From Under the Bell Jar

Where do I start? Eight symptoms? Suicidal tendencies? Specific plans? Self-injury? Check, check, check, and check.

In sixth grade I got in-school detention for holding an x-acto knife to the throat of a kid who had been bullying me for years. I spent the week reading such juvenile fiction as Hiroshima and Dante's Inferno. I came out determined to be a suicide, a tree for the odious harpies, and started cutting myself for the expression of blood.

Middle school was a series of half-assed hilarious suicide attempts. You absolutely cannot drown yourself in a sink, hold your breath to death, or, my personal favorite, hang yourself with a metal coat hanger. They put me on a cocktail of SSRI's and anti-anxiety pills. Nothing worked, because I wouldn't take them. My parents started physically restraining me. I started pretending to take the pills but actually stored them in my Barbie clothing carry-case. I started having panic-attacks and got Xanax, so I started faking attacks so my parents would give me more. Eventually they caught on and I was back not-taking Prozac.  

By high-school I was a straight A honors student, student ambassador, wearing all black and slicing my wrists (I know how to miss a vein, thank you) by night. I had a suicide note written, just in case; my friends thought it was cool.

I made it to college having never gotten drunk, driven a car, or kissed a boy, but too physically scarred to wear sleeveless shirts. I wore a complex system of bracelets half-way up both forearms. The more bracelets, the more cuts. I made friends with druggies quickly, so I could get more Xanax. All I did was go to class, study, and then take lots of pills with alcohol. I only cut when I screwed up and got a B. I had one friend. He smelled bad because he drank all the time and never changed his clothes. I hated him, but he was in love with me and was 21. I lived for three years like this, documenting my days in scars and pills. That last winter, realizing that my left wrist looked like a suicide scar with hesitation marks from hell, I tried to change my life. I stopped taking Xanax and started hanging out with other people, including a boy. The next fall, the boy left school for family reasons, and my best friend went abroad to study in England, where I was supposed to go the next semester. I was left with my one friend, who got me drunk at his apartment and assaulted me. I defended myself with the k-bar he had to my throat; I probably nearly killed myself getting away, but I didn't care. He started dating a mutual friend because I "wouldn't give him any".  I stopped going to class, showering, eating, or literally leaving my suite. I slept with my pocket knife, for comfort. My roommate had been unable to afford school this semester, and had left me with a private room and bath. There was no one to bother me, no one to call.

Thanksgiving break came and I had to go home, so I packed up my piece-of-rusted-crap and drove the five hours alone, trying not to follow the caution cones off the interstate. I've never been a planning person, but when I got home, I had one. The day after Thanksgiving my parents went out for drinks with a friend. I don't remember where my sister was--most likely flirting with someone in the Wal-Mart parking lot. I spent the day getting drunk and deleting all the writing files off my computer. At six o'clock I wrote a note. At seven I locked myself in the upstairs bathroom, opened the medicine chest and chased the bottle of Xanax that was always there with a bottle of cough-syrup. I filled the claw-foot tub and broke open the razor. I couldn't do it, and I knew a bottle of incredibly old Xanax was getting me nowhere besides a mental hospital, so I forced myself to vomit, drink tons of water, vomit again. I woke up the next morning feeling a little ill, but mostly with self-hatred and disappointment at myself. What was I, if not a suicide?

It has been over five years now and the hole in my head merely narrows slightly everyday. The option is off the shelf, and I'm still figuring out whether that is a good thing. I've gotten married and finished two graduate degrees, and am generally happy with my life, but I still get suicidal like a migraine sometimes, with violent images--slit wrists, pill bottles, thirteen knot nooses--that make me nauseous with want. It was always the pretty symbols, the knives and pills that pulled me: Virginia Wolf wrote that the only reasons to live are the little things, "life, London, this moment in June". She was right, I think, as was Sylvia Plath when she said "the box is only temporary."


rantingbum rantingbum
22-25, F
Aug 10, 2007