I wanted to write something today because in the area that I lived there was the tragedy of suicide. I see also in the news that people are turning to this more and more it seems. I am grieved because there is so much to live for in life. I wanted to write something to raise awareness or maybe bring perspective. I hope in some way this helps people have an idea of something they can do, many times we feel helpless. I personally believe that the worst thing we can do is nothing.
After my accident my license was revoked. It was revoked because of a neurological change and until I could demonstrate that I could drive again I wouldn’t be able to have my license. The idea that I couldn’t have my license was strangely comforting for me though because I had zero confidence to drive anyway. I was still not confident in my ability to walk and had memories of being in a wheel chair and I still had to plan every step and how to even get into a car without falling. When I first woke up my double vision was so severe and my awareness was so lacking that I couldn’t tell the real from the fake image when I looked at something. To make a long story short when I went to practice driving I was very nervous and even though I saw better and walked better I still doubted everything about me. My fears weren’t relieved when the instructor got into the car. I was in a “Driving student” car. I didn’t even get into one of those in high school. I took driver’s education in school, so I didn’t take the driving portion of my test. When the instructor got into the car she was very nice. I felt very nervous and her kindness did not disarm me, rather it made me even more nervous than ever before. The most difficult part was that she got into the car and with an almost script like greeting she glared at me and her veins in her neck began to throb. She opened her mouth and a shrill moan came out as her eyes began to glow. Her mouth simply curved in a smile and a hiss escaped her in a sound that was like cob webs burning and she said “drive”. As she said this she removed her claw like foot from her shoe and it was poised over the brake pedal that sat there on the passenger side of the car mocking me. The pedal spoke and was denying that I could pass this test to get my freedom back. Now this is how I remember it and if it isn’t true it certainly should be.
To say I was nervous was an understatement. In a way I felt humiliated because I was starting my life from the beginning. I was starting over and trying to rebuild myself, only the future wasn’t terribly bright. I hoped that I would be able to live in the small town that we moved to 6 months before my accident, but I didn’t know. So there that woman sat on the passenger side of the car with her foot hovering over the brake pedal. To make matters worse she tried to engage me in conversation while taking me down the busiest streets in the city at lunch time. I was so focused on being safe and moderately annoyed that she was talking to me in the first place that my nervousness was showing through like my choice of career would if I had a clown wig on and floppy shoes (I felt that way anyway). So this is what I was thinking about instead of conversation: My hand would drift the direction that my head was turned so driving straight was a chore if I looked around. I had to focus on how hard I pushed the pedal to go the correct speed, remember what the correct speed was, work on slowing down correctly when the light turned color, and be conscious of people who were around me. I had to do all of this at the same time!
All of these things were like ingredients in a pot boiling on the stove. Then someone added the pasta and everything boiled over. The lady had me on one busy road during lunch rush and making a left turn onto another busy road. I went into the left hand turn lane and the light was red. As I was in the turn lane the lady was still trying to engage me in conversation and I was mentally preparing for the inevitable light changing to green. There were cars in front of me and when the light changed color they all went without any problems. When it became my turn I was getting ready to put my foot on the gas. As I went through the check list on what to do next all of the sudden there was a horn behind me honking. The person behind me honked the horn, hit the gas pedal, and whipped around me, which caused me to freeze up. The way they went around me was that they accelerated rapidly and went into the other lane, cut me off and went through the light. The lady just stared at me expectantly and I started to go again.
I was taught a very important lesson that day. Everyone has a story. The whole reason that I am sharing this little snapshot of my life is to maybe help us to consider others. I wondered after that incident if the person that did the speeding and honking would have done it if they knew what I had been through months before. I don’t know if they would even care. One thing about this life is that we see so little compassion with other people. I wonder what difference a kind word would do. I wonder the power that a kind gesture would have when someone is down. I would encourage all of us to think that maybe ours will be the only kind; loving word this person will hear all day. Remember everyone has a story and they usually always come with pain. I don’t share any stories to show what I go through; I share to show what others are possibly going through.
I am not expert on suicide. I was always taught that if someone seems suicidal or expresses that they are that they usually have a plan. I was taught that it is alright to ask someone “What is your plan?” The plan will normally be worked out if he or she is serious. If the person has a plan get help immediately. I did a quick search on the internet for warning signs for suicide and a website called save.org showed this:
Warning signs are indicators that a person may be in acute danger and may urgently need help.
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself;
- Looking for a way to kill oneself;
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose;
- Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain;
- Talking about being a burden to others;
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs;
- Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless;
- Sleeping too little or too much;
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated;
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge; and
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
The biggest reason that I wanted to write this was to show that everyone has a story, most of the time we don’t know what it is. Sometimes when someone’s story comes into contact with yours you have a chance to impact for the better. It seems like many people never believe that they will be impacted by this, but it is real. In my opinion it is so important to be vigilant for those around us. Some day we may need someone to be vigilant for us. Take care and hopefully you get just beyond the bend!