Tag Archives: attempted suicide

When the Stillness Comes

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Nighttime depresses me. That’s when the demons come out. Don’t say that around the kids, my wife tells me. I don’t. I whisper it to her after they have gone to bed.

But she doesn’t understand. That’s why she is downstairs watching old reruns of Friends and I am upstairs in a dark room, praying that God will let Satan and his demons come after me. If you’re gonna let them come after me, then let them come; I’m tired of my life, I tell God.

Then a thought drifts through my bleak mind: A person in a third-world country would give an arm and a leg to have what I have. A good job. A nice house. A healthy family. Parents who love me. Et cetera.

But, what “normal” people (like my wife) don’t understand is that it’s all meaningless without a sound mind.

Again I tell God to turn the demons loose on me. Let them devour me once and for all. A dark, quiet room would normally freak me out, but the air feels almost tranquil right now. Almost like the night that I put myself to sleep with pills and tequila, never expecting to wake again.

“Who else do we turn to?” St. Peter asks Jesus in the Gospel of John. “You alone have the words of eternal life.”

In the Psalms, King David laments again and again; he always seems to find comfort in the Lord, though.

Lately that comfort escapes me.

My new psychiatrist (the first one I’ve visited since January) put me on a slew of new pills that leave me irritable and groggy. Just doing my basic job at work takes everything I’ve got. Other teachers have fun and are so relaxed and easygoing.

It must be nice.

I pray that I can be like that. I have prayed daily for that. But I’m getting tired.

So tired.

As I end this post, the coyotes (real ones; not ones in my mind) begin howling. They will howl throughout the night, signaling the darkness of night that I fear.

~t

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Court: My Purgatory on Earth

 

This was my first court date since January.

January!

Even after reading countless news stories and John Grisham novels, I never cease from being astonished at how slowly the system operates. It’s been well over a year, and I’m still in the “pretrial” phase. Ridiculous.

After briefly meeting with my lawyer after my January court appearance, I never heard back from her. In fact, I have called and emailed her office multiple times since then, and most of those times I never received a reply.

Finally, the day before my recent July 16 court date, I emailed her. I wanted to say something like, I paid you $4,000, and you don’t even return my phone calls?! However, I’m glad I didn’t; my stepfather used to work for the district attorney in his hometown, and he said if I make my lawyer angry, then she could very well lose my case on purpose.

Wow.

The lawyer responded and blamed the slow process on the county psych ward for not releasing my records. Why the lawyer didn’t bother to tell me this before, I have no idea.

My latest court date was routine. I waited for the courtroom doors to open at 9:00am, and then I went in and grabbed a front-row seat. I figured if I had to be there, I would at least keep myself entertained by observing the three-ring circus known as county criminal court.

An inmate from the jail across the street sneaked in with a sheriff through a door beside the judge. Interestingly, I had never noticed the door before; it had a big square window and no handle from the inside. The inmate, a thin African-American guy with matted hair and a full beard, was dressed in a baggy dark green jumpsuit. He stood like a statue. I thought he was in handcuffs until he scratched his nose.

I didn’t see it, but apparently the inmate was suddenly removed through that back door. There was some commotion, and then his distraught lawyer came back in. He and the judge whispered to each other for about 5 minutes. The judge slowly ran her fingers through her hair. “He always does this,” she said as the lawyer stormed out of court.

Next, a young hipster in business casual pled guilty to the charge of obstruction of a highway. For the uninitiated, this misdemeanor usually stems from an initial DWI and is pled down to the vague “obstruction of a highway.”  He received 30 days’ probation and was told to pay $900 in court costs!

Dang.

When my lawyer mentioned I would have to pay court costs if we lost our case, I was thinking more of a $40 service charge or something.

Anyway, starting to get bored, I looked at the clock.

11:00?!

I had been waiting for my blasted lawyer for two hours?! I went out in the hallway and called her office. A secretary said something about the lawyer having to defend a case in city court at the last minute. In other words, she became too busy to help me.

The court secretary confirmed this news to me when I went back in.

“Am I free to go now?” I asked.

“Unless you want to take me out to lunch.”

I gave her a placating smile and left. It could be worse, I thought.

It could be a lot worse.

~t

 


Another Court Date

I just got back from another court date. The pre-trials are over. All they consisted of were my showing up, saying “here” when my name was called by the judge, and my lawyer speaking with me for 60 seconds to say we wouldn’t accept yet another plea deal.

