“For me, it (suicide) was a reaction, not a well thought out response to my circumstances. I was desperate for my painful experience to end, not for my life to end.”
CHAPTER 4 – SHIPWRECKED
During my earlier years, my Papa (a photographer) brought me to the Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara Falls, NY. Little did I know, this would be my first “up-close and personal” experience with hundreds of silent winged butterflies. I didn’t like not knowing when they’d flutter by my face so I would swat them away. I can’t say I was in alignment with the word “conservatory”. Suddenly, a man approaches my Papa and I and asks me to leave the exhibit. As Papa needed to take more photos, I entered a room with a glass window to observe through, away from those silent but deadly butterflies. The fear of butterflies moved into my adult years and still to this day, you will see me running from them. I choose to admire them from afar.
In the last chapter (3), I explained how I was discharged from the NAVY. Against my wishes, of course. Did I deserve all that came out of that Captains Mast? No. I will absolutely admit that I wasn’t a perfect sailor. It would be foolish and prideful for me to imply that. However, I wasn’t so imperfect that I deserved the harshness of my NAVY experience.
When the Captain verbalized my discharge reasons and punishment, my soul dropped to my feet. I began to sweat and tears aggressively began to push through my “tough” exterior. I held my breath, desperate to “about-face” and run. I wanted to run physically and emotionally away from it. I didn’t want to show emotion while my chain of command (standing to my left) or my accuser (standing to my right) to witness weakness. I surely didn’t want the Captain to see how affected I was by his final decision. The disappointment I felt so deep within began to make it’s way to the surface. There came a point where I couldn’t hear the Captain any longer. I tuned back in to hear “you’re dismissed”. I made my final salute and about-faced (turned around) to exit the room. I made a left face towards the door and returned to the hallway to fall in line with other sailors with the same fate as me.
I tried to hold back the tears as best as I could. My Senior Chief (who I wish I could find, today) exited the room and walked right up to me. He put his face next to my right left ear, as I stood “at ease” (arms behind the back). In his deep and firm voice, he encouraged me to compose myself. I was to muster up the strength to contain the emotions while in uniform, the last time I’d ever wear my dress whites. I did what he asked, even though unbearably difficult. I don’t think there was ever a time when I worked so hard to suppress emotion. The eyes dried and the tears absorbed into my uniform. Conflicted. I felt so conflicted. On one hand, I wanted to rip off the uniform and cuss my way off base. On the other hand, because I had such respect for the uniform and all the work it took to earn the privilege, I needed to maintain that composure. Flashes of bootcamp, battle stations, the ballcap ceremony, my shipmates, damage control and engineering school, filled my mind.
Once we were excused, I walked briskly and angrily back to the barracks. I was so mad. Regretful. Disturbed. One Hundred thoughts coursed through my mind ever second. Past. Present. Future. It was intense and unending. It was so loud. I was hyper-focused on each step I took, walking towards the barracks.
When entering a barracks, like a ship, we are to salute the watch and ask permission to come on deck. I didn’t even bother. That brisk walk continued past the quarter-deck. I ran up two flights of stairs to my room. I opened the door and immediately fell to the ground and broke down. Hard. I was so angry and regretful. I stood up, teeth grinding, grunting, and threw my chair across the room. I pounded on the mattress, over and over. I screamed. I had not only lost control of my future in the NAVY but also my emotions. I told a friend that if I did end up getting kicked out, that my “end-game” wouldn’t be a good one. I followed through with that prediction.
I aggressively opened my desk drawer and reached for three bottles of pills, prescribed to me by the NAVY hospital. Darvocet (pain medication), Flexeril (muscle relaxer), and Ambien (sleep aid). I grabbed my Gatorade and swallowed all three bottles of pills. Every single pill.
RED LINE —– if this is too difficult, please read beyond the end of the RED LINE ——
I felt at my end. I grabbed my dark gray military blanket from the top of my 45 degree, perfect, military-mad bed. I laid between the two racks (beds) and covered myself up with the blanket. I was done. All I had worked for, all I had desired and hoped for, was taken away. Master at Arms in bootcamp, chosen class-leader in all Engineering School mods, I had zero red-marks (disciplinary) in my file. I just didn’t understand how I went from good-to-gone. What scared me the most, was the unknown. I didn’t know what was next and I sure didn’t have a grip or control on anything. It was all lost.
All of these thoughts raced through my mind as the pills started to take effect.
