Please allow me to preface this with a disclaimer. Love is not easy, nor should it be. We love who we love, often without choice. Our hearts tend to choose, and our minds and bodies follow. That being said, the following piece is in no way meant to undermine mental health issues, nor am I looking to make myself sound like a victim. Truth is, it was a diseased, passionate, broken love, and I chose to stay as long as I did.
Also, despite whatever this may sound like, the love between us, albeit very twisted, was also very much real. The fine print being, so was her depression. This girl had a sadness in her I would wish upon no one, and if you knew her story, you would know her sadness (though not her actions) were oft justified. But this time, I am telling my version. For as much as her sadness was palpable, putting someone you love through the constant sickening fear that you will kill yourself is abusive, even if that threat of death is real.
I slept lighter than she did, which was usually the case; The amount of antipsychotic meds she ingested into her small frame every night would be essentially render her comatose for eight to twelve hours at a time. But there was something different about her breathing this time. I could hear her struggling, barely taking full breaths in her sleep. I was a little concerned, so I rolled her from the position she usually slept (facing away), and this is when the true terror of the situation hit me like a hammer to the back of the skull.
She had dried vomit all around her mouth and was unresponsive, moaning out vowels that made no sense. Littered on the floor around the bed were five or six empty pill bottles. I fought down the urge to vomit from the hopelessness I felt. My girlfriend was going to die in my bed.
Frantically, I dialed 9-11 and babbled insanely about what was happening. From there I brought her into the bathroom and jammed my fingers down her throat until she started vomiting. A sea of black bile and the white foam from the pills cascaded over my hand and into the toilet. Her skin was gray, and her head was bobbing around like a doll’s head that wasn’t secured to the body. A night in hell you ask? Yes. But also just another night dating someone who is suicidal.
I wanted to scream, to ask her why she would do this, to ask why she would make it so I found her body. But the reality was, she was diseased (as depression is very much considered a disease in the same way cancer is) from the minute I met her. The real problem stemmed from my own constant desire to fix that problem. Quick heads up to save yourself the time and struggle I endured. Only those people can save themselves, but when we love them enough, we try, and I tried. But at the time, I didn’t know, and goddammit was I fighting to keep this girl alive. But I was holding a rag doll that was barely hanging on. I could feel her slipping.
My rage turned to tears as the cops arrived and began strapping her on the table. Though she had said nothing to me up to that moment as to why she did this, when the EMT’s asked, and until the day I die I will never forget this moment, she mustered all the energy in her body to point at me and say she did it to hurt me. A woman who could barely speak looked up and in a frail, drugged out voice, simply said “him”, while pointing a shaky finger at me. As emo as it may sound, a part of my heart died in that moment. No one deserves that, and I certainly didn’t at the time. But again, she was not well at the time and that needs to be understood (though it took me years).
The only one who had been there this whole time to help her and pick her up from the ground and save her. Yes, I am sure you can imagine how tall I felt in that moment. Like I said, welcome to the life of dating someone suicidal. This is not some fun shit you see as a side plot in an indie film. These are real people, and loving them and trying to help them can be a trial by fire for both parties. I can understand the depression is exhausting on their soul, but it is exhausting on yours as well.
But I know what most of you must be thinking: You didn’t have red flags before that? The problem is, I did. I was just too stupid to observe them. I guess I didn’t want to be a boyfriend. I wanted to either be a victim or be a fucking superhero. In hindsight, my bad. So before we go on with you thinking I am callously talking about some girl who took her life in my bed, you are wrong. With the help of some charcoal, she survived that night. But as many people know (or don’t), if you attempt to take your life in America they tell you that you have two options:
- You can go to jail because it is illegal.
- You can spend time in a hospital.
Most people pick option two as it seems the lesser of two evils. Keep in mind, for the boyfriend, this just means he will be driving hours to an institution to visit daily the girl who just wanted to mentally ruin him. Let that sink in for a moment. There is a point when you snap and realize YOU are a part of the circle and it will never end unless you end it. It is self perpetuating.
