This is my narration of some suicidal thoughts I had and as a result, spent a weekend in detox. I tried to give an as accurate account as possible and capture some concrete examples of what I was feeling.
I thought about using this experience as a framework for a fiction story instead of this narration, but decided against it for now. I may redo the narration and embellish it with some fictitious accounts to make it more dramatic, but probably not — that would make for bad fiction — the reader would most likely hear the lies.
So, read this as a factual narration. Some dramatic elements are present, such as; my thoughts of killing myself, putting a rifle in my mouth, I was sent to a detox facility, and I kept the situation from my wife.
The narration is still in progress, this may be a bit of risk to publish prematurely being much editing needs to be done, but I wanted to publish it to get feed back as I went along and hopefully attract more readers to my blog. I will make announcements with each update.
I am sitting in a dark bar parking lot, it’s closing time and I am heading home. But, before going home I wanted to test something — the most non-brutal way I can put this is: I wanted to see what the logistics of shooting my self with my rifle were. I had always thought I would have to pull the trigger with my toe, or it would be a stretch for me to reach it, but to my surprise it wasn’t difficult at all. As I dried fired the rifle (no rounds in the weapon) in my mouth, easily reaching the trigger, my next thought was “too easy”, which I said aloud as well.
I have had many suicidal thoughts in my life, but this…this is as far as I have gone — to actually make a plan, to feel the cold steel against the roof of my mouth, the black metal pushed against my teeth, imagining the percussion of the shot and the projectile traveling through my head into my brain. I spiraled into more thoughts of the end. I loaded a magazine with twenty rounds and snapped it into the weapon. I let the bolt slam a round into the chamber. I cleared it causing the round to fly from the rifle into the seat of my truck — picking up the round I roll it between my fingers, feeling the cool steel and appreciating its destructive powers. I perform this ritual in the parking lot for the next half-hour and decided to go home.
I arrive home and my wife and children are asleep. I can’t wake my wife, I didn’t want to worry her. I try calling some friends, but being so late no one answered. My heart sank, of course there is no one to talk to, I wanted anybody, someone to talk some sense into me, but I can’t worry my wife, I don’t want to bring upon her the stress of the situation. I will get help with this, she will know nothing and life would carry on as normal. Since I can’t find no one else I Google “suicide prevention hotline” (results here) and went to this site. I call the first number listed and am greeted with a friendly automated voice informing me I will be connected shortly. I think of how tragic it would be if a suicidal person called, ready to do the deed, and they killed themselves while on hold with the suicide prevention hotline.
I should make mention of how much I had been drinking (which is not very much, for my tolerance), I had two pints before going to the bar and four more there. What was I doing at the bar? I am not sure, I felt a need to drink.
After being connected with the Boy’s Town Crisis Hotline (determined by the 1-800 number, my guess is by my geographical location, or maybe just the next available counselor) I speak with a very pleasant lady who seems genuinely concerned for my well-being. I tell her what I had been doing (the rifle in my mouth and drinking). She makes some generic comments on how suicide is not the answer and my wife and family would be devastated. I know all of these things, I just wanted to talk. She is persistent in persuading me to give her contact information for my therapist and the local hospital. I am reluctant at first, I just wanted to talk, I am beyond hurting myself now. But, being she is aware I have been drinking and a rifle was involved, she did not want any blood on her hands and saw it as her duty to get me immediate assistance.
With her persistence the counselor is able to coax me into giving her the numbers for the therapist I had been seeing and the number for the local hospital. She has her supervisor contact theses numbers while she kept me on the line. Next she tells me her supervisor was able to find someone at the local hospital and they will be contacting me shortly. I hang up the phone with her. I am in the kitchen because my cellphone is charging in an outlet, I disconnect with the hotline, slide down the kitchen cabinet, and crack open another beer. In my hands I am holding a picture, it fell from the drawer the phone book was in when I grabbed it to look up the numbers the counselor had asked for. The picture is of me and my wife, from early on when we had first met. We both have large smiles, showing our teeth, and the side of her face is pressed into mine as we pose for the picture, we are happy.
Enter the State’s Loving Embrace
My phone rings ten minutes after hanging up with the hotline. I answer and it is the police. The officer asks me to come out of my house and look left, he will be waiting for me at the end of the block. I acknowledge his request, hang up, and pull myself to my feet. I grumble something to the affect of oh shit and step out my side door. I turn to walk in the direction the officer and I see three squad cars waiting at the end of the block. Next a blinding spot light is turned on me, I see two silhouettes coming out of the beam of light and an officer camped in the shadows across the street with his hand on his holster, I see they are expecting the worst, but they are the police and have seen the worst. I raise my hands to show I am unarmed and one of the officers calls out “No, no, that’s fine you can put your hands down.” The officer informs me he had received a call from the suicide prevention hotline and a gun is involved. He next tells me he is putting me under a seventy-two hour hold for my own safety and he would have to confiscate the weapon for now.
