I wanted to die. At least, I thought I wanted to die. Why? I didn’t know. Not yet. All I knew was, I wanted to die, and that was it. It’s funny how the mind can make sense out of things that are, at their base, completely illogical. Probably the most deeply profound and philosophical thoughts that have ever come out of my head came out right then, as I realized I wanted to die, but when I had not yet realized why. I was trying to rationalize something that could not be rationalized.
Of course, other people found out. I knew they would, I put up my “profound” and “philosophical” reasons for wanting to die all over the internet. Was it a cry for attention? I don’t think so, but it certainly sounded like one. Although I had only expected my friends, and of course my girlfriend to read my thoughts, one of my cousins found it by chance. “What the fuck is this?” He said, when he called me after reading it. “Some sort of suicide note?”
I had a long argument with him. His initial passive-aggressiveness faded as I explained exactly why I wanted to die, attempting to prove it was better to be dead than alive with pure logic. He listened. He tried to counter my points, once I was done. It didn’t work, but of course, he tried something else that eventually did.
And so, my cousin told my mother. As mothers often do, she flipped out, and immediately took me to the hospital once she read my “suicide note”, if it could be called that. I didn’t want to go, but she threatened to call nine-one-one and have them take me anyway, so I went willingly instead of having myself shamed by being strapped down on an embarrassing little bed with wheels and shoved into the back of some ambulance.
So I went. I was at my godparents house when she found out, so my Godfather went with us. Once I was there, a long wait ensued, in which time I started my homework. I guess I just did it out of boredom, or a sense of duty, but for some odd reason, my mom felt it necessary to antagonize me at that moment. “Why would a person about to die need to do homework?” she asked me, with a furrowed brow and lips twisted in a very unpleasant manner.
My mother made some poor attempts at persuading me to stop acting so crazy and just go back to enjoying life. I never understood why my mother acted so coldly then. I figured out later, for a fact, she wasn’t feeling anything that would merit her attitude. Maybe she was playing “bad cop, good cop” with my godfather, I don’t know.
The therapist took me into a separate room, and we had a long talk. She asked me the why’s and how’s, and I responded in kind. I was getting a little tired of explaining myself at that point though. I did write it all out online for a reason. After listening to me, she started giving me reasons to live. “You can die when you’re old” and “Enjoy life while you have it” sort of stuff. It was somewhat effective. I could have walked away from her then and not have taken my own life that night, but I would have killed myself later, so I’m glad she decided to send me to a mental hospital.
I think it wasn’t even so much the fact that I wanted to die, but the manner in which I spoke, the way I tried so hard to make sense of something that didn’t make sense that drove her to send me there. I couldn’t blame her; looking back on it, I really was acting rather insane.
A pair of ambulance operators arrived shortly thereafter, and asked me to lay down on one of the afore mentioned embarrassing little beds. Regulation, they said. I couldn’t go with them if I wasn’t on it. Well, it was better than them forcing me, and I wasn’t getting away from them, that much was clear by the fact that both of them were almost a foot taller than me and had the frames of football players. They strapped me in, loosely, and asked me how I would like the contraption positioned. Imagine that. Adjustable. I told them I was fine the way it was, they loaded me in the car, and we were on our way.
For what seemed like hours I talked with one of the operators in the back of the car. I guess he trusted me, so he let me get off that awful bed and sit down in one of the normal chairs. The mental hospital was a long way away, it seemed. Or, maybe, I was just really interested in the conversation, and when I look back on it, it appeared long.
Whatever the reason, time dragged on as we talked about my reasons for wanting to die. At first he thought I was stupid, that I just wanted to “see what was out there” but as I explained it to him, he either saw the logic in it or concluded that I was mentally unstable as he nodded and listened and understood, or pretended to understand.
When we arrived, I found that it was simply a hospital with a particularly good short term teenage mental health branch. I was mad at first, because I could have simply gone to another wing of the hospital I was already at, but I came to appreciate the decision my temporary therapist made. It was a pretty spiffy-looking place, after all.
The operator I talked with commented on some pretty girls about my age hanging around the front of the building as we entered. It seemed he was either very aloof, or was trying to get my mind off of death. It worked, though, and even though I took no interest in the girls, it calmed me somewhat to talk about normal “guy” stuff for once that night.
Shortly after, I was taken to the branch of the hospital I would be spending the week. I only thought it would be three days, but I needed that week, whether I knew it or not. A short, rotund, bald man greeted me in the large, open spaced mental room. There was a TV and a couch on one side, and two tables with some chairs on the other, as well as a counter and office room in the corner that stored everything I or any of the other patients would need. It had an overly sanitary air about it, and it reeked neutrality.
My attention returned to the bald man as he asked me many questions. He was very friendly. He laughed at his own jokes and seemed quite happy with himself, very comfortable in his own skin. I wanted that. I didn’t realize it yet, but my entire life, I had utterly despised myself. I looked at him with a strange sort of envy, like he had reached some form of enlightenment that I could never achieve.
A tall boy with short hair open his door, which was cleverly concealed as part of the wall, and smiled at me the moments that the bald man left to get the necessary paperwork. “You’re gonna like it here, buddy,” he said. I thought it was strange at the moment, and wanted nothing further to do with this boy, but it was impossible for me to know he would become one of my closest friends.
After I filled out some questions, the bald man took my belt and shoelaces, for obvious reasons, and showed me to my room. There were three beds there, but none of them were taken, so I had the liberty of choosing my own. I choose the one closest to the window, hoping for a view, but the only thing outside was a dreary abandoned-warehouse type of building. I found many scratches on the bed, made with who knows what, that indicated previous patients and their feelings. There was even a swastika etched into the side of the bed. I found sleep hard to come by, but it came, eventually.
