Erin’s Story

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Semicolon Necklaces for Men and Women

Erin's story

Picture above: “Erin’s Story” by Susan Ward

This is the short story of my life and how I became suicidal. Because it is a bare-bones account of who I am, I am sure that I am leaving out a lot of information that would help you understand me. If you have any questions, please leave a comment. I would love to interact with you. Erin

My early childhood was okay. Mom was Betty Crocker and Dad was Ward Cleaver. I was a pretty happy kid, unless they were fighting with each other. My mother and father could really get into it, and it frightened me. One time they both came bursting into my room, each grabbing hold of one of my arms, and pulled me like they were playing tug-of-war. Neither parent remembers this – or admits to it. They just wanted to get away from one another, but each wanted to take their only child with them.

Finally, they divorced. The judge awarded them joint custody of me. This was the most stressful thing as a child. My mother was slipping into mental illness, in my opinion. On the weeks I would spend with her, she would yell and scream at me for no reason. I looked so forward to seeing my dad, who was calm and nurturing, but the weeks with him seemed to speed by.

I was a promising Olympic hopeful when this was going on. My sport was Rhythmic Gymnastics and I had placed first in a regional meet when I was ten years old. My (now insane) mother was drooling over the chance to have a famous daughter. She pushed me and pushed me to be better at it, but with the added pressure, instead I took a nosedive. My scores lowered and my mother got more freaked out.

Suicide Prevention Jewelry for Men and Women

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Finally, my mother gave me an ultimatum: move with her to a town with a more prestigious gym, or she was taking off and I could live with my dad. If this happened, she told me she didn’t want to see me until I was 18 years-old. I was almost twelve at the time. I cried a lot over this, but eventually chose my dad. I still feel that sense of her abandonment today, although I’ve talked to my mom since, and she needs a lot of psychiatric help, in my opinion. She is no one I would have liked to raise me.

Alcoholism took over very early for me. I was about 12 years-old when I impulsively stole a little from each of my dad’s booze bottles, poured it all in a Garfield thermos, and chugged. I don’t remember that night, but my dad does! He tried to dissuade me from drinking by taking me to skid row and giving me the tour. I just felt jealous that the bums got to drink and sit around all day. This definitely says something about me and my alcoholic tendencies.

Bipolar disorder took over not long after that and I was impulsively goading my sleepover friends to snort crystal light powder up their noses, or outrageously flirting with teachers and other students, or kissing older boys, or urging the driver to go faster. I just felt so empty and I was searching for a thrill. I was uncomfortable in my skin and I needed something to make me feel better.

The depression part of bipolar made me cry almost every day. In high school, I would sleep through my classes. During my junior year, I had a boyfriend named Derek, who I was madly in love with. He decided to shoot himself in the head and I was devastated. Although I had just been to rehab, the tools I learned there were worthless in this situation. I became more depressed, impulsive, and alcoholic.

Suicide Prevention Necklaces for Men and Women

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I left high school my senior year to go study at the local community college. I was so uncomfortable all the time; it would make me think I had to get out of whatever situation I was in. That’s why I left high school. College was better, but still, I was feeling like I had to bail. So I followed the Grateful Dead all summer.

During this time, I took way too much LSD. I traveled with a man I barely knew and to tell you the truth, probably wouldn’t even have had lunch with. He took the battery out of my car and put it in his, so I was essentially trapped. His car was smashed by a delivery truck while I was in it, injuring my back and shoulder. My “friend” drove away from the scene due to his not having a license – a fact I had not known about. I struggle with my back and shoulder to this day.

Then I got drunk. I got drunk, drunk, and drunk. I held jobs for less than a year. I flunked out of community college, alienated people at bars, and became a stripper so I could get paid to drink. I got kicked out of those bars too. I didn’t care about anything except getting drunk, and then I found methamphetamine.

For a year and a half, I smoked, snorted, and even shot methamphetamine. What was best about this drug was that it calmed me down for a while. I definitely got amped, but there would be a time after ingestion when everything just seemed alright. This was what I was searching for all my life, it seemed. As a bonus, I could drink a lot while taking meth. Like for 72 hours straight.

