Without Notice

This time of the year is probably the hardest for me.

I’ve written before about the significance of April 25th. It is the most difficult trauma anniversary for me.

It’s been ten years now, and yet the pain still remains as if it happened yesterday.

It’s a different kind of hurt. A worse kind of hurt.

Of all the things my mother did to me, all the pain she caused, none of it hurt more than what she did (and didn’t do) that day.

I almost died. To this day, I still don’t know why I didn’t. But she knew what happened. She knew I overdosed. And she did nothing. She didn’t take me to the hospital. She didn’t call 911. All she could say was how could you do this to me? And then she went back to her normal daily life, as I sat alone, suffering in the worst way, physically and mentally.

I’ve racked my brain trying to understand what happened that day. I’ve tried for years to understand how anyone, especially a mother, could leave her child to suffer. There is no understanding it. She didn’t care if I died, because that meant the truth would die with me.

It still hurts. It still makes me cry. I still feel the pain in my heart, the hopelessness. A part of me still wishes that I died that day. It would have saved me from seven more years of abuse. It would have saved me from living the same pain over and over again.

I am still grieving. I think I will always grieve that day.

I hadn’t handled it well in the past. But I was going to do better this year.

I told my therapist in the beginning of this month that the end of April was going to be a difficult time for me. I didn’t go into the details right then, but I let him know I was going to need a lot of support. I told him then because I knew as the date got closer, I would isolate and shut down.

Then last week, the night before my therapy appointment, my therapist text me to let me know he would not be returning to the practice. I knew he was planning on taking a within the next couple of months, but this wasn’t a temporary leave. This was a permanent one. Without notice.

I couldn’t believe it. I had already made a mental list of everything I needed to talk about that next day, and here I was, left with no therapist, heading into the most difficult few months of the year. It couldn’t have come at a worse time.

I scrambled to find someone, but there was no one I worked with previously that was available. It was difficult to find ANYONE who was available. It was hard enough finding this last therapist. Many places around here have waiting lists, and because I don’t have any money to pay out-of-pocket, I have no choice but to work with therapists who take insurance. And those are the ones with waiting lists miles long.

I thought about the next couple of months. Even once I manage getting through April 25th, I still have Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day has always been difficult for me, for obvious reasons. Last year was probably one of the worst in terms of how I coped with it (because I didn’t cope with it). This year will be even more difficult, because I won’t just be grieving for what my mother did to me, but also grieving for the loss of my own motherhood. Things are more complicated this time around. The loss is more complex.

As much as I would like to say that I can handle things on my own, that I can cope with my losses without being drowned by them, I know that’s not the truth. I can’t do it on my own. I need help. I need support.

Even though my life is shit right now, I have 47 cents in my bank account, I’m failing school this semester, and my health has been horrible, there is a part of me that doesn’t yet want to throw in the towel. That’s why I made the decision to reach back out for help.

I called the PHP I was in a few months ago. I felt ashamed. I had spent so much time in the program that I shouldn’t still be this fucked up. I shouldn’t need this much help. Clearly something is wrong with me. But then I remembered the psychiatrist tell me it’s okay to come back if I need it. And I think I do. I don’t have many other options at this point.

My intake is tomorrow, and I don’t know how to feel.

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I can’t change.

I’ve been trying to die for the last 24 years.

At six years old, I tried to drown myself. Six. Years. Old. It’s difficult for me to process, because I am entirely detached from the emotions of six year-old me. I remember what it felt like when the water filled up my lungs. I remember what it felt like to sink. I can’t remember the feeling, how sad and hopeless I must have felt to think that I could end it all by drowning. I wonder what it must have felt like to be pulled away, rescued from the ocean, but never rescued from what was really killing me, who was really killing me.

At ten years old, I tried to hang myself. For those few seconds, I felt what it was like to suffocate. I felt what it was like to have no air. I don’t remember feeling fear. I don’t even remember feeling pain; it was actually quite the opposite. I felt at peace. And then the strap snapped, and I fell to the floor. Instead of relief, I felt anger. The opportunity for peace had been ripped right out from under me.

At fifteen years old, I tried to bleed to death. All of my anger, all of my pain, and all of my desperation poured out through blood and tears. I couldn’t feel anything but the pain. Nothing else existed in that moment. My body was there; my mind was somewhere else. I sat in the bathroom alone and waited to die, but death never came. The bleeding stopped, and so did the tears. I became numb. I had no other choice.

