I’m amazed it’s been five years. I’m really just amazed that I’m not dead. But here I am, still alive, and writing out this little entry. I do not bring this date up often, but I have been thinking about it since the month turned to August. Dr. A calls it my ‘personal 9/11.’ I guess it’s something like that.
In my last post, I put up a study about Asian-American women and suicide. While I could relate to much of what was written, I have to say that this suicide attempt had little to do with these life trials of being an Asian-American girl. As I came to find out in the hospital, my moods were cycling that past week, and that hypomanic mood plunged to a deep depression on that Friday night. I remember coming home from work and as a ‘Six Feet Under’ episode played on my television, I made myself a frozen margarita. Then I lined up a variety of pills, dozens of them, in pristine little rows. And one by one, I inhaled them, well over 30 of them, with that margarita.Unlike the first time, I wrote a note of apology to my family and to my doctor. Then I went to bed.
I awoke in the middle of the night with a feeling I had never experienced before and don’t really know how to explain in words. My body somehow knew to expel much of the pills, so I had thrown up a large quantity of them during the night. But the rest had caused all the muscles below the waist to stop working completely. I wanted to use the restroom, so I dragged my body across the floor. It seemed like it took hours just to climb up to the toilet. But because none of the muscles were working, there was no way for me to relieve myself. I somehow dragged my body back to the bed and went back to sleep. (More I talk about this attempt, more I realize that this could have ‘succeeded’ or have caused some irreparable damage to parts of my body.) It never occurred to me then to call an ambulance, or anyone.
I woke up that next day and began to realize what I had just done. I remember holding that phone in my hand trying to decide whether to call Dr. A. I called her. By this point, my legs were in semi-working order, so I drove to her office to meet her. She sensed that I wasn’t emotionally ready to check into the psych hospital, so she allowed me to stay one night with some friends. By the time I woke up at my friends the next morning, I still could not get rid of the suicidal urge. I met Dr. A again at her office to tell her that I needed to go to the hospital. Dr. A made arrangements for me at Parthenon Pavilion that morning, and I went home to pack.
I packed my belongings in a rolling suitcase, and I drove myself to the hospital. I entered the hospital to check in as if I were checking in at some fancy hotel. They led me into through those locked doors, and they first asked me a series of questions before taking me to the area I would be staying. This was the first time someone mentioned to me the possibility of having ECT. When they took me to the adult ward, the nurses first checked my bags for any objects I’m not allowed to have in the ward, such as rope or a belt. Then, there’s the strip search. Though the place is not cozy, it’s not unpleasant. I was allowed to keep a pen and some paper, so I proceeded to write a 6+ page journal entry about the situation. When the psychiatrist, Dr. J, met me the next morning, I handed him the stack of papers all covered in pink ink. After skimming through it, I remember him telling me just how lucid my writing was. The next day he told me that I had bipolar disorder. What? I can deal with being just depressed, but how can I be bipolar? I struggled to get a grip on this new diagnosis.(What’s it like inside a psychiatric hospital? In the interest of time, I’ll save that story for later.)
In spite of my apprehension to get back into the real world, I was released a few days later. Just as I drove in on my own to the hospital, I rolled along my suitcase back to my car and headed back home. When I got out, it was September. And now, five years have passed by.