When I Attempted Suicide

Posted on March 20, 2016

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Let me begin by saying, “Suicide is not a choice. It is the lack of choice or options that results in suicide.” 

I can see that day clearly. I was 18 years old. The year was 2000. My mother had been sick with Young Onset Alzehimer’s for almost five years. I had barely functional family relationships. My grandmother had died in Februrary 2000, and my grandfather in November of the same year. I guess it should have been a warning sign when I didn’t feel sad as my grandparents died, but no one was looking at me. My mother was still alive (in the end-of-life stage of dementia) when my father was being advised that he should remarry. My sister was pregnant and having a tough time with her health. My boyfriend, I had begun to realize, was a complete lying-cheating asshole. I was missing huge chunks of classes at college because I had caregiving responsibilities and I had chosen to have an active social life to remedy some of the loneliness and alienation I felt at home. From a good student with endless career possibilities, I was dubbed to be a case of wasted potential. I was using alcohol and my mother’s prescription drugs to numb myself. Oh, I also got myself a bout of anorexia. The positive comments from people about how great I looked only made it worse.

I began seeing a psychiatrist recommended by someone at college. I don’t know if he was bad or my situation was exceptionally bad. He put me on anti-depressants from the first session. I didn’t tell him that I was using alcohol or prescription pills. He didn’t ask me; may be I looked too innocent or too young, I don’t know. No questions about my appetite or eating habits were asked. The anti-depressants made me feel better almost immediately. My family was probably relieved. Second warning sign ignored. A few weeks into my “therapy” and treatment, I overdosed on my mother’s prescription pills. I remember calling the psychiatrist who told me he was at the movies and he would see me the next day. I woke up in the hospital. My pregnant sister and brother-in-law had to rush me to the hospital as my dad wasn’t in town. Two of my then best friends were with me. My hygiene was next to disgusting and I will spare you the details. I tried to jump off the window at the hospital. Two days later I was sent home. I stopped going to therapy. No one asked me to continue. I think my psychiatrist might have been relieved.

This is not something that happens to a “nice girl from a nice family” in India. This has been the single-most difficult thing I have ever written. The fear of judgement from my friends, family and strangers is still a strong deterrent. Most people today think of me as this indestructible, strong, independent woman. Don’t get me wrong, I am. But the fear that it will shatter the image that I have painstakingly created stops me dead in my tracks. What if my prospective employers read what I write? What will my husband’s family think? Till I came across THIS BLOG.  This girl is very different from me. Yet, the honesty with which she writes is inspiring.

I wish I could say that attitudes in India are very different today. Rest assured, it’s changing, but at an excruciatingly slow pace. I know people who don’t go or continue with therapy because they don’t feel safe in their therapeutic relationships. They feel judged, pushed, sermonized and trivial. In that sense, I am thankful, YES, THANKFUL for all that I have gone through and overcome in life. It has been an uphill climb, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Now, I volunteer with an organization that provides supportive counselling for people who have lost someone to suicide or homicide. It sounds depressing, but it is actually very rewarding. What I have learned is that my path in life is to address every gap in service that I have experienced and do my bit to bridge it!

I hope to publish a post on “10 things you need to know about suicide”. Till then, pause before you judge someone – and then turn away.

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Posted in: introspection