Physically I was a wreck. My muscles were in spasm, I was sweating, I could not keep still, my head pounded, and I was physically ill. There was nothing to come up but bile. I was so afraid to make noise that I was gagging into a plastic cup. Anytime I drank water, I threw it right back up. I was going crazy. I kept repeating numbers and sayings through my head. I could no longer live like this. I set a hard deadline of 7am as my moment of choice. I knew I could either throw myself in front of the train on my way to work or cut my wrists. It began getting light and I snuck into the bedroom to say goodbye. The knives in the kitchen were not sharp enough and I started crying. I was going to have to face part of my day.
I snuck back into my bed and waited for the alarm. It went off and it was time to start my day. I showered and waited for Melissa to get in after me. I tried to drink some coffee and threw up into the sink. I was crying again, and I had already begun sweating. My hands were shaking and all I wanted was to slip back into oblivion; the place where I am floating half unconscious between life and death. There are no thoughts, rules, or responsibilities. Melissa got out of the bathroom and I was standing in the bedroom. She asked what was wrong and I said I couldn’t do it anymore. She was very confused as to what I couldn’t “do” anymore. Things happened quickly, though, once she came to understand as she believed me. I think she sensed the desperation.
Much of this is a blur but I could not stop shaking even as we walked to the hospital. There I was admitted and had to tell everyone that I wanted to take my own life. My blood pressure was almost 200/140. They gave me pills and said I needed to relax. A nurse gave me a pep talk saying he was an alcoholic and everyone had their own shit to deal with. He told me every day was a struggle. I didn’t really understand the complexity of that statement at that point. I called into work and started crying. We were only a few blocks from our house and I was on suicide watch, meaning someone had to sit in my room at all times. Melissa was able to go home as a result and bring me some things. I read an entire Harry Potter book, ate a coconut popsicle and read the paper. This was the first watcher I had, and he reported what I was doing every 15 minutes.
Because the state of Illinois had recently cut some of their mental health budgets, it took a long time to find me a bed in another hospital since they did not have a psychiatric unit in the hospital where I went to the ER. This was not something I had even thought about. I was starting to learn about so many things that I never anticipated ever knowing. They were going to transfer me to a suburb of the city, as long as they had a bed and I was medically clear for transport. Melissa had remained very calm, but this was very upsetting to her, as we were city people through and through. We didn’t even own a car.
I was worried the substances I was given would make it impossible for me to transport. I was given more pills and was totally fucked up. As more people came into the ER, we were moved jnto a hallway. We were in an ER in the middle of a very urban neighborhood in the middle of Chicago, and some of the people we witnessed coming in and out were in such precarious situations that it made me think twice about my own. I ate chicken noodle soup, ending three months of being a vegetarian. I felt already dead. I didn’t have to do anything and people did everything for me, plus the drugs were great. We even had a few good laughs as I started to descend into the drugs. I felt like a failure, but Melissa seemed concerned about my well-being.
I had vacation time and health care. I was going to get better. I was going to get a vacation and people were going to take care of me. Nothing but reading, three meals and a TV in my own room. I was stoked. I was optimistic when they put me in an ambulance to the suburbs. I thought it was stupid but I was wearing a hospital gown, why couldn’t I wear my own clothes again? We got to the hospital and I was wheeled to the psychiatric unit. On the door, read a sign that said “These doors do not open – elopement risks inside.” It was then that the gravity of the situation started to hit me and Melissa. I was met outside the doors by a very nice, but stern man. He asked if I was going to volunteer to admit myself. What the fuck is that – I had no idea? If not, they were going to get the police involved? So many thoughts raced through my mind. I have to stay behind locked doors? My wife has to leave? I can’t wear shoes? I can’t have a book because it could be used as a weapon? I can’t wear shoes or clothes or strings? I have to share a room with someone else who was admitted, possibly not voluntarily? I cried. I have never cried so hard. I was so afraid. This was not the break I thought I would be getting, and I did not feel I was in a safe place. People were acting crazy in the ward…it was the crazy ward. The stem man with the kind eyes gave Melissa and I some extra time, but eventually she had to leave. He asked if I wanted something to help me sleep. I balked. He said take it. The look in his eyes said it all. I popped the pills and almost immediately got drowsy. I feel asleep crying.
Want to read Melissa's side of the story? http://www.lifeimpaired.com/2/post/2014/01/d-day.html