New Years Eve, 2014 I was lying in my bed. I could hear the street laughter, the “Happy New Year!” shouts and horns as if they were marching through the window.
Earplugs did nothing. My hearing had amplified, what felt like ten times the normal.
After the festivities ended I listened the rest of the night as my mom snored next to me.
Instead of a resolution I came up with a solution.
I had laid there shaking. Every day for 3 weeks. It’s not even right to call it shaking, it was more like convulsing. I slept an hour a night. I woke up every morning tasting my gums juicing blood into my mouth. My hair fell out in clumps in the shower which I would place on the tiles in a pile.
Everyday, I couldn’t do anything.
My mind raced with thoughts: my parents were going to die within the next 10 to 20 years, or even sooner. They are older than most parents and I am an only child. Would they see me married? Would they be grandparents? They would be great grandparents. Then I realized I was afraid of their deaths when all those fears didn’t even matter since I would probably die before them.
I hadn’t and couldn’t even cry.
Focusing on anything else was impossible. I couldn’t eat. I had lost 30 pounds. I became agoraphobic. I had multiple sweaty panic attacks a day.
It was the same thing every day.
When the clock hit 5 PM, I knew I had made it one more day. I would wait for the one hour of sleep and the next day to come, even though it would be all the same, again.
My mom was preparing to retire and was working during the day. My dad sat by my side throughout each day and my mom slept in my bed at night.
They had their shifts.
It had become our everyday.
I kept my new bamboo lamp from Ikea on, as if the light would keep me alive throughout the night.
New Year’s morning, 2015 wrapped in multiples of blankets I sat with my parents in the kitchen. My mom and dad would periodically yell at me to “stop shaking.” I tried, but I couldn’t. I would attempt to hold my legs down with my elbows with the little strength I had.
“Lay on the floor,” said my dad, who thought the yoga “corpse pose” would cure me. Sit-ups became the only way to stop my muscles, for just one second, a moment of steady peace.
They, my parents, bundled me in layers and took me for a walk around the block. Every person we passed only made me wonder how people were “so normal.” I was not even close to normal anymore.
The three of us had stopped talking to friends and family.
I was sure this was my last New Years. I didn’t know what was wrong but I knew I was dying and this is how it felt. I told my parents. I told the doctors. I knew this is how it felt to die, and I had accepted it and was ready. Any past fear of death didn’t seem so scary anymore.
I lay in bed and watched multiple TEDTalks. I watched one where Sam Berns sat on stage deformed, surviving a disease called Progeria. He discussed his “Philosophy for a happy life.” Till H. Grob discussed “How to become more confident,” explaining the benefits, relief and freedom after laying down in the street for 30 seconds. Nick Vujicic, with no arms or legs, paced, discussing his suicide attempts and how to “Give up or keep going.” He learned to keep going. I watched as Karina Hollekim talked about “Life beyond fear,” after her near death experience ski jumping and being told she could never walk again. She stood on the stage pregnant and strong.
But they were able to control their fates. I wanted to govern mine.
I had planned my suicide a few days before the New Year. I didn’t want to die rather in the one hour I slept a night. The Ted Talks helped, but none of the speakers were about to die. They were living. They had found ways to live. They were inspiring but they weren’t me.
I was deteriorating before my own eyes. I didn’t want to wait to die. I had accepted my coming demise, I wasn’t scared and I was ready.
I hoped my parents could be as strong as the Ted Talk speakers after I was gone. I hoped they would even look through my chrome history. I told my parents my plan. They made me call the suicide hotline. No one answered the phone. I was put on hold and a half hour later hung up. My parents were the angriest I had ever seen them. They yelled but they didn’t understand; nothing they said made sense. Their voices were amplified even filtered through the ear plugs I had been wearing. I felt sorry, apologized, yet I made my decision.
I wanted to leave notes on my hard drive on how to finish my documentary, write letters of love and appreciation and say good bye. I wanted to control my own death.
I realized how alone I had become. For the first time in my life I was okay with that feeling. No matter how many days my dad sat next to me in bed or my mom slept with me at night, I had never been so alone. I was the only one who understood I was dying. I was the only one who could feel it and could handle it as a plain fact.
After the end of an toxic two year relationship I had been put on a high dose of Klonopin, a benzodiazepine, 4 milligrams a day. It was “just to take the edge off.” I was diagnosed with being bi-polar, anxious and depressed. Three months later, I was taken off of the Klonopin and put on two other antidepressants, again “just to take the edge off.” That’s when the shaking began. But I didn’t realize this is why I was dying.
I would later find out I had been expiring from a benzodiazepine withdrawal.
My Mom now says, “I didn’t know if it was psychological, I didn’t know. But I never thought it was what it was, a withdrawal. I think, I kept thinking you would wake up the next day and it would just be over.”
My dad remembers me only being sick for one week. He also blames my ex for all of it.
They were surviving.
“In retrospect, it all seems clear,” says my mom. “But when something like that is happening, you just try to figure out each moment, in the moment.”
My dad says, “The doctors should have known. They should have known even just by looking at you, the mistake they had made.”
On the last visit the doctor’s supervisor tried to justify the treatment and why they called him a doctor when he was really a, P.A, a physician’s assistant. They knew nothing about me. My files had not been monitored. They appeared nervous and threw out excuses, ones I can’t even remember since their voices were blurred and my shaking was overwhelming. My dad told them he had experience with malpractice but that we weren’t there about malpractice. He just wanted me fixed.
Two days after New Years I saw a new psychiatrist who put me back on the Klonopin. She couldn’t believe I was still alive. “You maybe had two to four more days,” she said.
She saved my life.
A year and a half later I still take Klonopin only because my body needs it. I still can’t sleep without the help of five pills at night and two to wake me up in the morning.
The Ikea lamp is soothing but I sleep in the dark. I “corpse pose” at yoga classes. I feel content instead of confused when I take a moment to people watch.
I still get billed for the $35 copay for my last office visit at that clinic.
; – “The semicolon symbolizes that the difficulties people face are not the end but a new begging.” (semicolon project)
If you are worried that you or someone you know may be at risk for suicide, please call your local authorities (911), contact a mental health professional, or call and talk to someone at The Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK(8255).
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