Thirty amitriptyline will not kill you.  Well, maybe they’ll kill you, but they didn’t kill me.

Of course I no longer recall what the dosage was, just how many milligrams of the depression medication I actually took.  I no longer recall just how many days and nights I spent unconscious in a filthy bed in a tiny trailer somewhere outside of Birmingham, Alabama.  I think maybe it was two or three nights.

They were much easier to swallow than the aspirin.  I hadn’t been able to get the whole bottle of aspirin down, in fact, ten years earlier; a bottle’s worth of aspirin tablets is really fucking hard to swallow without gagging.  The amitriptyline pills, in their shiny, smooth little gel jackets, went down pretty easily with a couple of beers.  They didn’t have the hard edges of the aspirin, or the nasty lingering chalky bitter taste they left after getting stuck twenty times on the way down.  They slid right down like candy, like kisses.

I hadn’t done my research.  I hadn’t even planned it ahead of time, really.  I don’t think I really knew what I was taking, except the bottle had a warning label on it that indicated taking a lot of them was a bad idea. That was good enough for me.  A long-time pill aficionado, I knew they weren’t worth much on the street, weren’t a narcotic; I asked the guy whose bathroom they were in what they were and he said they were his ex-girlfriend’s antidepressants, “and the crazy bitch hasn’t been taking them.”

My decision was impulsive, to a certain odd extent.  I hadn’t gone there planning to die, exactly.  But I’d spent months colliding with this guy, and it was what I later came to call “graveyard love” – I suspect I stole that from an author I was too fried at the time to properly credit.  When I first met him, I’d been warned away from him already and that made him irresistible.  I left the club that night with him and my roommate, dropped acid, and spent the late night and early morning in a giant cavern passage – we went in one end at 2 am and came out the other into the early light at 6 or so.  Then we went swimming in a mountain lake with a bunch of rednecks; part of me couldn’t believe that he hadn’t cut our throats and left us to die in there.  Nobody would ever have found us.  Not in time.  I think we said as much on the way home.

I would disappear with him for days.  He dealt drugs, actually worshiped the devil (for real), had a kid somewhere in Nevada, had a number of felonies, and rumor had it there was a warrant for an unsolved homicide.  He drove this stupid little redneck sportscar and very often needed to wash his hair.  I once tried to break a beer bottle over his head, mostly just to find out what he would do. It was harder than I’d thought it would be and it just made a surprising, heavy, hollow sound.  I liked him mostly because he would hurt me.  I remember a party one night, when I was with him in the bedroom next to the one I shared with my husband, when he was cutting my chest with a hunting knife.  I asked him to cut a little deeper.  He did.  I asked him to kill me.  He wouldn’t.  He told me I was being selfish, asking to die just to leave him behind, holding the bag.

It wasn’t all him, of course.  I had dropped out of school, had some rampant debts, had a raging fucking coke problem, and was keeping bad company.  I also had chronic bronchitis, undiagnosed asthma, and no insurance, which would keep me out of work for weeks at a time.  I had a really sorry track record of communicating like a grownup with my husband on Important Stuff, and a pretty long-standing sense of despair.  I had been trying to die passively for probably close to a year by the time I ended up in the filthy bed in that filthy trailer.  As long as I went out high I didn’t really fucking care anyway.

I told him I loved him.  But I didn’t love him, man.  What I loved was the fucking trajectory.

One night, after I’d been trying to tell him for about a week that I couldn’t see him anymore, he came to pick me up from the club.  I don’t know if my husband wasn’t working that night, or if he had to work later than I did, or if he was there and nothing got said, or exactly what the fuck was going on.  I remember that I didn’t want to leave with him.  I remember that when he stopped at a gas station on the way out to the middle of nowhere where he lived in a trailer park, that I scraped change out of the doors of his car and called home on a payphone outside while he was in buying beer.  I was going to ask my husband to come get me.  He wasn’t there.  I got a distracted roommate (not the one who went into the cave with me) who took a message.

Something inside me died a little that night.  Something inside me looked around, and said, “They’re all better off without you,” and “Your husband will never forgive you for this,” and “You’ve been dancing with this shit all this time anyway, why not be a big girl about it,” and “You have gotten so many chances, and you have fucking blown them all, and this is the end of the road.”  Something inside me suddenly looked weak, like I didn’t have the courage of my convictions if I spent a few months screwing Death Incarnate and didn’t have the balls to pull the trigger myself.  But I didn’t have a gun.  I didn’t even know what county I was in.  I drank a couple of beers, asked about the pills, went back into the bathroom a few minutes later and took them all.  I came out, opened another beer, killed half of it, kissed him on the mouth, said goodbye, and laid my head in his lap.  There was no part of me that expected to wake up. There was no part of me that saw any hope for anything to get any better.  I had convinced myself that I was the problem, a pure and simple train-wreck, and that furthermore I was a huge burden on everybody I cared about, and this was the simplest and cleanest way.

I woke up two or three days later, with some blood and vomit on my clothes, in a sour-smelling bed somewhere in Alabama.  The guy whose place I was at was in the living room, on the couch, fucking the girl whose anti-depressants I’d taken.  My roommate was there, shaking me.  Somehow I got in the car.  I remember being in the backseat and she was pulling up to the club where we all worked, and my husband said, “Where have you been?” and I said “I tried to kill myself,” and he said, “Well that was fucking stupid.”  His sentiments were later repeated by the club owner when my roommates were trying to help me get my job back, explaining why I’d been MIA.
I don’t know how I got out of that episode.  It’s only in retrospect that I can see that as part of a large, slow cycle, in which about every ten years I go a little crazy and do stupid shit in an attempt to get taken out passively, having convinced myself that I am poisoned, damaged, and beyond repair, returning every kindness with a kick and taking, taking, taking without ever giving anything – or enough, anyway – back.

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