Check out my essay “77 Pills” on Vessel Press. Content warning for suicide and self harm.
Thirty klonopin, twenty two advil, eighteen buspar, and seven cymbalta, washed down with half a bottle of nail polish remover.
As I raised the first handful of pills to my mouth, angry, puckered scabs glared at me from the inside of my left forearm, as if to say, “Finally.” As if to say, “Took you long enough.”
It took me four gulps to get seventy seven pills down my throat. I mixed the nail polish remover with some water, plugged my nose and chugged. I figured it was a good enough substitute for bleach. I sat down in my dorm room desk chair, popped in my headphones, started watching Blue Is the Warmest Color on my laptop. I began painting my nails fluorescent yellow. I was always painting my nails back then—an attempt to keep myself from anxiously gnawing them off. I don’t know if I ever finished. Four years later and I don’t know if I will ever be finished.
“It took me four gulps to get seventy seven pills down my throat.”
At some point, I stopped remembering things. I remember Tabitha begging me to tell her my address, begging me to let her call the police from three hours away. I remember how none of my clothes were folded—depression: a gatekeeper preventing me from accomplishing anything. I remember the bags of Heath candy bars I had stuffed inside my desk, wrappers littering every drawer, the fat that had gathered around my hips. I remember not caring about any of it. I remember feeling like I was embracing Death as an old friend, the only friend who ever truly knew me.
I have flashes of Chuchu coming home, asking me why my face was so red. I have flashes of Austin slamming his door in my face, fed up with my cries for help. I have flashes of calling 911 at Chuchu’s insistence, telling them I needed help but didn’t want it. I have flashes of paramedics asking me to recite what I took, steadying me as I tried to sit down in the dorm’s hallway. I have flashes of Monica’s perfume in the intake room. I have flashes of Darren sitting on my hospital bed, rubbing my hands, worry heavy on his brow.
I don’t remember how I got there.
I don’t remember if they told me I’d be okay.
I don’t remember if I told them I didn’t want to be okay.
I’d been through this once before, at 15 years old, advil downed in a high school bathroom, the pain too heavy to move through. I panicked, told a teacher, who called my parents. But now, I was 19 years old, living alone in a different state than my family, nine long hours separating us. I didn’t let anyone call my parents for two days. I didn’t want to be saved. I didn’t want there to be any rescuing this time.
I lost four days of my life. Four days; like someone opened a window and they slipped out, unnoticed. I have about a minute’s worth of memories that span the days I spent in a cardiac wing while my heart slowed, no longer trying to outrun my mind. Darren says he sat with me for three hours every day, but I only have ten seconds worth of memory to tell me he was even there. When I came to, I tried to call Austin. He told me he never wanted to speak to me again. So much for that ring he bought me.
“I lost four days of my life. Four days; like someone opened a window and they slipped out, unnoticed.”
I noticed the stench permeating the small room, which I later realized was coming from my body, as I wasn’t allowed to walk, so I hadn’t showered and I’d been using a bed pan. I noted the bruises on the inside of my arm, the inside of my wrist, and the IV that had finally been able to nestle itself in the back of my right hand. (I’ve never had good veins.) I called work, told them I wouldn’t be coming in. I didn’t tell them about the pills. My mom, who I don’t remember calling, tried to set up the newest episode of The Walking Dead for me to watch, but I was so tired. So we slept.
On the fifth day, they moved me to a psych ward. I had a roommate who I don’t remember. I remember the exhaustion weighing down my limbs with every step. I remember my mom helping me shower, the washcloth gently grazing my skin, both of us too fatigued to care about the nakedness. I remember how clean the sheets felt when I climbed into bed and succumbed to darkness. I remember sleeping so deeply, not even Austin could have woken me.
“…both of us too fatigued to care about the nakedness.”
It’s four years later and I don’t think about dying anymore. I think about running away, changing my name, shaving my head, shedding all the parts of myself I don’t like. But, I like my heart beating; my lungs filling; my neurons firing.
I don’t want to destroy this body anymore. It’s four years later and I still don’t remember those four days. I wish I could remember Austin’s face when he finally shut the door on us. I wish I could remember the phone call to my parents—if I was the one to make it—if anyone told them how sorry I was. I wish I could remember how I was kept alive—seventy seven pills trying to putrefy my stomach.
It troubles me that I don’t remember, but I’m trying to be okay with it, in the same way that I’m okay with my scars and I’m okay with my history.
Maybe it’s better not remembering.