At nineteen years old, I tried to stab myself. It was violent, fueled by the anger and rage that I had no other choice but to suppress. I so often dreamed of stabbing my mother, but I was too weak to make an attempt. I couldn’t stab the people who hurt me. So I stabbed myself. It scared me. The rage I had inside pushed me to a level I had never experienced before. And it’s a rage I can never forget, because those wounds turned into malformed scars that I see and feel every day of my life.

At twenty-two years old, I tried to end my life. I wasn’t going to mess it up this time. I planned it so carefully. I had a notebook full of calculations, weight conversions, lethal dosage levels. I triple checked to make sure it was going to be right. I took twice the lethal dose of aspirin and waited to die, with my family there, hiding me away, ashamed of what I had done. I didn’t die that day. I should have died. Instead of finding solace in death, I found hopelessness in life.

At twenty-five years old, I tried again, on the very same day I tried three years prior. A mix of three this time. If one isn’t enough, surely the others would do me in. I just wanted everything to end. I wanted her to stop hurting me. I wanted to stop crying myself to sleep. I wanted to stop being afraid. I wanted to be free, and the only freedom was in death. But once again, death didn’t come to me. All that came was more pain.

At twenty-nine years old, I tried a third time, on that very same day. I thought of running into the ocean that night, getting lost and drowning before anyone would ever find me. But I couldn’t move. I was stuck in a bed in a strange place, drowning in my own memories. I took an Ativan hoping it would help me, but I was still drowning. So I gave up. I took twenty more and before I could do it again, someone saved me. They didn’t understand that I didn’t want to be saved.

At thirty years old, I tried to die. I ran out in the highway in the dark of the morning, in front of traffic, hoping that someone would hit me and end my life. If I couldn’t do it, I wanted someone else to do it for me. I wasn’t worried about the pain. The broken bones, the internal bleeding, the crushed insides — those possibilities were nothing compared to the pain and hopelessness that consumed me. Crush my body just like my heart has been crushed. Break my bones just like my mind has been broken. But no one hit me. They saw me, even through my invisibility.

All those times, I should have died. I wanted my peace. I wanted an end to the pain. Why couldn’t I get that? I don’t know. I fail at dying, but I also fail at living.

The expectation that I can just take away everything that has happened to me, that I can go on with my life without wanting to die — I can’t. I’ve spent most of my life trying to end my life. A pill won’t fix that. Group therapy won’t fix that. A new therapist won’t fix that.

It’s part of my life, ingrained in me since childhood.

I am a mess

These past two weeks have been difficult. So difficult that I could barely speak about the shitstorm that was inside my head, let alone write about it. I became emotionally constipated. My words, my emotions, they continued to build up — but none could find their way out. After awhile, it started to hurt.

It’s scary for me when that happens. It leaves me unable to communicate my needs. It prevents me from asking anyone for help.

And I desperately needed help. I was trying to be strong, but I could no longer hold myself up underneath everything that was piling on top of me. One thing, I could handle. But it was everything all at once. The unwanted correspondence with my mother, her finding out where I live, the holidays, my upcoming appointment with the doctor. The flashbacks, the memories. It was just too much at once, and I started to drown.

I was tired of the fear and the pain. I was tired of living. Tired enough that I ran out in front of a car in the middle of a busy highway one morning, hoping it would hit me and end my suffering. But the car didn’t hit me; it slowed down just in time. I walked back to the curb like nothing had happened. I went in to work like nothing had happened.

I could have died in that moment. The car could have not slowed down and I would have been struck and killed. But I couldn’t process that reality. Instead, I just pushed it away, as if it were some minor inconvenience like missing the bus or being late for work.

I didn’t tell anyone about it. I couldn’t understand what was going on inside my own mind, let alone try to explain that chaos to another person. But deep down, it scared me. It scared me that I got to the point of trying to die without any forethought at all. There was no warning. There were no red flags. I just got off the bus one morning and thought it would be better if I could just get hit by a car and end my life. There was no planning, no chance for intervention.

It scared me because even in my darkest moments, in the times that I want to die, there is something inside of me that wants to continue on, that wants to live. But that didn’t happen this time. There was no pull to live; only an impulse to die.

I became my own biggest enemy. Greater than the fear of my mother was the fear of myself. Because no matter how badly my mother wants to kill me, it will never be as much as I want to kill myself.

I finally broke down and told my therapist what happened. I wanted her to save me. I wanted her to say something that would flip the switch in my brain from death back to life. I was desperate, but even my desperation was full of false hope. I knew she couldn’t save me. No one could save me but me.

