16 + Pills
16 and Pills
Far too often I see and read of suicide stories in hopes of prevention. Suicide is not a color, a shape, a race, a size, or age. Mental health is a disorder that can take over anyone, at anytime forever, or for a short while. The fact that it’s not uncommon to know of a friend or family member that has attempted or committed suicide is crippling.
‘According to WHO, approximately one million people commit suicide each year worldwide, that is about one death every 40 seconds or 3,000 per day. For each individual who takes his/her own life, at least 20 attempt to do so. Suicide has a global mortality rate of 16 per 100,000 people.’
I am here as one of the fortunate few to tell my story. Even after almost 2 decades, it’s never been told from start to finish, to one single person. It honestly seems like that day and the weeks following was just a bad dream. However, I want to be as honest as I can with my growing community, even if perhaps it shines a dim light on the not-so-amazing aspects of my life. I feel it’s my duty to be true not only to myself but to those who I try so hard to inspire by living the life of their dreams.
So, here goes nothing ...
In 2002, I was 16 years old and a junior in high school. Like most teenagers, I thought nothing could ever happen to me and I was completely invincible.
I’ve always been a happy-go-lucky, go-with-the-flow type of person and see the good in almost every situation, even when others may not. It’s been said (which I am so thankful for) that I’m ‘the friend’ that is the glue and wants to keep everyone together.
I had a bright childhood filled with so many wonderful memories. My mom and dad worked so hard to give me and my sister most everything we’d ever wanted. We went on family vacations every year and had the best birthdays and Christmas’. I lived in what most would consider a middle-class family in a nice neighborhood within our small town. I would never say my life was hard. I rarely got in trouble. I was always on the A-B Honor Roll in school.
I want to say it was before I was even 10, I remember getting in trouble for doing odd things like lying about something that didn’t matter (but in my mind thought would), I would tell myself internally, ‘’Well, I could always be dead and they couldn’t be mad at me then’. It never resonated with me until later, that different way of thinking almost caused just that.
Fast forward to my early high school years. I was working part time with my best friend at Eckerds, which is in comparison to Wal-Greens, making $5.10, later $5.15 after receiving a $.05 raise. (Big bucks I tell ya.) We were in a co-op program through our school which we loved because we got to get out of school earlier than most everybody else.
Because my parents cared so much about my well-being and safety, I never got to attend parties with my friends and often felt left out on the weekends. I was a good kid. I never wanted to disappoint them and that alone was a huge weight on my shoulders. Here I was, a junior in high school and just wanted to join in the fun like everyone else. So, when offered if I wanted to skip school one day during that school year to go to the beach instead, I said screw it and finally agreed. I knew as long as I was at work when I needed to be there would be no issues.
Completely forgetting about the call concerning my absence coming from the school to my home, I hurriedly made my way to work for the evening shift. Sooner than later, I had multiple calls from my parents at work wondering where I had been that day and why I was not at school. Having no good answers for them, I knew I couldn’t return that call. I felt like a complete failure. I’d had failed myself and now them.
Something in my head clicked and it dawned on me of what could be worse, and as soon as I had my 15-minute break, I made my way towards the pharmacy to grab a 24 count of Tylenol PM. I then went straight to the front of the store to make the purchase. Once I had the receipt in my hand I headed back towards the back of the store where the single unisex restroom was located. I walked in, locked the door and turned to look at myself in the mirror. I stood there for what seemed to be an hour, but was actually only a few minutes. It was almost like an outer body experience, where I was sitting and watching myself and knew what was happening but didn’t feel like I was the one doing it. ((Other than put that way, it’s hard to put those feeling into an explanation.)) I just remember my eyes looking as if they were big, black and almost dilated.
I opened that package and took out the pill bottle and then trashed the receipt and small cardboard box that the bottle was packaged in. I made a hard glance in the mirror at myself before twisting open the top and taking out the cotton that sits on top of the pills which keeps them from breaking into pieces. I poured the pills from the bottle into the palm of my hand by the three’s. The faucet water ran as I would put my hand into a scoop position and drank the water from the bathroom sink.