I sobered from meth and alcohol in a treatment center I stayed in for four months. I remained sober for seven years after that. During this time, I struggled to manage my bipolar symptoms and I had yet to be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, so I was trying to manage symptoms without knowing why I had them. I acted out sexually during this time and impulsively took my medications as they were not prescribed. I was sober, but I was still in trouble.

I finally drank again, which brought back feelings of relief and comfort. I could never stop at tipsy, so I got shitty drunk whenever I drank. I lost my driver’s license for four years. Luckily, I lived with my current husband at the time and he could drive me around, but otherwise I was trapped in the house if he wasn’t going anywhere (we live in the country). I continued to drink and finally, my husband kicked me out.

Semicolon Necklaces for Men and Women

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I went to live with my dad for a year. I ended up taking off with another man I wouldn’t even have lunch with. He was living in a tiny little camper trailer, and now, so was I! I decided to go off all of my medications and get pregnant with this guy. Three months later, I had an abortion. The guy and his family harassed me for months, but the deed was done. I had been mentally sick and needing medication while I was pregnant, but there are few medications you can take while carrying a fetus. I also realized that I was too messed up to be a mom.

Still recovering from the abortion, I took off with another homeless guy (lunch? No thanks.). We ended up staying in this ancient and small Airstream trailer that was sitting in a junkyard. The dust in that place was at least a half-inch thick. This was in Eastern Oregon and the nights were freezing. I had to squish myself into a sleeping bag with this guy in order to stay warm. I lay awake like that one night and decided that I wanted to kill myself. I just didn’t know how.

I escaped back to my husband and he welcomed me with open arms. My bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorders were still not being treated and within a year, I cheated on my husband twice. The first time, I tried to commit suicide by drinking a giant bottle of Jack Daniel’s in one hour. I woke up two days later and was taken to a psychiatric hospital. Because I had no insurance, they just let me stay there for seven days without treating me. They had no problem charging me $14,000 though.

The second time I cheated on my husband, I ended up in jail for drunken disorderliness. The doctor there prescribed me some meds and I felt relief right away. I was put on probation, but get this: being on probation meant I was eligible for a free doctor. The doctor put me on an antipsychotic medication and I had never, ever, felt better. All of the pesky bipolar symptoms went down to a low roar and I felt like I could do anything.

A few months later, something strange happened. I fell into a depression because I realized how much I had wasted my life. I looked back and saw a drunken, meth-addled, poor student, bad employee, and awful partner. I couldn’t find a way to make anything of my life now. Suddenly, I knew I was ready to die. I just needed to find a way to make it look like an accident, so my loved ones wouldn’t have to grieve a suicide.

Suicide Prevention Necklaces for Men and Women

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I can’t sit here and describe the horrible guilt, despair, and sorrow I felt when I realized I was ready to go to the other side. Those feelings weren’t for me; they were for the people who I would leave behind. It was so weird to finally have freedom from the symptoms which plagued me for 25 years, yet feel I was in a rock-bottom mess. I just felt worthless and I wanted to die.

Therapy. 12-step meetings. Talking to friends. Therapy. Counseling. Reading self-help books. Therapy. 12-step meetings. Reading spiritual literature. Therapy. Counseling. Talking to friends. Talking to a 12-Step sponsor. Okay, I think you got it.

I changed my attitude and decided to get busy living instead of get busy dying. I decided that I could spend each day doing nothing but what I needed to do for the day and let the future shake itself out. So far, it’s working. I don’t feel suicidal anymore – I love my life. If you’ve read this and something sticks out for you, please leave me a comment. Thank you for visiting my blog.

Here are some helpful books about some of the things I mentioned:

The Bipolar Disorder Survival guide

I Hate You Don’t Leave Me

The Sermon on the Mount: The Key to Success in Life

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6 thoughts on “Erin’s Story

  1. Erin, your story is so open and honest. I appreciate that. Can you tell us how you found your new purpose with the semicolon jewelry, and how that has brought you to this point of starting a blog about sharing your story and self purpose? How important is your cause/your creative expression, and how has it helped you caring for your health and wellbeing? Your husband must love you dearly!

