I was depressed my entire life. Having been abandoned at the age of six months by my biological mother at an orphanage then being abandoned by the nuns at the orphanage when they handed me over to my new adoptive parents, I was primed to develop Borderline Personality Disorder. At the age of 16, I was subsequently dismissed by a group of grade school friends because I had become “too egotistical”. No big surprise then that I made my first serious suicide attempt two months later, A short stint of outpatient therapy did not yield any significant results. I was deemed to be highly resistant to therapy and I soon dropped out entirely.
Over the next twenty years, the thought of suicide never left my mind. It was always tucked in the recesses of my brain and I would take it out and look at it, stroke it and fantasize about doing it. I started hoarding pills when I was about 24 so that I would always be prepared in case I needed an exit strategy.
The last time I made an attempt was after I had been dumped (read “abandoned”) by a short-term boyfriend. Even though we had only been dating for less than three months, when he dumped me via text message, I was devastated. I went to the liquor store, bought a fifth of vodka, came home and ground up my stash of zopiclone in the Cuisinart. All the while mixing up a pitcher of screwdrivers. I added the ground up pills and the whole pitcher turned blue. Then, I proceeded to start to drink. The plan was, you see, that I was going to gas myself in the car in the garage.
Years before, after a serious attempt, the emergency room doctor told me that the next time I decided I wanted to kill myself I should do everyone a favor and just go and jump off a tall building. Outraged! Yes, I was outraged by that comment. I yelled and shrieked at him for about half an hour. “How dare you!” Eventually I was sent upstairs to the psychiatric unit and I tried to forget the whole ordeal but I never forgot his comment. So, that was why I was standing in my kitchen mixing up a lethal batch of zopiclone-laced screwdrivers. My garage might not be a tall building but it was a pretty good second and would do the trick.
At some point during the evening, I decided that I needed more orange juice so I made my way over to the local grocery store. The last thing I remember is reaching out toward a carton of juice. I woke up the next morning in the emergency psychiatric unit with a black eye and a terrible hangover.
I spent two weeks on the psych unit following that little escapade. What did it teach me?
Well, I suppose the biggest thing it taught me was that I was very bad at killing myself. I had, after all, attempted about a dozen times and though I had come very close many times, I had not yet been successful. During that inpatient stay I was also reintroduced to Dialectical Behavior Therapy. I had had a lot of DBT years before when I was an in-patient at a famous hospital in the United States but somewhere along the line, most of those skills seemed to have been forgotten along the way. Maybe they were just drowned out by all the rage.
So, there I was, in the hospital for a tune up, as I decided I would think about it. I took some mini refresher courses in mindfulness meditation and was surprised to remember how much I had benefited from it in the past. Upon discharge, I was referred to an outpatient DBT skills training group and I decided that, come hell or high water, I was going to go and I was going to make the best of it and learn as much as possible.
The thing that struck me the most was the day we made our “hope boxes”. I filled mine with a CD of my favorite music by Debussy, a photo of my little dog with a print out of the words, “Who would take care of Sniffles if you died tomorrow?,” a photo of my young grandchild and a rock I had found on the beach in Florida when I was last visiting my mother.
I came home from group that day and decided that I was no longer going to allow the thought of suicide to be a viable option for me. So, I decided that I would not longer use it as a coping mechanism for dealing with my emotional pain.
What happened? I decided that I was going to live. I started to practice gratitude on a daily basis by posting “Today I am grateful for ….. “ on my Facebook page every morning. I signed up for a university course to reconnect with my educational goals lost so many years before. I joined a meet-up group and made a commitment to end my social isolation by getting out more and meeting some new people. I decided to give online dating another try and eventually I met my current partner. We’ve now been together for more than 5 years… I decided to start a new business to try to help people with Borderline Personality Disorder put their BPD into remission once and for all. And suicide? It no longer calls my name, when I am feeling down because I know that just as the old saying goes, “This too shall pass.” And I found happiness.