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Suicide Survivor Chronicles Part 2 by Hope Xchange’s Bipolar Mentoring Team: "The Aftermath of a Decision on One Day"
Post by Grace Taylor, volunteer mentor in Hope Xchange's free Hope for Bipolars program. This is the second in a series of posts by Hope Xchange’s mentors who have attempted to take their own lives. It is our hope that by sharing our stories we can give others the courage to ask for help.
If you are in need of help now, please reach out. Call the National Suicide Prevention Line open 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK. Please do it now. Other hotline options can be found here.
TRIGGER WARNING: This blog contains information about suicide which may be triggering to some individuals.
On Day 2, It Hits Me. A Situation I Had Sworn Would Never Come Has And My Heart Sinks.
I wake up in a hospital bed, attached to an IV, eyes bleary, head fuzzy. My vision is doubled, my speech garbled, and I’m overwhelmingly tired. I see my husband sitting beside me. He looks relieved but also furious.
What happened? I’ve lost the past 36 hours and remember only fractured visions. I recall a policeman coming to the door, but beyond that, my brain fades out again and my memory fails. I don’t recall what happens over the next 12 hours.
When my mind returns, it hits me and my heart sinks. I had sworn that this situation would never come. I knew it would devastate my family. I still can’t understand why the self-destructive impulse had the power to override any logic, love, and sense that I had.
It was like coming out of a terrible dream and waking to a new reality. I had attempted suicide at home. I was found by my husband and my three young children.
After being taken to a emergency room, I was evaluated by a doctor and then sent to a psychiatric facility. Coming to in a psychiatric hospital bed is excruciating to a degree that cannot be captured with words.
I remember sitting cross legged, holding my head in my hands, and looking at the bare walls. I saw a man standing in the hallway looking at me. I knew I had been in a mixed mood and had attempted to take my own life. I recall being in a hospital bed and looking at my husband and friend, but remember nothing else.
On Day 3, I Wake Up Feeling Sick, Guilty and Hollow.
It was late, so I went to bed in a fitful sleep. The next day I woke with a feeling of sickening guilt and hollowness. Although I don’t have remember much of the first day or so, I do remember that feeling quite clearly. Curious and friendly faces greeted me and I don’t recall any sense of fear.
Then I realized that I must have been evaluated at the hospital by a doctor in the days before. I struggled to remember any of it but my digging yielded zip. What had I said to him? What secrets had I revealed and how bad did I sound? I sure as hell wasn’t lucid, so I cringed at the idea of how openly I would have spoken.
Have you ever had something happen that was so much to handle that you couldn’t think about it for too long without the urge to implode? That’s where I was.
I didn’t want to eat. I desperately wanted coffee. I was petrified to look my husband and children in the face should they appear for visiting hours. I wanted desperately to know they were there, but I couldn’t face them.
I couldn’t even comprehend what I had done, let alone wrap my head around people I knew finding out about it. I picked up the phone and called two of my closest co-workers, leaving voicemails on their phones telling them a brief synopsis of what happened and asking that they please let me know if word starts to spread about my episode.
The next call was to my boss, who reported that my husband called in and advised her of the little that he had known at that point. She advised me to keep tight-lipped to avoid worrying my colleagues and spend my energy getting well. She would tell them I was okay and would be back as soon as was possible. I was also greeted with a reassurance that they would eagerly await my return and hold down the fort.
My relief was palpable … but so was my shame. Holding my head in my hands was my new default position.
On Day 8, I Felt I Owed Everyone An Apology.
The first few days out of the hospital were extremely difficult. My husband and I had many problems dealing with what had happened, as he didn’t understand much about bipolar disorder and what could possibly have led me to behave the way I did.
The hospital did not communicate with him at all, making him feel completely in the dark. As soon as I walked out the door of the hospital, the fighting began. It was an uphill battle to convince him that I wasn’t willfully trying to abandon him and our three children.
I hung my head. I felt like everything had changed in my world. I owed everyone an apology, especially my husband and three children. I spent my energy trying to be with them, but feeling overwhelmed by them at the same time. The hospital told me to take it easy on myself and slow my first few weeks back, but I felt like that was impossible. In my mind, I owed them a new mother.
I walked into my therapist’s office two days after my release looking at the floor, avoiding eye contact for the first portion of the session as he attempted to pull me from the depths of my humiliation. Eventually, he convinced me that I was not a bad person and that he was neither disappointed nor angry with me. At the end of the session, we shared a hug and he expressed relief that I was okay. I could have fallen to pieces right there in the office, because he was the very first person to say this to me.
I went back to work a week later. I kept my mouth shut and caught up on the things I missed, but I was feeling weary and depressed. It took many weeks to move to a place of acceptance of the events and to accept myself as someone with an illness who had fallen apart and was slowly pulling herself back together.
My marriage got worse before it got better. We had difficult conversations, read articles about bipolar disorder and suicide, and started marriage counseling.
I Am Now Experiencing Wellness And Am Happy to Be Alive.
What I can say is that my husband is an amazing person. He pulled a complete 180 in the course of a few short months because of his desire to understand and his ability to listen with compassion and love.
Recovery was slow and steady, but became sturdier as weeks passed. For the first time in years I was emerging as a person who did not operate on the extremes: desperate, panting, face down on the ground every other week or month. I was becoming whole.
For the first time in ages, I was experiencing wellness and was happy to be alive. My kids (who were 8, 4, and 2 at the time) started to understand that mommy has a brain disease and even though she got real sick once, she is going to be okay.
Although I still have to manage powerful and overwhelming emotions, I now have the tools I need to be able to feel like myself again. There are even times when I feel a sense of peace. I’m so glad I’m here to feel it rather than in the ground after that horrible decision on that one bad day.
What Can I Say About My Journey?
I’m working my recovery, and I’m doing ok. Recovery is possible even thou it can be at times groping, gasping, scary, and wild. It never ends and there are plenty of bad days. But, there are plenty of good ones too that I’m so grateful I am here to see.
I tell my story so that others might understand that suicide sends tsunami-sized ripples throughout the lives of those you love. It doesn't end the pain … it starts it.
But, I know deep down inside that I walk this path of recovery every single day with people alongside me. I am not alone. I volunteer to do this recovery work so no one else has to feel alone.