“I spent five days looking up ways to kill myself.”

Content warning. * By Shareen Mansfield*

I spent five days looking up ways to kill myself.

I had the drugs on hand, prescribed to me for the pain related to my chronic, life threatening illness which was ironically not the reason I wanted to die. I was careful, I researched my death at length. I performed nursing calculations. I looked on websites for autopsy reports of prescribed medication overdoses. I scoured the internet, library and bookstores looking for a way to sleep and never wake up.

I did a test. I took the maximum amount I could swallow about a half hour after taking a medication that prevents vomiting. It stayed down. I made myself vomit by chugging vodka — the only alcoholic beverage that makes my gag reflex work. I threw up for over an hour that day. I never got high or drunk. I didn’t give the drugs the chance.

Once I was certain of my success, I made arrangements. First, I made sure the kids had food and clothes ready for the entire week. I made sets: socks, shoes, shirts, undergarments, anything I thought they might need to get ready for the days ahead. I organized the fridge. Prepped snack bags ready-to-cook for dinners. All of the things I knew they loved, I put in bags marked with their names and the time of day they could have them.

I found my oldest child’s favorite stuffed animal. The tiny plush was one of many, but this one was special. This one was “softer and louder,” easier for my child to identify it amongst the rest. I had placed this particular stuffed animal in my room, away from any chance of destruction as a way to save it for the future. I returned it to my eldest’s shelf to watch over him. This was something I knew would bring him comfort. I kissed it memorizing his face in a flashback.

For my other son,  I replaced as much standard change into Silver Dollars or gold coins. These seemed especially important to have ready for him. Coin collecting brings him such joy. He saves his money counting it like a banker. Seeing his money jar shimmer with extra money would make his smile shine.

I had everything I needed. It was time for one last time run.

I ran a steady thirteen miles thinking the whole time how I could brag about the pace. I peered down at my phone, took it off of airplane mode. My phone was flooded with text messages, Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram alerts. I was co-hosting #LinkYourLife but had stayed offline to run. Then I saw it. 

There was a message from my son sent to me while he was on the bus. A picture of himself and his brother with the text “ We love you mom! What’s for dinner?”

At that moment, I knew I wasn’t myself.

If I wanted to die, why would I care about my pace? To whom would I brag? My thoughts weren’t adding up. This clarified into an epiphany of sorts that something was different inside me. Something new and life changing.

The timer on my phone went off reminding me to get home. Wham! It startled me, the realization of what I had almost done literally tripped me. I heard the blaring horns, people yelling “are you ok?” I had fallen. Scraped my knees, elbows bleeding with the obvious stupidity of it all. Blood trickling down my elbows soaking into my white hoodie. Down my leg from my knees soaking my socks. The warmth of it made me shiver.

Before I tripped, I picked up a strange egg-shaped stone. It was large. It looked like an egg with a very tough exterior. No nest, no feathers, just abandoned on the trail. Like me. A thing of beauty left abandoned. The stone looked like Something my youngest son would have collected. Which is why I picked it up When I tripped, I dropped it only to discover it was a large goose egg.

I had taken a life.

The thought of that was so debilitating I couldn’t move. I looked down. My world was now a Strange World. Seeing the scramble of the eggs, the weight of it all, the guilt. It was so simple. Someone had just posted on Facebook that their mood was courtesy of Pfizer. I had not put things together before that someecard was posted.

Mood Brought to you By Pfizer

***

I started taking antidepressants over a month ago. My doctor felt that the stress of my chronic illness (coupled with the other mitigating factors in my life) required another prescription.

I was not depressed. I was scared, anxious and sad. All things one should feel and work through–at least in my case. That text, amongst several others which were sent by my cousin and husband ( a source of the other stresses), made me realize I needed to run home find my family and hug them.

I went to see my doctor the very next day. I explained in excruciating detail what I had thought and planned. I was taken off the medication with a new suggestions: Rest, stay active, be social with only the important people in your life and focus on your family. Talk to them, live. Feel everything and when you panic, talk through it. Write through it and, if need be, take your medication for the anxiety attacks.

I’ve heard a lot about suicide, but I never called a suicide prevention line. I thought that feeling pain and fear needed to be medicated. In a lot of cases they are. My case was different. I did not need to be on an antidepressant. It caused me to behave and think in ways I would never imagine. I’ve fought to live and survived before. On some level, I do it every day. I’m not a person who gives up.

I made a promise to myself after that: I am a fighter; I will go the distance.

Many people need antidepressants as an intervention. I am thankful they save many. But this isn’t about medications. This is about my promise to myself to feel everything and live through it.

I won’t list the medications I used. Listing them could do more harm than good. An example is the antidepressant I was taking. If one were to Google the medication then somehow come across this blog, they may think the medication will have a similar effect on them. The medication may be perfect for them, but after reading this, they may fear it’s use. For example, I took another antidepressant after being diagnosed with postpartum depression and had no issues as far as suicidal thoughts.

And what if? What if someone else is trying to commit suicide with access to similar medications? I don’t want to provide the instructions.

The only reason I’m sharing something so personal is because I know others may feel the same way. They may not recognize it’s the medication. A loved one may not notice. I am safe now, but I request that readers take this seriously. Your life or someone you love could be at risk. I share this now knowing that someone out there will take this as a means of saying I am unstable. The risk is worth it. That connection, the unity it brings even in a joke like a someecard, was enough to trigger my instinct to fight.

The connection–something as simple as knowing with absolute certainty that you are not alone–that can be a lifesaver.

