New Beginning by S. C., Canton, CT
February 12, 1998: One, swallow; two, swallow; three, swallow ... sixteen, swallow. Seventeen pills down the hatch. Ouch ... my stomach is starting to hurt; my mouth is getting dry. What's going on!? Wait, is this real? Mom ... Mom, I did something. The police are here; the ambulance is coming up the street. Oh my God! This is real! I'm in the ambulance; all these devices are attached to me. Why is my heart beating three and a half times a second? Why do I keep passing out? Why does he keep slapping my face? Mom, don't cry. Oh, Mom, I love you. I'm so sorry, Mom. Am I going to make it? Why won't they tell me? All I need to hear are the words, "You'll be okay." Those words aren't there. I'm in the hospital; doctors, nurses, everyone is taking care of me. I'm so sorry; I can't believe I did this. Everyone asks me questions. "How many? Did you take anything else? Any alcohol? Here, drink this." Charcoal! Two cups in 30 seconds; I'll do anything to live. Very sick irony.
At midnight I am served two more cups of charcoal. No damage internally. You can leave as soon as you talk to a psychiatrist. Hello, Dr. Weisman. We talk for an hour. I believe I candidly display my sanity and my total regret for my actions and then he sees my parents. I am within minutes of leaving. Wait, strike that. Why is Mom crying? Why is Dad crying? You want me to go where? Nooo! A mental hospital! How could you? If you loved me, Mom, you wouldn't make me go! Let me talk to Dr. Weisman. I'm fine! I just want to go home; I just want to forget all this!
Fruitless are these efforts. We drive to the hospital. The Crisis Intervention Unit. I don't understand. I'm not in crisis and no one needs to intervene. I'm surrounded by winos, heroin addicts and people strapped to beds screaming. I don't need to be here. Three hours later I am not; I'm on my way to the psychiatric institute. One a.m. I arrive and I am alone. I talk to a doctor, and no, for the fiftieth time I don't hear voices and no, I don't think I can control other people and yes, I remember those objects you listed. I go to sleep and sometime in the next three days someone finally listens to me. I shouldn't be here. I leave the next day at 5: 30 in the evening. I'm home, Mom.
The emotions and experiences at the hospital are so numerous and deep I still can't elaborate on them. There is a word that can summarize those four days in a nutshell: HELL.
Amazingly, however, the course of my life changed, for the better. Although by far the worst experience of my life, it may have been a blessing in a very immaculate disguise. After my altercation with Donnatal (a stomach antispasmodic) and my resulting visits to various facilities, I returned home. I began seeing a psychiatrist twice a week - a person who truly understood how I felt, who helped me reach inside and express my genuine self. I've attended a weekly session of family therapy with my parents. My life has been getting better.
With my doctor, I've talked through my troubles, analyzed my situation and for the first time, started thinking about myself. I've started doing what I want to do, not what I think my parents, friends or teachers want me to do. That doesn't mean I've turned into a narcissistic rabble-rouser; it just means I've thought about Scott Campbell and what his interests are. In doing that, I've found the most valuable thing I can find: myself. I've found my identity and since then, I've had an extraordinary time being me. I've discovered my love of reading and knowledge and my bookshelf is full of novels waiting to be read. I've also discovered my steadfast belief in social justice and have become involved in the Connecticut Green Party, the Animal Defense League, the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade and other organizations. I've become a vegan, initiated a protest at a McDonald's and won the permission of my school's administration to set up a Vegan Outreach table at my school. I've learned to rely on myself and realize that I have the ability to achieve. Through a horrifying experience, I've found my individuality and uncovered my goals in life. Maybe, in essence, I did kill a fake me and gave birth to the real Scott, an individual with a rejuvenated outlook on life and the desire to live it to its fullest. Mom, it's me. I'm back. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.