You can't kill yourself with Klonipin - Part II
September 23, 2022 Journal Entry
The next few days in the ER were very painful. I was confined to the room and there was a watcher stationed outside my door 24 hours a day. I only left to use the bathroom.
Sadly, there was an assumption made about me that first day which followed me all the way to the psych hospital. I made a joke about the ties on the gowns and how some people used them to self-harm. The very first time I went into the bathroom, my watcher stayed just outside the door. When I came out, she reported I had ligature marks on my neck. I have no idea what she thought she saw but it was not ligature marks.
Hanging is not how I’ll go if I ever actually successfully execute. I don’t like pain. I’m not nearly courageous enough to do something it’s really hard to do, like jump off a building or shoot myself. I’ve been through every option hundreds of times, believe me, hundreds of times. I’ve spent hours running through my options, imagining how each method might feel. The only option I ever come up with is pills. And that is easy because I always had Klonipin. Always. Always. Beginning in my early 20s, I have always had Klonipin. I asked for them, I got them. Psychiatrists, even family practice docs hand out Klonipin like Tic Tacs. Here, want a mint? Here, want a Klonipin? Klonipin please.
After the mistaken ligature marks, I was on close suicide watch. From then on, my watchers went into the restroom with me. Some turned away, some did not. It was humiliating. But what could I do? Nothing. I protested. It didn’t matter. Once you’re labeled as high risk, there’s no coming back from that. At least not in the ER.
So many thoughts ran through my mind. Many of them self-condemning. Sometimes I was ashamed. But that was pointless. I couldn’t help what I’d done. It was done. And I couldn’t help being sick. I was sick. I was very sick.
The admitting doctor came into my room on the second or third day, I don’t remember the exact timeline because I was out of it for all but that last day in the ER. It’s all largely a blur. But she did come in and talk to me. Again, I was at the end of the bed, again she crouched down so I was looking down into her face.
“I didn’t do anything with the gown,” I said. “That’s just…”
“Not your style,” she said, finishing the sentence for me.
She could have put that in the chart notes, that there were no ligature marks, that it was a mistake. I don’t know why she didn’t. She didn’t like me. But there was nothing about me in that situation that was likeable. That’s in retrospect I can say that. At the time, I was baffled. If she didn’t like me, why was she so invested in making sure I didn’t self-harm? You’d think she’d have wanted me out, discharged.
I’ve thought a lot about her and what her purpose was in keeping me. Maybe she wanted it to be so awful I’d never consider self-harming again. That’s a rather ridiculous premise. If I was hell bent on doing something, a few days of extreme discomfort and humiliation wouldn’t stop me. An involuntary serves its singular purpose: it keeps you alive for a few more days. After that, after you’re out, it’s all back on you.
I have no idea what was in her head, what she thought. I have no idea if she had any compassion for me. And does it matter? I hold to the truth everything happens exactly as it should. And wherever I am is exactly where I’m supposed to be. That holds true regardless of what situation I’m in, even under the worst of circumstances. She acted according to her principles. She held firm to her principles. She was unwavering. Looking back, I have to respect her for that.
Some of the watchers were horrid. But I was horrid. I can’t hold anything against anyone. The watcher who was with me towards the end of my time in the ER, when I started to really comprehend what was happening, she was especially nasty. But I was especially nasty. The next night, which turned out to be my last night, she was back.
“Look, I’m sorry. I’ve been horrible. I just don’t want it to be like it was last night. I want it to be OK tonight. I don’t want it to be like it was. Please,” I pleaded.
“There’s no reason to apologize. It’s my job. I understand. I really do. I’ve been in your position. You might not believe that, but I have.”
We talked some. She was beautiful. I assumed she was in her 20s but she must have been in her 30s. She had a son. He was autistic. She’d been married to a man that was horribly abusive. She did have compassion, but she also had to protect herself from my manipulative ways. Funny that word “manipulative” and all its connotations. I’ve a great deal to say about my manipulative ways. That will be its own post.
“I had a really hard time doing this job at first,” she said. “I struggled with what was happening to the patients. I prayed about it, and it became clear why this is necessary. It’s the death of Ego. It has to happen this way, just this way.”
That really resonated. After that, I just submitted to the process. Perhaps I didn’t submit perfectly, I have always relied on sarcasm to wound those I perceive as coming against me. But even when I uttered a particularly sharp on-point retort, it gave me no satisfaction. These people were doing a job. I realized it was on me to be compliant. I tried my best. I did much better towards the last.
It was dehumanizing to be in my predicament. But I was treated no differently than any other patient who had done what I had done. I wasn’t abused; I was managed. Perhaps the watchers have to depersonalize patients in order to be OK with their responsibilities. Perhaps what I perceived as dehumanizing wasn’t dehumanizing at all. I don’t really know.
I do know if patients treated me the way I treated the watchers at first, I wouldn’t be able to do that job. I was verbally abusive. And I’m especially good at that. That’s one of the bad parts of me it’s hard to love. But I have to accept all of who I am, the good, bad and everything in between. I’m not so good at accepting the bad in me. It would be much easier if I could. Not accepting my bad parts is akin to denial. It makes it hard to change, to grow, to improve, and to heal.
Towards the end, when I saw things more clearly, I did apologize to the watchers. But it didn’t matter and it wasn’t necessary. The watchers were doing a job. And I was a patient. They didn’t owe me anything and I didn’t owe them anything. It was a very simple arrangement. Once I figured that out I just accepted it, finally, and simply endured. I had no choice. I just focused on doing my time.
“I still can't figure out if it's bravery or cowardice to take your own life. I can't figure out whether it's being selfish, or selfless. It is the ultimate act of letting go of oneself, or a cheap act of self-possession? People say a failed attempt is a cry for help. I guess that's true if the person meant it to be unsuccessful. But then, I guess most failed attempts aren't entirely sincere, because, let's face it, if you want to off yourself, there are plenty of ways to make sure it works.” -Neal Shusterman, Challenger Deep