The Night I Tried to Kill Myself

I don’t quite know how to put this experience into words. I haven’t written for some time again, due to feelings of inadequacy, depression, and general brain fog. I can’t seem to form coherent sentences as quickly as I used to, nor can I focus for long periods of time on something that I have a deep love for.

Thursday, 10.25.18 I remember walking into the outpatient center I attend for a therapy session. I remember the feelings of utter hopelessness attending with me, like a sack lunch I was carrying to school. I had made the decision to give up. I was tired of fighting, I was tired of trying to fight, and I was tired of the only option being fighting. I was tired of fighting myself, I was tired of, for the millionth time in my mental health career, coming off of medication, and I was tired of hearing I needed medication to thrive.

I was taking 10 milligrams of Abilify and 10 milligrams of Trintellix and I couldn’t find the energy to finish homework, or get out of bed, and I didn’t have the luxury of feeling any emotion at all: happiness, sadness, inquisitiveness, passion–nothing. And so I did what I always do: stopped the medication.

This usually happens without consequence. For the most part, I’ll stop cold turkey after a couple of months, struggle through a few physical withdrawal symptoms, and get on with my lifestyle. The last time I stopped these two meds, I regained my energy quickly, breezed through four classes, and managed happiness until the opinions of those I care about convinced me to try the medication again.

So I tried again, For maybe two and a half weeks. Then I stopped. I stopped and I noticed my energy did not come back. My mood was stable until it wasn’t. It plummeted. I focused a lot on what was wrong with me, the disappointment of my relationship ending (yes, I’m still stuck on that), and the worries of the future regarding my education, where I’m going to live after December, and the simple fact that I struggle taking care of myself. Those are the surface issues. There are deeper issues I don’t think I’m in touch with yet.

I’ve struggled with depression since I was ten years old. A low mood was nothing new to me, in fact I welcomed it because the darkness was comforting. It was an old friend, a sinister reminder that life is suffering and suffering reminds us that we’re alive. I was thankful for this friend to return because on the medication I didn’t feel alive.

I started planning fun things to do to keep me from falling further: A concert, an overnight trip to San Francisco, Halloween plans and costumes. I got excited: the week of the 21st would be marvelous.

But I started separating from myself.  I don’t remember when, and I don’t remember how, but part of me blacked out. I know I was around and talking to people because I went to work, had laughs, made plans. I don’t remember much of it, but I know I was there.

By Thursday, the 25th, I was moving slowly, not comprehending where I was, no hope or vision for the future, and I’d even lost interest in Halloween, my favorite holiday. I confessed to the therapist that I didn’t have energy to care much about my life, nor could I answer her questions. I didn’t tell her I’d made a plan to (somehow) kill myself after Halloween. It wasn’t fully developed yet, an undercooked chicken in the oven.

I don’t remember much about the session other than the ending: a mindful meditation seeking to locate my inner child. I remember a lot of pain resurfacing, so deep and profound I had never felt it before, and I snapped. I was gone. She asked me how I felt, and I told her dissociated, separated from myself. I remember that. She made me do some grounding activities to bring me back into my body. I don’t think they worked.
That night I went to a concert. It put me in a seemingly better mood.

Friday and Saturday I spent the days in San Francisco at the Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, Six Flags, and around town. Saturday evening, on the drive back, a sinister part of me reminded me of my plan.

I’m not a stranger to hearing voices. I don’t hear them every day, and I haven’t had a bad episode in a while, not since my last hospitalization last year, but this time was different. This time I heard nothing external, and everything internal.

We all have an inner voice that reads to us, thinks for us, and we are in control of that voice, we dictate it. I’m dictating it now as I read back what I wrote, and as I write. But what I listened to that Saturday evening was not of my own doing. A different voice, a male voice, one inside of my head that I had no control of, which directly told me I needed to kill myself. He instructed me to open the door of the car and jump out in traffic–on the highway–and end it. He addressed me as “you” and I addressed me as “I”. That’s the only difference I can pinpoint right now. When I had a thought of my own, I said to myself “I need to calm down”. When I didn’t, he said “you need to do this. There’s no reason for you to live, you don’t deserve life.”

