Tuesday, March 15, 2011

There are Things You Don't Know About Me

There are things you don't know about me.

This is not a cry for help.

I know you think I'm the girl next door. The one who reads a lot. The one who teaches and tutors students. The one who squeals everytime I hear tell of a kitten. But inside of me, I'm a little bit different. A little bit unbalanced.

I was nine the first time I tried to kill myself. I climbed on a chair to reach my parents' medicine cabinet, and I devoured an entire bottle of vitamins. I thought that for sure, those little orange jelly bean pills would do the trick.

Of course, they didn't. Of course, I'm glad they didn't.

Besides impulsivity and despite a chronic illness, I don't even know why I wanted to die. I just had a feeling that it was something I should do.I had great parents. I had hobbies. I, if you can imagine, actually liked school.

Interestingly, I've always had a quiet obsession with death. As kids, my cousin and I loved to walk around cemeteries, explore old attics, and try to contact otherworldly spirits. (Unfortunately, we always ended up laughing too much to make contact.)

At this point, I'm still not really sure what I believe happens when we die. I would like to believe that something happens, but I can't latch on to a guarantee that any religion (from Scientology to Buddhism to Christianity to the ubiquitous crazy man on the street corner) offers.

When I became a teenager, things got tough. Things get tough for any teenager, right? It's just the way the world works. Unfortunately, the toughest times I had were dealing with a chronic disease that required as much care and attention as a wailing newborn. I didn't want to bruise my stomach and arms with injections. (Some bathing suit look that would be.) I didn't want to eat healthy foods. I wanted to eat candy with my sister and play video games. I didn't want to listen to doctors who, I felt, knew less than I did. I didn't want to feel badly everyday, but I didn't want to take care of myself either.

So with little other options, I turned to self-abuse. I felt like that I couldn't blame diabetes on anyone but myself. I felt like I wanted control. Therefore, instead of actually taking the time to properly dose my insulin and eat healthy foods, I hit myself until my self-inflicted bruises left womanmade lakes of blue and black all over my arms and legs. Because I was a baton twirler, these bruises were easy to excuse. I could just blame a faulty throw or an awkward catch.

And then came college and the sleeping pills. I couldn't sleep without them. I continued to beat myself up, but the sleeping pills offered some relief. I could at least knock myself out with medicine instead of my fists.

When I started grad school, however, things got worse. I still blamed myself for having diabetes. I still felt like I had little to offer the world. I still felt like that petite nine year old, reaching for those vitamins, ready to put an end to it all. I finally sucked up my pride, went to counseling (My counselor's sister co-founded the L.A. Derby Dolls! How rad is that?), and I was prescribed Zoloft, then Prozac, and then heavier doses Prozac. I've tried every sleeping pill from Ambien (which made me drive at night, unaware) to Trazodone (which works remarkably well for me). I gained thirty pounds, but it seemed somehow worth it.

I thought things were good. Great. As sunny as an Alabama smile.

But somewhere along the way, I started overdosing on those sleeping pills. I was fat. I was ugly. I was useless and stupid. I started cutting, and I started cutting the veins that unlock death's door. I started tearing myself apart. Besides the fact that I sometimes forgot to take my medicine properly, I can't tell you exactly why I still wanted to die; I just felt like it needed to be done. I knew people would be mad at me. I knew it was selfish. I knew that I was a giant fuckup.(Of course, this just perpetuated the cycle of self-hatred.)

Somewhere inside of me, I still wanted control of my body. I didn't want diabetes to take my legs, my eyes, or my kidneys. If I could take myself, I thought I could at least die nobly.

I was also still impulsive to a fault.

Now, I am still that impulsive, but I'm trying to be careful with myself. I know that my pets need me. Without a doubt, Prufrock would not survive with any other "hoomin" but me. I know that my boyfriend needs me. I know that my family needs me. Most of all, I know that my derby team needs me. (And hey, as an added bonus, I still get those beautiful bruises!)

I do not want anyone to feel sorry for me. I've done these things to myself, and I am trying to deal with them in the healthiest way that I can. I'm still in counseling, and I'm getting ready to see a psychiatrist. I still hate diabetes, but I'm trying to un-victimize myself and get better control of my life. After all, it's going to be a battle to the end, and I like winning.

I don't feel weird sharing these things in writing. In person, however, I've only told about three people. As you can imagine, it felt awkward as hell. I often use humor as an excuse, so I usually laugh about how silly or drunk I was when the beating and cutting and overdosing happened. But as much as I don't want people to know my deepest, darkest secrets, I don't want to collapse into myself like a dying star.

I really don't.

I also know that I'm not alone, and I never will be.

I can't guarantee that I won't try to die again, but I hope that I won't. However, if I do, get out the nearest Ouija board. I'll be happy to let you know what happens next.

This picture reminds me of my favorite writer/memoirist, Dave Eggers.


  1. Just like your post wasn't a cry for help, this isn't an attempt at pity or sympathy. I just thought you should know that you and I have a TON in common. For instance, when I was about 11, I had a "fight" (because, seriously, what adult actually argues with an 11-year-old?) with my grandmother. To punish her, I slammed the bedroom door to the room I was staying in and threw myself under the covers. She came in and swatted my behind for my bad behavior and said, "If you don't come out from under those covers, you'll suffocate!" Then she walked out of the room, closed the door behind her, and left me to wallow in my pre-teen temper tantrum alone. As soon as I heard the door "click" behind her, I realized what I wanted to do. I wanted to suffocate myself. So, I grabbed a pillow from the bed, and keeping the pillow outside of the covers, I got back under the covers and quilt. Then I pressed the pillow onto my face as hard as I could. It was as I was starting to drift off (mostly from the oppressive heat I was creating under those covers, I think) that I realized my plan would inevitably fail: as soon as I fell asleep, my grip would loosen on the pillow, and I would be able to breathe again. I was disappointed at the time (obviously not now), but that wouldn't be the last time I thought very seriously and even plotted out my own suicide. I always imagined the best, cleanest ways to do it so that my mom wouldn't have to deal with a dead daughter AND a room to clean.

    I tell you this just to...I dunno...commiserate. I'm glad that the medications have worked for you in the past, and I hope that they will continue working for you in the future. Have you ever tried Wellbutrin? I've heard that it has lower instances of weight gain than some of the others like Prozac (and sometimes I think it's added as a supplement).

    And for what it's worth...thanks for sharing this. In a completely selfish way, I'm glad to know that I'm not alone in these types of past experiences and current struggles. So, thanks for offering that connection and reassurance.

  2. I love you more than sunshine, and I only know you through blogs! I'm proud and impressed and whatever-the-hell else I can't think of to say right now, and there is a big bouquet of purple and yellow and white flowers sitting on my coffee table and I wish I could hand them to you and say "Thank you for being beautiful."

    And if you DO go before me, you can bet the ouija board is coming out, because I want to hear about the other side from someone who can tell the story right.

    - Villainelle