I told her I would be okay. I told her I could be safe. But I didn’t believe it.

I found other ways to cope. I started smoking again. I stopped eating. Because even though cigarettes and starvation won’t kill me today, I know that each puff of smoke I inhale, and each meal I skip brings me a little closer to the death I still believe I deserve. It’s a more acceptable form of self-induced pain; a discrete, prolonged suicide. And no one’s the wiser.

I’m still alive. I still go to work. I still go to therapy. I still do my schoolwork and write my articles like everything is okay. But it’s not really okay. I’m not okay. I am a mess. And it’s difficult for me to admit that. It’s difficult for me to write that down. I am a mess.

I want to be strong. I want to be able to say that shit doesn’t bother me. But I would be lying. So instead I say nothing at all. And I write nothing at all, I think in part because I don’t want my mother to see how much she affects me. I don’t want her to know that even from far away, she still causes me pain and heartache. I don’t want her to know my struggle, my fear, my pain, my misery. I don’t want her to feel like she’s won the battle, the battle that I never set out to fight in.

But in my silence, she is still winning, because silence is what she wanted all along. Silence is why I suffered as a child. Silence is why I still suffer today. I don’t want to be silent. I want to be able to say how I feel inside, through my voice and through my writing. I want to be able to ask for help when I need it. I want to be able to say that I am not okay when I am not okay. I want to be able to speak without fear.

I can’t do any of that if I’m silent. I have a lot to say. I won’t let her stop me.

My name is KJ. I am a mess. And that’s okay.

The Things I Did When I Was Hopeless

I never expected this life.

I never expected to be able to step out the front door and walk down the street; before, I was not allowed to leave the house by myself for any reason.

I never expected to be able to check my own mail; before, I never even had a key to the mailbox.

I never expected to be able to lock my bedroom door and sleep at night without fear of being abused; before, I could never rest easily, knowing that my mother could come in at any time.

All of the things my mother told me would happen, they haven’t come true.

She told me that no one would ever like or love me, but I’ve made friends here.

She told me I would never amount to anything, but I’m doing great things.

She told me I could never live without her, but I’ve been living without her now for 13 months.

I wish I would have known that my life would be this different before I did the things I did when I was hopeless.

For a long time, I was a prisoner serving a life sentence with no chance of parole. I tried to reach out for help, and people turned away. I tried to run away from home, but my mother found out every time. I tried, for so long I tried to get free, and instead I ended up trapped even more. So I gave up. I lost all hope. I believed that I was going to spend the rest of my life in that hell.

I was living a shell of an existence, leading a life of pain I didn’t want to prolong any more than I had to. I had no access to a gun, or I would have ended it right then and there. I made several attempts to end my life as early as six years old, but none of them worked. All it got me was damaged kidneys and an even deeper sense of hopelessness.

So I found covert ways to slowly kill myself. I swallowed pills like tictacs, knowing they would damage my kidneys even more. I banged my head against walls and gave myself concussions, hoping one time that I would pass out and never wake up. I drank until I blacked out, hoping I would eventually get to a point where it would be enough to finally crash my system.

And I smoked. I knew that smoking was a guaranteed risk for me. I had already been struggling with asthma and chronic pneumonia since I was 14 years old. I knew that smoking would make me sick. I knew that it would further damage my already damaged lungs. This. This was my ticket to death. This was my escape from hell.

I smoked for years. Even as I felt the pressure building in my chest, the familiar feel of fluid accumulating in my lungs, I continued to smoke. It got to a point where breathing was no longer automatic; it was an effort. It was painful. Not being able to breathe is a scary feeling, one I’m not even sure I can adequately describe to someone who has been lucky enough to never experience it. But every time I became gravely ill, every time I could hear the crackling in my lungs with each breath I took, I secretly hoped it would be the end for me. The pain it caused was nowhere near the pain I felt existing in the prison I was in. I was hopeless.

I did not expect to make it here. I did not expect to escape. I am free now, but all those things I did when I was hopeless have followed me. The scars will fade, the bruises heal.

But my COPD will not go away. And I can’t help but blame myself. I know that it’s not just one thing that caused it. I was medically neglected. I lived in filth and breathed in mold spores every night. I worked five days a week in a dusty warehouse, inhaling so much dust that I would cough up gray mucous every night. But I also smoked. Because I wanted to die. And that’s all I can think about.

