37: After the Fall

37: After the Fall

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tough Times, Tough People

After the Fall

Whenever you fall, pick something up.

~Oswald Avery

I wake up on a Thursday afternoon, after being asleep for a day and a half. I see the white ceiling of the hospital room and feel the IV in my arm. I ask my parents what happened and when they tell me, it all comes flooding back. Suddenly I remember the night I swallowed the three bottles of pills, and I begin to cry.

I am sent to a mental hospital where I will be kept “safe.” Doctors are afraid I will try to harm myself again. My body just could not take any more abuse, especially after such a close call. I was inches away from death, and the nurses make it quite clear that they almost lost me. Had my father found me any later, they explain, I might have succeeded in my attempt.

Then they ask me a question. Why? Why had I tried to kill myself? I try to give them an answer, but I can’t think of one.

“It just felt right at the time,” I tell them.

This answer does not satisfy them, but they have no idea that I am being completely honest. I truly do not know why I had done what I did. I am asked the same question by countless people, and nobody seems to understand my reason.

While I am at the hospital I am given time to reflect on my actions. I spend a great deal of my time trying to identify what led me to overdose. Days go by and I still have no good answer.

Then a few days into my stay I am sent to a group therapy session, which is supposed to be a place where talking through problems with people who have shared similar experiences is supposed to help us through our struggle. The group leader asks me why I am in the hospital, and I explain that I am there for an overdose. He asks me if I was depressed at the time.

That’s when it begins to come together.

“No, I wasn’t depressed,” I explain. “For once I wasn’t. And in fact, I hadn’t been depressed in quite some time.”

I had struggled with depression since fifth grade, and I was now a senior in high school. Looking back, it’s hard to remember a time when I was happy. Depression and sadness had found a way into my life and never left. The illness had a firm grip on me and wouldn’t let go. It wasn’t until a few months before that it had finally loosened its hold on me. For the first time in my memory, I had been happy.

Why then, had I swallowed all those pills if I was starting to feel better? Simple. Depression was comfortable to me. I hated it, but it had been in my life for so long that it had become what was normal for me. It was as if I didn’t know how to live my life without the illness. The reason I had overdosed was an attempt to go back to a place where I was comfortable.

I explained this to the group leader, and he said something to me that I will never forget.

“Sometimes, it’s easier to get up once you’ve fallen all the way,” he told me.

Tears formed in my eyes and I began to cry. He was right. I had spent so much time battling depression, it was almost like I was struggling to stay standing up when I was falling down. Perhaps my attempt was really me hitting rock bottom—it could not possibly get any worse. Now I was ready to really stand back up. I was ready to move on.

Since then, my life has really looked up. Since making the decision to move on and leave my comfort zone I have actually gotten to a place that I never would have imagined I would find. I have managed to find happiness.

~Samantha Richardson

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