If you’re new to this blog, you can get caught up to speed here.

Today was the first date of the actual trial; however, the procedures were exactly the same as the multiple pre-trials that I have attended. My first thought was, I guess my lawyer made a mistake. This is just another check-in. So, I took a seat in the courtroom and watched as individuals approached the judge one by one with their lawyers.

All of the seats toward the back are taken first, so I usually sit in the front of the courtroom. It works out well, though; I can hear each case being tried right before me.

Today, one stood out in particular. A young man was charged with assault for the fifth time in four years. It breaks my heart to witness things like this, but I have to watch. For me, it’s a lesson in what not to do; the same reason I’m addicted to gritty prison documentaries.

It was evident from the proceedings that the young man had no intention of turning his life around. It’s an extremely difficult thing to do, so I will be praying for him.

This time, the man was charged with assault on an elderly person. The judge always speaks at normal volume while the defendants respond as softly as possible. From what the judge said, the young man seems to assault only women and the elderly. While she was lecturing him on his anger problem, the judge suddenly stopped and said, “So now you’re angry at me?” I don’t think it was a coincidence that a third Sheriff suddenly appeared from a rear door.

The defendant works only three days a week at a nightclub. Alcohol was involved in each of his assaults, yet he chose to seek employment at a bar (the judge’s words). This is a big reason why I gave up drinking. I’m not saying it’s “evil” per se, but I’ve seen nothing good come from alcohol. In the Bible, Paul tells Timothy to drink some wine to help with his stomach problems, so I believe it’s okay when consumed in moderation.

I’ll never touch the stuff again because, although no alcohol was found in my bloodstream after my accident, it was still a factor that led to my DWI charge. Plus, it’s a depressant, and I sure as heck don’t need any help feeling depressed.

By the way, the young man was ordered to attend anger management classes, to get his GED, and to serve ten days in jail. What about the alcohol part?? I thought.

My lawyer came running through the doors like she usually does, spoke briefly with the court assistant, and then motioned for me to talk with her outside the courtroom.

“The expert witness isn’t ready, so you’re free to go!” she said before walking away.

“Wait,” I called after her. What in the world just happened? For $4,000, I expected a little more information from my lawyer.

Apparently, the expert witness, a medical doctor who had analyzed my blood sample after my accident, wasn’t prepared for whatever reason. Without him, the trial would have to be postponed . My lawyer had no idea when the next court date would be. No surprise there.

Even though I never intended  to operate my vehicle with a bloodstream full of Xanax, what’s done is done. I can make excuses like, “This shouldn’t have even happened,” or “My blood alcohol content was 0.00%,” but it wouldn’t do any good.

Intent or not, recollection or not, I have to face the consequences. It could be worse, I tell myself as I think of the financial costs that have been adding up since spring. I could have taken an innocent life. Someone’s son. Daughter. Mother. Father. My own life.

Thank you, Lord. I am a nervous wreck right now, but thank you for sticking with me through the thick and thin.

~t

(photo by Topaz)


The Consequences of Surviving a Suicide Attempt

People commit suicide because it’s a way out. A way out of the gloom that has encased them. They see it as a way to finally achieve peace; little do they realize that they leave behind family, friends, and other loved ones who have to carry on with the enormous amount of grief weighing on their hearts.

Being a way out is the reason why I attempted to end my life last summer. Had I been successful (and I still don’t see how I wasn’t), it would have put an end to my suffering — or so I believed. But who’s to say the afterlife doesn’t have its share of problems? Hmm. Maybe it depends on which afterlife to which one goes.

Individuals who are trapped in their mental illness don’t/can’t stop and say, “Hey, what if I don’t die? Will I be paralyzed? Will I suffer permanent brain damage? Will I be hooked up to feeding tubes, my brain a worthless vegetable?”

When I was being checked in to my first mental hospital, the nurse and I began to chit-chat. Normally I don’t like to make small talk; it’s a waste of time. However, she brought up a topic that immediately drew me in. “You know,” she began while filling out the first of numerous pages of forms, “you’re lucky.”

“And why is that?” I asked bitterly. I was ticked off that I was still on planet Earth.

“Well, because some people live through their suicide attempts.”

“Really.” I didn’t ask in a typical shocked or interested tone; it was more like a response to her telling me what she had to eat for dinner the night before.

