By Amani Omejer
Apr 20, 2017
CW: description of a suicide attempt
On 19th April 2012, I overdosed whilst living in San Francisco. I had just had a therapy session, in which my and my therapist signed a “suicide contract” — one that said I agreed to calling her if I was feeling like I was going to do something. Just 2 nights before that session I had almost overdosed — I sat in the dunes on my favourite beach, with handfuls of pills, and almost took them all… But I didn’t. Instead, I headed home with them jingling around in my bag.
I remember waking up a few times that night in sudden panic. It was like my instinct was shouting at me that I was going to take them… I felt like I urgently needed to find someone and give them the pills right there and then, at 3am, to stop me taking them. But I didn’t… The idea of asking for help and telling a friend exactly how I was feeling, felt way more scary than the idea of actually acting on my feelings of wanting to end living.
After the session we signed the contract in, I walked out and up the the street — I remember noticing a difference, because I always skateboarded to the beach/woods/home after our sessions, but this time I carried my skateboard and walked.
I walked up the road to the supermarket. I went in and bought a big pot of Tylenol, and what I thought would be my last meal - an avocado and something else I loved, but can’t remember now what it was. I walked to Golden Gate park and found a thick patch of trees. I wrote a note to my dear sister and my gorgeous friends. I folded it up and put in the journal in my bag, and then took handfuls and handfuls of pills. I lay underneath a tree, waiting for death to come take me.
But instead, 10 minutes later, as my stomach was starting to catch alight and burn, I found myself digging my phone out of my bag and calling my therapist. She was in session so it went straight to her voicemail. I hung up and called 911. It was the weirdest and most out-of-body experience I have ever had — I was desperately trying to stop myself calling, I knew I didn’t want this, but I couldn’t stop. In my head I was yelling, “stop!”, but my hand kept dialling, and my mouth kept talking… It was as though the part of me desperate to live had taken charge and was calling for help…
I felt swamped with fear, embarrassment, shame, and confusion, as I spoke to the woman on the phone. “But I don’t have insurance,” I kept saying, over and over again (my insurance had run out a week before, but it turns out it wouldn’t have covered “self-injury” anyway). “I think that’s the least of your worries, love,” she sweetly said.
I wasn’t easily accessible where I was, so — whilst on the phone to the operator — I had to get up and try and find some kind of landmark to walk to, to meet the emergency services. I spotted a sign for the Rose Garden, so I walked down the small hill to that.
I remember seeing the fire engine coming down the road as I walked, and felt myself desperately cringe. “The ambulance and police are on their way,” the operator told me. Receiving attention and a “fuss” in public like that is literally my worst nightmare. I hate it. But the world had started to spin, and I could barely stand, so I couldn’t get to sucked in by these feelings. I had to keep walking…
I remember all the people walking past me on the sidewalk as the fire engine drove to meet me. It felt totally surreal — they had no idea what I had just done and how many pills I had swirling round inside my belly. To them I looked fine, but to me the world was getting blurrier and blurrier. I was about to collapse. As soon as the ambulance arrived, I did.
I remember feeling so, so, alone and scared in a sea of emergency staff rushing around me. “Boyfriend troubles?” one of the policemen said, trying to be sympathetic. “No,” I said, and shook my head. “I fucking wish it was just boyfriend troubles,” I responded silently in my head.
I felt heavy with dread — I was now going to have to deal with life after what I just did. I wanted the ground to swallow me up.
We had started to drive to hospital. Hearing the ambulance staff speaking with Poisons Unit was so surreal. The whole thing was. With panic in their faces, they desperately tried to work out how many pills I had taken — they guessed 140.
What followed this was a nauseating blur of trauma and intensity, still too painful to share. But as well as it being traumatic as fuck, it was also the beginning of a new life.
That day changed everything.
Since my attempt I have been writing and telling my story of what took me to that place and my experience of life afterwards. I often wonder where I would be without drawing, writing, and the online community.
Last year I started Living With Suicide — a project intended on offers a space for people to share what life is like after a suicide attempt and/or their experiences of living with suicidal thoughts and feelings. You can buy our first zine here. It is a beautiful collection of words, illustrations, poems, and photographs.
I hope it can remind you that you are not alone.