A year after my last suicide attempt, I was backstage at a play. I heard some grownups talking about a friend's son who tried to kill himself.\n\n"It was just a cry for help, he wasn't serious."\n\n"Yeah, [[when people really want to die|mark]], they find a way."\n\n"Some people are so dramatic. [[If you want attention|friends]], just ask for it!" Laughter.\n\nI thought about all of those times I sat in my room with a knife. I thought of all the times I almost killed myself but didn't. I thought of the [[panic|tests]] that shot through me when I thought my plans might be found out.\n\nI wondered why they called it a cry for help, when all I wanted was to be [[silent|nurse]].
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I was [[twelve|age]] the [[last time|pills]] I [[tried|cryforhelp]] to kill myself. That was [[nineteen years ago|nineteen]].
When I told my favorite college professor that I was transferring to a different school, she gave me a hug and wished me the best. Then she held me at arm's length and, with a strange look on her face, she said:\n\n"I'm sad; I was really looking forward to seeing you become the kind of person who could be truly [[happy|happy]]."\n\nI went back to my 6'x8' dorm room and sat on the twin bed that touched both walls, digging my fingernails into my palms in rage.\n\n//How dare she.//
My [[brother|half]] died when I was eleven. He was 24. We lived on other sides of the country. His death changed my father. His death changed me. [[I should have done more, I should have spent more time talking to him, I should have been closer to him, I should have told him I loved him, I should have known him for real|eleven]].
My father was a diabetic, on the border of almost needing shots, but still barely able to manage his blood sugar with pills. I took three full bottles of [[his pills|fault]] during lunch when I was in eighth grade. I'd been carrying the pills for a [[week|tests]].\n\nMy choir teacher intercepted a note I was passing to [[a friend|fault]] about how I planned to kill myself soon. She turned it in to the school psychologist. [[I convinced him it was sarcasm|fault]].\n\n[[I was in the hospital for four days|hospital]].
It wasn't just [[my brother's death|doug]]; I kind of think of that as my formal introduction to the depression that has hung around me for [[most|college]] of my life to date. There isn't really anyone in my immediate family I would describe as "chipper." My mother confided in me a few years ago that she was trying anti-depressants for the first time, in her sixties.\n\n<html><img src="me-mom.jpg"></html>\n\nDepression was nothing we ever really talked about, even after I ended up in [[the hospital|hospital]]. [[I want to change that, for my family|watching]].
There was a pot-bellied giraffe on my bed when [[they admitted me|nurse]] to the hospital. My first thought: //Ugh, why does everyone keep treating me like a KID?// My second thought was how adorable he was. I wanted to name him Moe, or Harvey, but couldn't decide. I named him Mohavi as a compromise.\n\n<html><img src="mohavi.jpg"></html>\n\nMohavi has been to the Grand Canyon, spring break in Canada when I was in [[college|college]]. He's been on road trips to New Orleans and watched Die Hard with me in Portland. [[My daughters|watching]] love him so much they've eached begged for their own stuffed giraffe, and now we have a family of them. Mohavi has slept next to me almost every night of my life for the last nineteen years.\n\nHe reminds me of what [[I almost missed|nineteen]].
I almost died nineteen years ago. I thought there was nothing worth the pain of living for me, past that fall day in 1994. I thought there was nothing to gain, nothing I would miss.\n\nAmazing vacations.\nNineteen years of [[questionable hairstyles|hair]].\nThe rise of Justin Timberlake.\nFriends who love me more than I ever thought possible.\n[[Two children|watching]].\nDiscovering Thai food.\nMaking my first game (and every game that has come after that).\n\nI still get depressed, [[I still have to fight through it sometimes,|powerless]] but I am sometimes overwhelmed by the enormity of what I almost stole from myself. [[I want life|thimble]]. I want so much more life than I will probably ever get to experience.\n\nBut I am beyond grateful for the last nineteen years.\n\n(Next year I am throwing a party.)
I was upset that they put me in the pediatric ward: I was twelve, I wasn't a kid. I was practically a teenager. They even [[put a stuffed giraffe on my bed|mohavi]].\n\nMy mom spent a lot of time with me, not really knowing what to say. [[My father|pills]] avoided me. I guess my parents decided to tell [[my best friend's parents|friends]], because he came to visit me and brought a condolence card. He was only thirteen.\n\nThe condolence card seemed weird to me.\n\n//Who died?//
My mother worked with the Salvation Army for a long time, and ran a halfway home for men. For a while we lived with her roommate who was an alcoholic, and my mother would take her to [[AA Meetings|alcoholism]].\n\nI grew up with a strong understanding of addiction; I didn't really permit myself to drink for a long time, and the closest I've ever gotten to drugs is a puff of a boyfriend's clove cigarette when I was in [[college|college]]. I've obsessively read memoirs about addiction, non-fiction treatises on "the addictive personality," and the first game I ever tried to make was called ADDICT.\n\nI think a large part of the draw is the way addiction is handled, the way recovering addicts talk about it. You take it one day at a time, you lean on things and people for [[willpower,|powerless]] and you try to avoid things that you know trigger destructive behavior.\n\nYou never forget [[the low point|pills]].