I feel indifferent, but I am concerned he will wake my wife by going into the house looking for my rifle, so I ask if its alright for me to show them where the rifle is. He said I can show him as long as I agree to be handcuffed first, I give another groan and agree to be handcuffed. I lead them into the house listening for any movement upstairs where my family is sleeping and hear nothing. I take them into the basement where I had cased the rifle and put it into its normal spot. One of the officers grabs it and we leave the house. Still handcuffed I am put into the back of a squad car and taken to the ER. On the way the officer driving gives me his words of advice to the affect, its not worth it and things always work out in the end, I suppose what most people would say in that cliche moment.
We arrive at the ER, I step out of the squad car and the lieutenant, who called me and confronted outside my house, apologizes for the handcuffs and removes them. I am greeted by a nurse with tired eyes and she checks me into the ER. I am again informed by someone behind a desk that I am under a seventy-two hour hold and given a piece of paper stating this. Next I am brought into a small room where my vitals are taken and I am made to blow into a breathalyzer, I blow a .108, legally drunk, but not very high.
After my vitals are taken I am told to remove my clothing which is then searched by the lieutenant, I make a comment “Never can be too careful, after all you don’t know me from Adam.” The lieutenant chuckles in agreement while looking through my pockets. A nurse brings in some blue scrubs. The lieutenant finishes up the search and he sits down to talk with me, by this time we have established a friendly relationship. Trying out some dark humor (probably inappropriate for the moment) I ask him if a .223 round would easily penetrate my breast plate. He shakes his head and says I have been dwelling on it too much. He finishes talking with me by giving me his number and the names of some guys in the evidence room who will be holding my rifle. He tells me to contact him directly next time something like this happens and he leaves.
Get You Help Buddy
I am left in a room with a love seat upholstered in a vinyl type material, made for easy cleanup of bodily fluids, and a recliner of the same material. The walls have an assortment of plastered over holes and scuff marks. I deduct I am in a holding room for the drunk and or belligerent. At this point I am not sure what the plan is for me, I ask the little nurse with the tired eyes how much longer I will be in this room, she tells me probably about another forty minutes. I ask to go pee, she says good because they need a urine sample. I am handed a piss cup and I do my business and fill the cup. I head back to the room and settle in for the wait…waiting for what? While I wait I think “I can leave right? I don’t have to be here.” But, I know I can’t leave I am now in care of the state under a mandatory seventy-two hour hold because I may be a danger to myself or others. My anxiety creeps up, so I lay down on the love seat to rest. As soon as I lay down a nurse enters and offers me a pillow and blanket, I initially decline, but she persists and I relent.
I cover myself, pulling the blanket over my head to block out the light and my exhaustion overtakes me immediately. Next I awaken to a female’s voice calling to me, she is shaking me and I think she is saying “Sir, sir, wake up.” I quickly rise to a sitting position and wipe the sleep from my eyes, I ask what’s going on and she says they are here to take me to a nearby city. At this point I identify her as an EMT, she is also there with two other EMTs. A dark Somalian and a little female with short cropped hair. I ask “Why are we going to the city?”
The EMT who shook me awake responds “To get you help buddy.”
I am compelled to follow, I am in custody, I am the state’s child. I shuffle out after the EMTs in my blue scrubs, a size too big, holding the waist band in one hand and load myself into the ambulance. Before leaving I was able to glance at a clock and saw that it was 7:17, the lieutenant is now telling my wife what has happened. I had asked him to notify my wife at seven o’clock so she could sleep through the night. I climb into the back of the ambulance and told to lay on the stretcher. I am strapped in and offered a blanket and pillow, I decline. I fold my arms and fix my gaze on the medical supplies to my right. The supplies are enclosed by plexiglass and a clear reflection of the rear window is cast upon the glass. I focus on this reflection for the whole ride and at times forget I am looking into the glass and think I am staring out the rear window. I am slowly becoming more and more pissed with the whole situation, thinking all of this is going to cost me an arm and fucking leg.
We take to the freeway, the tires wail, we pass cars, and I fixate on the glass. My arms are folded tight against my chest and my brow is furrowed. I resent I will be paying for this ride. I wonder if the others we pass can see me, I see a couple talking as we pass them, they overtake us, and we pass them again, nobody wants to get in the way of an ambulance. The disconnected IV tube sways and clanks against the steel stand. We arrive. The drive way is steep and the ambulance slows to make the incline without bottoming out. We are at what I can make out to be a typical mental health facility: single storied, beige colored, many windows, shaped as an “L” or “U”.
Sleepy Ayn Rand
With my scrubs I was given blue sock as well, they are thick with a heavy tread. The socks are warm and provide ample cushion. The female EMT who shook me awake offers to let me out the side of the ambulance because it would be easier on feet, but I didn’t noticed any discomfort entering through the back when we left. I exit out the side anyhow because she opened the door preemptively. I am now looking at a door with a big white “2” stenciled on it, we are buzzed in. The EMTs fade away as I enter a room with a big boned social worker. She is young, pretty and empathetic. She asks me some intake questions and has me blow into a breathalyzer again, I blow a .025 — obviously alcohol still in my system, but just barely. Another social worker assists her with my intake and checks in my clothes and wallet. During my intake the social looked through my paperwork and recognized detox may not be the best place for me, being my situation was more about mental health issues and not as so much drug related. She asked me some questions about if I knew I was coming to the detox center, I told her I did not. She confides in me, from my town, this is a common story. Many times people that may not belong in detox are sent to the center without their knowledge they will be going to a detox facility instead of a more suitable facility for their condition.