Was this a demonic entity interfering with my thoughts? I didn’t know. I sat paralyzed in the rental car my Ex drove, crying consistently for an hour and a half. The torment wouldn’t stop. “You don’t deserve to live. There’s nothing good about you. Jump out of the car. End it. When you get home, kill yourself. Hang yourself in the closet, no one will even find you.”

I had plans that evening with another friend, so I did not act on those commands. I did, however, drink quite a bit of whiskey and wander around the downtown city. When I got home, I drank more whiskey and fell asleep.

In the morning I awoke instantly crying. The day was Sunday, 10.28.18. I turned on Breaking Bad: I’ve never seen it before. I don’t remember much of the episodes because my head was so loud: “hang yourself in the closet. Take a knife, slit your wrists. You will never amount to anything. You don’t deserve to be on this earth, you don’t contribute to anything.” I joined in: “I can’t write anymore. I can’t enjoy things anymore. I don’t see this getting any better”.

It was 6pm that night when I finally stood up and searched my apartment for something, anything to hang myself with. I didn’t feel in control of my body, I was just going along with the motions.

“Fill up the tub, get in the water, slit your wrists.”

I grabbed a kitchen knife from the drawer and filled up the tub. I remember this part more clearly than other parts because my heart was beating out of my chest, my hands were clammy, and I couldn’t get a grip on myself, I felt like I was losing myself to someone else.

I got in the water with my clothes on and fought the noise in my head. I tried to give myself reasons to live–family, my cat, work–but it was always overpowered by that other voice. I spent a half an hour sawing at my wrists with a dull blade that could barely cut a tomato. I pressed as hard as I could and my skin barely broke. Eventually, I threw the knife. I remember a lot of crying and banging my head on the wall and hitting myself. The noise wouldn’t stop. I ripped out the string from my leggings I had on and wrapped it around my neck and pulled and pulled and pulled. Thinking back on it, I would probably pass out before I die, given my hands are the one pulling the strings, but in the moment I just needed to cause some sort of harm to myself. I kept trying the knife in between strangling myself and I sent one text message that I don’t remember.

It was a couple hours before I stopped. My neck was sore and I had stopped crying, but I wasn’t back in my body yet. The water was cold and I heard the front door open and footsteps running in.

We spent a couple hours talking, and I was gone completely. I don’t remember an ounce of the conversation. I remember seeing through my eyes my body stand up and go for the knife, go for the string, and my ex preventing me from doing so. I remember telling him I didn’t want to traumatize him.

There’s a block on my memory of the conversation, what I said, what he said. I remember being on the couch wrapped in blankets, soaking wet, distraught, eating pizza. I didn’t remember the last time I had food. It couldn’t have been too long. I took a Seroquel. I only had three or four left. It’s a shame I didn’t have a full bottle, or I would have just swallowed them all and called it a night.

The next day I didn’t awake until 1pm. I could barely move, my mind was paralyzingly loud, and I turned on more Breaking Bad. The urge to die was so strong. People took turns watching after me, texting me, calling me. I refused to let anyone call 911. The hospital is not a place to be when you’re in a crisis.

Today is Halloween. My head isn’t loud. I came back into my body and have trouble remembering what the depression felt like because I feel I wasn’t the one to feel it–this entity within me, whether it’s paranormal or just a fractured part of my self, is hell bent on destroying me.  I haven’t experienced a dissociative experience so destructive since high school.

Am I still depressed? I think. Mildly. Or it’s so severe that I’m incapable of comprehending the severity of it.

I didn’t learn to love life from this attempt. I didn’t learn to appreciate the little things or find new meaning or purpose. I still feel lost and confused. A hospital visit isn’t going to change that. What I did learn is that I’m more committed than ever to never taking psychiatric medication again in my life. After 7 years of being a guinea pig, I’m done.