When I was 13 or 14, I thought about killing myself again. I'd just joined a church, and I didn't really have a strong religious background— mostly I liked the music and wanted to get over my fear of trying to make friends. I lived in a big house north of town, and every bedroom had a balcony, including mine. I was only on the second floor, but we lived on a hill, so the drop was a bit more than you'd expect. Plus I figured the sharp rocks would help, if I could be sure to hit head first.\n\n<html><img src="cross.jpg"></html>\n\nI went on to the balcony with tears in my eyes, looked up at the full moon, and the halo from the moon split the into quarters, like a cross. [[I'm not religious any more,|addictions]] but I remain grateful for that moment.
Leslie dated Mark for a year after I overheard that conversation.\n\nThen Mark shot himself while [[on the phone with her|water]].\n\nI wish he'd cried for help.
I was just a kid.\n\nI still feel guilty.
Last year I came up with the idea of a thimble list. It's a bucket list, but smaller.\n\nI realized that when I find myself staring death in the face, I'm not going to be heartbroken that I never got around to climbing Mt. Fuji.\n\nI'm going to be sad I didn't cook more meals for the people I love.
The intake nurse was very stern. People think suicidal people need tough love to get snapped out of their self-absorbed, self-destructive cycles. It didn't work, because I had given up.\n\nThere was fire in her eyes when she asked why I would want to hurt myself.\n\nI was dizzy from low blood sugar. My stomach had been pumped; I'd vomited liquid charcoal so high it was on the ceiling. I thought this woman was insane.\n\n"Why would I want to HURT myself?" I asked her. "I was trying to KILL myself."
[[My mom|depression]] was a single mom when I was in 1st grade, so she couldn't find anyone to watch me while she took her roommate to AA. I went with them. I didn't mind, there were donuts.\n\nAnd I didn't know what the word meant, but I thought it was melifluous and beautiful, and besides, everyone laughed when it was my turn and I got to say "Hello, my name is Elizabeth and I'm an alcoholic."
I was fighting with [[my first husband|fault]]. We were yelling.\n\n"Why don't you think about my happiness any more?" I sobbed.\n\nHe laughed. "Your—? Jesus, Elizabeth. Why would I even try? I think there's always a part of you that's sad."
School sucked for me. I was bullied a lot. I'd bring the pills to school every day and tell myself, //If just one person is nice to me, I won't do it.// A lot of days, [[one person|friends]] was nice to me. \n\nEventually it got to the point where I realized I didn't care if someone was nice to me. I just wanted out.
My oldest daughter is only three years younger than I was when I tried to kill myself. \n<html><img src="gwen.jpg"></html>\nSometimes I catch myself watching her and holding my breath.
Leslie never talked about it. Except once.\n\nShe said it sounded like a chair falling over, and then water running.
I had four siblings; three were blood relations through my mother, one was blood related through my father. I had never heard the term half-sibling until Doug died. I was plagued with worry that [[he thought I thought less of him, loved him less somehow|eleven]].\n\n<html><img src="siblings.jpg"></html>
Sometimes it is so hard to tell my friends when I need them. Sometimes it's so hard to believe that they [[care|happy]]. Sometimes I want to [[push them away|college]]. \n\nI haven't been [[close|distance]] in years, but there are still days when I feel a lump in my throat and the panic of the world closing in, when I feel dumb and worthless and it's hard for me to see the point of going on, and I get an IM and I wonder:\n\n//Do they know?//\n\n//Do they get that they might have just saved my life with that stupid cat macro?//\n\n<html><img src="cat_macro.jpg"></html>
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I'm not saying you should join a church if you're depressed. I'm not saying you shouldn't. I leaned on, and continue to lean on, a number of things that [[help|support]].
People use steps as a metaphor, but they're real. They're distance. Feelings have spatial relationships.\n\nNo matter how happy I am, no matter how far away I am, I know exactly how far I am from suicide. There could be tens of steps or millions of steps: I would know the number.\n\nI've spent the last nineteen years trying to walk away, [[one step at a time|support]].
This is why depression also likes to convince you that you have no friends.\n\nDepression lies.\n\nThere is always someone who will lend you power.\n\nIf you can't think of anyone else, <html><a href="mailto:eshoemaker@gmail.com?subject="I played your game">think of me.</a></html>
Even if I had successfully killed myself, it wouldn't have been his fault.\n\nThe fault would have been mine.
When you're [[young|watching]], time moves slowly. When you're [[depressed,|doug]] time moves even more slowly. It was impossible to conceive of a time when I'd be out of my parents house, when I'd [[finally have control|powerless]].
by Elizabeth
It took a decade, maybe longer, to realize that no matter what I did it would be impossible to handle [[these feelings|depression]] on my own. I joined [[a church|cross]] in high school, I wrote, I tried therapy. all of these things helped, some more than others, but the only consistently valuable tool I have found has been [[my friends|friends]].\n\nDepression convinces you that you have no power. [[Sometimes you need friends to lend you some of theirs|lies]].