Or “The day after your child attempts suicide”
Or, more accurately – the day our lives shattered.
It happened a few months ago. I can’t tell you how we got there. That’s part of the problem. We knew Fergie was angry – she had become violent a week before. We picked her up from the hospital, dropped her off at her Nanna’s house with her old bottle of pills (they just doubled the dosage so i told Nanna to just give her two pills that day and I’d get a refill the next day before picking her up.) and headed for a marriage retreat my husband and I had booked months before and desperately needed. We picked her up the next day from Nanna’s house, and by the time we were halfway home, I could tell she was angry. In fact, that day I made a safety plan with some friends in case she attacked me the next morning when it was just her and I at the house. She asked me in the van as we drove if she was in trouble. We talked about consequences for attacking me (she was grounded from electronics for a few days or something) and my requirement that before she could be ungrounded, she write/draw/talk about what had made her attack me in the first place. We stopped at the pharmacy for her new prescription, and locked it in the lock box when we got home like good parents do. When we got home, she went to her room and was going to do what I asked. I also reminded her to unpack her bag from Nanna’s house. The evening didn’t seem remarkable… she had some trouble going to sleep, but then seemed to be fighting sleep. She said she was dizzy at one point, and so I took her BP (she has high blood pressure) and it was fine. She settled down and again fought sleep. At that point I felt like something was wrong and began to pray. Finally I settled down to sleep.
At 4:30AM I woke up to someone knocking on the door. I ignored it, but it came again.
It was Fergie. Dressed in think pajamas with a hood. I flipped out, per protocol when disasters occur before I am appropriately rested and caffeinated. I asked where she had been, etc… as she went to her room. She was not particularly forthcoming so I had her just go to bed. And then she said something that changed our lives forever.
She admitted to taking the old pills, which were in her bag from Nanna’s house. I flipped out. Panicked. Rushed her to the ER, where we stayed for hours on end. While there I begged her to tell me why, yelled for her to tell me why… I never got any answers. I still don’t have answers.
She told me why she left the house – several different reasons, actually. That day she said at one point she had a nightmare and saw a dark figure, and left the house to get away from it. Weeks later, out of the blue she told me that she had a whole list of things that I would do if I loved her and didn’t… I’d be more kind, etc… and so she left to go out on her own and make her own life. I have no idea if either are the truth. I’m not sure I would know the truth if I heard it.
She never told me why she took the pills.
The next days were surreal, as Fergie went into a hospital for mental health care. They were a blur of anger and hatred at myself – did I really suck so badly that my daughter would rather die than be with me? What had I done? It was all my fault.
Then we began to pick up the pieces and prepare for her to come home. But how? How do you EVER feel safe again when something like this has happened? How do you ever sleep again at night, knowing that out of the blue your daughter might take her own life, or sneak out of the house and roam the streets of your city, alone, for what totaled 4 and a half hours?!
You go through the motions of making her safer. You look through your house… you take the obvious things and lock them up – since she had taken pills to OD, all of our over the counter meds went in a locked cabinet, from tylenol to itch cream. All the things one could hang themselves with had to go – scarves, belts, ribbons, etc. And then you walk through your house, looking for anything your child could use to harm herself… and it hits you… missing one item could result in your child’s death. Do you lock up the forks? The butter knives? Are hangers okay? You take the razors out of the bathroom, but if she really wants to die will she eat your husband’s shaving lotion? Is that toxic? You take out the craft supplies that look especially sinister, but if she is determined enough you know she could slit her wrists by biting herself until she bled to death, so is there really any point?
The day after your child attempts suicide, you learn how powerless you truly are, and you learn that your life will never be the same again.