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What I Told the ER Nurse When I Was Suicidal

There are stretches of time, sometimes extended stretches, when all I can do is get through. I look down at the word tattooed on the inside of my left wrist, “persevere.” I got the tattoo right after I was discharged from the psych hospital four years ago. I stare at it, sometimes for a very long time, and even then, the feeling of wanting to just go doesn’t abate.

“Just get through the day, Coco. Don’t do anything self-harming or self-sabotaging because you’re worth fighting for,” I tell myself.

Again and again.

It’s survival mode. Those are the times I function at my basest instinctual self. I fight for my life. I push through to the time I know awaits when the blackness will recede just a little bit. There will be reprieve, relief. There will be a glimmer of light that rebirths a glimmer of hope. And it does come.

Sometimes the deliverance is so long in coming, I want to end my life. And sometimes I go further than that. But then I get help. I always get help. Because I don’t really want to die. I want to know, at the end of my time, I chose life. I want to push through and find that place of peace which gives me the opportunity to look at my world and look at myself and see the good things.

I’m not foolish enough to believe that place of peace lasts indefinitely. Things in life come against me and my own brain comes against me. Bipolar is an incurable illness. It can be managed, but it will never go away. I accept that. I hate it, but it just is.

I was in the ER recently because I wanted to kill myself and I was making a plan. I usually don’t get that far, and I was scared. I was telling the nurse why I had come for help. I was telling her really good things. I knew that. I asked her to tell me what I’d said if I didn’t remember, because I knew the words coming out of the deepest part of me were words I needed to hear, so I could know what I really believed about myself and about my life.

Later, she told me I’d said, “Take a thousand steps, and then just take one more.”

“That’s really good!” I said.

“Yes. It is good. And it is true,” she said, taking my hand and smiling, loving me. “You’re going to get through this. There is hope. There is light coming.”

Getty image by Atlas Studio