I was giving up for the last time. I knew in my head that my children would be better off mourning the loss of their mother instead of dealing with bouts of severe depression which often led to temper tantrums, hospitalizations, and complete family turmoil.
I knew this phone call to my husband would be my last. I had spent my last ounce of energy driving my ten-year-old daughter to school and taking my infant son to my friend’s house so I could have a few hours to myself. I went home, unlocked the gun cabinet, loaded and unloaded my hunting rifle, then called my husband. I told him that the bolt action on my gun was sticky. With hunting season only a few weeks away he promised to look in to it.
I had already talked to him about not feeling good…we were very aware of my depression and its’ ups and downs, but as educated and alert we were as a team, I was much better at hiding how bad it was so he wouldn’t worry. I had called my psychologist twice that morning complaining that I was ‘off’. I told her I was fine for the time being and that maybe she should talk to Jay. I was screaming for help but downplaying the symptoms at the same time. We talked about coming in for a quick download, or inpatient treatment. I didn’t feel safe to drive the 22 miles to her office so I told her I would just stay in bed and call her if things got out of hand. I never realized until that day how much I could get away with. I took pride in being able to make so many decisions regarding my treatment. I decided when to come in to the hospital, when I needed extra help, and when it was time to try a new medication. This now had the power to kill me.
I was at a point where I knew just as much, and often more, than the doctors trying to treat me. After several medication changes, five years of therapy, and several hospitalizations with no long-term relief, I felt we were getting nowhere. I was done. I didn’t want to wait another six to eight weeks to see whether a new medication was going to work or if I was going to hit rock bottom again and end up back in the hospital or weekly therapy sessions. I didn’t have the energy to try again.
I drove out to the hunting shack, but took my sell phone in case somebody tried calling to stop me. I didn’t want to die; I only wanted to be better. I only wanted to be normal…whatever normal is.
I drove 80 miles per hour down a dirt road hoping to end up in a wreck so I wouldn’t have to go through with my plan. I wasn’t so lucky.
I laid my rifle across the hood of my pick-up and counted my ammunition. I had eight rounds…I only needed one. I loaded my .243 Savage and sat for what seemed like forever trying to decide my fate.
It takes so much energy to get better and I didn’t have it in me. I was tired of relapses, medications, and doctors.
I love my husband and kids. The thought of my kids growing up thinking they weren’t worth living for haunted me.
Conflicting feelings began to invade my mind; my children would forever be scarred, my husband would be devastated, and there would be so many unanswered questions. I fired the first shot at a makeshift target.
Hunting for my husband and daughter would never be the same knowing I had taken my life with the gun they had surprised me with only three years previous. I pulled the trigger a second time.
What would they tell my son as he grew up? He was too young to remember how we used tub-time to sing nursery rhymes and play pat-a-cake while splashing. I fired again.
All the research my friend had done would be a waste. She told me once that getting by was not enough and she wanted to see me completely well. I was too tired to keep working on getting better. I didn’t have the strength to fight this disease any longer. It had finally overpowered me. The fourth shot rang in my ears.
I reloaded my rifle, ready to go through with my plan.
The implications of suicide began to make my head spin. How could I kill myself knowing the damage I would do to my loved ones? I had several friends commit suicide and as many as 25 years later, I still hurt. I was no longer sure I would be doing them a favor.
While I was out at the hunting shack I had no idea what was going on back in town. My psychologist had tried calling me between her appointments to check up on me; she called my husband when I didn’t answer. My husband had called my friend to see if she had heard from me. They decided she would go to our house and check on me; they had already tried my cell phone but reception in the area was not good at that time. As my support team put the clues and warning signs together they began to panic.
Back at the hunting shack, I couldn’t go through with it. I fired off the last four rounds in anger and frustration, put my gun back in the case, picked up the empty cartridges and got back in the truck.
I knew I had to go home, call my husband, and be admitted to the hospital. I had never gone this far before and I was scared. I drove back in to town at a reasonable speed.
When I got home there were messages on the answering machine from my psychologist and my husband. The caller identification showed calls from my friend as well. At this point I was waiting for the police to show up and take me in on a 72-hour mental health hold. I locked the doors. I knew I was going to the hospital and that it would be longer than 72 hours but damn it, I was not going in the back of a police car.
I called my husband first; he told me to call my girlfriend and tell her I was okay. OKAY? Who said I was okay? I just came dangerously close to eating the barrel of my hunting rifle and he wanted me to tell somebody I was fine? My shrink once told me that fine was only an acronym for Fucked up Insane Neurotic Emotional. Yes, I was definitely F.I.N.E. When I called to check in with my girlfriend she was getting ready to come to my house to check on me. I told her I was safe for the time being and that I would voluntarily be admitted to the hospital.
After eight days in the hospital, and another five of daily outpatient treatment I was on the road to recovery. I made a commitment to live.
This happened in October 2005