It could have been me

I have a secret… I have carried with me in silence for a long time.

In hearing the rash of teenage suicides recently I have been thinking about how it could have been me, I was so close – it could have been me!

So…almost 20 years ago I attempted to take my own life. I knew what I was doing...it wasn’t an accidental type of thing. I actually planned it for quite a while. I remember after a 6am swim practice I swallowed a lot of pills that I had stolen from my grandfathers “stash” (he died 6 months previously so no one noticed) and then I went to school. From what I am told, I was acting strange and even walked up to someone and placed my hand on her shoulder and just said “help me” before collapsing. I don’t remember much from that day at all...I remember being in the hospital where they kept asking me if I took anything, which I apparently denied for quite a while. They ended up doing a spinal tap to test what was in my system, trying to counteract what I had taken with a bunch of other fun stuff. I remember how big that needle was and how much that sucker hurt.

I remember when I was placed into a mental facility late that night, it was a Christian one too, can’t have crazies without religion! My first night was actually spent in an observation room with padding on all walls and only a mattress. The next morning was spent getting acquainted to my new surroundings, where to go for meals, where I would be sleeping, where we had our therapy times and of course school. I was surrounded with quite a motley crew of people, my roommate actually spoke with wolves (yeah that’s what I said), a girl I went to high school with was there because she was anorexic, and I met a guy named Jonathan that looked like the lead singer of The Cure, we even dressed him up one day just because we thought that was fun.

There were bars on our windows, and we were only allowed outside for small amounts of time, supervised of course. Our TV room was in direct view of the main nurse’s station so they could peer at us through their tempered glass. We were 14 of the most confused, hurting kids I have seen in a long time. At the time I just thought my life sucked...I was dating a horrible excuse for a human being that liked to hit women...just watched someone I cared for that was so full of life die from an aneurysm 1 day after we had a swim meet among your general teenage heartache. It was a bad time for me, and I thought it couldn’t get any worse.

During my time in the unit I went to many of their shrinks, talked about my life & what “would cause such a good kid like me to end up here”, blah blah blah I had to do that ink blot test, I had to answer personality tests…they made me take funny pills to “keep me calm” among other things. At some point they diagnosed me as being bipolar. I think it was required to say you had something wrong with you, after all I was adopted...I had to have some issues somewhere.

I ended up in that fun padded room during my stay, I don’t remember what started it…but I do remember getting pretty upset and they put you right in that room after a shot of something so eventually you just go numb. It reminded me a lot of my favorite movie at the time Nightmare on Elm Street 3. Shoot you up with a drug, throw you in a room and lock the door. I remember my fellow kids coming by at night to talk to me through the door...something along the lines of hang in there.

By time I got out of the nut house word had spread around school, not that I had almost killed myself, but that I was in a mental institution for a while recovering. Let me tell ya, Christian high school kids are no different from public school kids with the tormenting and bullying. They almost drove me right back into that place. I was so upset and confused. At the time the only thing I was more scared of than leaving that place was going back to school. My parents never talked about it again, my friends certainly didn’t talk to me about it, and those upperclassmen were relentless.

That experience haunted me for years, and I have struggled with it since then. Should my attempt at fate worked? In which case I would not have seen life after 14 years old? I think about the experiences I have had in the 20 years since that day. But, alas that is not the end of the story.

I had some interesting friends back in those days; we were a group of what you would call Cutters today. It was not unusual to find us with blades on us, showing each other the latest marks. Of course I would have stories, I fell, hit something in the garage, slipped down the stairs etc. None of that was true of course. I remember at one point we all carved into ourselves LH for Love Hurts. Quite a thing to determine at our age, quite a statement we made to each other. Even to this day, if I play volleyball you can see those old scars show up as pink lines up and down my arms. And to think no one noticed.

There was 1 other time in my life that I seriously contemplated suicide. That was 10 years ago when I moved to WI…I owned a handgun at the time which looking back on it was a deadly combination. This was when I was thrown out of my parent’s home for being gay. Tossed aside like I was disposable and my life didn’t matter anyway. I remember one night as I was sleeping in my storage unit (I didn’t have any were else to go) I figured no one would miss me, after all it had been a while since I was thrown away...who would care? I have felt like a throwaway most of my life, must be an adopted kid thing. Sort of on your own in all situations and not expecting people to care or notice if you’re keeping yourself together. I have the mentality of an orphan even though I always had a decent family. I say decent because my mother has never been a decent lady, quite a bully in her own way. Too many instances to list here, but not the nicest lady.

Anyway, I realized this weekend with all the news about the kids taking their own lives that I was lucky. I am lucky because I have not talked about this in 20 years because it could have jeopardized my career. I knew that I needed to pretend all of this didn’t happen for the sake of getting to law enforcement. So for 20 years I have suffered in silence. Afraid to say “I need help” or to realize just how close I came to being one of those kids. I wonder if that is how they felt, that there was no one they could talk to. I know how that feels...I still feel like I cannot talk about it. I don’t know that I would be able to look someone in the eyes now and say “help me” it’s amazing that I did back then.

I am a little frustrated with the campaign right now because I don’t think it always gets better just because you got older, bigger, moved etc. I think you learn how to handle it, you develop a proper support network, and if you’re lucky – you will be able to keep your head up and walk through the fire. Do these feelings/thoughts and everything just disappear when you become an adult? No, it is a daily struggle - it’s work, it’s learning to live, it’s learning to appreciate life, it’s learning to love & be loved.

Comments

At some point, you just have to let go of people who do not fit in your life, I guess. If you are happy with who you are, then if people care about you, they should be happy for you. If they are not, that is their problem, not yours. Give thanks for life every day and feel blessed for the partner you share life with. If you must relate to people who do not share your joy, try to be compassionate. They are not happy people.

Embrace life. No regrets! That is what I think.

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