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    1. Dear Suzy,

      In another of my blog entries, “What Does the Semicolon Mean?” I explain what the semicolon stands for, but perhaps I didn’t say what it means to me. I know there are solidarity symbols out there for mental illness and suicide prevention. I think they are yellow and purple ribbons, but I’m not even sure, because you never see them. The bottom line for me when I saw the semicolon tattoos that Project Semicolon made popular is that “we”, the suicidal community, now had a symbol that meant something (a pause in the sentence; not the end). I haven’t done so yet, but I intend to get a semicolon tattoo on the inside of my left wrist to remind me, if I ever get suicidal again, to pause and move on rather than stick a period on my life.
      The first thing I wanted to do when I found Project Semicolon was to tell everyone about it. However, in my circle of friends I seem to be the only person with suicidality. Nevertheless, I kept talking about it in my self-help groups and even to strangers. One day, a friend suggested that I incorporate the semicolon onto jewelry and sell it – with a portion of the profits to go to a suicide prevention foundation. That’s how my cause, Be;cause came to be. I run this with a really cool friend and we can be found on Etsy. The easiest way to get there is by clicking on one of the suicide prevention jewelry links in the blog above.
      Having the Etsy shop and writing this blog have been learning experiences. Nothing has come easily, because this is my first time in business or writing for the public. I think it has helped my mental outlook, because I wake up early, excited for the day, mostly because I have this project. Suicide is a very important issue for me, because people in my life have succumbed to it, as I almost did. I think I’m doing a good thing by producing beautiful conversation pieces to help eradicate the stigma that follows the problem.
      Thank you so much for reading my blog, Suzy! Tell your friends I’m here!
      Dear Suzy,

      In another of my blog entries, “What Does the Semicolon Mean?” I explain what the semicolon stands for, but perhaps I didn’t say what it means to me. I know there are solidarity symbols out there for mental illness and suicide prevention. I think they are yellow and purple ribbons, but I’m not even sure, because you never see them. The bottom line for me when I saw the semicolon tattoos that Project Semicolon made popular is that “we”, the suicidal community, now had a symbol that meant something (a pause in the sentence; not the end). I haven’t done so yet, but I intend to get a semicolon tattoo on the inside of my left wrist to remind me, if I ever get suicidal again, to pause and move on rather than stick a period on my life.
      The first thing I wanted to do when I found Project Semicolon was to tell everyone about it. However, in my circle of friends I seem to be the only person with suicidality. Nevertheless, I kept talking about it in my self-help groups and even to strangers. One day, a friend suggested that I incorporate the semicolon onto jewelry and sell it – with a portion of the profits to go to a suicide prevention foundation. That’s how my cause, Be;cause came to be. I run this with a really cool friend and we can be found on Etsy. The easiest way to get there is by clicking on one of the suicide prevention jewelry links in the blog above.
      Having the Etsy shop and writing this blog have been learning experiences. Nothing has come easily, because this is my first time in business or writing for the public. I think it has helped my mental outlook, because I wake up early, excited for the day, mostly because I have this project. Suicide is a very important issue for me, because people in my life have succumbed to it, as I almost did. I think I’m doing a good thing by producing beautiful conversation pieces to help eradicate the stigma that follows the problem.
      Thank you so much for reading my blog, Suzy! Tell your friends I’m here!

      Like

  2. Absolutely inspiring.Ypu have been through so much but you have survived all of it and you are still here.As a person with depression and anxiety i can identify with some of how you feel.I still have suicidal thoughts and i self harm.
    thank you for sharing your story.i also find blogging helpful . Xxxx

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  3. I to know quite a few who pulled it off, and even more who pulled it off without anyone else really knowing .. by using until it caused disease that took them. Their is more than one way to skin a cat. It sucks being a borderline, living in fear of a situation, meeting, personality, passerby, anything that conjures up those worst fears and haunts, and being shy, and afraid, and knowing that abuse comes in so many forms. The biggest bummer is not being able to get that childhood back. But, we must give ourselves credit for holding on, for surviving, for loving what we do have now, and learning to live in the moment, just right now, to cherish it. A quote: “Welcome the present moment as if you had invited it. Why? Because it is all we ever have. PEMA CHÖDRÖN”

    I leave my comment with another recent quote from gratefulness.org.
    Love is…like a spring coming up out of the ground of our own depths. “I am gift.” All that I am is something that’s given, and given freely. Being doesn’t cost anything. There’s no price tag, no strings attached. THOMAS MERTON

    Thank you for making it Erin. Oh, a book I am reading now, it seems good, it’s called the Buddha and the Borderline.

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