How I'm Making Sense of My Suicide Attempt 10 Years Later
Editor’s Note: If you’ve experienced domestic violence, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline online by clicking “chat now” or calling 1-800-799-7233.
I was 18 years old when I attempted suicide. Leading up to it was my mother’s death, undiagnosed schizoaffective disorder that rampaged through my life unchecked, and being in an abusive relationship. The Saturday I attempted suicide in 2007 I went to work at my job at a local fast food restaurant, no more depressed or hopeless than usual. Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary during my shift save for the same song playing over and over through the restaurant’s speaker system. It was my Mom’s favorite song, an old country song with the familiar twang and southern accent. For the first couple of hours, I was able to ignore it. Halfway through my shift, though, I became so frustrated with it that I knocked over a stack of just-washed trays. I confronted my supervisor about it, demanding to know who’s sick, tasteless joke it was. She looked at me in disgusted confusion and asked what I was talking about because there hadn’t been any music playing all day. I didn’t remember finishing my shift nor the car ride home. The next thing I remembered was being in the midst of attempting suicide. I didn’t know why I was doing. I felt somehow I was supposed to do it — that it was in fact my destiny.
Ten years later and I still do not fully understand why I tried to take my own life. I am, however, able to look at everything leading up to that day and see reasons that contributed to it.
1. I was incorrectly diagnosed with depression.
The psychiatrist I starting seeing a few months after my mother’s death saw me presenting with what appeared to be depression and diagnosed me with it without spending more than 10 minutes talking to me. Had he taken the time to ask me more than a few questions and to get a complete history he would have seen the appearance of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar subtype. I had been experiencing auditory hallucinations since I was 13, cycling between mania and depression since I was 8, and experienced delusions since I was around 10 years old. The doctor put me on two different antidepressants, neither of which helped my severely depressed mood. Looking back, I cannot help but wonder if the antidepressants themselves contributed to leading me from suicidal ideation to suicidal intent. Or perhaps it was a result of my psychotic symptoms finally taking over with no effective medication to stand in their way.
2. My mother’s death.
My mother passed away on November 13, 2006, Though our relationship had been tumultuous, she had been my best friend and my major support in life. Her death, though expected given that she had been losing her battle with cancer for a while, devastated me. In a state of euphoric mania prior to her death, I plunged into depression so swiftly I baffled my friends and my girlfriend at the time. I missed my mom with every ounce of my soul and could not seem to find reasons to wake up each day without her. I moved on autopilot, going to school and work with as much life in me as a month-old corpse. I remember waking up one morning a few weeks before my suicide attempt and wondering why I didn’t close the distance between me and my mother, ending my life so that we could be together again.
3. The abusive relationship I was entangled in with my then-girlfriend.
My ex-girlfriend and I started dating a couple months before my mother died. Everything seemed perfect. We spent every moment we could with each other, laughing, smiling, hugging, kissing, playing video game and just being two kids who thought they were in love. Then, after my mom passed and I was buried in a avalanche of depression, the relationship changed. We were getting ready to go to church with her parents when I made a comment about how messy her room was. The punch she delivered to my face came so swiftly I hadn’t realized anything had happened until I was looking up from the shaggy carpeted floor.
That was the first of many coldly delivered, “deserved punishments” as she called them. Single punches turned to other forms of abusive behavior. I went to the ER three for concussions and doubtless suffered more but was too afraid of causing suspicion to seek treatment after every instance of abuse. Each time I lied to the ER doctor how I had received the concussion, wanting to protect the woman who claimed she loved me. As the abuse escalated my self-esteem, already low to begin with, became nonexistent. I found myself accepting the abuse, believing it was all I deserved and if I were not so pathetic, I would not need it. The day before my suicide attempt we had an argument which ended in more abuse. As a lay curled in a fetal position on the floor crying, I wondered what was the point of anything anymore.
My suicide attempt was ultimately the result of too much raw, unfiltered pain. My parents never taught me to reach out for help, and the thought never crossed my mind. I had felt myself spiraling into nothingness and for numerous reasons decided to try to become nothingness. Though I have come close to attempting suicide numerous times since then, I have never tried to again. Why? Because I understand the importance of asking for help, of seeking help. When I find myself afraid of myself, when I know I will not be safe, I admit myself inpatient in a psych hospital. Never a pleasant experience, each of my seven hospitalizations has been worth it because I am still alive.
If you or a loved one is affected by domestic violence or emotional abuse and need help, call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.
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Thinkstock photo via vgorbash