all went down the wrong pipe and I literally couldn’t breathe. I staggered into the kitchen and started projectile vomiting all over the kitchen.
Mom drove me to my pediatrician’s house, where he scolded me for taking five Benadryl and warned that it was bad for my liver. Victim blame much? After that, it was just a whir of the pediatrician’s office and needles in my arm and signing paper after paper after paper. To this day, I can’t drink grape juice in a finished basement.
And so, depression takes yet another one of us. And by us, I mean ARTISTS. All I can say to you, as an ARTIST who has made ART and knows what it is like to FEEL DEEPLY, all I can say is: If you are sad, call a complete stranger whose job it is to keep you on the line until the police show up. When your increased dopamine leads to hypomania and you think you should sell all your furniture and move to San Francisco to start that muffin-truck business, just reach out and call someone. There is no stigma in calling one of the many fine nonprofit institutions that are legally obligated to report you to 911.
When you have no will to live and cannot move out of bed, remember: Go online, research the available options, and start making phone calls! What if Robin Williams had known to call the suicide hotline? He might still be here today. Robin, we’ll miss your laughter and your tears. We’ll miss your—actually, fuck Robin Williams, let’s just talk about me.
Let’s end the stigma surrounding my ability to talk openly and excessively about myself. If this deeply difficult and personal story can help just one person to read my story and think about me, then I believe I have succeeded.