My first suicide attempt was a little less than 1 year ago. Some one with a lot of power in my life hurt me to core, and this with my financial struggles and struggles to survive the last year before simply pushed me over the edge.
I remember the decision to swallow the pills, I felt so calm. I made some plans for the cats, but I was ok with death, I was ok with being “done”. I couldn’t handle one more second of pain. As I wrote my note and looked up deadly doses of various easy to obtain drugs I felt at peace. Finally, at peace. I wasn’t angry, I wasn’t crying. It was ok to die, to let go.
Then I started to swallow the pills, I knew it would take a massive dose and I mixed ibuprofen and benadryl. Mostly because I wanted the benadryl to keep me sleeping as much as possible. I knew that if i was in pain then after about 4 hours the hospital wouldn’t be able to undo the damage to my kidney’s and that is how long I had to wait if I had to call for help. Then I started to swallow, and I took well over 500 ibuprofen and about 30 benadryl.
Shortly after I started to float, and thought this is good, the benadryl will soon put me to sleep. After a while of dosing, in and out of consciousness the police knocked on my door. It seems I had in my drug induced haze emailed out the suicide note. I wasn’t particularly thrilled and did my best to hold on to the haze.
As the police and the paramedics got me on a gurney I fought them, I did not want to be “saved”, in fact, I was PISSED that I had been found. This of course ended me up in 4 point restraints.
In the ambulance I managed to slightly doze again, I am sure the benadryl had something to do with that. Arrival at the hospital however was a rude awakening. I was very unlucky with the nurses attending to me in the ER. Around me were yelling, bright lights and feeling so helpless being tied up. Then the nurses arrived and told me that they were going to pump my stomach. Terrified, all I could say was “no”, and I tried to avoid their invasive hands until one of them grabbed my head further restricting my movements. They then told me that if I didn’t do as they said it would hurt, and they really didn’t care because it was my own fault. I just felt frightened.
A tube entered my nose and went into my throat, starting a violent gag reflex, making the nurses chastise me, and the doctor admonish them to not asphyxiate me. It hurt – a lot. Later investigations tell me that it is customary to use a numbing agent in the throat before hand – something my nurses did not do. Then started the violent retching. Apparently, they also had not been able to place the tube just right because I continually was gasping for air.
Throughout the time in the ER the nurses were talking about me, as if I was not a human being. A few of the things they said were:
“Here, I was prepared for a quiet evening with the game, a pizza and a beer, and then this one comes along.” “This one” was said with quite the sneer. “Well, if she was going to kill herself why didn’t she take the full bottle of 1000 pills instead of only half?”
“If people really want to kill themselves why do we even bother?”
Said directly to me: “We know this hurt, but it’s your own fault, you made your choice when you tried to kill yourself.”
“Stop gasping for air, we don’t care about your drama”.
After giving me the stomach pumping medication that made me retch they left me alone for a while, I am sure to give it ample time to work. I got a hold of the instrument to remove the mucus from my mouth – something I badly needed, but that was taken from me, while they laughed, leaving me alone drooling. A few times throughout the evening I managed to get my one hand out of the restraints, but I did NOT do anything dangerous with that hand. I simply felt terrified and my tied up made it worse. Each time they discovered my arm out of the restraints they tied it ever tighter, eventually causing a sprain in that arm. If keeping me in restraints was for safety, but I had just had my arm out of restraints for 20 minutes without them knowing not doing anything, was it a power game to tie me back up? Or was it for safety?
When they returned to give me the activated charcoal they decided to put the tube back in, probably due to the fact that I was still struggling to breathe, and they had taken some x-rays so I suspect it wasn’t placed quite right. Having it placed one more time was just as painful, but I tried to work with them out of pure terror. It didn’t make them any more gentle though. It did become easier to breathe after the second tube was placed, but my throat was severely bruised, and I had trouble talking for 10 days after. Which made my wonderful nurses scoff and tell me to talk normally.
After a while the head nurse arrived to take me to the ICU. She found my one foot blue in the restraints, and immediately loosened it. The night nurse in the ICU asked me if I could be safe out of the restraints and removed them when I said I could. The ICU nurses were completely opposite the ER nurses, and eventually I told the head nurse about the comments from the ER nurses. I was very grateful for their kindness throughout the night, as I lay there, hurt, scared, lonely and in shock.
According to the doctor, I had been found approximately 30 minutes before there would have been lasting damage to my kidneys, or I might not have survived.
Unfortunately, my experience, while not extensive, with psychiatric hospitals are that they are horribly dehumanizing places and when the social worker arrived the next day I did everything in my power to assure her I was not an active risk. This was actually true, I was traumatized, but also angry at the ER nurses and that increased my strength some. She had trouble finding me a psychiatric bed, and I managed to be sent home the next night.
The eventual fall out of this experience was the trauma I experienced in the hospital and the loss of one very important relationship as one person couldn’t get over their anger at my attempt.