The more you give attention to the act, the more they will perpetrate it. It will only end when they no longer have an audience. That is why I snapped and walked away. I loved her, but she was not only killing herself but slowly killing me too.
But when the other person is heavy in the head or sad in the soul, you are scared to end it because you convince yourself that you WILL be the fatal blow that finally pushes them over the edge (even though they have clearly lived over the edge years before you and will continue to years after). If you love them, you stay. You stand on the edge with them. Yes, she was the victim of her own sadness, and I was there for that. But I was a victim of it too, and it took me a long time to understand that. We were both brought to the edge by that love.
Another time we were driving over the Tobin Bridge in Charlestown with her. Traffic slowed and then stopped. Immediately she opens my door and begins running to leap off the bridge. I slam my car into park and Dukes of Hazzard over the hood. The car behind me is honking, not because we need to move but because they seem to be aware that I am chasing after a girl who is going to jump off a bridge and they somehow think honking is not making the situation even more terrifying. Keep in mind, all anyone saw at that point was a dude tackle a girl into the ground on the side of a bridge. So yes, cops came, and they treated me like a woman beater. You may not think yourself suicidal, but when you have cops yelling at you moments after you just saved someone’s life, that made that leap off of the fucking bridge suddenly seem very appealing for a few seconds, Luckily I pushed it aside and mustered on.
“We were just playing around, I ran for the bridge and he chased me. It was my fault, officers,” she says, laughing it off.
I was relieved she backed me out of the corner, but I was also shocked at how much she undermined the severity of the moment. She couldn’t be charged and I was let go because, well Jesus, I was the fucking hero. What were they going to put me away for, saving someone’s life? So now I know what you’re thinking. Why would I stay? This is where things get more complex.
The problem that happens if you are a morally good person and you begin dating someone you find out is depressed or suicidal is you don’t just want to up and leave them. You feel like that is abandoning someone. You feel like that is cowardly shit, ducking out when someone needs you most.
But the problem is, it’s a vicious cycle, and the innocent partner factors in. For as long as you react and get scared and baby them, they will continue because they feed off your reaction. They know when they freak out you will run to them, so like a baby, they hypothetically never stop crying to ensure the parents never leave the room at night. So as much as I believed I was saving her, the reality in hindsight is, I was giving her the fuel and attention she needed to keep that shit up.
You ever walk in on your significant other slicing their own wrists? Probably not, and I can tell you, it’s twice as awful as it sounds. It cripples your own confidence so you begin to think you are driving this action. Now THAT is an abusive relationship. See, what I didn’t tell you was that a year before meeting her, my best friend killed himself by lighting himself on fire. Yes, death tends to surround me. It took me years to realize Suicidal Samantha (not her real name but my God, what a fit if she were in the X-Men) was literally choosing to abuse me using former wounds, and knew because of my history with it that I wouldn’t just walk away.It was only when realizing that very fact that I finally walked away. She would scream at me:
“This time I’ll do it! It will be your fault! Everyone will know!”
This time I looked at her and said, “Honey, good luck.”
I didn’t mean I hope you do it. I didn’t mean good luck I hope you die this time. I literally meant it. I wished her good luck. Her life seemed like some self-imposed agony. Good luck with that shit, because I won’t be around to buffer it anymore.
So you ready for the big twist ending that all people who have been in this same scenario already know? She is still alive. Thankfully for all involved, she stopped trying to take her life once she realized no one was actually paying attention or would be there to catch her or stop her anymore. And to think, I may have been the enabler the whole time. Sort of blows the mind.
And one final note. Before you condemn me, the girl was fine. Like “Angelina Jolie” in her prime fine. Even with slashed wrists, we can be shallow beasts, and beauty like that can be very hard to walk away from.
And that, my friends, is why you run away from it as soon as you see it.