On February 6, 2009, I held my Bersa .380 to my head. I was in the guestroom of my house where I now live with my loving boyfriend. He was away, and I knew this was my chance to take my life. He had been watching me very closely over the prior days, because I was talking about suicide frequently. I shut my eyes, thought of my grandfather, and squeezed the trigger.
Nothing. Nothing happened. The safety was on. I could never figure out the safety on that gun, and now I know why. I went into a psychiatric hospital a week later.
I spent the first days trying to lie about everything. I had worked in a psyc ward before, and I thought I knew how to get out. I would ask everyday when I could go home; I would tell everyone I was feeling “much better.” It didn’t work. Those people can see right through you.
I finally broke down my walls and let the light in. I let people in. I walked and talked with people I never would have outside the twelve foot fence and locked doors that kept us in check. I opened up my heart to reveal who I am inside to total strangers. What did I find? I found beauty. That’s the only way to describe it.
When I was a patient in that hospital, I was surrounded by people that had lost all hope. They could not imagine going on anymore, just like me. They had lost sight of the beauty in the world around them. It was all covered up by drugs, sex, violence, whatever- but it was still there.
What we did for each other was something I never understood when I was a Mental Health Tech, working with the mentally ill. We brought the beauty back into each other’s lives. We did it by being honest with each other. We had nothing to hide in there, and most of us were willing to try anything to feel better. In the end, all we had to do was be honest.
On my last night in the hospital, a fellow patient and alcoholic wanted to address the group during our nightly wrap-up session. She looked around the room and told us about a song she had heard when she was younger that reminded her of all of us. The song was about a troubled woman that had finally found her time to shine in the light of herself and her success. She looked into my eyes as she said, “You are all shining now, and you have inspired me to shine.” She went into her room later on and had multiple seizures due to complications from withdrawing from alcohol. She was transferred to the emergency room that night and I never saw her again. When I got out of the hospital, I got the word “shine” tattooed on my wrist.
What I am trying to say, and the reason I have gone on about my past and my crazy relationship with honesty is this- honesty breeds beauty. It is contagious. My experience in the hospital was the best and the worst thing that had ever happened to me. I am able to be myself and find my beauty in the world now; and that is because I am honest and true to me.