Before I get into this I should warn that anybody who has dealt with suicide may find this difficult to read, prepare yourself if you’ve decided to read. Some parts are a bit graphic as well.
I’m writing this for two main reasons:
1. I know suicide attempts increase in the winter and around now for college seniors. Hoping hearing my story will help someone.
2. There is a lot of ignorance surrounding depression and suicide, as a result sometimes people say extremely detrimental things that can increase the chance of a person commiting suicide and/or cause pain to people dealing with the death of a loved one by suicide.
It’s a long story so I will put it into chapters. :)
Chapter 1. Taking The Pills
In the winter of my senior year in 2008 I attempted to kill myself by taking as many pills (I can’t remember which brand, advil I think) as I could stomach and washing them down with vodka. It was nothing I hadn’t lightly tried before in my younger years, my depression started around middle school, but this was the first true “I’m definitely not going to wake up after this” attempt.
I had come out to my parents about a year and a half before, the experience was horrible and still to this date is one of the most painful experiences of my existence (I’ve since healed and now draw strength and self reliance from it however). As we neared the end of my college career and prepared to enter the “real world” I had no belief that I could make my true passion of music, my career. You see, I had been vocal about my intent to be a professional musician since picking up the horn at 10, it goes beyond intent, I feel ordained to do so. While I was encouraged to keep playing music throughout the years, adults had given me a steady mantra of “It’s not realistic”, “you’ll never make any money”, you know the same old stuff you’ve probably heard about any job that isn’t soul sucking lol. Lastly, I also had a pretty crappy go at finding love and finding a woman who regarded me as anything more than a fling.
So, here I am, on the lawn between Route 1 and South Campus Commons (for anybody who knows the University of Maryland campus), crying, swallowing as much as I can stomach and looking at the stars. The depression cycle is in full swing as I think about everything in my life, and most importantly the fact that I don’t believe I can make what I came to this Earth to do happen. People that haven’t found their purpose find this hard to understand, but when you know what you live for and think you can’t make it a reality, there is seemingly no point to life. I still believe this but view it from a different, more healthy perspective, but I’ll get to that later.
I remember taking everything out of my wallet and attempting to spell “I’m sorry” with them, my only attempt at a suicide note as I had nothing else on me. I can’t remember what triggered me this night. When you live with depression, all it takes is one trigger to send you spiraling into a cycle of unhealthy, self defeating thoughts. Somebody being rude, something small going wrong — can bring your depression out of the shadows, which is probably why I don’t remember what triggered me this night, it was probably insignificant and beside the point.
I blacked out and everything gets a little hazy from there. Somehow I stumbled over to my friend’s quad and got buzzed inside. The next thing I recall is laying on a sofa with some of her roomates looking at me with a kind of concerned look, I mumbled something like “leave me alone” at them and they let me be, probably just assuming I was really drunk. Next thing I remember is being at my apartment trying to go to sleep but my stomach hurt extremely bad, something was definitely wrong.
So at this point, I’m not dead but I’m in a lot of pain. I’m so disgusted by pills I don’t think I could take anymore to finish the job (to this day I hate taking pills and only do if I absolutely have to). I need help, but definitely am not going to call my family. I can’t remember why anymore, but something was wrong with my phone and I couldn’t get to my contacts. I went on to Facebook and looked for some people who had their number on their page. I found one and called it, no answer. I found another friend and called her. This wasn’t even a friend I particularly hung out with that much, I knew her from work, she definitely saved my life. I spoke to her and just mentioned what I had done, she said she was in North Carolina. To me, it wasn’t all that big of deal haha, but my friend was smart and called 911 after speaking to me.
Before I move on to the next chapter I want to note that women are most likely to kill themselves via pills or cutting. While men usually use firearms, jump in front of trains/off buildings. While YOU CANNOT PREVENT SOMEBODY FROM KILLING THEMSELVES IF THEY HAVE DECIDED TO, if you have somebody in your life suffering from depression it’s good to note this and try to keep these materials out of their reach. Again, YOU CANNOT PREVENT SOMEBODY FROM KILLING THEMSELVES IF THEY HAVE DECIDED TO, it is a personal decision, if you are dealing with the death of a loved one by suicide, know that there is only so much you could’ve done, suicide is a personal choice and there are other factors like brain chemistry at work that are out of your control.
Chapter 2: The Hospital
**Warning - this is where things get graphic **
The ambulance comes and takes me to the hospital. I’m still pretty out of it and in pain. We get to the ER, I hear the paramedic telling one of the doctors about me and hear the doctor say “Why is she here?” in an annoyed voice. This was the beginning of an eye opening experience into the consequences of monetizing health care. Eventually they put me in a bed.
They give me some morphine or something very strong, as I was too doped up to really talk or lift my head. I’m still very out of it and a man I’m assuming was a psychologist comes over and asks me “Why did you do this?” repeatedly. I don’t say much because I’m out of it, and who is this dude who barely introduced himself that wants to know all this personal stuff about me? He leaves and eventually another doctor comes over. He says he wants me to drink some charcoal to get the pills out of my body. He explains what I took could really do damage to my liver. You see I picked the wrong pills to quickly kill myself, I was slowly killing myself.
