(Obviously, the suicide attempt didn’t work.)
It was April, 2003. I was living in the woods outside of Bath, England with my psycho alcoholic homeless boyfriend. I had bet on a horse in the Grand National in a vain attempt to get money for food. The horse not only lost, he didn’t even finish the race. Since I was an illegal alien, I couldn’t get a job.
The boyfriend had been berating me for hours. Eating wasn’t an option since I didn’t have any food and sleeping was not possible, since he would shake me awake if I ever nodded off. He sat outside our bender or makeshift dwelling in the woods under an ancient horse chestnut, drank and kept loudly listing my faults. Since I had left America for the UK, I had no friends or family to turn to.
I felt as if life couldn’t get any worse (WRONG) so I closed up the bender flaps, clogged up the chimney of the little metal stove and lit a fire. All of the smoke that should have gone out of the chimney instead went into the bender. All of the oxygen in the bender promptly vanished.
You know those movies where a damsel in a burning building is suddenly overcome with smoke and passes out? Looks like a quick, painless death, doesn’t it? Don’t you believe it!
Your body will fight tooth and nail to remain conscious. (Well — it feels like teeth and nails are ripping into your lungs, eyes and nose.) You will begin to vomit (or, if your stomach is empty, dry heaves.) Do you really want to shuffle off of this mortal coil throwing up?
The pain was so intense that I couldn’t take it any more. I crawled out of the bender and gasped for air. My boyfriend finally figured out that I had been trying to kill myself and laughed. I was too dumb to commit suicide, he said.
The next day, I staggered to the local homeless day centre, Julian House, and asked for help. And got it, in the form of medication and regular counseling. My hair smelled like wood smoke for about a week. I also left my boyfriend — about a year and a half later. That’s another story. Although I have thought about committing suicide since then, I have not acted on the thoughts since that horrible April day in 2003.
If I can do it, you can, too. If you aren’t sure where to get help, please dial an operator or one of the suicide prevention hotlines listed on this blog.