When a Friend Attempts Suicide

Pills 2 by Amanda M Hatfield

How do I even begin? I mean, how the fuck does one approach something like this. I don’t have a clue. But I’ve got to get this shit out, so I’ll just put it bluntly . . . a very close friend of mine tried to kill herself. OD’ed on prescription drugs. And gin . . . my gin.

You may remember her, I wrote about her a while back . . . about her trip to the Anorexia Ward. That was an ugly post. Disjointed. Painful. Filled with bad memories.

Unfortunately, the sad end to that post was only the beginning of this story.

Her story.

I thought I knew her story. She’d told me so many personal things. Things she’d never told anyone else. Not even her therapist. I don’t know why she told me all this shit. These horrors.

These unbelievable fucking horrors.

She said I was “safe.” And safety truly meant something to her. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

So when she was discharged from the Anorexia Ward, I offered her a place to stay. She’d been having trouble at home. Purging . . . again. She was in distress and spiraling quickly.

She’d only been out a week.

But then, she hadn’t really been ready to come home in the first place. I’d said previously that the anorexia ward was a place designed to keep people in. They don’t let you out.

Unless your insurance won’t pay anymore, that is.

Then they kick your ass right the fuck out. She was on a feeding tube until the very last hour. Everyone knew she was ill, but they sent her on her merry way nonetheless. See ya! It was probably for the best though. They never did a thing for her.

Except “up” her meds.

That’s what they call ‘em . . . meds. Because “drugs” just doesn’t sound so good. But that’s what they are . . . drugs. Every bit as addictive as crack. And people kill themselves with this shit all the time.

It makes me fucking sick.

So that’s where we were. She’d been staying with me for a few weeks – I’d “fattened” her up. She was always so comfortable eating around me. I guess it comes back to that “safe” thing again.

So I took advantage of it.

There I was, in my new baking job, bringing home bread and pastries and cookies everyday. Foods she couldn’t resist. Fattening foods.

I knew what I was doing.

But if you’d seen her when she got out you’d understand. She was a fleshless shaking wisp. A corpse. So weak. So frail. Nothing but sorrow on her bones.

So I fattened her up real nice.

She gained weight. She gained strength. She gained vigor. She even stopped shaking. Everything seemed to be going so well. I thought things were going to be fine after she left to go home. I thought she’d finally turned the corner.

I was so fucking wrong.

And I guess that’s where this story really begins. You see, this is the part that haunts me. The part I can’t understand. Or just don’t want to understand. I wish I could forget it. But I can’t. I remember it too clearly . . .

I remember the phone call from the unidentified phone number.

I didn’t answer.

I remember checking the message a half hour later.

It was her therapist. She called me because there was no one else she could call. She’d seen my friend that morning and was worried because my friend told her she just wanted to “go home and go to sleep.”

I guess therapists are bound by certain rules and regulations. She’d had to get permission to call me with her concerns.

And I’d let the call go straight to my voicemail . . .

“Please call me when you get this message.”

Fuck.

I didn’t call her. I called my friend’s home. No one answered.

Fuck.

I called her cell. It just rang and rang.

FUCK!

Then . . . “hmmm?”

Her voice was so week and muffled. I barely understood her.

”Are you OK?”

“Hmmm . . . fine . . . sleeeepinggg . . .”

“What’s going on?!”

“Mmmm . . . fine . . .”

She was so fucking out of it. I didn’t know what to think. Did I just wake her from a med induced sleep? Or did she OD? I couldn’t tell. So I pressed and pressed. Finally she told me . . .

“Tennn Klonnopinnn . . .”

My heart sank.

“Annd tennn Bennnadryl . . . I think . . .“

Oh God.

I didn’t find out about the gin until later. It’s a good thing. I was panicky enough.

“Jesus. What did you do? What the fuck did you do?!”

“I jusss wannnna sleeeeep . . .”