She began to tell me about a young man, a former patient at the same hospital, who shot himself in the temple and actually lived. The bullet passed through his head, somewhere between his brain and his eyes. It missed his brain but severed some nerve systems leading to his eyes. He was perfectly normal except for permanent blindness.

She said that another person at the county hospital (where I was initially taken) survived after jumping off a five-story building. He was in pretty bad shape, as you can imagine, with permanent damage to his back and legs.

She proceeded to explain why I was so fortunate: I didn’t have any lasting damage (at least at that time I didn’t; the overdose may have affected my memory and so forth).

So, to summarize a bit, it basically sucks to live through a suicide attempt because most people suffer physical and other lasting injuries.

However, at the time I didn’t know, but I wasn’t off the hook.

Luckily my parents helped my wife and me pay off the thousands of dollars in hospital, ambulance, and “miscellaneous” (i.e. doctor visits, blood work) bills. Psychiatrists and medication that they dispense are not free: They cost a lot. As do therapists.

My paid-off car was damaged beyond any hope of repair, so we suddenly had a car payment again. Plus, my insurance went up. Way up.

After the horrible accident which I don’t even remember having, the police mailed back my driver’s license without a single note attached.

I was finally free!

Months went by, and as each one passed, I prayed hard. Six months after the accident, still no word from the police. Lawyers began telling me: You’re in the clear. Nothing to worry about. Go on about your life. It’s all behind you.

Nine months after the accident, nine months, I received an ominous envelope in the mail one day from the police department. My first thought was that I had run a red light and one of those intersection cameras caught me.

I opened it and almost fainted: It was a warrant for my arrest.

“Why did it take nine months for them to send me this?!” I remember yelling to my wife. For crying out loud, they even told me my blood alcohol content was 0.00% after the accident.

So, it was not the end of the story; in fact, there were quite a few more long chapters that I had failed to notice.

I turned myself in and was booked like a common criminal, including the infamous mugshot and fingerprinting. I had to scramble to get a bail bondsman and pay the 20% which turned out to be $200.

Then I had to get a lawyer who charged $4,500 whether we would win or lose the case.

Then I had to start missing work due to psychiatrist appointments, counseling appointments, and court dates. The first several court dates were pretty much a joke: I had to be in the court with a bunch of other offenders for roll call, and then, one by one (i.e. whenever the lawyers got around to it) the lawyers would saunter in. Some would appear with their clients in front of the judge, and others, like mine, would take us out into the hallway and tell us the lowdown before releasing us.

By the way, if you have read any John Grisham novels or have seen the movies, um: He doesn’t embellish a whole lot. I would say not at all.

The lawyers that walk in and out of county criminal courts are the most eccentric, goofy-looking lot. Okay, okay, some look and act normally (like mine of course), but, but…

I know this is Texas, but do some of them have to wear their ten-gallon hats to court? Some lawyers look like they wear the same suit day after day, and others don’t seem to own any hair brushes or combs (or soap).

I swear, one guy came stumbling in, a small black bag in his hand, and almost tripped over some of the benches. His eyes were bloodshot, matching nicely with the color of his face. Yep, he turned out to be a lawyer.

Anyway, it’s a circus in the court on any given day. People milling about the spectator area, conducting business, while the judge hears cases at the same time. The second time I went to court, I made sure to get a seat in the very front row right behind the rail.

This is so embarrassing for the defendants, I thought as the judge heard cases while the circus was in full swing all around her.

Another thing I was surprised to witness was that the judge carried on emotionally and admonished the defendants like a drill sergeant mother, not that much differently than Judge Judy and all those other reality show court programs. Who would have thought?

Today I was actually glad that my lawyer was running three hours late because I got to witness several cases. The first one was a 40-something man who got his second DWI conviction. The judge had no mercy on him because, for some reason, he hadn’t even bothered to start an AA program that he was supposed to. Plus it was his second DWI charge in two months, bumping it up to a class B misdemeanor (that means hello jail and goodbye driver’s license).

Another lady looked strung out and was dressed in light blue county jail attire. She didn’t seem to understand why she was before the judge. Her charge was public intoxication for the fifth time. I’m not kidding. She got sent back across the street to corrections just as quickly as she had entered the court.

