There’s a First Time for Everything

TRIGGER WARNING!

There is graphic and frank depiction of suicidal thinking in this post. Please tread accordingly.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for the United States is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Easier to remember is 1-800-SUICIDE, which forwards to the same number. If you prefer to chat instead of speak to someone, you can use their Suicide Prevention chat by clicking here.

If you’re a military veteran (active duty or not), the same phone numbers will help you reach the Veterans Crisis Line. Just call 1-800-273-TALK and then press “1” at the prompt. You can also text 838255 and text if you prefer not to speak on the phone. Or chat with someone by clicking here.

Whether you’re a civilian or military veteran, these numbers and chat resources are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and they allow you to remain totally anonymous. And you don’t have to have suicidal thoughts to call them. These are crisis lines…if you’re feeling stressed, depressed, or in any sort of emotional distress, call them, even if it’s just because you need to talk.

I’ve had the Suicide Prevention Lifeline number memorized for years. A social worker – aka, the Matrix Therapist – made me.

I don’t know how many times I’ve given out that phone number. Hundreds, probably. But September 4th – the day after the one-year anniversary of Mom’s death – was the first time I have ever used the Lifeline myself.

I’ve been spiraling downward for a while, especially the 6 weeks leading up to that anniversary. A month before was the 4-year anniversary of Dad’s death, too. This limbo state I’m in with my new place, still living with friends, stress…anxiety…depression. Lot of negative inner talk. Incredibly dark thoughts. Me stupidly going off my meds for a couple of weeks. It was the perfect storm, and I helped to create it.

It never starts off intentional, the meds thing. It’s more a laziness thing. I mean, I don’t know how long it takes you to fill your weekly pillboxes (if that’s even a thing for you), but I don’t just take a couple of medications. Filling my weekly pills is a 30-minute deal for me. I’m not making excuses, I’m just trying to help you get in my mindset. When it’s first thing in the morning and I go to grab my pills and realize it’s Pill Day, it’s like, “Ugh, that’s a major chunk of time.” So I start out saying, “Okay, after coffee.” And that becomes “after breakfast.” And so on and so forth until it’s, “Okay, for real now, first thing in the morning.” And then next thing you know, it’s several weeks.

Weeks I’ve been cocooning in my room here at my friend’s, barely coming out. Mostly to use the bathroom, then back to bed. And hey, here’s something new and fun! I’ve started a panic puking phase of my life. Just spontaneously puking 4-5 times a day, to the point where I kept a bowl near my bed because when you spring out of a sound sleep from your bed at 4:30 in the morning with the urge to puke, a bowl nearby is a good thing to have. Dozens of times in a few weeks. It’s been not quite a full week since the last time.

The bowl remains on guard.

I could get into plenty of minutia about what happened in the hours leading up to me reaching out to the crisis line, but the details aren’t important to anybody but me, really. Suffice it to say that I was over EVERYTHING. I went out to sing, and to drink, and to be miserable about Mom’s death and how I haven’t done a goddamn thing with my life. And I sang and I drank and I decided to argue and get into escalating texts while I was buzzed with the very people that care about me the most.

I was on an express train to Self-Flagellationville, a town I know all too well. But I was hell-bent on making it a one-way trip. Isolating, cutting myself off, getting my support system to fight with me…giving myself even less cause to stay on this planet.

I spent an agonizingly long 12 hours in my new place which, to be clear, is not ready for habitation. The floor is in need of repair, among other things. But I didn’t care. I couldn’t go back home…at least not in my mind. So I sat there and stewed. And stewed. And stewed. Contemplating some pretty vile things.

My inner dialogue isn’t all cheery and motivational like many people’s. It’s a lot more screamy and ridiculey. Instead of saying things like, “You did good today, Karl! Got some shit done! Way to go!” mine is more like,

“You fucking idiot can’t do shit right what the fuck is wrong with you just walk out to 27 and step in front of a truck! Or drive into a telephone pole. Shit, you’ve got a damn pharmacy! Don’t even need to leave the house!”

The decision to call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline…that did not come easily. It took me hours to make that decision.

Do I really need to call them? Is this that serious? Am I that serious? And do I call the regular Suicide Prevention Lifeline or do I call the Veterans Crisis Line because, I mean, I am a veteran who is in crisis. But it’s not really vet-related, so…

But when I began thinking about how easy it is to purchase a firearm, how I’d have no trouble getting one, how I’ve never had one lick of trouble with the law, no record at all, I’d have no problem with any background check you want to give me… Well, seeing as how I have a deal with myself not to have a gun for…pretty much this exact reason, it felt like this was the moment to pick up the damn phone.

But I didn’t at first. Call them, I mean. I used my phone to login to their chat. I even used my VPN to be sure it would really be anonymous. Because being 5150’d would make my depressive situation far, far worse, and I know that. The options for inpatient care here, not good. So I chatted with the Veterans Crisis Line, knowing I couldn’t likely deal with talking to anyone on the phone, anyway, because I’d probably cry and choke on my snot or something and that would be a really embarrassing way to die while on the phone with a suicide prevention crisis line.

Throughout the call, the person I was chatting with periodically asked if they could call me. I deftly chatted around their requests because I’m really deft like that. We chatted that way for about 25 minutes or so and then I said yes.

And then I spent almost 90 minutes on the phone with a very kind, compassionate, sympathetic lady, who did a lot more talking than I did at times. We talked about a lot of things. The depression, the feeling overwhelmed all the fucking time. How my favorite things to do are just absolutely uninteresting to me lately. The possibility of getting a service animal, something I’ve not ever considered or even thought I was eligible for. Or at least a pet. Which seems counterintuitive since I don’t feel capable of caring for myself, let alone something else.

At the end of this call, I assured her that, yes, I was taking my meds again. I had started a few days before after seeing my doctor and my therapist, promised them both. She gave me some resources I could call, and I told her if I needed to call, I would.

And I will.

I still feel pretty bad. But not AS bad. I made it past the 1-year mark. I don’t think I thought it possible. I think I needed to see that. I still sleep like shit, if I sleep. I hurt, all over. I eat like crap, when I eat. Food holds little interest.

Nothing holds any interest.

I don’t know why I keep going.

But I do. I keep going.

In less than 8 hours, I’m going to a birthday lunch that friends are having for me. And my birthday is just…meh. Another one-year lease extension on something I am just indifferent about: me.

I wish I felt for me what my friends feel toward me.

Now that would be something.

Less screamy would be something.

I guess that was a long-winded way of saying that I’m glad my friends helped me raise $400 for my annual Facebook birthday fundraiser for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline because that shit works.

You’re not alone. Pick up the phone, even if it’s just because you need to talk.

PS: Yes, I’m taking them.

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