March 28th, 2012, five years ago today, was the day I planned my suicide.
It wasn’t the first time that I had been suicidal; not by a long shot. A lifetime of living with multiple serious mental health issues, along with a plethora of other problems, meant that suicide always lingered in the back of my mind, hanging around well after its welcome was worn out… and simply never leaving. It still hasn’t left; it is always there. Always. However, I was usually safe. Although I’d sometimes even concoct plans regarding how and when to end my life, I’d eventually come to the conclusion of “not yet” before forming anything other than morbid musings (and one trip to the ER). This conclusion almost always had to do with animals more than anything or anyone else; even as a child and teen (yes, I was even suicidal as a child), I cared for animals who depended on me, and their love and need trumped my desire (for lack of a better word) to no longer be.
I had lost my unemployment benefits some weeks before that fateful day, and my disability claim had been previously rejected. The decision was appealed by myself and two of my doctors at the time, but I was out of funds. I was essentially squatting in my home of eight years, as I had stopped paying the mortgage some time before, when I was out of work on FMLA time, dealing with mental and physical health issues. After losing my job, I kept delaying foreclosure proceedings by filing out loan modification packets, which ended up allowing me to live there for another year or so, but losing my unemployment benefits meant that I wouldn’t even be able to pay for heat, electricity, or food and medical stuff for myself and my four dogs. I wasn’t taking any of my prescribed medications regularly, as I couldn’t pay for them, and my frame of mind was already quite grave.
For a time, my Father footed some of my bills, and with his help, along with the help of a generous friend or two and my Mom, I scraped by. When I still couldn’t find a job after several more weeks of subsisting on next to nothing, Dad informed me that he couldn’t keep paying to run two households, and the only solution would be for me to move in with him. I remember texting with him about it on the 27th of March. I, feeling utterly hopeless, began making plans to pack up and leave the home I had purchased, worked on, lived in, made memories in, and still loved, and asked Dad a question regarding the dogs being able to live downstairs, in the finished basement of his large home. He replied that he was sorry, but the invitation to stay with him applied solely to me, not the four canines I shared my home with at the time.
I said I’d rather die; he didn’t think I meant it. I did. It was, however, obvious that he wasn’t going to allow the four of them to come along, and after a plea on Facebook (after a switchy, self-medicated evening), I was able to find temporary foster care placements for three out of my four dogs amongst friends by the next day. Although I stated that it was temporary and only until I “got back on my feet”, I had no intention of ever seeing them again. I came to the conclusion that they were better off in other homes anyway, homes that would be able to care for them financially, with an owner who wasn’t depressed, ill, or dissociated all the time, who could meet their physical and emotional needs, and give them the loving care they deserve. Someone a helluva lot better than me. I made a plan to write up care sheets for them, take them all personally to their new homes with their beds and toys, thank their fosters, go home, swallow every pill in my medicine cabinet, wash them down with vodka, and slit my wrists for good measure, after lying in my full bathtub to ensure that once I passed out, I would drown and be unable to wake up or be resuscitated.
My Mother, in the meantime, was able to convince my Father to allow just Kirby, my high medical needs elder-bull, to come with me to his house. This put a kink in my plans; I hadn’t been able to find someone who I thought would be able to care for him close by, but he couldn’t exactly come with me to Dad’s when I wasn’t going to be going there, either. I convinced myself that it would still be for the best to make a list of “dog-people” friends who may be willing to take him on, and wrote up a document on my computer containing my last wishes; mainly, that my family have me cremated, skip the expensive funeral crap, and fund a trip for Kirby to go to his new home, wherever that ended up being, with one of the friends I specified. I knew that one would say yes, at least, as Kirby was a very loved dog amongst my circle of dog friends, but the uncertainty and the crippling guilt regarding this particular portion of the plan started a twinge of doubt in my resolve; a tiny little thread poked out of the tightly woven strategy of my demise. I tried to ignore it, but it was begging to be tugged, in order to unravel my best laid suicide plans.
I wasn’t really packing, as I knew I wasn’t going to be leaving (in that sense of the word, anyway), but I did have to take three of my dogs to their “temporary” homes, as the move was supposed to happen in less than a week. It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life, to look into each of their little faces and say good-bye with my eyes, while lying with my words in front of friends that I’d see them soon. In the span of two days, I was left alone in my home, with Kirby and my tears. Within hours of coming home from that last drop-off, I had twenty-odd open prescription bottles, a 5th of vodka, and my xacto blade kit laid out on the counter before me. At this point, I realized that I didn’t want Kirby to be in the house when I killed myself, for a few reasons. I didn’t want him to watch me die, or find me dead, and also didn’t want him to be protective of me when someone inevitably came into the house to look for me, and end up getting himself or someone else hurt. Even at this point, my dogs were my top/only priority, so I delayed my plan until I could bring him elsewhere for a bit, in order to carry it out. I’d like to say it was some emotional epiphany regarding my human loved ones, or life, or some other revelation, even guilt, that stopped me, but it wasn’t. I just didn’t want Kirby to be there. I put the pills and booze back in the cabinet, put the blades out of reach, and decided to ask a friend to watch Kirby under the guise of needing to pack and such within the next couple of days.
Because of this, and this alone, I was still alive when I received a job offer two days later, followed quickly by a second. The original thread was longer now, with another poking out, too. I finally decided to pull one. A job meant money. Money meant I might not have to leave yet. Upon hearing the news of my newfound employment, Dad agreed to help me out for the following couple of weeks, until I started getting a paycheck. After less than five days in the care of friends, I returned to pick up my three other family members from their respective fosters, and take them back home. Seeing their joy upon returning home unraveled my plan further still; the threads were now multiplying, decimating the intricate weavings, eventually forcing suicide back into the depths of my mind, where it has (more or less) remained since.
Things haven’t gotten much better in the past five years, but as long as there’s always at least one thread to pull…
*If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, reach out for help. I know how hard it can be. I didn’t reach out five years ago, and I should have. If you can’t reach out to a friend, family member, or loved one, there are online and over the phone resources available. The number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is: 1-800-273-8255. Use it, or head to the ER if you can’t talk to anyone else. All life has value. You matter. Find a thread and pull with all your might.