I hadn’t wanted to go to the emergency room but I hadn’t wanted to go anywhere, just away from my life and suicide seemed like the best option. In psychiatry class they say that one of the signs that someone is suicidal includes a messy room, as well as poor grooming, accruing an arsenal of guns, Tylenol, or sleeping pills. I hadn’t wanted to burden my family or roommates so when I decided life was too painful, not worth living, I had been thinking about cleaning my room. They also say, if you notice someone is getting his affairs in order, that’s a sign. I always wonder how people think they’d be able to tell if someone was getting his affairs in order. It wasn’t like my roommates knew I’d balanced my checkbook, organized my file cabinets so anyone would be able to find a record of credit cards, bank accounts, and possessions. I’d also made a list of who I thought should get what. I thought my sister should take my surf board because she likes to get into new sports and I knew she liked the beach. I’d doled out my laptop, athletic equipment, printer, everything I thought anyone would want, and I’d put it on a list on the desktop of my computer. I figured if I died someone would turn on my computer and nobody could miss the file named OPEN IF EMILY IS DEAD. But nobody knew about this. And nobody knew I’d thrown out my socks and underwear, things nobody would want once I was dead.
My doctor later told me that I didn’t really want to die and that’s why I called her. I called her to say goodbye but I had to call her emergency cell phone because I wanted to make sure I could actually speak to her before gathering the Tylenol and vodka. Our short conversation ended with, “Emily, do you think you should go to the emergency room right now? “No,” I’d answered. The emergency room was where you go when you’re certifiable. If I went, I would be alive, but I’d also be crazy. I wanted to go out without a label.
After I’d hung up on my doctor, I heard a slam and the bump bump bump of someone walking in the hallway of my house. My roommate came to the doorway of my room. “Hey,” she said.
“Hi,” I said. “Where’ve you been?” a stupid question. I knew she’d been at the hospital, in an operating room probably. She was doing a surgery rotation.
“In the OR,” she said. When someone has thyroid disease, their eyes pop out a little so you can see white all around the iris. Normally the top and bottom of the iris end behind the upper and lower lids so you only see white to the sides. My roommate didn’t have thyroid disease, but I could see white around her eyes, the sides, top and bottom. “Are you ok?”
“Yes,” I said. “I think I’m going to go to my friend’s house tonight, my friend in Springdale. I think I’ll go there.” My roommate still had temporary thyroid problems.
“Oh.” Pause. Pause. “Do you need anything?”
“No, I’m just going to Springdale. What’s wrong with you? You look like I’m going to the gallows or something.” Staring. Thyroid problems.
“Are you sure?”
“I’m just going to Springdale to hang out with my friend. You look like you’re sending me off to die.” I found an old backpack and was putting a book and deodorant into it. My roommate stared. I found a thong in my drawer and put that in the backpack. I’d really only thrown away the used underwear and because thongs tend to go cave diving in your rear end while you walk around, I’d not worn a number of my thongs. I would have liked to pack underwear, but they were neatly packed in a plastic bag somewhere, probably surrounded by other plastic bags filled with soured milk, paper towels, squishy fruit… My underwear was gone so I would be forced to wear thongs for the rest of what was supposed to be a rather short life.
“Are you sure you’re ok?” there was a plastic Vons bag full of discarded socks next to my bed. An empty beer bottle was barely obscured by the closet door. I assured my roommate that all was fine; that I’d mysteriously decided to go to a friend’s house in Springdale, a town I'd never actually been to, and that I was packing the bag so I’d have things to change into the next morning. When I woke up in Springdale. I left about fifteen minutes later. My phone kept lighting up with the words Dr. Feldman dancing across the screen. I usually kept the ringer off because the noise startled me so I usually missed it when people called. But I was paying attention to my phone and I hadn’t missed the fact that my doctor seemed like she really wanted to speak to me again.
I backed my car down the driveway, turned the wheel sharply, and drove away.
(Note- this describes events occuring two years ago- I am NOT actively suicidal)
5 weeks ago