The charcoal was nauseating, even the smell of it made me want to vomit. I tried to drink it but would gag everytime I tried. The doctor would come over and egg me on to drink it as if I was being obstinate on purpose and choosing not to drink it, threatening to do it via a tube. Eventually they tried just that. Basically how it works is they stick a tube down your nose and directly put the food in your stomach. So the doctor starts trying to do this, it feels like he’s taking a scalpel and trying to force it down my nose (some of the most excruciating pain I’ve ever experienced in my life). My nose is bleeding profusely and they are having trouble getting the tube down my nose. After about 15 minutes of this torture the doctor flippantly says “Well, with the amount of hours it’s been since she took the pills, it probably wouldn’t have done much anyway” I’m floored at this point.
The only resemblance of humanity I experienced in the hospital was from the nurses, all of the doctors were cold, calculating and in the wrong profession imo. (Takoma Park Hospital -- avoid if you can!!!)
They sent me up to the ICU to continue flushing the pills out of my body intravenously. My friend eventually came and visited me. After that I was sent to the psychiatric ward as it is mandatory for them to hold you for 48 hours after a suicide attempt. I still haven’t called my parents at this point.
I’ve never been in prison, but the psych ward felt like the closest thing to it. Gray drab walls in a basement with very few windows. Everybody talks to you as if you’re a child and treats you accordingly. So here I am, a psychologist see’s me for all of 5 minutes. I try to talk to him but he says he doesn’t have time, he just tells me they won’t release me from the hospital until I’m signed up for an Alcohol rehabilitation program. Talk about phoning it in! I eventually lie and say I did, to get out of the hospital, nobody confirms or checks up on my claim, nor did they even offer me any resources to call. They were just going through the motions.
We had forced group activities like arts and crafts. I remember us doing a group activity and one of the people running the group (some sort of mental health medical professional) mentions something about herself, I can’t remember what, and says “You see even normal people go through issues!” or something to that effect. I’m like, these people went to school and have degrees???
To me all of this demonstrates the issues with monetizing health care, true healers (like the nurses) would not behave and talk like all these doctors, but alas too many become doctors for the money and accolades, compounded by a system that demands the doctors see a certain amount of patients a day to keep the insurance companies happy.
But moving on, I eventually call my parents (they are in control of my health insurance after all lol). It’s of course horrible. My parents are obviously upset but respond more calmly than I expect, it’s not their first time dealing with family issues, they’re just there for me. The gravity of what I had done really didn’t hit me until my big sister called me in the hospital. I think I have heard her cry twice in my life, this was one of them and it really struck a chord with me. Eventually my mom comes, we talk to a social worker (the only other professional I felt actually had a soul haha) who wants me to take pills. I 100% don’t want to have anything to do with pills anymore and my mom having dealt with mental health issues with another family member also isn’t down. It’s a temp fix bandaid and people get addicted to pills.
In the end I left the hospital with one concrete thought: I was either going to properly kill myself or put everything into finding peace, happiness and the life I wanted to live. Because I never, ever want to experience what I experienced in that hospital again, it was traumatizing, especially considering my mental state at the time. In the end, I chose to find peace in this life.
Chapter 3: Recovery
Now the path to recovery is a long and ongoing process, it was years before I wasn’t in a place where I considered suicide when things went wrong in my life. I view depression as an addiction, addiction to a way of thinking, it never will go away. I just needed to learn how to manage it. It took me years to build up the thinking habits that lead to my suicide attempt and thus it took years to get me out. These are things that worked for me and may or may not work for you if you’re suffering from depression:
1. Deleting my Facebook “friends” page. Seeing highlight reels of the lives of people you don’t actually hang out with can be dangerous psychologically. It’s not realistic, everybody’s struggling but that’s not what people post, so you only know if you see them in person and are actual friends. As a result social media can give you the impression that you’re doing something wrong in life, especially if you’re already living in a darkened self-doubt headspace.
2. Changing the way I talk to myself in my head. We all should be our biggest cheerleader, but many of us are our biggest critic. I would call myself “stupid”, get angry at myself when I made mistakes and generally would be mean. But I slowly stopped this, it took a lot of work over the years. I still work on this and catch myself, but in general I am much kinder to myself :) And you know what else I noticed? It changed how I talk to others and continually increases my compassion and ability to just let things go.
That being said, I also have gotten very good at pushing away people that don’t serve my headspace. I avoid people that constantly are finding the negative in situations. I don’t hang out with people who don’t encourage me to follow my dreams.
3. Falling in love with myself. It took years, but I love just hanging out with myself!! Taking myself out on dates, being as sweet to myself as I would to a lover, doing activities I like just with me. I put this one in bold because I see a lot of people who are uncomfortable being alone and just accept it, trust me when I say it is holding you back from being content with existence, if you’re not your own best friend I really suggest working on it. Part of falling in love with myself involved learning more about myself. Asking myself “why did I think/do that?” in a curious, non judgemental way. Acknowledging my demons and instead of beating myself up about my sins, figuring out the root of why it exists and constantly cheerleading myself on that I can do better. People die, people move, people change, you are the only constant in your life, so pleeease learn to enjoy being with you if you haven’t yet.
