Committed to the Psych Ward: A Bipolar Woman’s Experience
The lowest point I remember was when one of our closest friends visited San Francisco from St. Louis for New Years. She was one of those positive, happy people who you can’t help having a good time around. I remember walking the streets of the city feeling an uncontrollable despondency I couldn’t explain. My mouth wouldn’t form a smile. It actually felt like the muscles in my face were frozen in a frown. I was on the constant verge of tears, all the while trying as hard as I possibly could to be happy for my beloved friend. We went to Arlequin for a coffee to keep us going on our whirlwind tour of the city. I remember getting a small coffee with cream, walking outside, waiting for the others to finish dressing their drinks. I felt like I was in a play and someone hadn’t lifted the curtain yet. Crawl into bed and sleep, please.
But, no, we had a whole afternoon and evening of events planned. I wanted to cry, to sob. I took a drink of coffee and took a deep breath. It was going to be all right. Really. At least that’s what I kept saying.
When everyone else came out to join me, I had already downed half of my coffee and already siked myself up for the events to come. It was going to be all right. It had to be. There was no alternative. I didn’t have any knives at my disposal. Later that evening, we went to a wine bar and had a glass of wine together. We talked and had a good time. My face felt a little less frozen and I was almost happy for a moment or two. Almost.
Once my friend left, the suicidal thoughts became constant. They wouldn’t go away. No matter how hard I tried to rationalize the reasons it was stupid to kill myself—so many people loved me, things would get better, this was a phase. I knew all about depression, so I knew exactly what going on, but my mind kept going back to it’s no use. Nothing will make it go away this time. I couldn’t stand feeling this bad anymore. No one deserves to have me around like this. It’s best for everyone.
And one day while Jason was at work, I went into the kitchen, grabbed the largest kitchen knife from the block and turned it over in my hands, staring. Then I pushed up my sleeve, pressing the blade hard along my arm. It took up most of my forearm. I pressed, but no blood came. I pressed harder. The blade felt cool. Thin. Unyielding. Nothing happened. It was dull.
It frightened me. Suddenly, I thought of Jason finding me on the floor in the kitchen amidst a pool of blood. It made me sick to my stomach. I was going to throw up. I put the knife back in the block, ran to the couch and lay down. When Jason got home I finally told him what was going on. We called my insurance company, hence my winding up in the emergency room at California Pacific Medical Center.