what it was like to try again

Mundane. Ordinary. Wednesday.

Like any other Wednesday, I went to work and did my job.

Previous days were spent preparing for something, in an almost ritualistic kind of way. The necessary ingredients had been gathered, with some frustration of course.

“Nah man, pills aren’t around like they used to”.

A friend who I had hit up looking to buy various prescription medications from left me feeling like I had hit a dead end but I forged on.

My longtime family doctor was much more accommodating though.

“If you’re having difficulty sleeping, I’ll give you a script for Lunesta too. Don’t take it too close to the Valium though”.

Score. I had hit the jackpot. Not only was he granting my request for Valium with no questions, he was offering up something more and unexpected. Now this was definitely going to happen, for sure.

I lied my face off to him. I called him on the day before, a Tuesday, asking for a last minute appointment for difficulty sleeping. Looking back, this was probably partially true but what I wanted medication for wasn’t to sleep for just one night. We went through the options: Xanax, Ativan, Ambien. I shrugged all of those off, stating that I had tried those in the past and that the only thing that worked for me was Valium, a little more dated drug by this time but still a heavy hitter. I walked out of the office with two scripts and a sense of satisfaction.

Over the counter additions (read: a box of Unisom) to the recipe were effortless to get. It’s maybe a bit alarming what kind of cocktail you can whip up from just things you can find on the shelf at your local Walgreens. This may sound a bit corny, but when they work in concert, it ends up sounding like a requiem.

I added my drugstore purchases and family doctor sanctioned prescriptions to an already growing collection of other little capsules and tablets that I had. White ones, peach colored ones, some oval and some round. They amassed. Why not throw some Vicodin into the mix, I thought. Did that. And what about the Seroquel, Trazadone, Restoril, and prescription strength Benadryl that was laying about? Toss it right in. The pile was growing.

Wednesday felt so peaceful. I was filled with a sense of calm, purpose, and contentment with my decision. I was even excited about it. Work went by as normal, uneventful as I felt unconcerned about how things would be left there after my abrupt departure. That’s the thing with suicide though. To people on the outside, it seems selfish, cowardly, an easy way out. They feel angry towards the person who attempts or completes it. They exclaim, “He/she didn’t think about how I would feel”! Well, yeah. You don’t think about it in that way. Withdrawing deeper and deeper into your own pain, letting its murky waters overcome you, other people are not on your mind the way a person might think. Others play a different role, at least in my experience.

I played recreation league softball at the time, more of a beer league really. I was never all that good at it, it took me going into my second season to really feel confident that I could hit and field properly. Our team usually played Wednesday nights. After work, I suited up for the game, putting on my cleats for what I thought was the last time and grabbed my bat and glove and headed to the field.

Despite being what I thought was a mediocre softball player, I surprisingly made the final out for our team, sealing the win for us. I was even playing a position that I didn’t normally play, second base. I was usually delegated to the outfield, where the mediocre players often were sent with the hopes that maybe they would catch the balls that were hit towards them. None of this did anything for me though, I was so focused on what was to come later that night. I stuck around for a little while after the game, maybe fifteen minutes or so, to celebrate the victory but soon I headed out of there. I had places to go.

In reflecting on that Wednesday night, two things stand out to me. First, after I left the beer and laughter of the post-game soiree, I stopped at the package store to get the last thing that I needed for my night to go off as planned. Being mostly uninitiated to liquor at the time, I just went with what I knew most, vodka. As I stood there looking at the shelves of options, with seductive bottles, flavors, and distillation processes calling out to me, I opted to lower my gaze towards the floor, looking at the price tags of the bottom shelf spirits. Here’s the funny part: When you’re on your way out, you’d think that you’d want to go out in style, with something smooth and clean that feels good going down your throat rather than choking down pills with what is essentially rubbing alcohol. But the mind works in odd and almost comical ways and I ended up opting for a cheap bottle of Wolfschmidt. I couldn’t even go for something that was in a glass bottle.

Second, in the days leading up to what was to be my final exit, I paid the $400 balance on a credit card that I had. Unconscious guilt that someone would be responsible for my debts after I was gone? Or an unconscious desire to survive and continue on with whatever earthly responsibilities that I have day-to-day? Maybe it’s both.

When I finally got home that evening, armed with cheap swill and a colorful pile of pharmaceuticals waiting for me, it seemed like a time for celebration. I was excited, almost giddy. Music was put on, I was singing along to whatever sad shit was coming out of my speakers. I poured a glass of vodka and tasted the burn. I winced and swallowed it along with a small handful of who know what pills. Sometimes people leave suicide notes, other times, they don’t. Indecision about that had challenged me over the previous few days but I decided as the alcohol started to hit me that I would scrawl out a note that would lash out at anyone and everyone in my life, no matter who they were to me. White printer paper and a Sharpie ended up being the weapons of choice for me to announce my departure and to burn and scathe family, friends, and others. Like a child coloring with markers on construction paper with no concern for form, lines, or neatness, I scribbled and wrote screed after screed as I became more and more intoxicated.

Suicide is an angry, rageful act. Essentially murder of the self, it is a culmination of the self-loathing, guilt, shame, frustration, sadness, anxiety, grief, loss, separation, and other undesirables all coming to a violent end. This became more and more exciting, as I kept filling my mouth with pill upon pill, washed down with some shit that would probably double as paint thinner. There was a peace there, something I had been searching for.

I don’t remember much else. Music played on, I wrote and wrote, and intoxication and a creeping death slowly swept over me. Or so I thought.

 

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