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Worth Saving
By Natasha Tracy

I laid on the unshellacked, ceramic tiles of my kitchen floor. They were each the size of a dessert plate, hard and cold. The grey grout between them left pockmarked indentations in my flesh. I pressed my body flat against the floor so as much of me as possible would touch the tile. I liked to lay there when there was nowhere in the world I could possibly be. Beside the cat’s litter box, between the dishwasher and stove, I promised to end my life. I felt the pain come. Brick walls crushing my bones. I had been holding the pain back longer than I could bear. So it was here. Vengeful. Aggressive. Needy. More pain in the form of tears. A flood of acid burned trails in my cheeks, accompanied by the wailing of a dying animal. It’s the sound you don’t hear unless you happen to be beside someone with brick walls crushing their bones. I was pinned. All the energy of the world was screaming from my lungs and pouring from my eyes; there was none left to move a muscle. I waited.

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Nothing to do but wait. Let the pain tear me open and wait. Feel the acid in my eyes and wait. Hear the echoes of my cries and wait. The pills and the gin started to massage the edges of my consciousness. On the very outer recesses of the prison of my mind there was the tiniest hope of a foggy torture. Instead of the shards of crystalline pain in the rest of my world. I sat up. I picked up the gin bottle, my friend, sitting on the floor next to me, and choked back the alcohol. A soothing burn. The sear of anesthetic entering veins. -Bipolar Not Worth Saving. This was not an official diagnosis but one seemingly written on my chart anyway. A new doctor. With short, flat hair and creases chiseled into her face from a career of failing to save the insane. I was a chart to her. An assessment. An assessment she wrote with furious anger as I bloodlet my medical history in front of her. She never looked up from her scrawl. She never told me her name. She wouldn’t have been able to pick me out of a lineup. There is a special suffering that goes with admitting to a history of anguish and medical failure. It is an aching, urgent, seething loss describing what doctors and medications haven’t helped. It is horrific to be expected to detail years of
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insanity with the passionless clarity of this morning’s weather forecast. The doctor judged me when I didn’t remember the name of the fifth medication, how much of it I had taken, how long I had taken it and what the side effects were. It was a decade ago. She didn’t care. It wasn’t helpful if I couldn’t be specific. I was naked and being flogged. -I knew Ativan and gin weren’t a good mix. I knew why. I knew what happened when benzodiazepines and alcohol slipped into neuronal pathways. I knew psychopharmacology. I knew it made it easier to die. I also knew I hadn’t taken enough to do the job. Not hoarded enough medication. Not enough gin in the freezer. But the chemicals did part of their job and dampened my sense of concern. The pain was there. The brick walls came. The acid flowed. But I cared less about the agony in which I laid. And there was something I wanted to do before I died. I wanted to slice my wrist with a shard of broken glass. Glass slides through flesh more easily than a razor blade. The slice is completed before your brain acknowledges the feeling.

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You just see the blood. And your flesh pushing out through your incision, no longer held in place by your skin. I looked up to my Formica countertop and sitting on it was a champagne flute filled with cinnamon hearts. The red candy in glass had been sitting there, untouched, for months. I had no need for hearts. -After the bearing of soul to the hollow doctor I expected a refrain I have heard many times. “We can’t do much for you. You’re treatment-resistant. We can’t make any promises.” That was devastatingly fine. I didn’t expect they could take away the crazy. But instead she told me that there was nothing she could do and I would not be her, or anyone else’s, patient. She was the assessment keeper. Gate keeper. Health care services keeper. Creator of the designation: Bipolar Not Worth Saving.

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I was stunned. I told her she seemed to be cast from stone and needed to work on her bedside manner as it felt like being hit by a steel post. It was the best I could do upon hearing I was a Bipolar Not Worth Saving. Not a muscle in her face moved. Not a molecule of her being shifted as she watched me break down, 18 inches away from the frantic script of her assessment. I choked out drowning questions. I asked her what she wanted me to do now. What was the plan? Where do I go from here? She didn’t know. She didn’t care. Bipolar Not Worth Saving. Not her problem. She told me to go off my meds to get rid of the side effects I was having. I told her I was suicidal. She asked me what I wanted her to do about it. Bipolar Not Worth Saving. I begged for a refill of my existing prescriptions knowing her advice to stop medication would likely be lethal. With a great show of effort she scrawled on her prescription pad and handed it to the now sputtering, sobbing, sopping mess of predead human. Two weeks worth. Enough time to get my things in order. Enough time to say goodbye. There was no power that could make me stop crying as I left her office. I ran into my old doctor on the way out. I looked at him and begged him to help me. For
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a moment a stroke of concern flashed across his eyes. My blotchy red face and strangled request had resonated somewhere. But the concern vanished in the next blink as he returned to neutral. He was helping someone else today. -I heaved my body up to grab the glass. Cold, hard, solid in my hand I dropped back to the floor. I positioned myself between the cat box and the stove, and shattered the glass making hearts fly through the air. I turned and looked to make sure there was no glass around the cat box. I didn’t want the cats to cut their paws. I looked at the different pieces of glass scattered around me. I looked for the sharpest one. I looked for the one I thought would incise the best. I stumbled to pick it up and finished the gin while the world swirled around me. A lack of food for days meant the chemicals raced to bathe my neurons. I sliced across my left wrist; where a watch band would go; where the blue and the purple blood can be seen. Shiny red oozed from the stroke. The blood was so little. The wound was so shallow. I cut again. This piece of glass was not sharp. Every person in the world had cut themselves more deeply cleaning up a broken juice glass in the sink. The blood from my wrist glistened. I found another piece of glass, certain it was sharper. I cut again.
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There is a momentous pain that goes with cutting into an existing wound. Slicing into flesh that has already been shredded and ripped, dissected and torn. This is the pain truly worth screaming about. The pain it takes alcohol and drugs through which to steady yourself. The pain requiring deep resolve and inextinguishable need through which to continue cutting. Now there was blood. Blue-red life flowed from my wrist. It splashed onto the tile. I watched it pool there for a moment. Then I realized. There wasn’t enough blood. I hadn’t cut the vein. I frantically searched for sharper glass fragments among the hearts. More cutting. Not enough blood. Too late. The fog of drugs won out over the blood. The last thing I thought as I laid there was that I should make sure and not bleed on the grout. It would stain.

If you feel you may harm yourself, reach out. Get help now.

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Natasha Tracy is an award-winning mental health writer with a
damaged brain and a mind striving to deal with it. She writes technical articles, creative nonfiction and fiction and is known for devastating authenticity and occasional controversy. You can find Natasha:
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Writing Breaking Bipolar for HealthyPlace.com Writing at http://natashatracy.com @natasha_tracy on Twitter Natasha.tracy.writer on Facebook

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