Saturday, September 10, 2016

The day I almost killed myself

I woke up on a Tuesday morning, late August 2013.  I went straight to my purse (where I stored hid my pills).  I opened the bottle and saw that there were only a few left.  Where in the world had they gone?  Surely I hadn't taken that many.  Well, I guess I would have to try to make them last until my script could be refilled.  I could do that.  Couldn't I?  Turns out I couldn't.  I took all three of the remaining pills by early afternoon.  I would figure something out later.  I had to get myself together because I was leading worship and co-leading the Women's Chemical Dependency Group at Celebrate Recovery that night.  Yeah, I know.

I went to group that night, and I noticed a girl and her mother.  The daughter was newly clean and she just had a sparkle in her eye.  She had what I didn't.  Sobriety.  Happiness.  Freedom.  I watched her and thought to myself that I would love to be like her, but that was too far out of my grasp to even reach for.  I got home, took a handful of Benadryl to knock myself out, and went to sleep.

I woke up the next morning feeling wretched.  Not even twenty-four hours and I was already going through withdrawals.  I spent the day feeling miserable.  Unable to lift myself off the couch, head pounding, blurry vision, body aches, runny nose, muscle cramps, restless legs, stomach a mess.  And it would only get worse.  The time ticked away slowly.  I knew that I could get my script filled the next day.  It wasn't technically time for it to be refilled, but I knew that the state law was that when 75% of a prescription had been consumed, it could be refilled.  Little did they know I had taken 75% of the script within the first few days.  (On a side note, one time I didn't even remember taking them and opened the bottle to find more than half had disappeared in a day.  I even called the pharmacy telling them that they had shorted me or that someone there was stealing.  Crazy). Anyway, I simply just tried to make it through the rest of the day, taking large amounts of Benadryl and muscle relaxers.  I got pretty desperate.  I tore through the medicine cabinet, looking in all the boxes for something.  Anything.  I went to my closet and started pulling out my purses.  Maybe one had fallen out and would be in the bottom among the gum wrappers.  No such luck.  I got a wild idea that maybe my old medicine box that was still in boxes in the garage would have something in it.  (I knew that it wouldn't, but my crazy drug-fiending mind had to be certain).  I went into the garage and wreaked havoc upon everything in there.  I threw boxes around, digging through them to find pills.  I grabbed a box of nails from one of the boxes and threw them.  They spilled all over the floor, but I did not care.  At the bottom of the storage totes, I finally found the old medicine box.  I ripped off the lid and dug through it.  And you know what it held?  Antibiotic....after antibiotic....after antibiotic.  I guess I never finished the medicine I really needed.  Ironic.

That night, I tried to go to sleep.  No matter what I took, I couldn't fall asleep.  I kept kicking my restless legs around, slamming them down on the couch and shaking them to try to get that feeling to go away.  I laid and sweated....then got cold chills....then sweated....then got cold chills.  I felt like death.  Around 5am, I finally drifted off to sleep.  I woke up a couple of hours later.  I think anticipation is the only thing that got my eyes open and my feet on the ground.  Today was the day that I could get more pills...legally.  I grabbed the pill bottle and dialed the pharmacy number.  I entered all of my information.  The robot on the other end told me that my prescription could not be filled.  I got online and tried to do it.  Same thing.  Then, I read the front of the bottle.  What?!  My doctor had somehow cut my dosage in half and I hadn't even realized it.  He must have caught on to what I was doing.  I threw the bottle down and leaned over the kitchen counter crying.  I had no clue what I would do.  I was a "virtuous drug addict" (ha!) meaning I didn't buy pills off the street.

I made my husband help me get the kids up and out the door.  He had no clue what was going on.  I drove them out the long, winding, country highway we lived on to school.  I rolled the window down as they got out and yelled, "Bye!  Have a great day!  I love you!"  I pulled out of the school parking lot and into the gas station right across the street.  I just sat there and tried to figure out what to do. Maybe I would call the dentist and tell them I was still having pain....from the dental surgery....I had a year ago.  Nope, wouldn't work.  I exhausted every idea and I decided I would just go try to buy them from someone.  I didn't even know where to start, but I would figure it out.

I pulled out of the gas station and suddenly came up with a different plan.  I would cause myself to wreck.  Semi trucks drove out this road all the time, at high speeds.  I would just swerve into one.  I could not live like this any longer.  My life had become a living hell, and I no longer wanted to be a part of it.  My family wasn't even on my mind at the time.  I just wanted out of this life.  I started driving, and a semi came.  I didn't move from my lane.  I couldn't do it.  Maybe the next one. Couldn't do it either.  I got closer to home and I saw another big truck approaching me.  I knew that it was now or never.  I felt a rage inside of me, and I knew for sure I would do it this time.  If it didn't kill me, then I would at least sustain injuries bad enough to hospitalize me, and I would surely get strong IV pain meds.  My hands clenched the wheel and the courage rose within me.  I started to move the wheel, and I heard a voice.  It was not audible, but I knew it wasn't mine.  I had heard people say that before, and I called "bull crap" on it.  But, I was certain something, or someone, was speaking to me.  It was so powerful that I had to listen to it and I knew then that God was not finished with me yet and that I had to call someone to get help.  I went straight home and did just that.  I came clean that I had relapsed.  I confessed to my husband.  The next three weeks were pure torture, but I somehow made it through.  I ended up relapsing later on, but that's a different part of my story.

People often make the statement that they don't understand why drug addicts don't/can't just stop using.  Withdrawals are one of the reasons.  They are miserable.  They are uncontrollable.  They are vicious and unrelenting.  Sometimes we don't make it through them before we have to pick up again. Even when we consider the idea of getting clean, the fear of withdrawal often stops us from our strongest attempt.

Addiction is evil.  It is deceptive, powerful, cunning.  It makes us sick.  It almost made me take my own life.  But, recovery has given me my own life back.  It is freeing, honest, powerful, and forgiving.  It makes us well.  

My life is so different now.  I don't have to take things to help me fall asleep to avoid the misery.  I don't wake up in the morning looking for my next fix.  I don't spend my days digging through closets and garages trying to find a two-year old pill.  I fall asleep every night, peacefully, with no shame or regrets.  I get myself and my kids ready every morning and I drop them off at school.  I still roll down the window and my youngest ALWAYS gives me a good-bye kiss.  I yell "I love you" out the window, and I drive away.  And I smile to myself.  Because I have so many reasons to live.  Because my hope now is to live until I'm at least eighty.  To see my kids graduate.  To be there for their weddings and the births of their children.  To live life passionately until my time comes.  Because even on the bad days, life is so beautiful that I don't want to do anything but live it.

Today, September 10th, 2016, is World Suicide Prevention Day.

Speak up.
Speak out.
Break the stigma.
Break the silence.