She was becoming nonresponsive. I was losing her. What the fuck do you do? I wanted to keep her on the line. Keep her awake. Keep her alive. But I had to call 911. So that’s what I told her.

“I’m going to hang up and call 911. Just stay awake. Don’t go to sleep! The paramedics will be there soon.”

Or something like that. I don’t remember exactly. By that point I was in my own little world. Lost. But I had to get my shit together and call her family.

Later that evening, in the hospital, they told us that she probably took even more pills than she’d said. And she’d downed ‘em with gin. Gin that I’d bought for us. Gin we’d drunk together. The very same bottle of gin we were drinking when I came up with this post. When we’d come up with that post, I should say. Sittin’ there, sippin’ away. Gin and tonic . . . our “summer drink of choice.”

Fucking hell.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve got the Midas touch . . . but instead of gold, whatever I touch turns to rot.

Ah, for fuck’s sake. I guess I’m still a little lost when I think back on these things. I don’t know how to feel. Or what to think. I’m glad she’s alive. I’m glad her family didn’t get the call that starts off, “I’m so sorry, but . . .  are you sitting down?“

I’m glad for second chances.

Or third, or fourth, or whatever the fuck she’s on now.

I’m just glad she’s still a part of our lives.

So they sent her back to the Anorexia Ward for another stay – as if that was gonna help anything. She just lost more weight while she was there. Thank god her insurance only covers a three week stay . . . otherwise she’d be back to skin and bones at the rate she was going.

Now she’s staying with me again. Because I’m “safe.” And my little red barn is a “healing” environment, as her therapist would say. She can visit the cows in the field out front, or go for a short walk to see the horses nearby. And she loves to feed the chickens . . . and so they love her. They come running around every time they see her.

She’s been here for awhile now, but she’ll be leaving soon.

She’s gonna enter some program that’s supposed to help her. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or some shit. I hope it works. I truly do.

Because when I look to the future, despite myself, I fear what lies ahead . . . what may still come. More pain. More sorrow.

And regret.

So much regret.

I pray I’m wrong.

– Trevor

Thanks to my close friend for giving me permission to publish this piece. Stay well . . . 

(Original photo by Amanda M. Hatfield @ flikr)
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Comments

  1. Christ. I’m so sorry to hear and I hope that things will be a lot better now. I understand why you had to disappear for a while while you prioritized her well-being over all else.

    You’re a great friend, Trevor, and I can only hope there are tons and tons of others just like you who are willing to drop everything to make sure their friends in need are taken care of.

    Best of luck to both you and her. I can’t say I’ve ever been depressed before, so I can’t even imagine what was torturing her inside.

    • Thanks Vincent. As much as I know about some of the shit’s that’s happened to her, I’m sure there’s much more that she’s never told me. So I can’t really imagine it either. Don’t think I’d want to really. I’m horrified enough as it is. I just hope she’s able to get a grip on things and live as normal a life as she possibly can. It’s amazing how different perspectives can be — I want anything BUT a normal life, while a normal life is a dream to her.

  2. Yes, Trevor, thank you to your friend who let you publish this so that other’s too may heal. I so hope that for her. I have heard very good things about cognitive behavioral therapy. The only self-helpy books I read lately are written by Albert Ellis, the founder of REBT (rational emotive behavioral therapy, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy).

    While medications can be helpful, and I was on Klonopin after my reaction to Levaquin (a “simple” antibiotic). The problem is, it is a major tranquilizer, so I had to very carefully decrease it to get off it a few years ago. Not easy. But, if it’s a matter of life and death, I would choose life. I am so glad the therapist and your friend have you. I would imagine that your barn would be the perfect place for recovery.

    I completely understand your absence from online “stuff,” but I just wanted to let you know we missed you. All positive thoughts for you and your friend – from TX to VT.

    • Thanks for all your support Tammy. It means a lot to me. It’s always nice to know you’ve been missed.

