Not Today: Inside a suicidal mind.
Suicide is a concept and issue that is widely talked about these days, though it still seems to be something that very few people can actually comprehend. Many people believe that a person who fails a suicide attempt never really tried to start with, or that they just wanted the attention received afterwards.
Those who do succeed are also viewed negatively, with comments such as “How could they do that to their poor family?” or “Why didn’t they say anything?” following their names around.
Many people who wish to help others experiencing suicidal tendencies think like this, though they would be far too sheepish to admit it. Unfortunately, even I have fallen prey to thinking like this. It wasn’t until one day that I was the person being scrutinized that I truly understood.
Picture this – a very stereotypical scene. A 17-year-old girl, moping because her best friend since primary school has made off with her ex boyfriend.
What kind of feelings do you get from that image? “That’s silly. She can make new friends, that friend definitely isn’t worth the trouble. She should just get over it and move on.” That’s what I would have said if you’d have asked me. “She’s just another silly girl overreacting to teenage dramas”.
But the difference in this situation was I knew this girl’s story; she was me.
I have never kept it a secret that I have suffered depression. For the past 6 to 8 years of my life I have had episodes as short as a month to as long as 2 years, ranging anywhere from feeling down and out all the way up to dismal and suicidal.
This particular day, I was 6 months into a crippling depressive episode that caused a domino effect of bad events.
I had to leave before graduating my last year of high school, meaning I had to attend a totally separate (and in my opinion useless) education program, I decreased how much food that I ate to the point I weighed the same as I had when I was 12 and I’d completely isolated myself from almost any social interaction.
That sounds pretty shitty, don’t you think? Now top that off with having a bad day.
Mum was getting on my back about chores, great.
I was having an argument with my boyfriend, fantastic.
I actually came into town on my lunch break for once so my anxiety was through the goddamn roof, wonderful!
And, wait- Was that? No, that would just be the goddamn cherry.
There was my ex boyfriend and ex best friend about to walk past me, holding hands and laughing without so much as a backward glance.
My boyfriend was talking irritably on one side of me, but I wasn’t listening. Wordlessly, I stood up and walked the short distance to the building I had class in. I heard him call out to me, but I didn’t reply and he was too annoyed to follow me.
I could feel the tears of anger and shame welling up in me.
“Why do they get to be happy? Why do they get to forget about me and move on like I’ve tried so hard to? Why do I let them have this power over me?”
I walked straight upstairs to the bathroom and locked myself in a cubicle. All at once the self-blame, pity, shame and anger swallowed me.
I was inconsolable. Not that anyone was there to try and console me anyway.
I bit my knuckle, I smothered myself with my hand, only too aware that there was a class next door and if they heard me I’d be found in a pathetic ugly heap, bawling my eyes out in a bathroom. Even in the tide of emotions I had, I still had my pride. I didn’t want anyone to see me like that.
I looked through my bag for something sharp. I even resorted to using my nails and breaking the buckle on my bag to use the jagged edge on my skin.
I just wanted to fucking feel something, anything.
I looked through my bag one last time but I came up with something else, something I’d skipped over the first time.
My medication. My antidepressants, an almost full pack of Panadol and some pills that I’m not even sure how I got.
I looked at them and they looked back at me as I swallowed over the lump in my throat. “Why shouldn’t I do it?” All that mattered right then and there was the overwhelming pain I felt and how to make it stop.
In the end, I only sent two messages once I’d made up my mind.
I sent one to my ex best friend. I wanted her to know what she’d done, how she was my final straw.
“I’m going to kill myself. I’m sorry.”
I couldn’t face my family or my boyfriend. I didn’t want them to worry and most importantly, I didn’t want them to have time to stop me.
I sent the other message to a friend of my boyfriend’s who I get along with, saying: “I’m sorry but I can’t take it anymore”. I want her to tell him how sorry that I am. She immediately finds out where I am and informs me that she’s on her way, to just hold on until she can get there.
By this point I have all of the pills in my hand. Months worth of medication, ready to go in a second.
I decide to check if my ex best friend has replied to me and what I see hurt me more than anything I could inflict upon myself.
And in the one moment, everything became unbearably worse, something I didn’t think was possible. My best friend of almost six years knew what I was going to do. She picked up her phone, opened the message, then put her phone back down.
When my boyfriend’s friend came into the bathroom I could barely hear her. I’d abandoned my silence as well as any notion of pride or dignity, all I could do was let out the pain I had while clutching onto a handful of pills.
Slowly more people realised what was happening. A small trickle of people who I spoke to at school came into the bathroom, all of them talked me down together. I can’t thank any of them anywhere near enough to how much I wish I could.
I don’t remember opening the door, but someone convinced me to unlock it. All I remember was sliding down the wall, still in tears, before someone pried open my hand and took the pills away from me.
I know many, if not all of the girls, both my age and younger, who were with me that day have/do suffer from depression and suicidal urges themselves, which made what they were doing for me that much more selfless.
Eventually it was time for me to get back up. It was in the middle of the day, so that amount of people in a bathroom for that long hadn’t gone unnoticed by teachers. I was terrified. “Please don’t call my parents.” I begged them as I started to cry again. I couldn’t take how disappointed and upset that they would be. But, my teachers had a job to do and I don’t resent them for it. The next thing I said was to my boyfriend’s friend. “Joshua-” I cut myself off with a sob, “Where’s Joshua?” I couldn’t imagine my boyfriend’s friend wouldn’t have told him what was happening, but he wasn’t there.
I was taken into a separate room with my friends while my teacher was on the phone, they all tried to coax a smile from me. A few times it almost worked, but I couldn’t stop the sobs from coming back for too long. When Josh appeared at the door I felt a mixture of guilt and relief. He came over to me and he held me, causing me to cry all over again. As soon as he let me go though, he didn’t say a word. All I could see written all over his face was anger. Sheer anger.
At the time I couldn’t understand, but now I look back on it I understand it was because of how afraid that he was. He was angry at me because he came an inch away from losing me forever and the thought terrified him.
They all took me downstairs to a little quiet area that I liked, covered in books but hidden away under the stairs with a little couch. I curled up on the couch and I waited for my family to come and collect me, dreading every second of it. When they finally got there though, it was very different to how I’d expected. They weren’t angry like Josh, they immediately hugged me.
My mother was there first, holding me, not wanting to let go. She did though, she had to go and speak to my teacher. I was surprised when I saw my sister’s face. I hadn’t expected her to come. My sister and I have never been best friends and she’s not a very affectionate person, whereas I am. So when she leaned down and held me it hit me that no matter how much or little love people showed me, I almost impacted them all. All I could say to her was “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…” again and again. I still cry when I think about that moment. In fact I’m crying right now.
This is why I think it’s so important for people not to judge others based on face value. Yes I was moping over a teenage drama, but a mixture of intense depression and other environmental factors turned that simple thing into a moment that almost ended my life.
Never demoralize a person who has attempted suicide. People are not weak if they attempt or commit suicide, think about the amount of intense emotional pain you would have to be in to believe death is your only option.
The only people who will truly understand the importance of being positive both about and to those who are suffering depression, are those who have stared death in the face and said “not today”, or have lost loved ones to it.
Be kind, be understanding, but most importantly don’t judge people based only on what you know.
You never know what lies under the surface.