The Nordstrom green bathrobe belt

Image I should first make clear that what I’m about to write about (suicide) is disturbing and I may trigger some readers, so please take that into account.  It’s not easy to write about the topic of suicide, but it’s important to me, and once again I’m using my blog as a free catharsis.  I wrote about suicide before in this blog in 2008:

Today, the last day of the year, I have more reflections to add.   I think it’s symbolic to address that horrible epoch in my life and to create some closure around it before starting 2014.  This post is not all grim, thank goodness – there is hope at the end.

So here I go.

It all starts with a medication I tried for severe depression which my former psychiatrist       “Dr. A.” prescribed to me called Elavil.  Elavil, or amitriptyline, falls under the group of tricyclic antidepressants, and it does work for some people.  (I wonder about the Big Pharma focus groups that churn out these drug names – I’m sure it’s no accident that the word Elavil sounds a bit like “elevate”.)  I, for one, did not have an elevated mood after taking my first pill.   Elavil backfired for me.


After having that medication in my system less than five hours, my mood changed from severe depression to acutely suicidal.  I had felt passively suicidal before, but this time was markedly different. I wanted to take my own life in a way I had never considered before; I wanted to actually do it.

I wanted to hang myself off our wooden balcony…with my dark green Nordstrom bathrobe belt.

Before that momentous day, I could never understand why anyone would want to commit suicide, especially in such a barbaric-sounding way.  I knew that if for some inexplicable reason I would ever want to take my own life, I would choose the least painful method possible, and that would be with pills.

The anti-depressant “black box” indications, warning that suicidal ideation/action is possible when taking certain medications, began in May, 2007, the same year I was diagnosed with bipolar.  I’m not sure if my psychiatrist discussed the possibility of this disastrous side effect with me at length, but I don’t  blame him for what happened.  What  occurred with me could have taken place with most of the numerous mood disorder medications that I tried.

When I realized I wanted to kill myself, thank GOD Craig was here and I told him immediately. Along with our two precious little ones, we made the trek to Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula.  (It’s also known by the rather-freaky acronym C.H.O.M.P. – that always makes me think of a great white shark!)  I admitted myself into the locked-down psychiatric ward.

Otherwise known as Hell on Earth.

I won’t go into the specifics now, but as you can imagine, it was sheer darkness.  Staying in that ward was, bar none, the worst time I ever experienced apart from the death of my Dad.

Why dredge up all this grim stuff now?  Well, there’s nothing like the prospect of a new year to inspire resolutions, and I have a resolution in regard to what I’m writing about today.

It all comes down to my fancy robe.  (It was a gift and it cost over one hundred dollars.) You see, I still have it.  Every time I look at its belt (which is at least once a day) the robe reminds me of that awful time when I wanted to leave this world.   I have another pink robe which is perfectly good, so why do I keep this green reminder of morbidity?  Perhaps I have been too caught up in my depression to care much about changing my surroundings.  Today I am putting myself first, without reservations of any kind, and it feels really good.

Now that I’m doing better (fingers and toes and eyes crossed!) I want to get rid of the green robe. I’m going to grab a bag and dump it in there as soon as I finish writing this post. Someone else can enjoy using it without all the terrible associations that I have.  I cannot think of a better way to start off 2014 than to finally expel this robe from our home.