Six weeks ago I bought a gun. I bought it while I was out running errands and of all my errands that day, it was the easiest.
I have struggled with suicidal thoughts for the majority of my life, and many nights I’ve thought “I wish I had a gun, I could just end it all.” And then often the next morning, I was grateful I had no access to a firearm. I have always hated guns, have signed petitions for stricter gun laws, and never imagined I would hold a loaded hand gun, much less own one but that’s exactly what happened. The idea of even getting my hands on a firearm seemed foreign to me. I am a sheltered, suburban girl and the only guns I had ever seen were in movies, on the news, or of the Nerf variety.
But then a gun store opened up in my neighborhood and I began to pass it several times a week. I became fixated on it. It had a quaint sign and was located in a strip mall, next to a place you could make your own pie. Honestly, I am more likely to be the type of person obsessed with the pie place, but I have been battling this disease, suffering, going in and out of hospitals, getting treatment, and still feeling like shit.
So I went in to the store, owned by a kind family. A man in his 60s ran the place and his sons worked there. He kissed his grown boys as they entered and exited. He seems like the kind of dad or grandpa anyone would want to have. The store had a poster warning you that Hillary wants to take your guns and a sign that asked you to “like” the gun store on Facebook.
I said I was interested in purchasing a gun. He guided me to my reason why, asking “For self-defense?” “Yes.” I said, knowing I wanted to use it for the exact opposite reason. He helped me pick out a hand gun, taught me how to load it and had me fill out a background check, which I passed. Are you suicidal? Are you in good mental health? These were not questions on the form.
There is no waiting period in Ohio so in 28 minutes I walked out with a gun. I went on to run a couple other errands. I had dinner with a friend, saying nothing about the weapon in my car. I wanted to pull the trigger. I all of the sudden got why people love guns. The power. So much power. I felt so beaten down by this disease, but now I held something that, in a second, could end my pain.
But the pain would not have ended, it would have been passed on to those who love me, most of all my son. So instead of pulling the trigger, I texted my therapist. She called me back and helped me through.
The next day on my way to check myself in to a mental hospital, I would return the gun.
I entered the kind man’s store and listened as Greased Lightning played on the radio, chuckling at how odd that seemed to me. I told him I wanted to sell the gun back. He told me I would lose some money on the deal and asked why I wanted to return the firearm. I said I didn’t feel I was mentally healthy enough to have it.
He said “Good for you for recognizing that!” and then added “If you are feeling better mentally, come back and I’ll give you a discount on your next purchase.”
The improv comedian in me smiled at the comedy of this sentence, the suicidal me took note of his offer.
I would then go check myself in to the hospital, which took 7.5 hours longer than it took to get the gun, and now I continue to get the help I need. Alive, safe, weapon returned.
Not many stories end the way mine do. The man at the store said I was the first to return a firearm to him. I was lucky to have a therapist I had access to and to be able to see the true impact my actions would cause.
And here’s the thing. I have no plans to take the man up on my store credit, but I so get the excitement people get out of holding something that can give you so much power so quickly, which is why I am more sure than ever we need to get rid of the guns. Or at the very least make them a lot harder to gain access to.
It seems to be a trend right now for women to write letters to their younger selves. Here’s my contribution:
It’s me, AKA you. I know we’re feeling super shitty right now so I wanted to write to you. I wanted you to hear from the part of yourself that says nice things to others as opposed to the jackass self who you usually let talk to you, cause frankly, it’s time we break up with that douche, the one who says “You’re a whiny piece of useless shit for struggling for so long.” That dude, like Puck from Real World San Francisco, needs to be booted. (I know you like a good dated reference so I threw that in there for you.)
Bottom line, stop giving yourself such a hard time, because the more you do that the less you can hear my voice, the voice that is saying this:
Treating yourself like shit will never ever serve you. It has no purpose. Right now, you just need to do the work. Go to therapy, talk stuff out, survive the struggle, learn what you need to learn, and most of all, trust yourself that you’re doing what you need to do.
It’s hard to admit to yourself that you’re brave and a fighter but you have to tell yourself that stuff cause that’s the only way to keep beating this. So just keep making it through each second, recognize your worth and your beauty, that’s your job to do, no one else’s.
And lastly, I love you and am here with you always but for both our sake, you should probably ease up on the Milk Duds, I know they’re tasty but there is line, and you’re way past it. Or in the words of Joey Tribbiani, “You’re so far past the line that you can’t even see the line! The line is a dot to you!”
Okay, you know what you need to do, so “Do it Rockapella!” (We’re crushing these 90s references.)
The boy has been sick all week. We’ve watched Sand Lot and Little Giants (One has the actor who played Darth Vader and the other has Darth Helmet.) We watch a great Lego documentary, and today we’ve watched the 2005 Fantastic Four and now the 1989 Batman.
I remember seeing this Batman in theaters at age 12 and enjoying Joker so much I dressed up as him for Halloween. It was an awkward choice as a 12 year old girl, to wear green sweats and a mask that you had to glue on to your face, which even so, kept falling off. It became more akward as the friends I went with were all dressed in cool black dresses as Palmer girls, which I honestly thought had something to do with golfer Arnold Palmer.
I have been having a rough go this week, figuring out diagnoses and meds. It’s not really depression, what I have, and I get sick of naming it, but then in the movie today the Joker helped me out as he uttered the phrase “I have given a name to my pain, and it’s Batman.”
So from now on, I will just be referring to whatever is going on with me as Batman, it seems especially appropriate as things are at their worst when it’s dark night.
I look forward to informing my doctor of this change and finding out if it’s billable.
Every day I am more and more aware of just how much electroconvulsive therapy took from me.
Beyond remembering my own personal endeavors, It took the memory of every birthday my child had, his first days of schools, our vacations, our lazy Sundays, it took all of it.
All parents forget things that happen as their children grow, in fact I imagine they forget more than they remember, but then they are reminded and often say “Oh yeah, I forgot that.”
But my memory, much like my body, is completely resistant to jogging. The memories are simply not there anymore.
And, you know what, it was still worth it and that’s even counting the fact that the relief ECT gave me is long gone, and that ECT stopped being an effective treatment for me, and that I am currently still struggling with this disease.
Parenting involves lots of trade-offs, sometimes parents work more hours than they would like to so they can afford things for their children, or (gasp) because they enjoy what they do and want their children to see that their parents have a fulfilling life.
My trade-off has been losing most of my memories I’ve made with my son in order to remain alive to make more. Deal.