      I’m surprised to hear that your doctors replaced an antibiotic with Klonopin — a tranquilizer, like you say. Especially considering that it’s so addictive. Not to mention the nasty side effects. It must’ve been hard to ween yourself off that stuff . . . it’s powerful, to say the least.

      As for the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, I’ve heard pretty good things about it as well. I checked out the program she’ll be attending and it seems pretty intense. But so long as she’s able to throw herself into the work, I do think that it’ll help. Here’s hoping, anyway . . .

  3. Wow, tough stuff here, Trevor. I’m sorry to hear/see this post, but I am glad your freind is still around. I’m also glad to see you blogging again.

  4. Hey Trevor,
    I’m sorry to hear about your friend.
    If it sheds any light on the situation, I, at one time, suffered from eating disorders and lived in deep, deep depression for many years.
    You’re being a great friend to her and she’s lucky to have one on you.

    I’m no counselor, nor guru…but a combination of relief (your friendship, laughter, anything that brings her peace and joy in any way) in combination with a willingness on her part to rise above her past will help.
    The willingness will be the key to everything.
    Cognitive therapy, from what I know about it, is designed to offer tools and coping skills to help deal with the ‘reality’ playing out in the mind. It may help her to either seek out or listen to teachings of people who have dealt with similar situations as she is now.

    I’ll send her (and you) thoughts of peace and well-being :)

    • Thank you Dana. I’m glad to hear that you’ve been there yourself and were able to come back so strong. I hope she’s able to do the same. I think the willingness is there, she just needs the right support network. I do what I can, but she needs more than just what I can offer. I do think learning some coping skills will go a long way for her though. It’s just gonna take time.

  5. Damn Trevor. This was a heart wrenching post, but I’m glad you were able to share this with the world.

    People need to hear about these things. Even if this just reaches one person who suffers from anorexia, it will be worth it.

    Keep laying down the hard truths man and I wish your friend the best with her recovery.

  6. Holy Crap! That’s scary. I remember that post you wrote about earlier so it’s disheartening to read that this is going on. My hear goes out to you and your friend.

    You’re a great friend for being there. There needs to be more people out there in the world like you.

    I wish you and your friend luck in the future with this. I hope she eventually finds her way and works past these problems. I don’t want to see another post like this in the future.

    • I appreciate that Steve. I’m hoping I don’t have to write another post like this in the future myself. I really am. But there’s never any real clear cut resolution to this kinda thing — even if she learns to cope with things better than she has, she’ll still be dealing with all these issues for the rest of her life. There’s no cure for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as far as I’m aware.

      And you certainly can’t erase memories or change the past.

      So we’ll just take it day by day and hopefully she’ll be able to reclaim as much of her life as possible.

  7. That’s a really powerful piece dude. Great writing and harrowing content.

    I hope everything works out for the best here and your friend can find some inner peace with herself.

    A former band mate of mine took his own life a couple of months ago, and while I hadn’t seen him in over 7 years it still shook me up a bit. You just don’t expect the people you know to do that kinda thing, it’s always someone else’s friend and family member, never our own..

    • Thanks Jamie. You’re right, we never expect the people in our own lives to do this kinda thing. It’s just something that happens on the TV, right?

      Unfortunately, that ain’t always the case.

      I can imagine how difficult it must’ve been to hear of your old band mate’s suicide. I’m sorry to hear it. Sometimes this shit just really hits home.

  8. Heavy stuff Trevor. I’m glad she’s got you at least. No surprise your barn is a healing environment – you seem totally capable of accepting people for what they are, scars, defense mechanisms, and all. That buffer means a lot. Besides that being with family is seriously hard even for people with relatively few issues… if any of those exist.

    I wish I had a magic wand to make it all better, but I’m sure you do too. Or maybe a magic loaf of bread. The platitude I use for myself is that all the shit in life is lessons from the universe, and they will make us wiser and more compassionate, eventually. Not saying it helps everything. That’s just what I’ve got in my basket, so to speak.

