The beginning of this week started off decently well but was abruptly filled with chaos and upheaval beginning on Tuesday. An ongoing family altercation had me continuously stressed and after leaving from their home rather distraught, I was just ready for the weekend to get started. I quit my caregiving duties because I no longer felt comfortable or welcome with the family members that are home during that time on Wednesday.
By Friday my husband was calling to make therapy appointments for himself due to his boss requesting he do so. I overslept for my therapy appointment and I promised my grandma I would bring her the money I owed her for not working my last two days I had been paid for, get her items from the store, and let my kids visit with their grandparents. Things were fine until I got ready to get them to leave.
After getting my grandma settled and the kids mess picked up I was hoitily asked if I had told my grandma that I quit my job. I replied had had attempted to three times and was interrupted with a reply shot icily across the room, “That wasn’t an answer to the question, did you or did you not?” I glared in silence for a moment before I rounded up my children to head home. They stood at the windows in the dining room in an intimidating fashion as we loaded up in the car. I knew at that point my decision was the correct one.
My emotions were high as I headed towards my home but I had agreed to meet with my father there the following day to discuss the family rift in person. I was almost to my mother’s home in Prairie Grove to check on it when my husband got a text from a mutal friend. She had been attempting to reach me but my phone battery died and it was urgent. She had received a cryptic message from another mutual friend and was worried. As she does not have a vehicle, she wanted us to check on him.
We kept in touch and made our way to his home after a series of messages to others allowed us to find him. As we neared his street we got texts from him telling us to turn around and not to come. I knew from a previous visit to this residence about a month prior when his then wife took about half a bottle of her medicine that he knew I was a mandated reporter. My husband stayed in the car with our children and I made my way to the apartment. I approached and knocked lightly on the door.
My friend opened it slightly but immediately shut it upon seeing my face. I knocked lightly again and began to write down the address to call 911. He must have read my mind because he immediately opened the door and let me inside. He pleaded for me not to call anyone and I told him I would talk with him before I did anything. He asked for a hug, so I hugged him as long as he wanted. When we separated he sat on his couch and I took a spot on the floor. We discussed how being alone can be so dangerous for a severely depressed person and how I had self medicated for so many years simply to numb the roaring thoughts in my own head.
I invited him to our home several times but he declined saying he didn’t want to be a burden and that we had the kids with us. I finally decided to ask him what was keeping him at home. He sighed and rose from the couch extending his arm to me and stated he wanted to show me something. I got up and followed him through his bedroom and into the bathroom. He fumbled to get the light switch on and stumbled into the counter.
When I peeked around the corner of his closet I could see a Dremel battery charger sitting on the toilet and inside the shower was a noose made from climbing ropes. I’m sure the horror on my face that I could not contain hit him and he began crying. I immediately remember the pain and agony I had felt so many times before when I felt unloved and alone. He snatched the noose from the shower head, we grabbed some of his belongings, and we made our way to the car.
He grabbed a notebook he called the ugly green notebook and stated it had some things written in it but he never really offered for anyone to read it. He placed it in our kitchen where it remained and poured himself a growler of dark beer he had brought from home. He eventually told my husband that he had tried to hang himself and there were light red marks around his neck as well as both of his eyes blackened. I told my husband about the noose in the shower. We alerted his other friends he was with us and safe for the moment and commenced to attempting to enjoy our evening.
We decided since everyone had such a shitty week that we would celebrate Saturday instead of being miserable. I was nervous as I waited on my dad to arrive and texted with a friend who surprised me with a video chat and served as a minor destraction for a few moments as he always makes me laugh. After dad’s visit we bought taco, queso, and cake supplies and our birthday celebration began. We sipped on drinks as we took turns preparing our dishes in the kitchen and enjoyed our meal together. I finally got our cake baked, iced, and just after midnight we celebrated our friends forty-second birthday instead of finding him dead in his shower.
I was reminded how precious life is and that the quietest people often have the loudest minds. I had been checking on his estranged wife for weeks but had neglected to check on him, and I felt pretty shitty about it. I have been in his place before and still struggle to keep my brain from going there occasionally still to this day. I know what it feels like to be a burden to everyone around you, that the thoughts in your own head are so consuming it feels as if the pain will never go away. It’s a pain that isn’t even easy to explain, but I know he felt it because when I tried to describe it he knew exactly what I was talking about.
It’s the pain of heartbreak and despair, the feeling that you will never love the way you loved before again. In a way, it’s right. Pain changes you, it makes you isolate, gaurd yourself more, trust less. I know what it feels like to sit back and watch the person you love not be able to love you back; to leave and move on while you’re still screaming for them to come home. In fact sitting alone after a loved one left our dwelling was the first time I contemplated taking my own life. I felt so stupid for overlooking the obvious but I also had been distracted by my own family problems.
We closed our night down watching a comedy show on Netflix and tucked ourselves into our respectful beds. We agreed to take our friend home that morning and everyone got ready accordingly. We talked about Jurassic Park with our kids on our way and as we parked, I left my husband with the kids to walk our friend home; I had to take the noose down.
He seemed confused as I walked up the sidewalk to his apartment and I told him I had to take care of something; he forgot it was still in the bathroom. That black cord hadn’t left my vision since Friday night however and I could not leave him at home with a ready made noose. I made my way to the bathroom and grabbed the noose. I began to untie it and wrap it back up in the bundle it was still neatly wrapped in. Although I was able to untie it, I had to work momentarily in several spots to get it loose and it was knotted correctly; I hoped this was his first attempt but began to doubt it.
I reached for the Dremel charger and noticed a bottle in the shower when I grabbed the noose. I had to step into the shower to retrieve the alcohol bottle and I saw the Dremel with a screw head attachment sitting next to the bottle. I’m not sure why it was in the shower, and I honestly do not know if I want to know why it was in the shower. My arms got chills as I continued to clean up the bathroom, that feeling of desperation to just make the pain stop flooded me.
I returned his tools to his closet and was contemplating taking the rope with me. I knew that he could simply go buy another the moment I left, so instead I asked him if it would be used again anytime soon. He assured me it would not be and stuffed it underneath his couch. We hugged again and he laid down on his sofa ensuring me a long nap was in order. I felt relieved as I left his apartment and glad to have celebrated life with him this weekend rather than death.
I felt more confident in my abilities to be there and hold space for someone even when I am battling my own demons and still have feelings of shame for having neglacted checking on my friend. Most importantly I was again reminded why counseling found me even though I have never been paid to be one, and I will continue to work towards opening my non-profit so there is a place for those that feel alone to go. The image of the noose and Dremel are still fresh in my mind, and likely will be for some time. I was able to untie it as an instrument of death this time, but it further tied me to my commitment and refuled my passion to make mental health availability a top priority.