One case really pierced my heart, though: An 18-year-old pregnant woman went before the judge for an offense which I didn’t really hear. It could have been DWI or drug possession (seemingly most of the cases in County Criminal Court (CCC) #6). The judge went through questions about her life, and for the first time, I saw the judge’s compassion for certain offenders: She was asking the defendant what kind of future she imagined for her and her child because the father had abandoned her. The young woman had recently quit her waitress job and was living with acquaintances. Even the stone-faced bailiff looked softer as he fetched a box of tissues for the young lady.

The judge cut her a break, only adding on an extra six months to her probation and telling her to complete her GED program. Since I was directly behind the bailiff area, the young lady had a seat inside the court and was just inches away from me. I wanted so much to tap her shoulder and tell her everything would be all right because there were strangers who cared about her and who were going to pray for her. She could have been my daughter.

However, I didn’t dare attempt to reach over the courtroom barrier. I had already had enough excitement a few hours before.

Earlier in the morning, as I passed through the metal detector downstairs to come in, of course all the bells and whistles went off even though I had taken off my belt and wedding ring. Well, I had totally forgotten that the rosary ring that I sometimes carry in my pocket could be considered a weapon in a county courthouse. I had to leave it with one of the sheriffs. Talk about embarrassing: I was whisked away and separated from the general area while the rosary ring was examined and while I was yelled at.

Rosary ring: a weapon for spiritual warfare. In a county courthouse, though, just a straight-up weapon.

Anyway, after several initial appearances, the trial is finally set to begin in September. My lawyer told me it will more than likely be moved back due to the state having to assemble witnesses and experts. So the end to all this is still nowhere in sight.

A whole year after my suicide attempt, the consequences of that fateful night are still popping up like ant hills in our backyard during the long summer months.

Here is the moral of my story: Don’t try to kill yourself.

Just don’t even try.

Besides forever hurting those who love you, you just might live through it, and your problems would then be multiplied. And, believe me, it sucks.

~topaz


I Have No (Online) Friends

Well, I completed the deactivation of my final two social media accounts yesterday.  After much internal deliberation and feedback from my wife, I deleted my personal Facebook account.  Gosh, I had had it for ages.  I also got rid of my Untappd account.  For those of you who don’t know, Untappd is like Facebook for beer drinkers/connoisseurs.

Facebook was hard for me to purge.  I had collected tons of photos from various places that I had traveled to.  All of my sons’ photos from when they were born were displayed on my page.  For the most part, I don’t miss a lot of my “friends” on there; however, there were a few contacts from my past whom I will miss.  At least I can keep in touch with my family through email and texting.

I had been considering starting anew for the longest time.  This Independence Day weekend clinched it for me.  It really hurt when I would find out the hard way that someone whom I considered close to me had “unfriended” me on Facebook.

You know, I have enough drama and difficulties in real life; I don’t need double the amount (the real world plus my cyber world).  Individuals from the younger generation will probably read this and assume that I’m an idiot.

I disagree.

I benefit from not having grown up with all this technology.  I never even became interested in LinkedIn although all of my older colleagues use it for networking.  To me it just seems like another juvenile way to show off and incite jealousy and unnecessary stressful competition.

Man, Topaz, you are one messed-up dude.  I don’t think that at all.  

Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Well, that’s because you’re not struggling with a head full of crap.

Untappd required lots of money, and I risked continued brushes with the law.  See, last summer I was charged with a DWI after my suicide attempt.  The police found no trace of alcohol in me (because I had been passed out in my car for ten hours prior to operating my vehicle); only a crapload of Xanax in my system.

Yeah, I know: You could have killed someone, you piece of ****!  That’s what the paramedic kept screaming at me, too, as I lay semi-conscious in the back of the ambulance, babbling in my stupor, on that fateful morning late last August.  For what it’s worth, I never expected to wake up from my deadly cocktail of tequila and benzos, nor do I even remember operating my vehicle or intending to.

Untappd was just like the other social media distractions: Trying to keep up with the Joneses.  

I couldn’t keep up with IT computer geeks and web developers who were making at least double of what I make per year as a college teacher.  I just couldn’t keep up financially.  Drinking gourmet Belgian brew every other day is rather expensive.

I shouldn’t have been drinking so much anyway.  Luckily my wife cared enough to make sure that I only drank at home. For my DWI, we spent thousands of dollars just on the attorney alone.  Plus, I’d rather not do any jail time; I’ve seen too many scary episodes of Locked Up.

