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What Stopped Me From Dying by Suicide During the Darkest Time of My Life

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

A loud noise interrupted my thoughts. It was the car horn of the person behind me. “OK, you jerk. I’m going,” I remember thinking as I put my hands up in the air in a “go to hell” type of gesture. It was not, at all, this person’s fault I was staring into space without realizing the light turned green. It was clearly my fault, but blaming others for anything and everything was what I did in those days. I wasn’t spacing out at that red light because I was tired, under the influence or for any other logical reason. I was thinking about how I was going to kill myself that night.

I did not expect 2011 to turn out how it did. I turned 22 years old and my niece, the first grandchild of the family, was born that year. She was the tiniest, cutest creature I’d ever laid eyes on. My high school sweetheart was away at college and, yes, long-distance was difficult, but we were managing. Living in an apartment with my best friend was fantastic, and my other best friend lived in the same apartment complex, so I saw her often. Family and friends surrounded me, and I was genuinely happy.

If self-sabotage was something I could major in, I’d have 1,000 Master’s degrees. I spent the entire summer with my boyfriend and friends. I visited family out of state, my first vacation by myself, and it went great. Walks with my dog became a daily occurrence and “Stereo Hearts” by Gym Glass Heroes was the ultimate “windows down” anthem of my summer. I had no idea what was in store for me, and I wish I could go back now and tell that girl to slow down, take a moment to think and not to trust so easily.

In the fall, the arguments with my boyfriend became an everyday, all day occurrence. The year before we had been so determined to make long-distance work, but suddenly it felt like a switch flipped and we could never get back on track. Every call I’d make that went unanswered, regardless of the reason, would upset me. I found myself not trusting the most trustworthy person I’d ever met. Taking a trip to visit him at college was intended to help us fix things, but it ended with me leaving a day early, crying the entire way home because we had broken up after seven years together. My family was as devastated as I was and unfortunately, it led to a lot of arguments. I felt blamed, even though it wasn’t only my decision, and I started ignoring their phone calls and texts.

I had no idea how much I could mess up my life in a span of only a couple of months, after that. I had become friends with a girl who many had warned me about. She seemed trustworthy and like she had my back, so I jumped right into considering her one of my closest confidants. Around the same time period, I started talking to a new guy. Honestly, they both may as well have had red flags coming out of their foreheads, but I refused to see it. I felt like the young kid being invited to hang out with the older crowd, and I loved it. They worked with me, so we saw each other daily. It was great. Any time someone would tell me not to trust them, for whatever reason, I’d just assume they were jealous. I was staying out with this guy until early hours of the morning and then getting up early to pick him up and drive us both to work. I was surviving on energy drinks, coffee and gummy bears. If I had an actual meal, I’d purge because I needed to be skinny. I needed to be valued. I felt alive. It seemed each day I was getting further from myself and every time I would ignore a red flag, it felt like a high. I was an adult making my own choices. I dropped my college courses and started drinking more and more. There are days of this time period I still can’t place. Maybe I thought I was just busy, but I’ve come to realize I was blocking it out. Even my brain couldn’t fathom what I was doing. I missed my ex-boyfriend terribly, but whenever the new guy would ask, I’d assure him it was over.

One morning, as soon as I arrived to work, I was told my mother was on the phone and I needed to go into the quiet room to talk to her. I wasn’t speaking to my family at the time, but if she was calling work, something had to be wrong. All types of scenarios flew into my head, but I never expected her to tell me my Poppop, the person who, even with dementia, seemed to know me so well, was dying. I needed to get to the hospital.

Sitting in the hallway of the hospice wing of the hospital with my family, sitting with my head on my best friend’s shoulder as we sipped on the coffees she brought and watched “Parks and Recreation” on her iPad, I was just waiting for someone I loved to die. I was waiting to hear the flatline. I started getting texts from that guy, and from the “friend.” It was clear they were out together. He called me and yelled at me. He told me he never liked me and used to me to get to her. He listed every flaw he had observed about me. She accused me of saying things I’d never say and they both called me a liar. We all worked together and instead of being upset over losing both of them, I was horrified. Thinking about what I’d done, who I’d pushed away and how I’d face the people who betrayed me when I went back to work. I couldn’t think about my Poppop, lying in his bed dying, I was thinking about myself. I’ve never been so ashamed, still to this day.

My ex came to the hospital that night. The panic attacks wouldn’t stop and I hadn’t slept in 24 hours. On the quiet drive home, I decided to be honest with myself and with him about what I had done since we broke up. I will never forget the hurt I saw on his face that night. I saw it for weeks, on loop. Despite all I confessed, he held me all night while I sobbed. I knew when I woke up the next morning, my Poppop was gone. My sisters tried to soften the blow by telling me I still had time, but I knew. I was so busy thinking about myself and my problems, I wasn’t there with my entire family as my Poppop took his last breath.

Over the next weeks, I would find out my ex was unsure he ever wanted to date again. When I was finally able to face work, rumors were still spreading. Those two people, people I had once considered friends, had said horrific things about me and in turn, had told co-workers I said horrific things about them.

Fortunately, some knew it wasn’t true, but some never spoke to me again. Every day I had to walk into that building felt like I was drowning. Emails were going back and forth about me, and it started affecting the work I was doing. I was lost. My personal life and my work life remained hell. While I felt comfort knowing they both knew they were lying about me, it wasn’t enough. I wanted control of my life back, I wanted my boyfriend back.

I don’t remember the viewing or the funeral, and I barely remember the drive back to my apartment. Until that horn startled me from my thoughts, I was thinking of the easiest ways to end my life. I would go home, maybe write a note and I’d follow through with my plan before falling asleep and never waking up. Easy. Over.

They say one song can change your life, and I genuinely know that to be true. As cheesy as it sounds, a song felt like the wake-up call I had needed for months. When I started through that green light, the song “Keep On” by Tyler Hilton was halfway over. “When you lose what you love, live on live on. When the road gets too rough, just be strong be strong. And when you can’t understand, but you’re starting to see, it’ll work in the end. You just got to believe, keep on keep on.”

I remember sitting in my car, crying my eyes out, just thinking about how my roommate and best friend would feel if he found me dead the next morning. I thought about him having to call my parents to tell them their daughter had taken her own life. I thought about my niece never remembering me, and the baby my other sister was pregnant with never knowing me. I thought about the hurt on my ex’s face that night, and I thought about my dog. I fell asleep easily that night, without following through with my plan, and when I woke up, I started fixing my life.

My ex gave me another chance and we put ourselves back together, slowly. I made up with my family and I sat at my Poppop’s grave and talked for a while. When my boyfriend was offered a job right out of college, we made plans to move out of state right away. I quit that job and never spoke to those two people again. We have been married for six years and have two children who look exactly like their daddy. I have amazing friends who encourage me every day. I go to therapy every week to continue working on my mental health. That time period was difficult, but I learned trust needs to be earned and life really can get better when you hit rock bottom.

So, to that driver who honked their horn at me that night and woke me up from that daze, thank you.

Unsplash image by Natalya Letunova

Originally published: March 9, 2020
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