How I Saved My Own Life.
In April 2012, I overdosed.
The option of suicide was something I’d kept as a resource for a long time before that. It was an option I could go to in unbearable moments of overwhelm, isolation, stress, pain, helplessness, and the feeling of being incredibly lost.
It soothed because it brought me somewhere I could go — it brought me the option of escape.
Despite having this option sit in the corner — or forefront — of my mind for years, I never thought I’d actually do it.
Then I did it.
Since the attempt, I have a big-ass line down the middle of my life, splitting it into two stages: the before I overdosed stage and the after I overdosed stage.
The aftermath quickly landed me face-first on a journey of self-dedication and healing.
This journey has involved the following:
1. Falling apart: a lot, and in ways I never did before.
2. Taking heaps of time out: I’m still doing this.
3. Channeling my energy and efforts solely into myself: this went against my grain completely, so it’s taken a long time to trust and learn that it’s safe to be selfish (and I still sometimes doubt it).
4. Cutting ties with my family: this continues to be fucking weird and a situation in which I never thought I’d find myself, but it is undeniably one of the main reasons I began healing.
5. Navigating through the chaotic trauma that’s stuck with me since the attempt: this has been confusing and heartbreakingly haunting, but slowly it’s settling.
6. Resting like a motherfucker: I still wonder when the need for this is going to diminish, or shift from being so extensive, but I hope it happens soon.
I often long for a blurry and chubby line through my life, spreading over a couple of years (rather than a few short moments), to get me to this place of healing. Instead, the defined and dark line is the one I’ve got. I know I would have always got here eventually, but I can’t imagine ever getting to this point, slowly.
Slow and gentle was not something I knew how to do back then. And it’s something I’m only just learning how to do, now.
I needed a bang. I needed a wake-up call that things could be, would be, and had to be, different. Lying in a hospital bed, having just tried to kill myself, with the nurses setting up a private phone-line to cater for all the love flooding in for me from friends, showed me that I deserved to know a different way of being in the world.
The moment I overdosed, my inner critic published a new theory in my mind’s library — a theory telling me that the life I lived before I overdosed, was wrong. A rebirth undeniably happened that day I attempted suicide, but so did a fuck-load of trauma.
To know that I landed myself in a place of doing something so destructive, that then ended up being so traumatic, and turned me and my life completely upside down, has made this critic’s theory easily appear true.
All of who I’d been, and all the decisions I’d made throughout my life, took me to a place of attempting suicide, so they must have all been wrong, right?
The way I was living was heartbreakingly painful, lonely, and self-destructive, but it wasn’t wrong.
A friend and a therapist have both suggested that the overdose would probably have happened at some point, sometime, anyway. I fucking hated this theory at first, and sometimes still do. If it’s true, I’m not left with anything to fix.
If it wasn’t anyone’s fault that I overdosed, and it wasn’t mine either, then who do I blame?
To say it was just life feels indescribably lame.
I want to yell and scream and point my finger at someone. I want to give them shit. I want to ask them what happened, why it happened, yell at them because they let it happen, and scream at them because they fucked up and let me down.
I so desperately have wanted — and have tried — to make that person, myself. I have spent the last 23 months endeavoring to convince myself that it was my fault. That way, I have something to work with and something to go on.
I can ensure it doesn’t happen again.
By heading down this route, I’m treading on old, self-critical, ground. It’s felt familiar and comforting to allow my critic to beat the shit out of my already very wounded self-trust, self-belief, and self-confidence. But it’s felt really fucking painful.
I still have a resistance towards the idea that my suicide attempt would’ve happened regardless of where I took myself, what I did, or how hard I tried.
But I also have a voice of compassion that’s begun to grow stronger, lately — a voice that reassures me my suicide attempt was a culmination of all that had happened in my life. It was a result of the extensive trauma and abuse I had experienced and responsibility I’d had, in my youth and early adulthood.
“It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t anything you did wrong. It would have happened anyway.”
My younger self was just doing what she knew. She was doing what she’d witnessed her mother do over and over again, and she was doing what she’d kept as an option, for the longest time. An option I now know I don’t ever need to use.
On the day I did the most destructive thing I have ever done, I also did the most empowering: I made the phone call that brought my body, help.
On the day I actively chose to die, I actively chose to live.
I saved my own life.