4. Spiritual plant medicines. Now before I get into this, I want to express my reticence to do so because there is a lot ignorance regarding the difference between medicine and drugs in Western culture. Imo, most pills you get at the doctor are drugs meant to mask a symptom, they don’t really heal but most regard this as “medicine”. Meanwhile, tools for healing and growth that the Earth was generous enough to give us such as Marijuana and Mushrooms are used to “get lit”, do what you want, but that’s not me. I use Marijuana as it always helps open the door to positive thinking, I have to walk through it, but it helps. It really saved my life in the earlier years, I would be sitting in a depressive funk just crying and pity partying, then after a few puffs I was over it and would just get to work on something. If you have issues with MJ giving you anxiety I suggest learning more about the strains, certain types are horrible for you if you have depression and anxiety while others are a saving grace. Read, learn and try to find a supplier who can get specific about what they’re selling you.
I also used various psychedelics, always going in with an intent of helping my spirit breathe, finding answers to my life and finding internal peace. The most effective medicine I have taken is Ayauascha, a spiritual plant medicine from South America that they have used for centuries. This is an intense medicine, I always have done it with a Shaman in a confirmed safe place. Everybody’s experience is different, but I have found the most healing through this medicine. It continues to heal you even after the effects are gone, it stays with you for life. Please don’t take this as an endorsement to just go out and try all these things however, EDUCATE yourself. I am happy to talk to anyone about this, but dealing with powerful plant medicines is a big deal, you can do more damage than good if you go in unprepared, half willingly or without a clear intent. Educate, learn from others, speak with professional healers that deal in plant medicine. This method is not for everybody, if you have a strong history of mental illness in your family or are taking other medicines, this might not be for you, please educate yourself.
5. Avoiding alcohol. I know society trains us to turn to booze when things are wrong, but alcohol is hands down a depressant. If you’re in a really depressed state alcohol is your enemy. To me it just pokes at the wounds and numbs. Your chances of killing yourself go up when you drink.
6. Nature. Something about being still in nature brings me back to the point of it all. I think disconnecting ourselves from nature does more damage than we appreciate. We are of this Earth and connected to everything in it. Just existing in a natural environment, whether it be the woods or the beach, observing all the animals/insects go about their day, staring/listening to the water, watching the sky, they all seem to take the weight of this society off of my heart.
7. Believing in myself, following my dreams, and disregarding the thoughts of anybody else. Going back to the logic of “well if I can’t have my dreams f’ life”. I don’t meet too many people that understand this, because honestly most don’t know and/or don’t pursue their passion. Many are content to just pay bills and find love, that’s not me though. I used to watch motivational videos and one day I came across an interview of Will Smith. In it he spoke of going all in for your dreams, like either succeed or die trying. He says it more eloquently but it was the first time I heard my thought process from a positive perspective. The difference being in one scenario I believe and another I don’t. So I’ve gone all in for my dreams, all of my time, money and sanity has gone in. It hasn’t been and still isn’t perfect but I can honestly say I am the happiest I’ve ever been, because I know if die today I went all in. I’m dropping my fourth album this year, have lost count of all the love and positivity I’ve gotten just because of what I do with music. People tell me how my music heals them, I’ve lost count of how many. I’ve had so many beautiful experiences and met so many wonderful people just because of pursuing my dreams. I can’t tell you how much peace going ALL IN has given me, my spirit can breathe without the help of psychedelics nowadays and I don’t need weed like I used to.
So those are the heavy hitters that have helped me. Perhaps they will work for you, perhaps not. I’ve tried things that don’t work for me but work for others. I went to a psychiatrist for a bit by myself and with my mom, they were cool but didn’t do much for me. I really don’t connect with Western healing methods, I think Western medicine is most useful for major things like needing a surgery, but for me it doesn’t do much when it comes to spiritual/mental healing.
If you are contemplating suicide please call a hotline (1-800-273-8255), go hang with positive friends (tell them if you don’t feel like talking, sometimes just being around the positive energy helps) and remember that YOU ARE LOVED. If you’ve convinced yourself everyone will be better off without you (which is not true) just think about simple logistics, if you kill yourself somebody will have to setup a funeral, clean your place out, talk to other family members and do all these expensive, time/energy consuming things. I know that sounds like a cold and calculating thing to write, but just thinking this has stopped me sometimes.
So if you’re depressed, it is possible for you to feel peace and happiness, trust me!!!!! And if you’re dealing with a loved one going through this do your best to help and be there but please remember this is a personal journey that they have to work out, you can only do so much and if someone you love kills themselves IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT, SUICIDE IS A PERSONAL DECISION.
Peace, love and healing to you. I hope this helps. Feel free to hit me up to chat. <3