My outpatient group counselor asked me why I despised medication so much. I told her it’s poison. She asked in what way. I told everyone in that room that long term treatment results in heart issues, liver issues, physical ailments that permanently scar your internal body and shorten your life span.

She said okay,  well, then would you rather kill yourself now and not have a life to live, or have some little problems a little later?

I said that was a dumb question, and that heart arrhythmia’s aren’t little problems. I said I’d rather kill myself than subject my body to synthetic chemicals.

And through this experience, if it’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that the only two ways I will die is by my own hand or nature’s hand. I will not slowly die at the hands of greedy monsters making a profit off my death. If anyone is going to shorten my life span, it’s going to be me.

Should 911 have been called on me? Probably. I’m worried what I will do after Halloween–my original plan–and where my mindset will go. I’m worried I won’t be able to receive the support people are offering because I don’t know how. I’m convinced there is nothing left for me and that the only thing keeping me alive right now is fear of the unknown and a low threshold for pain. I’m worried this depression will slide past, unnoticed, and sky rocket into something more. I’m worried I’m not going to find a purpose again, that I’m not going to find a reason to live. I’m worried I’ll never feel passionate about anything again, or optimistic. I’m worried I’m shutting down, like the last stages of liver cancer. I’m worried I’ll pass as functional and be in misery for the rest of my life, however short or long that is. I’m worried someone will convince me to go back on medication. I’m worried that the only thought in my head right now is that I give up.

I’m worried that, recently, every time someone offers their help, my response now is “I don’t want it.”

This Is Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the opposite of your reaction during road rage. Let me give a personal example.

Three years ago, a woman and I came to a four way stop sign. We were the only two cars, coming opposite directions. She inched forward. I inched forward. She inched forward. I waved her on and laughed. She flipped me off. I tore after her. I tore after her so hard I left skid marks on the concrete and almost hit her car. When she pulled over to the side of the road, I did the same, enraged, screaming, with my door already open and my feet on the ground, my fists clenched ready to kick some ass. She sped off before we got into a tussle.

My reaction was not mindful, but reactive. Another example. Examples are fun.

Two years ago, I would chase you. You cut me off, I would chase you. One night one man in a Dodge Charger with blue racing stripes sped from behind me, into the on-coming lane, and cut me off. At three in the morning, he was angry I’d been going to the speed limit. So I tore after him, chased him at least two miles, and we weaved back and forth between each other until he made a turn and I jumped the curb. He got away and I was shocked into the realization of my actions, and how I could have easily flew through the living room of the house on the corner.

In Los Angeles, a BMW driver cut me off in the same manner, and I reacted the same, chased after him, slightly inebriated. That could have ended in disaster as well.

We can all agree these choices were unwise and that someone, somewhere must be watching out for me.

My actions were the opposite of mindful because I’d lost a sense of connection to my body. I didn’t notice the flushing of my cheeks, or the pumping of my blood, or the skipping of a heart beat from all the excitement and anger. I didn’t notice the tense feeling coursing through my thigh muscles as I switched from brake to gas to brake to gas in my chases. I didn’t feel my nails dig into my palms as I made fists intended to go through the teeth of the woman in my first example.

I’d lost all sense of awareness of myself and the world around me. Anyone with anger issues I’m sure can relate in some form.

Mindfulness has significantly changed the way I deal with my road rage. When someone does something I deem ridiculous or stupid while driving, I first ask myself some reasons why they may have stopped suddenly: perhaps a kid ran into the street. Perhaps the light changed suddenly and they were uncomfortable going through a yellow light. Perhaps they just spilled hot coffee on their lap.

I’m looking at the situation with a certain level of kindness, taking into account someone else’s place in the world relative to my own. And when the anger hits, because it still hits, not only do I focus on my breath, I also focus on where the anger settles: my ears, my cheeks, my chest, my muscle spasms, my tighter grip on the steering wheel, the flats of my feet. I take notice of those areas, but I don’t force myself to release any tension they might be feeling, I simply let it be because it exists. It’s okay to get angry. It’s not okay to chase someone down the street at three in the morning and almost wreck someone’s house.

