Wow! Its Only Been 7 years? Feels Like FOREVER AGO!August 25, 2013 - Author: Christi -
Yesterday was the 7-year anniversary of the day I went to the hospital for the first time and was admitted (they claim voluntary, but if you go there and say you are suicidal, they don’t let you leave so I don’t really think it’s voluntary, but I guess since I drove myself there in the first place it is voluntary? Anyway, the forms say “Voluntary Admission”) to the psych ward at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, called the Stone Institute of Psychiatry. Now, keep in mind that this WAS 7 years ago, so procedures have changed (I have been to that ER as recently as last year, so I know) and I believe that the building that houses the Stone Institute of Psychiatry has been relocated to a newer building, so all of this is based on my experience back on August 24, 2006.
August 24, 2006
The bright summer sun shone through the windows as the alarm on my phone beeped away at an ear-splitting decibel. I threw the covers off my head and sat up squinting as the morning sun’s rays used my eyes as their targets. I slowly looked around and realized that I had not woken up in my bed, but was on the sofa in the living room area on the 4th floor of the townhome. Still in last night’s attire, which consisted of my black and white striped bikini underneath a white cotton skirt and white ribbed tank top, I got up and took my bad case of bed head, downstairs to the 3rd floor to check the master bedroom. The bed was still made and vacant. I left our bedroom and continued down the next flight of stairs, our two dogs at my heels anxious to be let outside for their morning bathroom break. I barely noticed them though. All I could think about was the fact that I had no idea where my boyfriend was and I had to be at the office ready to be in top litigation paralegal shape in less than 2 hours, but could not stomach the thought of going there. I had not yet had my usual morning “bump” of the magical white powder and even the thought of that disgusted me. I made it through all four floors of the house and the arrival of the first floor revealed an empty garage and a lot of empty sofas along the way.
“Prince! Katie! Let’s go outside!!!” I opened the door to the front yard and let the dogs run free. As I opened the door, I saw the Chicago River in front of me. Despite the unappealing greenish brown coloring, and hearing tales of what could possibly be living or buried deep in the river bed, I thought to myself, “God, I would love to just drown in there right now. No one would ever find me, I would not have to feel like this anymore, I would not have to deal with fighting with everyone anymore, I would not have to worry about work, anything related to that, no more responsibilities and fake smiles, and I could finally be at peace.”
I opened the door, let the dogs back inside, and began the trek back upstairs to my closet on the 4th floor in a meager attempt to get ready for work. As I did so, I tried to remember the nights events but between the alcohol I had consumed and the fact that I was arguing with everyone around me almost daily, I had a hard time piecing together what events happened on what day. However, my discovery of the empty house and garage, my “how did it end” question was answered. It was time to find my cell phone and try to fill in the rest of the blanks. Text messages and voice mails are usually very telling! I found my cell phone buried under the blankets I had been curled up in just minutes earlier and pulled up my text messages. I groaned as I looked at each message, each one more angry than the last. My call log revealed a lot of calls outbound but inbound was empty, just as my voice mail box was.
I stood up on my continued mission to get ready for work and as I did, I crossed the living room and glanced out the balcony door. My eyes lingered out the crystal clear glass on the river below. As I looked at the river, I had tears in my eyes. I don’t know why I had tears in my eyes, but something about that river drew me in. I walked to the door and stepped out onto the balcony. I stood there and stared at the river for only a few minutes, but it felt like hours. As I stood there, I looked over the railing, not at the river, but directly below the balcony at the pavement of our front yard. Suddenly, the tears were flowing faster and faster and I was looking at the pavement below wishing that I could jump off the balcony and land there instead of in the river. I mean, if I landed in the river, there was still a chance I would survive because I know how to swim. My reflexes might automatically kick in and then that would ruin it all. But the pavement, if I landed there, there was no way to save myself from that. At this point, I am just trying to go through the daily motions because I had no idea where this obsession with wanting to end my life came from. It had to have been related to something that happened last night. I had recalled a phone conversation with someone the day before in which I was crying and kept saying that I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t do this anymore and couldn’t feel like this anymore and that I thought something was wrong, but I was told that everyone felt like that at one point or another in their life and not to stress about it. The stressing was making me feel worse. Other than that, I could not pinpoint any other things that would bring on these intense feelings.
I climbed up onto the ledge and just sat there for a few minutes staring below, legs dangling, tears still streaming. I didn’t know what to do, or what made me get up on the ledge, but I just sat there staring at my lap with thoughts racing.
