excerpt from Evolving to Grace…
By the eighth grade, I would lock myself up in my room for hours, scarring my wrists over and over again with safety pins, not looking for attention but to overpower the pain I was going through. I had even tried strangling myself with a belt, but I couldn’t get that to work. I couldn’t figure out where to place the belt so that I could hang myself. Somehow I also knew of overdosing as a way to kill myself. In those days, we didn’t have the Internet, so I wonder where I even got the idea. I thought I’d just go to sleep and never wake up. I tried killing myself twice this way, both times with aspirin and Tylenol.
By this time, I was just so hopeless. I knew the bottoms of despair like no other. Faith did not exist in my life. Life had sucked for as long as I could remember. In my mind, it was always going to be this horrible, miserable life. It was too hard to try to live anymore. Yes, I had fun times here and there. Yes, we weren’t always fighting. Yes, she wasn’t always drinking. Yes, Guadalupe wasn’t always a shitty sister. Yes, there may have been glimpses of real love. But the bad outweighed the good by volumes, at least in my mind. I wanted out so badly, and when you saw and felt that nothing would ever change—and somehow, I felt wherever I went it would still be a horrible, miserable, sad life and all I could think is that the only way out is death. I wanted to be free of the pain—the stifling pain I had endured for years, maybe over a decade, even though I was just thirteen.
Suicidal depression is like seeing no other way out, and the darkness runs so deep that almost nothing and no one could tell you anything different about your life, your situation, or how it was going to change. You feel what you feel, the deepest bottom of a sadness that shouldn’t even be referred to as sadness. You can’t compare it to being blue or sad. Only those who have been suicidal truly understand, and I understood too well because I had been suicidally depressed for more than a year or two. I had the feeling of being done with life, wanting out, but it was just in the last few months that I finally started thinking about how to end my life.
The times I tried to hang myself really ended up being more of me strangling myself, and I’d physically stop at some point. I don’t know if human beings can actually strangle themselves. I did get to the point of closing off some circulation because I ended up with hundreds of dots all over my face. It didn’t heal for a few days, and somehow I was able to talk my way out of what had happened to my face.
The first time I tried to overdose, I just got very sick to my stomach but was eventually able to lie down, and within a couple of hours, I stopped throwing up but needed a few days to get back to feeling normal. The second time I did it, I almost succeeded; the throwing up was so bad that blood came up, and after a couple of hours of that, I was so tired and then scared—not because of dying but because of the throwing up being so bad for so long. I thought I was going to lie down in this peaceful sleep that I dreamed of and never wake up. Instead, it was this endless vomiting, and I just wanted it to stop. I went to my mom and told her what I had done, and I was rushed to the emergency room. They pumped my stomach, and somehow, my parents talked the doctors out of telling the authorities or having them not commit me for a psychiatric evaluation. I stayed in the hospital for a few days. The doctors said my stomach was bleeding and that I had messed up the lining a bit, but it was not too serious. I was told to monitor or not eat certain foods that would harm it more.
From that point on, my parents catered to me, letting me stay home from school (legally ditching) for days at a time; they’d treat me sometimes to my teenybopper magazines and caramel popcorn from the specialty shop down at the strip mall outside of our subdivision. I wasn’t bratty about it. They just kept asking and asking if I wanted this or that, and I was just looking for anything to feel better, which happened to be sweets and my magazines.
Staying home from school made it a little better, because that was another thing that I hated in my life. And for a little while, the focus was on me, which had my parents behaving. I didn’t try again to kill myself. I thought it couldn’t happen, or at least I couldn’t figure out how to do it. Also, I think it really scared me. Maybe part of me from that point forward learned what death truly was, and a small part of me at that point became scared of it.
But the hopelessness remained. The sadness was still there. The wanting out, being done with life, remained. I never spoke up about what was troubling me, even though there was one time my mom came to me and sat at the edge of my bed and asked me. There was no point. Who could change my situation? Who would change our lives on Silver Shadows Lane? And if it wasn’t clear enough—because it should have been—there was no point in saying anything.