And it hurt to give up those social media accounts.  Oh man, did it hurt.  Talk about a blow to my already low self-esteem.  (My virtual self is way cooler than my real self.)

I got rid of my personal Twitter account and Instagram (I loved my photos) a few days ago.  The funny thing is, I don’t really miss any of it.  I feel lighter.  Happier.  (I think.)

Last.fm helped me stay connected with other outcasts (and web developers who “work” from home), sharing new black metal and death metal bands that we had stumbled across, trying to find the most evil Scandinavian misanthropic noise creators.

I don’t regret deleting all of those things:  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Untappd, Last.fm, Rdio, Spotify.  I’m pretty sure it was God’s will.  All of these things were hindering me from getting closer to Him and carrying out His will for my life.

At least that’s what I tell myself.

Whatever helps you sleep at night, dude.

~topaz


Having a Bad Day

mental illness

Well, as you know from the title of my blog and from previous posts, I suffer from various mental issues.  Looking back at the blog post from yesterday, I’m like, “Did I write that?”  It seems so polished and… encouraging.  I’m not saying that I faked it or anything, but I’m not typically a motivating person.

My brain is in a constant fog due to my meds.  I also think it’s a long-term effect from last summer when I attempted to end my life (the first of two attempts that season).  I hit rock bottom — actually, the bottom fell out and I fell down even further.  I didn’t expect to mention this so soon on my blog, but what the heck.  Due to various problems and things that I was dealing with at the time and things that had been building up, one event triggered me to attempt suicide.  I drank about five margaritas, each with extra tequila shots.  I then stumbled to my car and swallowed a full bottle of Xanax — about 40 milligrams.

By the grace of God, I survived and suffer no physical repercussions to this day; however, I really think that the experience left me with a permanently clouded mind.  Even at times when I don’t take Xanax or my other meds, I still suffer from incoherency and mental aloofness (as my wife says, it could just be due to my being a male).

For the past couple months, my lower lip has been feeling numb to the point where it’s sometimes difficult to talk clearly, and there is a constant ringing in my ears.  (Which reminds me: I need to tell my doctor.)  Even if these are a result of my suicide attempts, I try to keep a positive attitude because it could have been A LOT worse.

You’re probably thinking, All that tequila and 40 mg of Xanax?  And you’re still alive?!  You must be fat as hell!  Actually, I’m quite tall, and my weight is proportionate to my height.  I believe, though, that God wanted me to remain alive to carry out His plan in me.  Why else would I still be on earth, typing out these coherent thoughts?

Anyway, I’m up and down.  Today happens to be a down day for me.  I am teaching a morning class during my college’s first summer session, and my mood was so bad this morning, and I felt so destructive and enraged that I almost cancelled my class.  All I can say is thank goodness for medication.

What made me feel destructive and enraged?  Last night I got tired of all the liberal crap that my “friends” (Ha ha.  Right.) on Facebook were posting.  I am very shy, quiet, and introverted.  I am not affiliated with any one political party; it depends on the issue.  However, I am pro-life and support other “conservative” issues.

Speaking of being conservative, I was pretty much “in the closet” about my political views up until yesterday.  I reached that breaking point, though, and felt the time was right to rant — which is something I never do on Facebook (I try to be as professional and benign as possible since I’m an educator).

After ranting against a “friend” who always posts pro-abortion propaganda, I lost it (my temper, that is).  I confronted him, and…

Nothing.

The ultra-liberal New Yorker backed off by stating: “I’m not getting into a debate.  You have your beliefs, and I have mine.”

Damn.  Talk about feeling like a jerk.

The Holy Spirit whispered to me and said, Topaz, you should have been the one to be cool and let it go.  Why couldn’t I do that?!  I was so angry at myself!  He is the baby-killing atheist, and I’m supposed to be the practicing Catholic who is also a fourth-degree Sir Knight.  WTF?  (Sorry to any Evangelicals reading this — we Catholics throw around potty-mouth words sometimes.  At least I didn’t spell out WTF.)

Hulk

O David Banner, pray for me.

When I get angry, it’s pretty bad.  I feel like a monster is inside me, and I’m terrified that it will burst out.  I know how David Banner feels when he’s about to turn into The Incredible Hulk.  Not a good feeling at all.

Yesterday I felt like I was playing the part of Super Christian.  Today, I am the polar opposite.

Welcome to my mind!

~topaz