Note: This is written by Kylie, not Dorothy. Kylie rendered her account inaccessible, and asked to post it here instead.
Author's note: This is completely true, every word, and it follows my thoughts and actions in what I intended to be my final weeks. Please read with caution.
Kylie smiled her first genuine smile in several weeks, maybe even months. The plan was simple, but genius, and foolproof. An hour later, she set her plan in motion.
I’m moving out on January 4, her text to her case manager read. We can talk about it on Tues, if you want.
The first step was taken; there was no turning back. That simple action -a text message- banished any fears or uncertainty she may have had. She went downstairs to the staff office to add some momentum.
“Guess what,” she told the staff on duty. “I’m moving out.” And she spun her story. She was a writer, so stories came naturally to her. Lies, she struggled with, but stories were not lies, so that is how she made herself think of them. “I got a job in California,” she spun. “An old place I used to work had a new position open, and I got hired. My friend needs a roommate, so it all works out.”
The story was carefully written in her mind. Unverifiable, but realistic. With all the right elements to hide the obvious clues. Moving away gave her the excuse to say goodbye, to give away her belongings, and most of all, explain away any cracks in her usual armor of a cheerful smile and pleasant personality. Who wouldn’t be sad to be leaving their friends behind to move back to the town she planned and hoped never to see again?
This story began two days before Christmas, so Kylie found it quite amusing, and also quite sad, when her case manager gave her a Christmas stocking two days later. Like it matters, she thought. It’s not like I can take it with me.
The next week was mostly spent cleaning her apartment. Just because she was going to be dead didn’t mean she should make somebody clean up after her. She marveled at how many physical belongings she’d managed to accumulate.
Just 18 months before, she’d moved to Portland with nothing more than the contents of a single duffel bag and a single messenger bag. But after she had packed the few things she’d need for the short time she’d given herself to live, she was still left with six trash bags of stuff to throw away and two paper bags of odds and ends she wanted to give to her friends.
Looking back, Kylie would admit that the hardest part of this story is not the night she swallowed the pills. The hardest part was the afternoon four days before, when she was leaving the transitional housing center she’d been living in for the previous year. She briefly considered telling the truth. Breaking down the story and asking for help.
She resisted the urge. She was beyond help.
Less than an hour later, she checked into a hotel room. She didn’t move to California. She hadn’t even gone 10 miles. She went just far enough away that nobody she knew would accidentally run into her.
Kylie’s only requirement for the hotel was that it had to have a bathtub. Her previous apartment in the transitional housing facility had only a shower, and oh how she missed a nice hot soak in a bathtub.
She spent the next few days in various states of awareness. She gorged herself on all manner of unhealthy food; it’s not like she needed to watch her weight. And slowly but surely, she shut down the lines of communication. She was enough of a geek that it only took a few seconds when she wanted to block everybody out of her life forever, or at least the few days left of it.
First text messages, when her therapist figured out that something was wrong when Kylie was late for her weekly appointment.
Then phonecalls when she didn’t reply to the texts.
Emails were last, when she started getting spammed with concern from her friends and mentors. She didn’t want to read them. If she read them she might change her mind.
The few events she would later remember clearest in the next week would be massaging her friend to ask if she wanted a laptop, buying the pills, making her goodbye video, shipping off her precious laptop, and finally, the hour before and the half hour after she took the pills.
She felt a mix of sorrow and purpose when she contacted her friend. She knew her email address by heart, so it was easy to add her to her Google Talk contacts. The conversation was brief and pointed. She wouldn’t let herself get distracted, and she had no intention of letting her friend change her mind, even if she figured out what was going on. Sure she wanted to give her friend her computer, but more than that, she wanted to make her friend promise to be strong. To not give up, and most of all, keep being herself. After a promise was wrestled out and details of the computer decided, she deleted her friend’s contact and logged out.
Do most people spend this long deciding how to die? she wondered as she spent nearly twenty minutes comparing various sleeping pills early the next day at a nearby pharmacy store.
“I’m sorry,” she pleaded through broken voice and streaming tears as she recorded her goodbye video. An apology for not being who others wanted her to be, and an apology for what she knew she’d leave behind. Then she uploaded her video and scheduled it not to go public until it would be too late.
This is it, she realized, as the post office employee took her laptop away. If she had wondered about her resolve before, she did so no longer. She never would have given her laptop away unless she planned to never need it again.
So with her final tasks done, she made a mental schedule for that night.
9pm, she decided. I’ll do it and go to bed, and I just won’t wake up.
The rest of the day was surprisingly normal. She watched tv, played a game on her phone, organized the hotel room. Completely normal stuff. Stuff she would do any other night.
The digital hotel clock clicked to 9:00pm, and she opened a bottle of apple juice she’d bought to wash the pills down.
92 sleeping pills. They took less than a minute to swallow the whole bottle.
She lay down in bed and set the sleep timer on the TV for 90 minutes, to give her enough time for the sleeping pills to start to take effect.
Then she noticed that she’d latched the security latch on the door by habit. No point making them break down the door to get my body, she thought as she got up to unlatch it.
Then she lay back down and watched tv until she drifted into what she hoped would be her final sleep.
She was very surprised to wake up the next morning. She tried to get out of bed, but even the short distance to the bathroom proved to be too much for her. Her reflexes were dull and her senses were unreliable. She could barely stand, and walking was beyond her at that moment.
After a few hours, her head cleared just enough that she resolved to get more pills and try again that night, once the effects of the previous night’s failed attempt wore off. But her plans were cut short when her video went live.
Her therapist and case manager, who had been searching her public profiles for any sign of where she’d gone found it quickly, and her therapist noticed that the background was clearly a hotel, probably a local one. She enlisted the help of some other people who knew and cared about Kylie to call hotels and find her.
They got lucky. Within just a few minutes, they’d found the right one.
The police arrived at her hotel room and she unlatched the safety latch she must have re-latched in that morning’s stupor.
The police took her to the emergency room, but she does not remember much of the experience. She was later told that they used charcoal to clear up the pills that remained in her system.
From there they took her to a crisis treatment center, where she was required to stay under suicide watch over the weekend. Both her case manager and her therapist visited her twice while she was there. And after making lots of promises that she wasn’t going to try to kill herself again in the foreseeable future, she was released on Tuesday.
She was welcomed back into the transitional housing that she’d been staying in before, though the staff were told to keep an extra watch on her in case she did something stupid. Her therapist and case manager both asked her to meet them twice a week, instead of once, which she had been doing.
The most uncomfortable part though, was having to figure out what to tell all the people who believed that she was moving to California, and how to tell the few people that she trusted with the truth.
Kylie is still not entirely sure that she’s glad that she’s alive, but she did decide not to put all the amazing people who care about her through it again.
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