“Would ANYONE notice or care?” I thought to myself. I got down off the railing and went back inside. I walked into the bedroom and saw all my medications lined up on the dresser. The sight of all the medication got me thinking even harder. MUST GET AWAY FROM THEM!!!! So, yet again, I walked back into the living room and the river was staring at me through the glass. Overwhelmed and scared, I sat down in the center of the room and began to cry even harder. While I weeped and hugged my knees to my chest, I rocked back and forth. Both dogs were laying right next to me knowing that something was wrong, and they just watched as the tears flowed out of my eyes like water fountains and I slowly whimpered over and over like a broken record, “I want to die, please let me die, I just want to die, I want to die.” Not knowing what to do, the dogs just laid closer to me. They had never seen me like that before.
After 20 minutes or so, I stopped rocking back and forth and I suddenly magically came to the conclusion (or my head thought) that if I just had a “bump” of the magic powder, it would make everything better. I stood up, grabbed my purse from next to the red leather sofa, poured all the contents out onto the ground while trying to find even the smallest amount of the magical white powder. I found nothing. Defeated, I went back out onto the balcony and sat on the railing again. I couldn’t help but continue to be drawn out to the balcony, just as I couldn’t get the words, “I want to die,” out of my head. They kept echoing around like a horrible song that has been left on repeat. Go back inside, sit on floor again, cry and rock some more. And even more. What do they say the definition of insanity is? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Well, that seemed to be all I knew how to do at this point. I had never had any experience with mental health issues with my friends or family, so I had no idea how or where I learned to do what I did next.
I picked up my cell phone and I called Northwestern Memorial Hospital. They asked me where they could direct my call and in my hysteria, I told them that I just wanted to kill myself. “Please hold while we connect you to our Suicide Hotline,” said an unfamiliar voice. Quickly another voice came on the phone and asked me a series of questions like, “If you went to work, would that get your mind off of those thoughts” (No.) “Is there anybody home with you?” (Do you count dogs?) “How strong is your urge to harm yourself” (I almost jumped off a balcony 4 stories high. Would that mean strong?) They then concluded with “if you do not feel safe, you must go to the hospital. Call an ambulance or drive yourself, but you must go if you do not feel safe.” (Those answers mean there is a possibility that I’m safe? That’s good news, I think.)
Although, I somehow didn’t think that my answers meant I was safe. I thought about that word for awhile. SAFE. Do I feel safe? When was the last time I felt safe really? I walked into my closet and instead of work clothes, I put on my pink velour BCBG track suit and gym shoes, and went back to the living room to shove all the contents of my purse back in there. Safe. Do I feel safe? I kept pondering that word over and over in my head. I called the HR office at my job and left a voicemail stating that I wasn’t feeling quite right, was on my way to the hospital, and would call them and let them know if I was going to be admitted or not. Safe? Hmmm. Safe? I kept mulling that word over and over again in my head as I headed down the stairs and to my car. NO!!!! I don’t feel safe. Something had been subconsciously telling me that I was not safe and guided me through the motions while my mind sat there and had a mini debate in my head. As I walked down the stairs to my car, I pulled out my cellphone again and called Boyfriend. “Hi, you’ve reached…” I waited all the way through to the beep and very calmly said, “Hey honey, it’s me. Something isn’t right and I’m on my way to the hospital. Bye.” I didn’t tell him which of the many Chicago hospitals I was going to. I don’t know if I wanted him to find me or not at that point, all I knew was that I just kept thinking about the balcony, the river and the pavement, and the pills and those thoughts were not going away and I needed help before something stupid happened. I got in my car and began to drive toward the hospital, all the while noticing the walls I could crash into, ditches I could land upside down in, pretty much anything that would cause my demise. Safe? Lord, I was so far away from safe. I was on another planet when it comes to safe.
I pulled my car in the Patient Parking garage and walked toward the emergency room as if nothing was wrong and I was just on my way to pay a friendly visit to a loved one at the hospital, not someone who would soon become a patient. I stepped through the automatic glass doors and walked up to the nurse kiosk. When she asked why I was there, I calmly said, “Well, I called the hospital earlier and they connected me with some hotline or something and told me that I probably should come here….” and before I could finish my blabbing my story (I have a habit of babbling), the nurse interrupted and said, “Sweetie, what did you tell the person at the hotline?”
“I want to die. I just want to die,” and as soon as those words were uttered, I was whisked away immediately by a security guard.