content warning: suicidal ideation
I sit with my therapist and tell her how I came to end what felt like the healthiest relationship of my life in a way that was so out of character. I tell her about the paralyzing grief and anxiety, the confusion, my inability to focus on anything else. She digs into the confusion and mixed messages of the preceding weeks and I break down repeatedly. Eventually she points out that I’m struggling to reconcile actions and words. “If you have to choose one,” she asks, “Which do you believe?”
I screw my eyes tightly shut and struggle against the deep, horrifying pain of being abandoned by him over and over again. I want to will myself out of existence so I can’t feel it anymore; it is excruciating.
“Actions,” I finally growl. “He’s demonstrating that he’s committed to pushing me away. Oh god, it hurts.” I start to cry again and can’t stop. She has to talk me into vocalizing with her to pull me out of it and I’m still faint and shaking. She asks me what it feels like in my body.
“Everything hurts. It feels like something has run me over, and something is stabbing me here,” I hold my chest. “My shoulders and my neck and my head hurt and I can’t breathe right and I’m shaking. I’m so tired. I don’t have anything left to give, I can’t keep doing this.”
She’s silent for a while and then she asks if I’ve continued to have suicidal thoughts. I nod, continuing to weep. She asks if I’ve told anyone. I explain how I’ve written about some of them, how I’ve only talked about the thoughts after they pass and even with that perspective it frightens people. She asks if it feels better to write about it.
“Better? No, it doesn’t feel better. I don’t think writing makes me feel better–it simply is the truth, and I feel compelled to tell it.”
She asks if I’ve started to make a plan to end my life. This is the part I haven’t talked about–with anyone. I understand that we’re treading dangerously close to mandatory reporting.
“I’ve thought about it. I don’t have a plan made.”
She asks if I know how I would do it, and if I could hurt myself in the next week. I tell her how. I explain that I would be be unable to accomplish it that quickly if I tried. She asks if I have commitments I intend to keep for the next week. I say yes. She asks me to promise I will tell someone if I’m considering hurting myself. I cringe. It will scare people. I’m already terrified about who else might leave me; I can’t scare people. She reminds me I can call her. She doesn’t look scared; I pause and consider it, and then I agree.
Next she coaches me through tolerating uncomfortable feelings I’ve been having. The first time she asks me to connect with the way I felt when I was so upset waking up from nightmares and I begin to cry again thinking about it. She asks me to visualize someone I love there with me. Seeing the face of my friend in my mind’s eye, I begin to regulate myself. She has me try again. This time I lose connection to my imagery and remember how much I miss Kevin*. I immediately panic and begin to hyperventilate. She has to remind me to open my eyes and look at her and it still takes some work to calm me down.
I’m exhausted after therapy; calm, but exhausted. I have vision therapy next. I hate vision therapy. It’s difficult and infuriating. I had a month where my symptoms seemed to be improving, but in recent weeks I’ve struggled with even the simple exercises I used to do easily. Last time she tossed bean bags to me, which is always my easiest exercise. I flinched and dropped half of them, and then I cried about it.
“Are you stressed?” asks my much too cheerful vision therapist. I snarl a little;
“Well,” she chirps, “That can make things harder! I’m glad you’re here!”
I bite my tongue to keep from growling how I’d rather be getting both my arms sawed off. Her insistent attempts to cheer me up always make me even more irritable, and then I waste my limited energy restraining myself when I want to snap at her.
She gives me an exercise where I look at pencils. I can’t see them right and it immediately makes me dizzy and nauseous. We have to stop. She takes notes while I try not to be too obvious weeping with frustration. She says nothing and pushes the tissue box toward me. I say nothing and bite my lip to keep from sobbing.
Later that evening I’m exhausted, again, and I can’t sleep–again. I lie on my cot at my friend’s place in the darkness and try not to whine. My heart hurts, my head hurts, my eyes hurt. It wasn’t so long ago that I felt happy and hopeful, but those formerly comforting thoughts of lying in bed with Kevin* keep coming up and every time they do there is blinding pain. I cry into my pillow and wish for sleep that doesn’t come.
*Not his real name