365 days ago, I spent the last of a quiet evening with my friend Kyle, discussing small sundries, and said good night to him as he left my room. As I lay there, contemplating the enormous cost I was about to impose on my fellow Ontarians, I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt. My life was already going pretty crappily, I admit: I had lost my part time job precisely 2 weeks before my injury, and it was becoming obvious that I didn't have enough money saved for another year of tuition, but that was the first time I ever felt guilty for existing. It was a new kind of suicidality (for me, anyway.) Most of my attempts in the past spawned out of a sense of inconquerable frustration, fear of the future, or an overwhelming sense of regret at past mistakes; but as I said, this time was different.
I had quietly, emotionlessly, and (so I thought) contentedly wrote a brief (three page) note, and resolved to consume all the tylenol, aspirin, and painkillers in my room and the bathroom, and did so without any second-guessing. Within about half an hour or so, my stomach started to rumble, but I wasn't concerned or fearful, I was at peace. I decided to smoke a bowl and let the THC quiet my stomach and put me to sleep.
The next morning (Monday, March 16, 2009) I woke in quite a different state. I was covered in my own vomit (which was neon yellow due to the just-add-water Gatorade I had been drinking the night before), and I felt more coming. As I scrambled for my crutches, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My eyes were totally bloodshot (and surprisingly wide, considering I had just woken up), my lips were purple, and my face was red. I couldn't keep my mouth closed, my lower lip hung lazily off my jaw.
For a moment, I had felt an overwhelming rush of excitement: I had finally done it! After all these weak-ass attempts at suicide, I had finally taken the action that would kill me! I'm not sure how long I'll have to go through this puking, but before St. Patrick's Day I'll finally be dead!
But as I stood, suspended by my crutches over the toilet, reality set in. Wait, this was the day they scheduled my pre-op. My mom's driving into town to take me to the hospital, she's going to be the one to discover my corpse. More guilt, not like the kind I had felt the night previous, but a new kind, began to rush over me. This was the kind of guilt one feels when one leaves a terrible mess for someone else to clean up. I didn't know what to do. I wanted to go out to the yard, and hide, but I was barely able to get up those stairs using my crutches before, I knew I wouldn't be able to in my drug-addled state.
More guilt. And then even more.
Finally, I was pushed to make a phone call. I dialed my mom's number, and asked if she could arrive sooner, as I was not feeling well. She told me she still had to get some things ready, but would leave as soon as she could. I called my sister at work, told her I wasn't feeling good; I held back tears, but I couldn't tell her that I thought I was going to die by my own hand. She told me she was really busy at work, but would come by during her lunch break.
As more fluorescent vomit flowed from my innards, the guilt started to turn into regret. Not the suicidal regret that pushed me close to the edge in the past, but regret at what I let my own depression do to me.
You see, I had been diagnosed with depression as a teenager, and prescribed SSRIs to combat it. I never told my mom I didn't take the stuff, that I sold it to the kids in my school; and I only acted like I was feeling better about myself; while setting in motion the idea that if I keep on doing shitty things to myself, and putting myself in intractable situations, eventually circumstance would force me to kill myself.
As the paramedics stumbled into my smoke-filled room (my sister decided to call me an ambulance after getting off the phone with me, and I had decided to smoke more weed), I snapped back to the present. I was barely conscious at this point, but I remember them calling me "Mister Barbieri", which to me was really weird. I hadn't heard those words for over a decade, and the last time I did was when the doctors were futilly trying to bring my dad back to a state of consciousness. (The painkillers they gave him were so strong, his ability to communicate devolved to a slurred, and barely-audible Italian.) They asked me if I was okay and what was wrong. I swallowed some vomit, and told them that I had consumed a couple hundred pills, and was hoping to be dead before sunset. They brought in the stretcher and one of those oxygen-nostril things, strapped me in and hooked me up, and took me to the ambulance.
On the ride to Mt. Sinai, we encountered a large group of Tamil (and Tamil-sympathizing) protesters, staging a demonstration against the Sri Lankan government's destruction of the last of the Tamil Tiger strongholds (and, presumably human rights violations.)
Having realized she could do nothing without running blood tests, the paramedic decided to interrogate me.
Why did I want to die?
What was so bad about living?
What did I think my family would say?
Wouldn't this hurt any people who were close to me?
I was barely coherent at this point. I had vomited over a dozen times, and I was just too weak. She won the contest, instead of justifying my decisions, all I could say was "yes, I realize now how big a mistake this was. I'm sorry to have drawn you in." (Or at least that's what I thought I said, but who knows really.)
I remember feeling really cold before regaining consciousness, I remember seeing the strain in my sister's and mother's faces, and the silent, stoic anger in Jeff's. (Jeff's my future brother-in-law), and I remember the doctor, with his thick Russian accent, and ridiculously colourful pants, telling me that I had only sustained minor liver damage. At that point, all I wanted to do was go to Toronto Western, and do my pre-op.
The funny thing is, two days later, after having surgery, and deciding (yet again) that I didn't want to die, my blood pressure went up severely, and nearly died due to the tylenol and aspirin mixing adversely with the painkillers I had been given post-op. My decision to attempt suicide could have killed me twice! Needless to say, I'm starting to realize what a waste of time and effort such endeavours are, and am focusing my resources in more productive channels.
Anyways, that was a really long-winded note and it didn't really go anywhere. I just thought that the following poem needed some better context. I wrote this poem while recovering from surgery, as I contemplated the thoughts that had dominated my mind for the eleven or so years up to that point. I posted it here shortly thereafter, but no one really got it. I didn't expect you to, because I don't either. Anyways, the reason why I'm reposting it is because it's an anniversary of sorts, and because it's no longer up here. (I deleted all my blog posts up to that point when I got my new job back in december.)
Mercy, or the rape of Entropy
Compositions with black outlines
compartmentalize our world
Awaken and pull the ceiling inward
Awareness is its own gravitation
Eschatology, pre-written eulogies
Escapism is the gilt road
Beneath the potential energy of the world itself
Benefactors exploiting beneficiaries
Universes in hands
Unity zeroed in arms
Teetotalers of experience
Teetering on edges
Warmth our dividend
Fumbling with the keys to the bomb shelter
Furtive, listening for the penultimate note
Nests mistaken for turrets
Necessities and renumeration
Solipsis as thesis
Sold on annihilation