The Night of December 13, 2015

Bottle of pills[Image: A full bottle of pills.]

I recently overdosed on Klonopin in a bout of self-harm and, while completely out of it, posted on Facebook that I needed a ride to the hospital. I stated that the overdose was an accident which happened while I was trying to get to sleep. I later clarified that this overdose was no accident, it was a form of self-harm that I had engaged in. My second post seems to have confused some people about what is a suicide attempt and what is self-harm and more pointedly, which one I was engaging in.

Allow me now to clarify the definitions of some terms:

Overdose: an excessive or dangerous use of a drug. Overdoses can be accidental, although in my case, it was not. However, overdoses are not always suicide attempts.

Self-harm: intentionally harming one’s body often without the intention of suicide.

Suicide attempt: an intentionally attempt to end your own life.

Self-harm is an often misunderstood coping mechanism which is very difficult to explain to someone who isn’t mentally ill and doesn’t suffer from these recurrent thoughts. What happened the night of December 13 was that I was trying to punish myself. I started out taking the Klonopin to help me sleep. But then I stayed awake and kept thinking of my most recent setback, the crushing guilt I felt, the dread that saturated my mind, the feelings of worthlessness, loneliness, and hopelessness that had been plaguing me for weeks.

I kept taking more pills. When I started to become impaired it only spurred me on. I have no idea of the timeline of that night, but I remember downing small handfuls at one point. The only recollection I have are some very disturbing poems I wrote while I was taking the overdose.

According to the poems, I Googled Klonopin in order to figure out how much would kill me. I couldn’t find the exact information and lamented there existed no overdose calculator which could tell you how much you needed to end your life. I cataloged my disappointment that, apparently, Klonopin is only dangerous if you get addicted to it and a fatal overdose is almost impossible without ingesting huge amounts of the drug; far more than I had on hand.

Although I never consciously wanted to end my life, during my altered state, I was well aware that this was a possibility. I finally went to bed at some point, after taking either one or two narcotic pain pills which I had leftover from my breast reduction surgery earlier this year. When I woke up I was vomiting and aware that I needed to do something. So, instead of simply asking either of my roommates for a ride to the hospital, I got on Facebook.

I didn’t want to die. I experienced a setback and that compounded with whatever kind of mixed episode I’m in right now and led to me experiencing the all-too-familiar feelings of guilt and shame which drove me to start and continue taking pills. After the overdose, what I thought was a solid romantic relationship disintegrated, and I continued having thoughts of hurting myself.

I felt as though I had ruined the relationship and needed to be punished for it. I told myself that if only I had been more normal and didn’t have these mental health problems, everything would be fine. In an effort to prevent me from once again acting on my feelings of self-harm, I got rid of all of the excess pills I had, including a fresh refill of the Klonopin that I had gotten a few weeks before the overdose. I also reached out to a few people to chat when the need to hurt myself was becoming too strong for me to handle.

At this point, I realize I’m experiencing a bipolar episode and I need to be cautious. I also realize that I’m a person with a mental illness and I need the space and understanding that will help me work through these issues, not compound them. My desire to hurt myself may never go away entirely and I might not be able to stop myself from acting on it in the future, just as I was recently unable to.

However, I now recognize these old feelings of shame and worthlessness are futile. I am only capable of what I’m capable of and no one in my life should make me feel as though that isn’t enough and trigger these recursive negative emotions. I hope I can remember this the next time I’m in a situation where the desire to hurt myself arises and I have to fight it. Because it is a very difficult battle and one that I’m not always strong enough to fight.