Iâ€™ve told this story to very few people in itâ€™s entirety, but I want to share it now, openly, for the first time.
So 3 years ago I was separated from my now Ex-wife and I moved out on my own. I had never lived alone in my life.
After a oddly sheltered childhood (sheltered mainly by way of neglect) and a 17 year marriage where we had very few outside friends, I entered single life as a very naive, fragile person. My pain and loneliness caused me to suffer from pretty bad depression.This caused problems at work, particularly with a close female friend.
For the first time in my life I was prescribed psych meds. Lexapro and Xanax. I started the meds early one morning. By 10pm that night, for the first time in my 34 years on Earth, I became suicidal.
I immediately called a crisis line. They talked me into going to a hospital (not that I needed much convincingâ€¦I was very scared by these new feelings) and I had a friend come, pick me up and take me. I had planned to go to Orlando to visit friends in a couple days, and I seemed to recover very quickly in the psych ward, so I was released with instructions to stay on the meds and allow them a chance to work. I went to Florida for a few days and my depression grew and grew. Very quickly, I was not thinking clearly, my memory was shot and was having trouble focusing on anything at all. I returned home and went back to work. All the while fighting my suicidal urges that were growing in intensity.
I was seeing a therapist and sticking to my meds, hoping I could recover my sanity.
One day, on a friday, I decided to try to reach out to my friend at work. Things had gotten very tense and we had both complained to our bosses. Normally, I would have been able to handle a situation like this with some grace, but weeks of brain-melting medications had thrown me off my game and my decision making abilities had been deeply twisted. Well, suffice to say, reaching out the olive branch to my friend DID NOT go well. She overreacted, caused more problems at work and I was upset terribly.
My bosses made a big point to say that my friend and I could not discuss our problems at work, but outside of work it was not their business. I took this as advice to try to handle things out of the work environment. I went over to my friendâ€™s apartment after work to talk. I was told to leave by her friend, so I did. My depression was so deep I could hardly function.
I remember next to NOTHING about the next few hours. But from what I pieced together, this is what happened: I went into what the doctors called a â€œfugueâ€ state. I returned home to my downtown apartment, and some hours later I wrote a series of suicide notes and emailed them to my friends (most of whom live outside the state). I filled up the bathtub with water, climbed in and swallowed a tons of pills. Psych meds, narcotics I had from back surgery, over the counter sleeping pills, and anything else I had.
I remember someone banging on the door to my apartment and screaming. Later I found out this was my friend Chris. I BELIEVE what I was thinking was that on a friday night everyone would be busy and would not see my emails until later. Who knew everyone would be at home that night? But then again, Iâ€™m not sure I was really â€œthinking.â€
I somehow got dressed and slipped out of the apartment and walked off (I think my friend went to find help, and I just walked out the other entrance). Apparently I wandered a dozen blocks away and during this period tried to call some people. My ex-wife said I was unintelligible. She left a dinner with a Meetup.com group and went driving around downtown looking for me. My out of state friends sprang into action and called the police and every other authority they could find. Friends in other states and countries whom did not know one another banded together a created a circle of intelligence to help save me (just a moment of honesty: writing that last sentence made me cry).
No one was able to find me. By now it was 9 or 10pm, it was dark out and very cold (and I was still wet from the tub). I think I was trying to make my way to a nearby bridge to jump, but I didnâ€™t quite make it. It seems I passed out in the grass 20 yards from the Manchester Bridge.
Ironically, I was on the property of the Federal Building, which was currently undergoing a massive anti-terrorism security remodeling. Now youâ€™d think a large, passed out man lying next to a building flush with Homeland Security monies would be a place where I would have been found quickly. Well, not so much.
I lay there, face down in the dirt until early the next morning. I was kept alive by a few unlikely things: the bitter cold and the drugs slowing my metabolism, and the fact that I was inhaling dirt and grass which made me vomit some of the pills. Someoneâ€™s headlights finally flashed on my shoes and a call was made. By the time the ambulance got there, I had died. Had I been picked up by ANY OTHER ambulance I would not be here. The ambulance that picked me up was state-of-the-art and tricked out and the only one of its kind in the city at that time. However, I was dead again by the time I arrived at MCV.
Again, had I gotten any normal doctor, I would not be here. The doctor who worked on me, spent twice as long as anyone else would have. Another doctor would have called my time of death 30 minutes earlier. But he did not give up until he brought me back. I was alive. But I was in a deep coma and the prognosis was not good.
My family made their way to Richmond. My mother, who I had not talked to in almost a decade, my aunt, and my father and step mother, my sisterâ€¦even my ex-wife and her friend, all gathered around me.
Sadly, my family treated my ex-wife very poorly and cut her outâ€¦.this has always angered me, because she was deeply concerned and wanted to help. She was hurt just as much as anyone else and my family should have supported her instead of casting her aside. But I digress.
My family was told, if I survived, I was likely to suffer from brain damage and physical impairment. I also had developed a bad case of pneumonia, which in my weakened state could have killed me just as well as the damage from the suicide attempt.
Three days later I woke up. I honestly did not know how I got there. I thought I had been in a car accident. The doctor told me, no, I had attempted to kill myself. It took days for bits and pieces of what happened to start to come back to me. And much of it never has.
Luckily, I seemed to suffer no brain damage, and my organs seemed strong and undamaged. MyÂ pneumonia cleared up at a speed that surprised the doctors, as well. I spent the next few days recovering and then was moved to the psych ward. They realized that the Lexapro caused my suicidal thoughts. The doctors tried other meds on me but after each one had other, dangerous side-effects, I was advised to stay away from psych meds and to focus on traditional therapy. I stayed for a week and a half, and even helped run the arts & crafts room while I was there, before they decided to release me.
Off the meds, I no longer wanted to hurt myself and was in fact disgusted by the idea.
My suicide attempt and problems with my work friend caused massive issues at work. Whereas I appeared to be in the right before, now my reputation and mental state were besmirched and I was now seen as the problem. I was given many weeks of paid leave.
My family also ambushed me with an ill-advised intervention that seemed designed more to beat me down than show support. As if I had decided in a rational manner to hurt myself. But more people around me told me the world is not done with me and thatâ€™s why I survived. I donâ€™t believe in those sorts of things, but hearing it was still inspirational.
Going back to work was very problematic and I was moved to another building as a means to punish me (as they could not fire me for fear of a discrimination lawsuit). After a short while, I got a offer for better pay in the form of a contract job elsewhere. I was told it would be for a year and I would be hired direct after that time. So I resigned from my job and left for a new pasture. A fresh start for a new life.
The guilt and pain was very hard to get over, but I worked hard and got back to my old self quickly, and to make amends to those hurt by my actions. I was hopeful for a bright future.
Little did I knowâ€¦.