The days following my suicide attempt in 1989 are a blur.
I remember sitting in the back of a small car (type unknown though I do remember it was a hatchback), squashed in-between friends on our way home from school a few days after I tried to kill myself. I remember the drive quite vividly as a boyfriend of a friend looked at me worriedly via the rearview mirror as he drove. Or perhaps he was irritated as I was in his line of sight? Either way, the remaining passengers in the car kept looking at me strangely, even though I had known them for many years. At various times, someone would pet my arm and tell me it would be okay. I remember the looks on people face as I would walk down the hall at school, my jean jacket with the dark red plaid lining closed tightly around me as I walked to and fro with my eyes glanced down towards the floor.
But time blurs these memories. So who can say if what I am remembering is vividly true or a juxtaposition of different events?
I do not remember when I attempted to kill myself other than it followed a sequence of events that happened that year. It was a calendar of things to do for 1989:
April: drop out of high school.
July: lose my virginity.
The summer: lose nearly 40 pounds.
September: go back to high school to repeat my junior year.
September/October: Attempt to commit suicide
October: Get told we are moving to another school district.
In hindsight, I know the attempt occurred after the loss of my virginity and before the move. I’m almost positive it happened in either September or October. I’m almost positive that I was back in school. However the exact time and date are unknown and I’ve kept no written record for verification.
The day of the attempt is now a surreal dream as my mind’s eye plays this scene on a constant loop. I watch myself as I move from the living room to my bedroom, stopping to pick up a bottle of drugs my mother had stored on a bookcase in the hallway. I remember my hands shaking as I popped off the cap and chugged down the pills with a glass of liquid I do not remember. Water? Soda? It doesn’t matter as long as the pills went down my throat. I had been crying and was nearly hysterical. This was not planned, this event. I wrote no note and told no one of my thoughts. But as I had been diagnosed bipolar as a child, my attempt was not a surprise to anyone.
In my mind’s eye, I watch myself lay on my day bed, feet dangling on the floor. I was torn between wanting to die and willing myself to live. I watch myself flip in and out of consciousness, struggling with sitting up and falling back down onto the bed.
I remember willing myself to scream for help and finding that no sound escapes my lips.
Time moved like hours and it was, in the end, just a few short minutes.
A friend had knocked on my front door and came in to find me half on and off the bed. She had known I was at home, and walked in when I did not answer the door. She screamed when she found me with the emptied bottle on the floor and ran to get help. Additional friends showed up and propped me upright, dragging me into the living room, two people walked me up and down the length of my living room as another prepared ground beef that had been sitting in the fridge. Yet another was on the phone calling 911 as no one knew how to respond to this situation. We had all thought we were so cool and adult. In reality, we were only children who had no clue.
I was force fed the meat, which was swimming in fat. After the first bites went down, I started heaving, throwing up everything contained in my stomach, including the pills.
The paramedics arrived after the forced bulimia and concluded that I was “fine.” The homemade stomach pump had forced the drugs out of my stomach and by law they were required to wait for a parent, my mother, who showed up shortly after.
I was relinquished to my mother, on the basis she was a nurse and after checking all my vitals, the paramedics had declared I did not need to be hospitalised. After they were hustled out, I grabbed a coat, and met with my friends outside my apartment and went walking. I do not remember where we went or what we did, all I know is that I chain smoked as everyone kept staring at me, having zero idea what to say to me. I was walked home by a girlfriend who wanted to make sure I was okay, only to find that my apartment door was locked. We knocked timidly, as I had left my keys inside. My mother opens the door and stares at me. I shuffled my feet.
“I cannot go back to work today. I’ve lost money,” she says to me.
I mumble incoherently.
“Next time, use knives and not my pills.”
My girlfriend gets this look of “What the fuck did she just say?” and turns to me. My mother steps out of the way and lets me pass. I shrug and step into the apartment, hearing my mother close the door behind me.