Before I knew it, I had taken 20 within just a minute or two. I looked myself in the mirror knowing what I had done was done, and there really wasn’t much I could do to take that back. I left the remaining 4 in the bottle and for some reason placed the bottle into the front of my work pants pocket. I unlocked the door and walked back to the front of the store where I could clock back in from my break.
Not long after digesting the Tylenol PM, I began to feel hazy almost like I was going to collapse. I quickly found a co-worker to let her know that I wasn’t feeling well. Too ashamed to state what I had done, I kept it quiet and continued working. Believe it or not I was able to close that night with her help of counting down my drawer for me. As the manager was checking our drawers, I felt like I was going to explode. I ran out the front doors of the store and vomited my guts out. My manager stayed with me until I felt ‘better’, aka, no longer vomiting. The co-worker who had helped me close down my drawer offered to drive me home knowing I was in no position to drive. So thankful for her, I agreed. I barely remember the car ride home, I just remember trying to keep my eyes open long enough to talk to my parents to explain why I hadn’t driven my car home and instead had a friend drive me.
As soon as I walked in, they knew something wasn’t right. They knew it wasn’t like me to act ‘drunk-like’. Pleading with them explaining that I wasn’t drunk nor had I been drinking seemed to make the matter worse. I had to prove my innocence by having them drive me back up to my work (which was on the opposite the end of town where we lived) so I could get my car to have them drive behind me as I lead the way. I don’t know how, but I made my way all the way back home before the questions came hurdling at me as to why I was swerving on the drive back home. Not having a good answer I slammed the bottle of Tylenol PM on the kitchen counter and stated that I had taken 20.
My dad immediately grabs his truck keys and my mom the phone to call the poison control hotline to find out what needs to be done. Within seconds I was whisked to the truck and taken to the local hospital. I was conscious but very dazed and confused as to what was happening. I was quickly taken back and placed on a hospital bed where I waited and watched as they prepared for the next steps that were about to be taken.
I remember that I was freezing and kept asking for a blanket. The blue, kindergarten-like gurney bed pad laid against my skin like a block of ice. The nurse rested my head back and up almost at an angle. She told me that what she was about to do wasn’t going to be pleasant but it had to be done. She grabbed what reminded me of a clear tube you might see in a fish tank and came straight at my nose. She pushed and prodded that tube until it jammed up my nasal cavity, down my throat and into my stomach. Tears ran down my cheeks as I closed my eyes tight. I grabbed onto the rails of the hospital bed squeezing with all my might trying to relieve some of the pain.
Shortly after the tube was placed, the nurse told me she would have to give me charcoal through a feeding tube so I would vomit the remainder of the Tylenol out of my system. I was hospitalized for two days before being released only after my parents agreed for me to see a psychiatrist.
That. Was. B E Y O N D. Hell. Trying to explain that I was not suicidal for weeks upon weeks was like watching paint that would never dry. However, I didn’t realize the magnitude of what I did until much later. All because of being scared of the consequences I needed to face. I can’t begin to imagine what could have happened had I not gotten the help as fast as I did from my co-workers, parents and the nurses. I was fortunate, yet I was stupid; I was selfish; I was wrong. No matter what consequences or problems you have to face in life, my way of thinking is NOT the answer.
If I could give one piece of advice to even just one teenager out there, it would be that the consequences to your actions are never bigger than your life. We all do crazy things that we know sometimes shouldn’t. But we live. We learn. And we allow ourselves to move forward to be better individuals for not only the world around us, but ourselves.
The world offers so much to see, yet so little time to see it in. Life is so full of beauty. Now is the time to get out there and be the best version of YOU!
<Sometimes it’s hard for us to be brave and that is completely okay. Please don’t be afraid to ask for help; No issue is ever too big or too small.>