Mindfulness isn’t just about meditation. It’s not contemplation of your feelings, in fact it’s simply accepting your feelings, taking in the present moment as it is. There’s no room for judgement or expectation–there’s no need for either. What is, is, and that’s okay.

We tend to focus on the negative in this world, and how bad the negative is. We rarely stop and simply allow ourselves to feel the depression or feel the sadness or feel the pain: we’re so eager to fight against what doesn’t feel good. Why is that? Is it simply because it doesn’t feel good? Or is it because we hold an unrealistic expectation that we are not supposed to feel depression, sadness, or pain? That it’s bad to feel such things, that they’re the bane of our existence?

I won’t pretend to have the answers or solutions to these things. That’s something for you all to contemplate.

Mindfulness is not about being in a particular state: happy, sad, mad, glad, whatever. It’s about being whatever you are in that exact moment. If you feel your pulse beat, it’s only beating in this moment, not tomorrow’s moment when you’re about to give that big speech. The more present we are, the more focused we are, the more centered we are, and the more connected with our body we are.

If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness, or take an online mindfulness class, you can head to this link and read/practice to your hearts content.

 

 

 

Mindful Math

mindfulness

Learn from the bad days, relish in the good days, and be mindful: that’s pretty much what life sums up to. Today was a bad day. I’m going to choose, however, not to go into detail this time. I’m not going to rant about my exceptionally bad social skills, or the fact that I connect better with inanimate objects than I do people. I’m not going to whine about the anxiety generated from this realization that keeps me mostly silent in social gatherings in fear of 1)interpreting something wrong, or 2) saying something inappropriate or 3) sounding like an idiot. I’m not going to pity myself over my sensory issues that keep me distracted during conversation and every other moment of my life.

image002What I will do is say that everything takes time. I will say that where I am and where I want to be are so distant from each other, separated by such a spontaneous, long, winding pathway, you’re going to need Parametric equations to understand the reality. You’re going to need x, y, and t. You’re going to need to identify the curve and graph it and tell me what direction it’s heading.

 

What I will say is that life is like a Taylor Polynomial:

eq0073p

Everything is an approximation, a copy, a trace step by step, or in a graph’s case point by point, of someone else’s ideas and behaviors and discoveries. The older you get, the more you understand, the more terms are in your Polynomial expression and the better your approximation will be; your educated guess gets better and better and better.

You can’t rush the polynomial. It builds how it builds given the equation it has to work with. If it’s something fairly simple like e^x, well hell, all the derivatives are of e^x are e^x so you won’t have much of a difference in terms of the numerators. There won’t be risk or reward or output, just like in life. If you don’t embrace change, if you can’t, if you don’t allow yourself to, much of what you experience will stay the same. And it will continue on and on until you match perfectly the original approximation. How exciting.

But plug in the third root of x and suddenly you have different derivatives in your numerator. Suddenly things are changing. Things are shifting and although a number like 5/248832 is a little . . . well, unsettling for most people, so are changes in life. They’re unsettling. They get a little creepy. Sometimes they look so outrageous that you just wonder “what’s the point?”.

But . . . at least you’re questioning. 

At least you’re experiencing. At least when your approximation reaches it’s end goal, you can wipe your forehead clear, sigh a breath of relief, and look back at all the work you’ve just completed with pride.

Don’t be an e^x. However fascinating the term may or may not be to you, don’t be like it. 

From today I take away many things. Many of them are negative and that’s okay. But I also take away the realization that I can continue to grow, even though it will be hard. Even though the people I’m trying to approximate are at a level I may not reach for three, four, five, maybe even ten years. Even though I feel the social calculations I’ll have to make to complete this approximation will be more complex than any math equation I’ve encountered in my young math life.

My struggle with connection may have something to do with looking at people like math equations . . .

hmmm

I also need to stop procrastinating on this math homework. I have a test on Tuesday at 8 in the morning. Wish me luck.

And Remember. Don’t be like e^x. Change a little.