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By , Marion, IA
It was a chilly night in February of 2010, around 9.30. I had just finished my first show choir performance of the year. My parents had driven two different vehicles to the show, so we were driving separate cars back home.

We were very close to our house when my mom got a phone call from my dad. “My car stalled,” he said, “I’m out of antifreeze.” He got into the car my mom was driving with all the kids including me, and we headed to Wal-Mart.

I should add now that no one in the family had eaten supper and we were all very hungry. We were going to get something to eat when we got home, so it somewhat frustrated me that we weren’t going straight home. We got to the Wal-Mart parking lot, and my mom ran in to the store. All the of kids and my dad stayed in the car, and my siblings and I were complaining we were hungry.

I was getting mad because my mom was taking so long, and I really wanted food. We continued complaining about how long it had been since we had eaten. I was getting into an increasingly bad mood. My dad, for some reason turning it into a competition, said “I haven’t even eaten lunch. The last time I ate was breakfast, and all I had was a banana then.” Me being in my unbridled mood I yelled very meanly, “Deal with it!” My dad then proceeded to slap my face.

My initial reaction was to get aggressive back. I tried to hit him back several times, but he kept blocking my arms. I was absolutely enraged, and by this point both twins had left the car to go into the store and tell my mom what had been going on.

Eventually I gave up on trying to hit my dad and turned my anger and frustrations inward. I was way beyond trying to un-diffuse my thoughts. I was thinking, “If my dad hates me so much, that he will hit me for saying “Deal with it”, maybe I shouldn't be here at all.” I know now that that making that connection made no sense, but I was not in a healthy mental state then. As soon as my mom opened the car door I said, “Daddy slapped me!” She said she knew, and we drove home, a drive of about thirty seconds.

The moment we walked into the door at home, I said that I needed to get my meds. I went into the bathroom, grabbed a glass of water, and poured about half the bottle of one of my meds into my hand. I took all of them in one gulp of water, then poured what was left of the bottle into my hand and took them. As soon as I was done, I was terrified. I had wanted to relinquish life, but now all I wanted was to live. I came out to the kitchen and said to my mom, “I really need to talk to you. It’s really important”

“Wait a second, I’m busy,” she said.

Not wanting to make it extremely obvious what was going on in front of my siblings, I said, “Okay, but please hurry.” I was absolutely horrified at myself, and waited anxiously until my mom could talk. When she was ready, we went back to her bedroom so the talk could be private.

I explained to her in shorter detail the story I am telling you now, because she already knew some of the details. I was so scared, because at first my mom didn’t take my word that I had overdosed. She first checked the trash can and toilet to make sure I wasn’t attention-seeking, all the while I was insisting I had told the truth. Once my mom believed me, she came out and told my dad that they needed to get me to the E.R. and explained why. When my brother and sister asked what was going on, my mom said, “Michelle took too much medicine.”

“On purpose?” my brother asked.

“Yes, honey, she’s really mad at herself right now,” my mom answered.

My mom, my dad, and I got into the car and drove to the hospital. My mom had called the E.R. ahead of time to tell them we were coming, and poison control to see what the effects of overdose on that particular med were. The entire ride to the E.R., I kept telling myself “I’m so stupid.” Mental health is a vicious cycle for me. I feel bad about myself, do something to hurt myself, feel even worse, do something again, etc..

There isn’t much I remember from going to the E.R.. I remember walking from the car to the doors, going in, and the people at the front desk asking me if I needed a wheelchair. I said “No, thanks, I’m fine,” then proceeded to lose my balance and be lowered into the chair. The last thing I remember until the next day is being pushed into the triage room. Then everything goes black until I woke up the next day.

When I woke up, I was half awake so I didn’t remember everything, just that it was obvious that I was in a hospital room. I had restraints on my hands and legs, so I couldn't move them, and my throat was extremely sore. My mom said, “Hey sweetie!”

“Hi.”

“Michelle, do you remember what happened?” my mom asked me.

“Only kind of,” I said

“Honey, you were mad at Daddy and you overdosed on your sleeping meds.” Everything was coming back to me now. I asked my mom “How long have I been sleeping?” She said that it had been around twenty-four hours that I had been out, but that I had woken up earlier in the afternoon but it hadn’t been true consciousness.

I told my mom that I didn’t remember anything after being wheeled into triage, and she explained to me that I was still awake after that point, and I didn’t actually fall asleep for a while. She filled me in on what was missing in my memory. The doctors had to put an IV in and I put up the biggest fight I ever had against a needle, and they also had to stick a tube in my throat to get charcoal in my system to absorb the meds. I also put up a fight against that and that was why I had the restraints on.

My mom explained that I was on the pediatrics ICU unit, but when they switched me to regular peds, I would have the same room, so I wouldn’t have to move. While I had been sleeping, I almost went into cardiac arrest and died, my heart was beating so slow. The doctors had monitors hooked up all over me and I couldn’t move to get more comfortable because of the restraints. The doctor came in eventually, and my nurse took off the restraints. Eventually, after I got some food into my system, I got to try and walk around my room.

After a little while longer on the peds unit, I got moved to 3 East (the child/adolescent psych unit), and worked on more recovery there. This was my fourth time on the unit, second time in a few weeks, and some of the staff weren’t very nice, to say the least, to me, a patient who obviously didn’t get the help she needed last time she was on the unit.

I had gone through many feelings since the start of this whole escapade. Excitement, hunger, frustration, anger, rage, guilt, extreme fear, sleepiness, dizziness, and many others. I hope no one ever has to go through what I’ve been through. Even if my mental health gets worse again, I don’t think I’ll ever do anything so extreme again. I am on the road to recovery with my depression and anxiety, and hope that someday I won’t have to deal with these things at all.





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