Chapter Two of my story, which began with, “On Wednesday Night, I broke.”
On Friday, December 2, I attempted suicide.Â I hung myself by my neck with a cable TV coax strung through a metal shelf.Â I failed, because I was startled by an unexpected sensation of falling.Â I told my wife, and she called my mother, and the two of them put me on a sort of informal “suicide watch”.Â This is what happened after that.
On Sunday, my mother came over and spent most of the day with me.Â She’s a former cop and detective sergeant in the Sheriff’s Department, and her line of work took her to just about every unnatural death in our county, including suicides.Â She took my description of what I’d done stoically at first, but she did break down at one point, and I was sad that I had caused her to feel that way.Â She suggested that we cut off the coax in the bedroom, to keep me from being tempted.Â We got a big serrated knife, and I knelt down in the closet to cut the cable off.Â Only thing was, my body wouldn’t let me do it. After trying three or four more times just to lay the blade on the coax, I said that I couldn’t bring myself to do it, and I handed the knife to her.Â My body would not obey my instructions to cut it off.Â I didn’t want to cut it off. I wanted everyone to leave so that I could hang myself with it.Â So she cut it off, and took it home with her to discard.
From then on, I was never alone.Â Either my mother, or my wife, was in direct line of sight of me.Â This was the game plan to get me to my Wednesday appointment with the IOP facility.Â But I was still cycling through these “dissociative waves” that demanded that I try to hang myself.Â I went to work on Monday, where I had a split shift.Â I handled the morning class okay, and I talked to our administrative assistant about FMLA and short-term disability.Â But I was having cognitive issues in the evening class, which was on Java programming.Â I couldn’t finish sentences, and I would lose track of my thoughts and not remember what I was talking about.Â It was similar to the previous week, but much worse.Â I finally had to let my class go to lab early and went home to recuperate.Â I was unable to recall enough to teach my class.Â On Tuesday, I only had to endure office hours.Â I entrusted one co-worker with my story, and she acted as my watcher that one day.Â I wasn’t permitted to drive.Â Both Monday and Tuesday, my wife drove me to and from work.
Wednesday came on December 7, and I entered the realm of Centerpointe Hospital.Â I went to the IOP facility in South County, and I told the intake therapist my story.Â At one point, she stopped me and said, “Give me one good reason why we shouldn’t have you hospitalized right now?” The best I could manage, no joke, was “Because I have to work tonight?”Â She didn’t buy it, and she told me just how serious what I’d done was, and they went into full court press to get me to agree to hospitalization.Â Reluctantly, I agreed to hospitalization.
I called my wife Ann to tell her what was happening.Â They drove me to the hospital, which was in another county to the north, and I checked in.Â It took about thirty minutes, which mostly consisted of waiting in a small room while I signed forms and ate lunch (which I truly appreciated…I hadn’t thought of that in advance).Â They moved me to the nurse’s station in the “adult ward”, where I was examined from head to toe, and had any and all objects taken from me that could be used to harm myself.Â This included my iPhone, and I gave it up reluctantly since I was born to be on the Internet.Â I had my last suicide wave while sitting by the nurse’s station.
After an hour or so (at least, it felt that long) I was assigned to the “acute ward” where I was under 24-hour suicide watch.Â At first, I didn’t know what to do.Â There was no orientation of any sort, I was just sorta dropped off in there.Â After a few hours, I was able to get the swing of things.Â They had group therapy sessions, 4 or 5 a day.Â The idea was for me to disconnect from the outside world and think about myself.Â They gave me a med called Zypraxa, which made the suicidal urges vanish, but made me pretty sleepy, so they gave me Geodon.Â It was effective, but man, talk about some wacky side effects.Â Body aches (which were treated with another med called Cogentin), blurry vision ( which was take care of with standard 1.25x reading glasses), short-term memory loss, and frequent urination.Â I had a meeting a day with the psychiatrist who oversaw the ward, and he was pretty good.Â He listened to me, asked a lot of questions, and tweaked my medication.Â He agreed that I’d had a psychotic break following the upper-GI endoscope, caused by the general anesthesia they’d used, I’d had on November 28.
After two days of good behavior, and participating in activities, they promoted me to the standard “adult ward”.Â The difference between the two is that the “acute ward” has the patients who are most afflicted, while the “adult ward” had folks who weren’t quite suffering so much.Â Lots of in-patient addiction rehab there, as well as those being treated for depression and anxiety, as I was.Â I spent December 7 through 11 in the hospital.
After two more days,Â I was discharged and enrolled in their Intensive Outpatient Program.Â Three days a week, three hours a day.Â Typically 3 or 4 groups.Â But I was somewhat dissatisfied by time there.Â I started out in the “depression/anxiety” group, but on one of the daily mood survey forms I noted that I’d had a drink and they immediately punted me to the “chemical dependency” group, as if all my problems were caused by alcohol.Â They weren’t, and I tried to tell them this, but they insisted my alcoholism (I’d been dry for 6 years, then relapsed this year, then was dry for seven months, but I had a couple of weak moments and bought airplane shots at the QT a couple of times).Â As I had frequently noted throughout my adult life, the female therapists were much better listeners than the male ones.Â I did the IOP for four weeks, but because of the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays, I didn’t get to see my doctor until the very last day.Â I’d seen another psychiatrist during that time and was trying to work out meds, but my doctor, when she finally came off vacation, was fabulous.Â She gave me a diagnosis of Type II Bipolar Disorder (it goes from depressed to normal, no mania) and thought that the Celexa I’d been taking for years was losing its effectiveness (an unfortunate reality of all SSRIs).Â She redid my meds again, swapping me from Celexa to Effexor, and signed off on my promotion to the Standard Outpatient Program on January 6, which would start out as a day or two a week, then tapered off to once every other week until things were stable.Â I’ll go to that for the first time this coming Wednesday, January 11.
So that’s my story up to now. The irrational urges to kill myself have been nipped in the bud.Â I still have depressive episodes, but they’re manageable.Â When I’m depressed, I still have ideas of killing myself.Â I’ve kept my “rig” hidden away, just in case.Â I’ve found, in my own thoughts, that now that I’d tried committing suicide once, it’s not as scary, and I can easily see trying again in the future.Â Studies have suggested that one third of people who attempt suicide will try again within six months.Â I think I understand why.Â I’m not afraid of it.Â I’m pretty sure I could do it if I decided that was what I had to do.Â But as I’ve said elsewhere, I have decided not to kill myself.Â I choose not to kill myself.Â In the future, I could change my mind, but for now, I want to stay and pursue the treatment they’ve proposed.Â My family has been super fabulous support-wise, especially Ann and my mother.Â Oblivion can wait.