When I see an older person on the street, I wonder if I will ever make it to that age. I think about all of the things I will miss out on, the good and the bad. I missed out on my entire childhood. I lost my adolescence. I lost 11 years old my adulthood. And I’ll likely lose most of my elderhood. All because I was so hopeless, I did things I knew would kill me, because I never expected to be free.

When I was first diagnosed, I existed in a world of conscious denial for a while. I told myself that I had nothing to worry about, that I was young, that I didn’t need to take my medications because I felt okay. I acted like I was invincible to the effects of the disease. Then I learned that someone had passed away from COPD – a woman who was only one year older than me. I grieved for her, and I also began grieving my own death. No longer could I tell myself I’m young. I could end up dead. I am not immune.

The irony is that, if this were two years ago, I would have gladly accepted death. I wanted it, because death was the only way I thought I could escape my mother’s abuse. But I don’t want to die. I’ve experienced a life I never expected to live, and I don’t want to lose that any earlier than I have to.

While there is a small part of me that still holds on to hopelessness, that still wants to die, there is a larger part of me that wants to live.

 

Why Feeling Suicidal Isn’t Being Suicidal

I want to share an article I came across a short time ago:

When You’re in the Gray Area of Being Suicidal

The author (Taylor Jones) does an excellent job of putting into words what so many of us experience on a regular basis: feeling suicidal but not wanting to die.

You can’t fault someone for having suicidal feelings. But there is a key difference between feeling suicidal and being suicidal. When you are suicidal and want to die, you make a plan, and may even go so far as to put that plan into action.

When you are feeling suicidal, it remains a feeling. You don’t act on it. You may even forget that it’s there for a while before it creeps up again. You go about living your life because you really don’t want to die, but you can’t help what you’re feeling.

If I wanted to die, I would be dead. I would not be sitting at my computer right now, typing up this blog post. I could have overdosed on something. I could have jumped in front of a train or a bus. But I have not. Because I don’t want to die.

If I wanted to die, I would have just stayed in home prison. My mother would have killed me soon enough. Instead, I knew that there was life outside of those walls, a life that was probably worth living.

If I wanted to die, I wouldn’t be dragging my ass to work every day to earn a paycheck. I wouldn’t even be getting out of bed. What would be the point?

If I wanted to die, I wouldn’t be spending the majority of the money I earn paying for my therapy sessions each week. In fact, I wouldn’t even bother going to therapy. There would be no point. Instead, I have continued to go to therapy every few days for the last 10 months.

And if I was in danger, I know how to get help. I admitted myself to the hospital all of those times, and even though I probably didn’t need to be in the hospital, I knew in my heart it was better for me to be there (especially while I was still living with my abusers).

So yes, I often feel suicidal, but no, I’m not suicidal. It’s not the same thing.

April 25th

On April 25th, many years ago, I tried (unsuccessfully) to end my life.

I should have died. I planned ahead. I did all of the calculations. This was supposed to be the time that it worked. This was supposed to be the end to my suffering.

But it didn’t turn out like I had planned. I ended up vomiting non-stop, my face and limbs were blue and purple, I lost my hearing, and had pain throughout my entire body. I was scared. I thought I was just going to die. This was not what I had intended.

Out of desperation, I told my family what I had done. I wanted to go to the hospital. I wanted someone to help me. I wanted to die, but not like this. This hurt. This was scary.

But they didn’t take me to the hospital. My mother didn’t want her reputation ruined. It was always about her. How could I do this to her? How could I do this to the family?

Instead they took my phone away so I couldn’t call for help. My brother went in his room and played video games. My father sat in the living room and watched Survivor on TV. And my mother laid on her usual spot on the couch muttering about how much of a failure I was.

And I sat there, alone, in tears, scared, and completely hopeless. Because in my darkest moment, I reached out for help, and I realized that I didn’t matter. I could have died. I should have died. And that didn’t matter to any of these people. They went on with their lives like usual, as if I weren’t sitting there deathly ill, as if I didn’t exist. Because my existence didn’t matter.

That is a feeling I will never forget. That is a feeling I will never get over. The small bit of hope I still carried with me that I meant something to my family, that one day my mother would love me, that one day my family would care…that hope was crushed on April 25th.

All of this time, I’ve been struggling to figure out why this day brought up such strong emotions for me. I think I kept assuming there must’ve been some preceding event that occurred on that date.

But I don’t think there was any preceding event. I think the damage caused, the hope that was crushed by my family on that date is what has made it continually difficult for me in the years since. I’ll never forget what that felt like.