I was 13.
I was 13 when I took the pills labeled “unisom” on the box.
Forgive me, Benjamin Sulle, forgive me. I’ve never written about this before — well not as fully anyway.
And please understand this is written through cloudy eyes — might be a few type-o’s here and there…
I was 13.
I had just finished collecting all the forms from my teachers. The forms said I had ADHD, but they were written in a way. A way that made me sound horrid to deal with at school.
In many ways — more ways than one — I was that… but I thought the forms were a step in the process to helping me. I thought what it would mean was that I wasn’t unacceptable, that I wasn’t sub-human — that my family would understand suddenly — I had a learning disability.
I would be helped. The forms were my hope, and even though they all uniformly agreed that I was a hot mess of drive off the distraction cliff, my therapist convinced me, I would not be punished for the words. I would finally get some help. Like Theo on the episode of the Cosby Show when he found out he had Dyslexia.
It was not to be…
The reaction the damning forms were met with was nothing short of fury:
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME! WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU? YOU ARE JUST A DISRESPECTFUL LITTLE BRAT! YOU ARE DISGRACEFUL! YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF!”
I heard the words, the words I knew so well. I did not know “I love you.” I did not know, “you are important.” I knew those words above. I knew those words and only those words with respect to me.
I SHOULD BE ASHAMED.
And I was and sometimes I still am.
I took the pills with the words on the side. I took them to my room. There was laughter outside my room too. I sat in front of my mirror. I braided all my hair — little braids. I always loved them so much. I couldn’t do “right side braids” at the time, so they were all coming straight off my head.
I was doing this to pass the time. I braided my hair while my body began to feel very strange. That thing — you know the thing about wanting to go, but preservation kicks in — I got that thing at that point.
I went out to the other room. I told my dad what I had done. He immediately ran to his room to get dressed and told my mom he was taking me to the ER and why. As I stood there in the kitchen I started to go in and out of consciousness as I heard these words:
“You are so stupid! Why would you do something so stupid!”
And laughter. At me.
For being so stupid. As I was dying. I was worthless then too.
I thought maybe I imagined that — misfortune befell me again — they were said, repeatedly. And to this day those were the cruelest words ever spoken to me.
Not because of the words themselves, but because of their tone — the words were dismissive and clearly showed contempt for my very existence . Not only that, but when they were said and who they were said by —
my mother’s words.
And my sister joined in the taunting refrain as my dad, horrified, put me in the car and rushed me to the ER. I don’t remember much after that, only that I woke with my father standing over me. He was stroking my forehead. He was crying. I will never forget the desperation on his face. He felt terrible and helpless. He said he loved me over and over again.
I am now 36 years old.
I have never tried that again and I never will. Not because there aren’t times that my mind tries to convince me I should — as any person living with PTSD can tell you, those thoughts are always there. I haven’t tried again because I don’t know.
My reasons have changed over time. Now it’s because I cannot bare the thought of leaving my son on purpose — so when my ideation creeps in I become very afraid — I have been known to sound off many alarms when this happens.
I’m telling you this because I want you to know you are not alone. I want you to know that I care for you. I want you to know that I do not think you are stupid or unloveable or selfish. I think there’s something magical about you.
I don’t want you to die, Benjamin. I want you to live. I want to read your words. I want to see you shine. I am sorry for your pain. I am so sorry you feel so hurt that you will do anything to make the pain stop.
I pray that you find release in your writing. I pray that you find a reason to stay and when that reason’s light dims another one appears before you get the chance to go away. We need you on this Earth.
A man with deep feelings, so raw, true to yourself. We need you here with us. Find your reason, cling to it mightly. I can personally attest, it will not be in vein. I’ve lived every day since that day I took those pills. Many of the days I lived were pure hell.
But many of them were not that at all, they were just the opposite of it. I am so grateful for every day I had and all those in front of me. That I got to meet my son, made lots of friends… traveled. I would have robbed myself of all those goods, just to beat back the hell I have been through.
I don’t remember who said it and I’ll probably get it wrong, but the gist of my life since that day is that if I’m walking through hell, I keep walking — sometimes I even run.
There is a plan for you, Benjamin. Life is full of surprises. Find out what they are. Please stay with me.
I’m living proof, there’s life and hope and happiness to be had.
Love, hugs and respect. You have mine. You will be on my heart and in my prayers.