Life, After


One of the weirdest things about a serious suicide attempt is waking up. I wasn’t one of those people who jumped off of a bridge and regretted it on my way down. I was a person who woke up on the floor with a broken neck, agonizing pain, and instant disappointment more severe than anything I’ve ever experienced. I did not want to have survived and was beyond miserable. First there was the physical experience, which resulted in surgery and extensive therapy to recover. Then there were¬†interpersonal issues. How do you interact with your loved ones after an event like this? There is an inherent concern in everything they do and say because, maybe, I come across as fragile. It’s like in the old cartoons when you’re hungry and everything looks like food. I feel like when people talk to me now the suicide attempt is all that they see.

I’m sure that so much of this narcissism is purely me projecting unrealistic fears. I do know how I would approach someone who had been through the same experience and, if I wasn’t me, I would definitely tread lightly and act differently, even if I didn’t mean to. Is it really so bad? It was a very traumatic event so maybe it’s a good thing that people are being extra caring towards me. Thinking about it makes me feel defective. How long will it last? People very rarely write about what it’s like to survive suicide attempts. Life, after, is weird. Statistics say that suicide attempts are the best indication of future successful suicide. I try not to think about that. My brain has changed: ECT helped, the meds I’m on actually make me feel human for the most part, and even when shit feels dark it doesn’t feel as dark as it used to be. Nothing terrible has happened to trigger a depressive episode, so I don’t know what would happen in that situation but I have hope that I would react differently than I used to.

I still haven’t gotten started again. I did apply to a post-bac premed program, which I haven’t heard from yet, but I haven’t been doing anything for months. When I first got out of the hospital I was emotionally pretty functional, though I do think I was in some denial at the time just trying to get away from everyone, convincing them I was fine so I could go home and breathe. Physically I had a lot of work to do with therapy and stuff. I wasn’t doing a day program or anything, which they wanted me to do very badly, so I had a lot of free time. It was all therapy all the time: therapist, psychiatrist, physical therapist, other Drs. for various follow ups. Eventually once things improved I was able to start going to the gym, with a trainer and pilates as my focus. I got a lot stronger. I was there like 5 days a week.

Throughout this I was still “bright” and shiny, really pushing to be hugely functional, beyond what I actually wanted. I think I was compensating for what happened, like when depressed people wear super bright colors to cover up their muted moods. Eventually I couldn’t do it any more and I started falling off, not meeting up for social engagements, missing family events, not taking trips, missing holidays. I curled up at home and I didn’t want to go anywhere. There are a lot of reasons why, like my marriage (isn’t that always a factor in everything?), my horrible body image since the meds I had to take instantly added like 50 lbs to my life, and the fading of my denial. I started to heal so I was able to reflect on what happened and really see how I felt about it without feeling like I was in a dangerous or vulnerable place. I think it forced something of a backslide, though my foundation was stronger. I’m not doing as much right now. In fact it’s exploded into almost full blow agoraphobia. Yesterday was the first day that I went out, besides across the street, in literally months. As the time of year that I jumped approached, I went a little nuts and I fell into myself. From there it’s incredibly hard to break the cycle, but I’m working on it. Thank FRICK for Xanax. It’s the only thing that can get me out the door.

I don’t know what to be doing with my time. My back still hurts quite a bit when I do physical things but it’s a lot better than it was before. I’ve just started going back into the world so that will take up some of my time. I was really content before with what I was doing (tv, video games, books, etc), but now I am seriously bored. The more time I have, the more I have to think, because that’s just what I do. Hence writing: it helps me get this stuff out of my head and away so that I can just be.

Anyway. Life, after a suicide attempt, is like starting again. I have to rebuild my credibility with everyone and prove that I’m on the up and up. I don’t know if I have to prove it to myself. Part of my issues in general is a sense of ambivalence that complicates motivation and action. I care about being alive and I don’t. I don’t want to be dead, but I’d be OK if I weren’t alive. Louis C.K. said something like that last night at MSG. I have gotten better, objectively, even with this bout of agoraphobia. My therapist is quick to point that out to me when I start to sound defeated about things. I deal with my problems better and I have a steadier grasp on my moods. With DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) under my belt, I have a lot more tools than I used to.

I am feeling very much like sharing everything right now. Sometimes that can be a sign of hypomania with me, but I think maybe this is just me feeling better, feeling stable, feeling comfortable with the idea of letting people in to a very intimate part of my life. Maybe it’s both. I can’t decide whether being incredibly open about this is what I want, or whether I should just acknowledge it and leave it quiet, where it belongs. Something is pulling me to be open about it but I don’t know if I’m ready for the response. I guess there’s only one way to find out.

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