Saturday, December 15, 2012

How (Not) To Save a Life


I had a crazy week. I spent yesterday with my jaw wide open as I witnessed the second big shooting to happen nationwide that week. Yesterday evening, all I wanted was fried chicken, mashed potatoes, my family, and a good video game to play. I had all of those things, and spent the evening playing my video game into the night. Facebook was left neglected. And you know what, if it had been any other night, that would have been no big deal. This was not any other night for one of my friends.

I have recently been talking to a guy roughly my age who I met through Facebook through a close friend of mine. He also has my phone number, but last I heard he no longer has a phone (I may be misinformed here). This guy and I wear similar shoes in terms of brain chemistry.  The main difference between him and me is I have a medication that is working for me and he doesn’t.

I woke up this morning, and when I looked at my phone, I saw I had a message waiting for me on Facebook. In my half-asleep state, I was surprised someone messaged me, because that is a very rare occurrence these days. I knew if I had a message, it was someone who had something important to talk about. My instincts did not fail me. My friend had messaged me the night before, saying he was thinking about killing himself. My eyes widened and I told my husband as he exited the bathroom what was going on. He had been planning on going back to sleep, but upon hearing this he told me he wanted to stay up and be supportive (I love that guy).

I said every heathen prayer I knew that my friend hadn’t passed away when I could have prevented his death. I typed a message as quickly as I could while trying to give him all the attentiveness he deserved, and sent it. I knew why he had reached out to me—we both have bipolar disorder. I have a track record of suicide attempts, but have been suicide-attempt-free for almost 3 years. He knows I know how fucked up the mental healthcare system is, because I have been hospitalized so many times. I was the person he had reached out to, but was I too late to keep him alive?

About 45 minutes later, I hear back from him. He’s alive, but he did in fact have a concrete plan the night before to kill himself. His mom took his medications out of his room and locked them up, so his life was saved. Apparently, my friend’s girlfriend had broken up with him, and he was asked not to attend a party many of our mutual friends were having, because he would “cause too much drama.”

I was hurting for everyone he knew and I knew at the same time. I had watched how my own family and friends had reacted to my downswings (many times accompanied with suicidal ideation), and knew his loved ones must have reacted similarly to his suicidal state. And of course, I was hurting for my friend—because I know how hard it was to have those feelings, while knowing how my loved ones feel about those feelings.

My friend messaged me again later, letting me know he and his girlfriend had worked things out, and said he was "just being dramatic." I was not going to be one to throw rocks at his glass house.  I let him know that I am a very dramatic person, too, when I’m manic. I let him know I was glad he and his girlfriend worked things out, and that I was really glad he had reached out to me.

My anonymous friend—I know it took us years for us to reach out to one another, but I am really happy we finally got around to it. I am relieved you are okay (physically speaking, at least). I want to get to know you better as a person, and if you ever feel that low again, I am here.  I promise. Just please, please hang in long enough for a reply. Please.

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