Today is the 11th of April 2014 and it is a really significant date for me – why? Because, on the 11th of April 2008 I took an overdose. An overdose that was not a ‘cry for help’. An overdose that was fully intended to make me sleep, and never wake up. Ever. Again.
Sometimes I can really accurately describe the feelings of darkness and desperation that had consumed life and overwhelmed my mind. And some days I can’t. Sometimes I can write down, talk through or speak out the thoughts that were running through my head in the time leading up to that day, the heavy heart and the pain I was in, but sometimes I can’t, like tonight – I simply cannot find the words that could adequately express just how bad it was. I’m not sure there are any.
My mind, and my body, battered and bruised from years and years of heartache and trauma could not take any more.
I remember it very clearly. I remember leaving my flat and walking to the bridge just around the corner. And I sat on the bench by the phone box for a few hours. Eating pills. One box after another. I had several bottles of spirits which I drank until I started to feel whoozy. And I walked from that place, the 3 minutes it took to get home saying sorry to God. For being a failure. For being a coward. For being a screw up. For being a mess. For being this wreck of a person who could only see one way out.
I was really really angry with God. Because I blamed Him. Because I was being told that God is good, and would do nothing to cause harm to His children. And that He ordains all things to happen so good can come of them. And I was angry, because my head was telling me this meant that God had orchestrated the abuse. He had orchestrated the violence. And the rape. So ‘good could come of it’. And that was not a God I wanted anything to do with. My favourite name for Him at that time was ‘sadistic nazi bastard’. Something I screamed at Him time after time. But yet, still, as I walked back to my flat, at the same time as my anger with Him was a deep sense of having gotten something really very wrong when it came to God and understanding Him. So as I walked that walk home, I said sorry, sorry for what I was about to do, sorry for not being brave enough to let my mum know, sorry for … everything. Because I was to blame too.
And so, I got home, and smoked. Ate more pills. Drank more vodka. And whiskey. And ate more pills. Until I needed to lie down. And then I just kept eating them – until I slept.
And I slept.
Until I woke up. In hospital. And how that happened is a whole other story in itself – but had it not been for the person who just happened to be passing my house (they usually drove a different route home) and thought to check on me I would not be writing this blog now.
So that was it – 11th April 2008 – 6 years ago.
The last few years I’ve been able to recognise this date, and celebrate ‘being alive’. And its always emotional because for the first few years after not dying I was devastated. I was angry with myself, and the feelings of failure I was already feeling were even more intense than before, because I could not even manage to kill myself properly. And I was still alive. And I didn’t want to be.
But for the last few years, especially the last 3, the last 3 times I’ve seen the 11th of April come around its been a different story.
As the 11th of April has come along, it has become a time of celebration. A day of celebrating ‘being alive’. And being glad to be alive.
The most important words – being glad to be.
Because there were times when I was alive, just, breathing, just but I was not happy about it. But now I’m breathing, alive, and glad!
And as the calander years pass over and I mark this day, a sense of gladness and thankfulness is the running theme.
Because I am glad to be alive. I’m truly thankful to still be here.
This afternoon, after I finished work I drove back to the bridge (I live somewhere else now) and sat there for an hour, listening to music, watching the water, and the life pass by. And remembering that day, 6 years ago. But also remembering some of the events of the last 6 years too. Some of the life giving moments that have given me hope. Life giving people that arrived in my life, shortly after, who, despite distance have kept me going. And people who, like my housemate and best friend have seen me through.
As I sat tonight by the bridge, I realised why today, this year, this 6 year mark is so much different than any other year. Why it feels so much more emotional than ever before. And my memory went back to last year, October the 31st, when I had the most serious asthma attack my body has had to cope with (I was only diagnosed with asthma about 2 years ago, but its been pretty dramatic since). On the 31st of October, as they were talking about moving me to intensive care, and ventilating me, I was overcome with the seriousness of the situation. I was getting tired. My oxygen levels were continuing to worsen, and my heart rate continuing to increase because of the drugs they were giving me. I was told by the Consultant I was in a dangerous place.
I needed someone to pray with but I didn’t know who to call to ask to come from my church, I had not been there that long, and if they even could because I live a good 1/2 hour away from it. So I texted a friend who also happens to be a priest. Not expecting him to be free at all, but he turned up, 10 minutes later. And as I cried, and he prayed I realised that possibly death was closer than I wanted it to be. I had spent years dreaming of how to kill myself, and living with suicidal thoughts, but a few years later having moved on from those thoughts of wanting to die here I was close to dying BUT I didn’t to … I really really didn’t want to die.
It hit me, lying in that bed, praying, being so poorly, that I did not want to die. And yet it was entirely possible that I might.
I’ve been incredibly physically poorly over the last 18 months. And especially so in the last 6 months. More poorly than I ever thought you could be. And yet, whilst battling all this physical ill health, with several complex things going on, one of the most overwhelming things I’ve been realising through it all is that actually, I am alive and have a life and I DONT WANT TO DIE.
I DO NOT WANT TO DIE.
Coinciding with being so poorly has been landing on the doorstep of a new church, and the start of a new journey with God – that has and is tough at times, but also life giving. And is continuing to make me realise I do not want to die any more.
I want to live. I want to continue moving forwards. I want to continue the journey that has been started of healing, and restoration. Its been painful, but breakthroughs are happening. And I’m in no doubt that there will be some more painful times to come, but I’m living in and with hope that life will be different. Can be different. IS DIFFERENT.
Life is so very different to this day 6 years ago, I could be here all night telling you how. But trust me, it is.
And I am so thankful and I am so glad to be alive.
I took an overdose 6 years ago, but today 6 years on
I AM GLAD TO BE ALIVE.
Helen, thank you for sharing. So moving on so many levels. What I write here seems inadequate, but wanted to thank you for telling some of your story.
bless ya, thank you Amy for taking the time to read and respond. Appreciate it.
Thank you for being so incredibly honest.
thanks for taking the time to read Tricia x
Your struggles will be such strength for others. What a blessing you are, and how God loves you so incredibly much.
Thanks Amanda for taking the time to comment. Bless ya.
I’m glad you’re alive too.