The next morning, I took a shower in the facilities provided there and got dressed. It took me a minute to open the door, my hand trembling on the handle, to go out into the main room. I had no idea what to expect, but whatever it was, I only thought bad things of it. I was in a psychiatric ward, after all.
Stepping into the light was not as bad as I had expected. Or hoped. Why had I hoped it? That was when I first suspected something was wrong with me, if I expected, even wanted, adversity. Rachel, one of the female patients there, looked up at me and smiled. She said good morning, and I replied in kind. I found out later that I looked at her like I wanted to choke her for even speaking to me, though I was not conscious of it at the time. I sat down and ate a pre-made breakfast that was rather… revolting. Hospital food always is. The conversations I had that day, I do not recall, for none of them were important. Mostly, introductions were casually made to the people I would remember for the rest of my life.
I did, however, figure out how the whole place operated. We were required to participate in group activities and actively seek out staff members to talk with them about our problems, if we ever expected to leave. A therapist talked with us every morning, too. I didn’t like him. To him, we were his paycheck, and nothing more. Everyone else there seemed genuine, though.
Over the next few days, I got to know my fellow inmates, so to speak. There was Nick, Cody, Rachel, Dakota, John, Brian, a girl whose name I do not know how to spell but sounded like a sort of Caribbean fruit, and several others. I can still imagine all of their faces as clear as day, as if I were speaking to them right now. They were my comrades, my brothers in arms, the sisters of my soul. We were all there for different reasons, but we were all connected by a common goal. Although, thinking back, it was probably just because they were the only ones there that were around my age. It’s easiest to connect with someone your same age in the same dire situation.
There were also calls. I received a call from my girlfriend. My relatives had been contacting me, and my mother visited me every day, but this made me feel… accomplished, somehow, that someone cared for me who was not obligated to. I knew in the bottom of my heart that she would, for she loves me, and I love her, but I tried very hard to convince myself that nobody besides family would acknowledge my attendance in the psychiatric ward the first few days, or even better, at all.
Even better? That wasn’t right. Why did I think that?
However, amidst all the affection from family and friends, and despite catching the strange wording of my thoughts, not much had changed as of yet. I still wanted to die, and I would have done the vile deed if I still had my shoelaces.
On the third day, here was a group therapy session, one of three I attended during my stay. At the first one, my mom broke down into tears when she explained how she felt about my suicidal thoughts. I did too. Seeing her like that brought so much pain to me, that I couldn’t say a word and had to leave. I retreated into my room and slammed my head against the wall as self-penance for crying. I fell to my knees and scraped the floor with my nails. Then, finally, I gave up on fighting the room itself and sobbed into my hands as I knelt on the floor. I was feeling pain.
Pain, something so alien to me that once it hit me I was knocked completely off balance. Up until that point, I had always denied my emotions, set them into the back of my head to be dealt with later, and then forgotten forever. I was numb to it my entire life, but it could not be contained any longer.
It was at that point, on the third day, at my first group therapy session, that I started to get very suspicious. Suspicious that maybe I wasn’t as functional in the head as I should be. The thought hit me that I might not actually want to die. I decided to stay a bit longer, for my mandatory three days were up, but there was something hauntingly luring about that place, something that urged me to stay.
Two days after my mandatory three days were up, there was another group therapy session. I had decided that this would be my last day. I would lie and say I was all better and everything was peachy, so I could go home and drink some bleach. The suspicion started to wear off and I was tired of life again.
Before it was my turn to talk, it was Rachel’s. I had talked with her before, and she had some serious problems. She was a cutter, which was why she was there, but she had very good reason to have such a habit. Her family problems and social issues were off the charts, definitely far worse than anything I had ever dealt with. She was always embarrassed to show her arms, for the scars seemed to be proof that something was wrong with her, and she was very careful to always wear long sleeve shirts and never pull the sleeves up.
However, when she was talking, she inadvertently rolled them up to her elbows. She didn’t realize she was doing it, for she was happy as she talked about the progress she made, truly happy. She thought there was nothing for her in life, yet, she found resolve, and in it, she found her happiness. This was something I had never experienced before. I had been entertained at times, sure, but happiness? Never. There was never a feeling of euphoria or constant uplifting, and it seemed to be the only thing I wanted at that point. If someone like her, with so many reasons to hate her own existence, could find such happiness, then why couldn’t I? My life was never even that bad, I had just handled it badly.
That’s when I decided to give life one more chance. I would stay until I could think clearly; I would stay until I found out where I went wrong and how I could fix it. I obviously wasn’t ready to leave the safety of those walls, I still felt deeply depressed and severely undermined, but in the back of my mind, I knew it was only because I had taught myself to be like that. I taught myself to silently deal with anything and everything that ever went wrong, and I realized that shoving things aside never works, not for long. All it took was 16 years of life for me to snap, after all. I needed to confront myself and let go of all my hatred, all my hatred for never having met my father, all my hatred for the alcoholism that ran rampant in my family, all my hatred for myself acting the way I acted and not living up to my own expectations, all my hatred for things I dare not even mention here.
That night, I didn’t find happiness, and I didn’t fix my problems, and I didn’t stop wanting to die, not completely. But I found something much more important than all of those, the one thing that I lacked all of my life. The one thing I needed for myself, for others, for the world at large, and realizing it was like a sledgehammer blow to the mind, a head smash. I still had a long way to go, but now I had the one thing that would ensure my success. I had hope.
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