My head is swimming. I’ve been sick all night.
I don’t know what happened.
I don’t know what happened.
I don’t… Or do I? I don’t know.
Logan* is on the bed across from me. His eyes are open and he looks tired. I try to lift my head to see him properly and I get dizzy and sick right away. I put my head back down. Close my eyes. I drift into a dreamless slumber.
Breathe. Where am I? What is going on?
There’s light coming in through the curtains. The lamp between the beds shines brightly. Yet the room seems utterly dark to me. He’s watching still.
I don’t recall what he asked but eventually he got it out of me. Not just the drinks.
It was pills.
20 or 30, I ventured a guess. However, I learned later it was more than double that amount. At least 25,000 milligrams of acetaminophen were in my body working to kill it.
At first, I say no, I’ll be fine, I don’t need a hospital. He makes arrangements to stay at another hotel. Gets me into the shower to wash off the past eight hours. Even as the hot water falls over me, I feel chilled. And faint. And everything is spinning. I’m going to need medical attention, whether I want it or not.
He helps pack up my things. I’m sick again. I want to tell him it’s going to be okay, but I cannot.
I know that I tried to end my life last night.
It isn’t okay.
I don’t even really know why I did it...
But it isn’t okay at all.
This is what it’s like to wake up, after trying to go to sleep forever. These are the moments when you realized you’ve—at least until that point—survived a suicide attempt. Absolutely precious moments, spiritually, and absolutely crucial moments, medically. We had to get to the emergency room. He got me there in time.
My memory was hazy, or maybe I didn’t have the courage to admit to anyone what I had done, not even to myself. Logan had to fill in the blanks with the doctors and nurses who came in to examine me and ask questions. He had called my sister—I wasn’t going to be able to pick her up that morning after all. He had to call my mom—and tell her that her daughter might die.
Because that was very likely. I remember someone coming to tell me I had done serious damage to my liver. They were going to have to admit me and start administering acetylcysteine as the Tylenol-overdose antidote. The first night, Logan stayed by my side until well after I had nodded off. He hadn’t slept at all the night before, and wasn’t going to get much sleep that night either, and must have been beyond exhausted. I think I loved him more than ever then. I could barely speak, couldn’t eat, and my stomach was churning, but I hoped he could sense how much he meant to me, since that was the most pervasive feeling of all.
The next few days were excruciating. IVs, blood tests, ultrasounds, a biopsy. Talk of a transplant. My condition wasn’t improving much. My mom coming down. My mom's grief over what had happened and what was still possible. Having to be moved to another hospital with liver specialists who could provide the specialized treatment I needed. I had caused enough harm to my body that there was an entire hospital that wasn’t equipped to cure me.
I had one nurse who took to me right away. She treated me like a daughter. She told my mom and me near the end of her shift that her son had died years ago. There had been several small “wake up calls" since I became conscious of the seriousness of what I had done, but this was the big one.
I needed to live, for her, for her son, for my own mom. And for Logan. And importantly, for me. If I was going to get this chance to live, I needed to make the most of it. That day, my labs started to show improvement. I was able to eat again. My dad booked our flights. I was going to go to my parents’ house to continue recovering.
I had this feeling of wanting so much to take back the last six days. To keep it together. To not let depression and stress and two drinks fuel such an awful, near life-ending decision. To think twice before acting. To be better, to do better. I wanted the person I loved the most to know how sorry I was for hurting him.
Towards the end of my hospital stay, I started reading a book on self-compassion. And it’s taken me until now, several weeks after the incident, to fully come to terms with the fact that I need to have compassion for what I was going through in that night. I don’t remember it very clearly, but I was clearly in a great deal of pain and I cannot blame myself for trying to end the pain and suffering.
Remembering when I was in the depths of anorexia and how difficult treatment was, remembering how I was wanting out of my body: I hadn’t actually tried to escape it then like I had now—but in those days, I wished to all the time. I made it through that, and I was going to make it through this.
I *am* going to make it through this.
Depression has been a battle of mine for nearly a decade and a half and it’ll probably always be with me. That’s the nature of the ugly beast—I can get it under control, but it’s there, and sometimes it’ll creep up stronger and more forceful than I am. When it takes hold, it strangles, and fighting back is extremely hard. Even when all is going seemingly well, depression is waiting. It can come out of it’s dark cave and turn things upside down.
Under the love and care of my family, doctor, and friends, my health improved tremendously over the next couple weeks. I made arrangements to get back to my own life. I made arrangements to get therapy as well. I know I’m fragile. I know that I’m vulnerable with my depression. I know I still need a lot of help and support.
I cried leaving my therapist’s office after the first visit. Cold, angry tears at what I had done to my body, to my loved ones, to me. But I was feeling. I could feel this raw, emotional pain because I was alive. I could feel this heartache because I had a beating heart. I could try (and fail, completely) to take deep breaths because I was able to breathe.
I’m broken, but I have all the pieces I need to put myself back together.
This is an unfinished survival story. My life is still being written. I’m in the process of surviving. I go on.
There is a lot worth living for. Every morning now, I think,
Just as I should be.
*Name has been changed.