I ask to call my wife, after she finishes the intake paper work she moves the phone to the front of her desk. I am anxious and nervous when dialing my wife’s cellphone number. She answers with a gentle anticipation in her voice, “Hello?”
“Hey what’s up?” I grumble lowly, a type of weariness, but nonchalantly to affect humor.
“You tell me.”
“I was drinking and thought about killing myself with my rifle.”
“Well, I am glad you didn’t do it.” She says with firmness asserting her sincerity.
“I suppose….they drove me here in an ambulance. It’s gonna cost us an arm and fucking leg.” I grumble and put weight on my crude cliche.
“I suppose you could just cut your losses.” I mutter, knowing the idiocy of the words.
“I suppose you could just cut your losses.” This time finishing the sentence with a quiver to my voice.
“Of what? this marriage? Don’t be stupid.”
By this time I am really crying, I mean crying, a couple tears splash on the desk and I shield my eyes to hide from the social worker sitting but three feet across from me. I haven’t cried in so long, the knots bound within my body unwind for a short time, it was a small piece of euphoria. I blubber an apology to my wife and tell her to stay home because I will be in the detox center at least the rest of that day. I hang up telling her I love her and will call her with any updates.
After my intake process is done the social worker takes me around the center. I get to see the others for the first time, my blue scrubs grab some lazy stares from those who are awake. All of the furniture big enough to sleep on has a white lump attached to it — a detox patient draped in a standard issued white hospital blanket made of thin cotton. She takes me to a room and says this is were I will be staying, my name is printed on piece of masking tape stuck over a number on one side of the door, on the other side over another number is another piece of tape.
I see my roommate. He is tucked beneath his covers and he looks out at me. His red hair is buzzed short and I can see he is wearing a flannel shirt. He follows me with his curious eyes as I look at my bed. After being shown the facility and seeing my roommate my blue attire seems out of place, so I ask for my clothes. The social worker apologetically answers my request and fetches my clothes. Once I have my clothes I take them and go to my room past my tucked in roommate. I stand off in his blind spot and take off my scrubs and put back on my clothes, minus my normal socks and shoes — no shoes allowed for detox patients.
I leave my room and enter into the first day room. The detox center is divided into two day rooms. The one day room I am currently in is where all the sleeping quarters are placed along the three outside walls. Each sleeping quarter has its own door, two beds, a window, and two wardrobes at the head of each bed bolted to the wall. The two day rooms are separated by a main control room in which attendants sit twenty-four hours. The control room has a monitor connected to a surveillance system and has windows on its three sides to clearly see the entire center. Going from the one day room with the sleeping quarters to the other, you pass in front of the control room and enter into an open kitchen. The kitchen has vending machines, two refrigerators, cabinets, public-building-brown tile, and a sink. Saltines, bread, plastic utensils, and packets of peanut butter and jelly are readily available at all times. The kitchen opens into the other day room equipped with a TV in the corner surrounded by two love seats upholstered in plastic material. Beyond the loveseats are three or four small tables with chairs at each. Against the walls are small bookshelves with games and books. The books I remember are the Bible, several volumes of The Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, various books on the Alcoholics Anonymous program, and The Art of Fiction by Ayn Rand.
The Art of Fiction I found in the day room with the sleeping quarters, on a book shelf against one of the external walls of the control room. After I had changed and explored the center I found the shelf and the book, I was excited to find something I was interested in. I took the book in hand and drifted toward the kitchen where I met a older looking young lady. She was dressed as the other social workers in neat causal clothes: jeans, long shirt, and hoody. I thought I saw some kind badge fixed upon her right breast. Her face had defined creases betraying her age, but her demeanor told of youth and vigor — she had me confused.
I remember asking her “So, what happens now.” I had immediately surrendered to her my trust, figuring she was staff and could bring me some clarity about my situation. She began to explain to me I would probably be there for the rest of the day and night and would most likely be released Sunday. She began to probe me for questions as to why I was in detox. I gave her the story of how I had suicidal thoughts. After feeling satisfied with the information I had extracted from her I moved back to my room and rolled into my bed.
I must make mention of my physical state. I was battling a sickness that I noticed descended upon me shortly arriving at detox. My sinus where clogged, my head stuffed, my throat ached, and fatigued lingered in all my actions. All these symptoms culminated into a very lethargic state, I only had energy to do a little at a time. I would read for a bit then become very drowsy and fall into comatose state, not waking for meals or phone calls from the outside, I think this state proved beneficial for my stay at detox, keeping me from being idle and passing my time quickly. The moments I did find myself alone I nearly drove myself into a rage — if not for me sickness weighing upon me, I may have done something severely stupid.
I lay in my bed upon the the bleached sheets and the thin vinyl mattress with intentions to read my book. But, I surrender to my fatigued, a behavior learned with my age, and turn upon my side and embrace sleep.