    I hope she heals. And I hope you find the right food for your soul too, so you can keep everyone else’s head above water.

    • Thank you Morgan. I appreciate that. A magic loaf of bread does sound pretty good right about now.

      I’m kinda like you . . . I like to think that all the shit happens for a reason, and that one day we’ll be stronger for it. Sometimes though, all the shit is just too much for some people to take. And that’s unfortunate . . . that’s when suicide happens.

      Thankfully my friend has been doing well and she’s just now on her 2nd day of her new program. I’m hoping she’ll be one of the ones who become stronger for all this.

  9. I can understand why you don’t know what to think or feel. When something like this happens, autopilot is the only way to get through it – to see straight and do what’s necessary – like you did.

    But now that the experience has moved on, what are you feeling about it?

    A friend of mine suffered from anorexia and depression for years. Her experience was born out of a lack of control over her life. Her need to gain back control manifested itself in the anorexia. The cognitive therapy will help your friend understand why she does this to herself, and give her a way to deal with it.

    When your friend gets health back, and is living the normal life she wants to live, she’ll have you to thank for keeping her alive, Trevor. Most people wish they had people like you in their lives – and she does.

    - Razwana

    • That means a lot to me Raz. Thank you.

      Now that I’ve had a bit more time to process it all, I’m feeling sad that it ever even came to this. The signs were all there, but all of us missed them ’til the very end. They say that these things are usually cries for help. I’d like to think that’s what it was. But I guess I’ll never know for sure.

      Your friends issues seem to be similar to mine. Hers also stem from a lack of control. The more she feels that she has no say over her life, the more she engages in self-harming behavior to take back some control. But in reality, that’s when she’s most out of control.

      I hope she is able to live a normal life. One day.

  10. Just read your article Trevor. Damn, i’m so sorry to hear what you’ve been through. It takes a lot of guts to share it in public on your blog. I hope everything’s ok now from your end.

    I have a friend who’s been clinically depressed for years and I sometimes worry that he’ll do something stupid. So I try and give the guy pep talks as much as I can t help him back on his 2 feet again.

    You’re an awesome guy Trev. There’s only a few people I know that are willing to be there for their friends during tough times. Most of them are only there when thing’s are on a high and usually stick around because it benefits them in some way.

    • Thanks Onder. This lady is practically family to me — I can’t imagine not being there for her. But that said, it’s still been a difficult time. Putting it all out there on my blog is actually therapeutic for me. Some people go to a therapist, I write shit. Some gets published, some doesn’t. But simply writing it out helps.

      I hope your friend is able to move past his difficulties someday. Unfortunately, you may have to listen very carefully to his words to make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid. If he starts talking about wishing he could just stay asleep, or wanting it all to just go away, then put him in touch with a suicide counselor ASAP.

      Good luck.

  11. Each and everyone come across tough phase in life. But should not this kind of harsh decision. Just pray god to give enough energy to overcome that phase.

  12. Hey Trevor,

    First time commenter here, and all I can say is wow.

    Sounds like you’ve been through way too much in the last 3-4 months but it’s great to hear the happy ending that the story is currently at and that you’ve managed to be the rock she has needed to keep pushing on and trying to get help!

    I’ll admit I stumbled upon your blog a couple months ago but figured you had moved on based on no new posts since July and wanted to say how enjoyable it was going through all the archives!

    Glad you’re back and can totally understand your reasoning behind your absence!

    All the best mate for yourself and your friend, may she have a long and effective recovery!

    Cheers

    • Thanks Jackson! I appreciate the feedback, and the kind wishes. And I’m glad you stuck around anyway and perused through my archives. I knew I was gonna lose a lot of readers during my long absence, but I figured that’s a fairly minor thing when compared to other shit. It’s always nice to hear when someone stuck around.

      Cheers!

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