By Shareen Mansfield

 

Featured image credit: “We Daily Make Our Path Forward” by Aaminah Shakur

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35 thoughts on ““I spent five days looking up ways to kill myself.”

  1. This is an amazing, gutsy, delicately nuanced post. I wish there did not have to be content warnings around it – though I get why that’s done, on Twitter or anywhere – because there are so many people who could benefit from reading it that may pass it by because of them. But thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is exactly why I view content warnings as urgent invitations. This truly is important information. I’m so glad you didn’t do it, Shareen. You are much too important to your family and to this world to lose you like that. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for your courageous vulnerability in sharing your experience.
    Progesterone-only birth control had similar effects on me, although I stopped taking them when I began considering suicide, and didn’t get as far.
    A powerful reminder that while medication can save lives, we also need to pay attention to any side effects – physical or mental.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow. I’m so glad you found a way to clarity and stayed on this shore. I feel content warnings are a distraction and I like your solution to put them at top of post–but I’ve never been seriously suicidal, so my vote doesn’t count. It may also urge some to read out of curiosity which is OK. I feel the desperation, the sense that there is no alternative, the commitment to what later is obviously a disastrous choice. Thank you for taking us through the process so we can see how reasonable it seems twhen we’re trapped in the complex. I hope many people read this one. It’s important, Shareen.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gutsy to write your experience, but that’s who I know you to be through your writing. Antidepressant medication should be a last resort, not the first. I have PTSD and chronic pain from childhood sexual abuse, yet I’ve successfully managed without drugs. Cognitive behavioral therapy, art therapy, journaling, exercise, education, and getting outside work better for me than a pill. We are too quick to want to sedate emotions that although might be uncomfortable might also be what we need to get through or express an event. Thank you for writing this. I hope more people pay attention to these deadly side effects.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Charli. I try not dilute myself. I want everyone to know I’m imperfect. I chose to write not to make a living but to start living. Get outside that box and remind as many as possible that it’s ok to feel low, feel weak , fell unsteady but please…try. Think. Fight. Talk. Write. A pill, a drink , a band -aid works sometimes. The nuclear option needs to be thought out. Taking a medication is not just a thing. That jagged pill could end you. I love my life. It’s hard sometimes but I’m living! ❤️-Charli!

      Liked by 3 people

  6. You are officially one of my heroes, Shareen.
    I’ve been where you were; the darkness can be tempting, if for no other reason than to end the pain. But I’m glad you’re still with us; you’re one of the good ones.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I really appreciate you taking the time to read & leave a comment. These connections are so important. In a world full of trolls , anger & judgement it’s so rewarding to see positive feedback. Cyber-bullying is so intense it’s nice to get Cyber-Compassion.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I work with middle school children & see the damaging effects of bullying. God calls us to love & have compassion. I also understand depression & life circumstances that cause us to feel down. I applaud you.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. A very brave piece and very balanced in terms of understanding that treating any mental illness is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. In response to Charlie Mills’ comment, I would only want to clarify that antidepressants don’t sedate emotions; they actually lift the deadening veil of depression so that you can feel those very emotions. I agree, though, that they are not the entire answer and, as Shareen points out so movingly, not always the right answer. Writing, meditating, talk therapy, exercise, friendships, etc. are also necessary prescriptions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you For reading. Nicole is an incredible advocate & incredible writer. She was so supportive throughout that period. Shawna & everyone who has guested or submitted taught me what strength truly meant. Without their voices mine would have remained hidden. What’s interesting is I pulled this from publication three or four times. Shawna literally pulled together this beautiful post to replace it with less than 4 days notice. This is published because Shawna Ainslie is truly a master with coaching. Nicole has on numerous occasions seen my writing when it was just full on break down. So many people I should thank here. Just not enough time–I couldn’t possibly name them all. Thank you for reading. Thank you for connecting & commenting.

      https://otvmagazine.com/2015/11/30/in-solidarity-with-those-who-self-harm/

      Like

  8. This made me grasp. Then exhale.
    These thoughts, much similar thoughts are fighting for dominance. “I am a fighter”.
    I hope this will be my saving grace. But the part about your son’s text. That did me in because during my internal war, I think to myself ‘ if I do this, I will be responsible for extinguishing the light from their eyes. I can’t do that. I will fight on. Thank you. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Shareen….Thanks for this brave and beautifully written post. I have felt comfortable for so long, being there for students who feel suicidal. However, I had my own attempt in college before my near death experience. I’m writing about it in the book, but it is so hard to put this out there and own that moment and a moment years later when I was hospitalized for depression. I understand the pain (so very well) that brings us to that point of wanting to leave. I understand the complex traumas that build up inside a person, and there seems to be no way out of that pain. I think in healing ourselves we light the way for others. Healing is a journey. Writing is healing. Community is healing. Some alternative practitioners have helped me release some of the trauma and sadness. I hope you find more and more joy, abundant joy to make up for the pain. I hope you love yourself a lot for having the courage to share with others. You have given me strength to write more openly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I mean everything you said …just now . IN that comment I means this …it just means so much . I know that should I feel like that again I know that I would remember your empathy & truly sincere words so well that I would reach out & say hey,I’m not ok. Will you talk to me thereby asking for help rather than running in retreat. Thank you

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my god. Yes. I’m going to write a round up because this means so much. I’m going to touch on everyone so you know I read it & how great it felt for someone to care enough to write to help me. Words can be so healing. Communication is more than art it’s more than magic it’s incredible how words can help . They matter. I appreciate it and so mushy others will too!

      Liked by 1 person

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