There was a small area where I could peek through the blanket. I remember seeing my shipmates shoes after they opened the door. They left. Minutes later, they came back minutes later and realized that I was hiding under the blanket. She raced back down to the quarterdeck and called for help.
What did I experience as the pills took effect? I’ll tell you. (I’ve always been hesitant to explain this.) Here it is… a silent, floating darkness. I couldn’t hear anything, when I tried to scream out. I couldn’t hear my own scream, which means I couldn’t hear any answer to that silent scream. I wanted to move but I realized I wasn’t attached or grounded to anything. It was almost like zero gravity with nothing to bounce off. I guess, the more I recall, it was like space but without the stars. It was just… black. Silent, blackness. Terrifying and lonely, to be honest.
The next thing I knew, the Senior Chief was holding me, full of emotion and tears, and within the next blink, I was in the hospital as a doctor kept trying to wake me up asking what pills I had taken. She was dressed in blue scrubs. I remember not being able to respond. I’d open my eyes every so often and catch a second-long glimpse of what was happening around me. I felt nothing. My brain didn’t translate. My eyes closed and that was it.
RED LINE ——
I woke up in a hospital room, alive. I was more confused than anything. I wasn’t sad that I woke up but I wasn’t happy either. The thoughts and emotions I so deeply wanted to silence when I swallowed those 90 pills, all came flooding back. I believe that says something about attempted-suicide.
I’ve read several accounts of similar outcomes from attempted suicide. I’ve heard stories of successful suicide attempts, from strangers and friends who have experienced the loss. I am confident in this next statement… Those who choose to attempt suicide, don’t want to die. Those who have been successful in committing suicide, didn’t want to die either. We/They wanted to escape, just for a little while. The finality of suicide isn’t always processed though when the attempter is in the middle of the attempt. I just wanted the circumstance to stop, shut-off, silence, until it was all over and made better… then I wanted to wake back up and keep going. With that said, suicide is NOT the correct response to trial or tragedy. For me, it was a reaction, not a well thought out response to my circumstances. I was desperate for my painful experience to end, not for my life to end.
You’ll understand why I hear the sound of freedom and how I learned how to “tune” my heart, soon. Until then, know that sometimes really horrible, silent but deadly, fiery arrows are shot at you throughout life. My fear of butterflies is silly because they’re innocent and beautiful. I realize now, that It’s not the butterfly that I’m scared of. It’s not knowing something is near me. Unless a butterfly is within your view, you don’t know they’re there. Sometimes it takes someone else to point them out to you. It is then, when you can recognize the beauty and blessing. This is why we all need people in our lives, good people. Friends who can point out danger and blessing. Friends, who can also aid in the removal of darts and the search for butterflies. For me, faith is the healer and friends are the helpers. I can’t do any of my healing or progress without God and the friends who He has placed in my life. For me, without God, healing and progress is just a temporary fix. The arrows aren’t removed without Him.
Since my suicide attempt, I’ve had numerous arrows pierce my soul. I’ve also been shown butterfly-blessings. I choose to focus on those blessings, while working through healing the wounds caused by arrows. I’ve learned how to put on armor and carry a shield. My perspectives have changed on many levels. If you follow me on social media, primarily Facebook, I share many of my struggles and life circumstances. It’s not for likes or comments or followers. It’s a transparent approach to communicate to others that pain and trials come in many forms and that it’s possible to remain strong through it all. Hope is a powerful weapon against trials. Faith is an even more powerful weapon against trials.
I lost my sweet Willow a few days ago (July 22, 2020). She was my best friend, a special once-in-a-lifetime dog. I was in the hospital for my 8th bout of sepsis when I received the call from a dear friend who was watching both of my pups. Before he could speak, I knew. I asked to be discharged so I could see her one last time, although already passed. When I arrived, my heart dropped to ground, like it did when the Captain discharged me. There are very few life experiences that I’ve felt my heart drop like that. Willow, has been the worst by far. I gave myself permission to hurt for a day or two, without pressing any expectations on myself. The day after she passed, I took my Meadow to pick out a kitten at a friends farm. We brought home “twig” and he has been a huge blessing to Meadow and I. They instantly became best friends. The passing of Willow was both an arrow and a butterfly. Simultaneously. Not a day goes by that I haven’t shed tears but I shift my perspective towards the greatness of her life, in mine. She was loved by so many. I look forward to running with her again, one day. Whenever God chooses to allow me to take my last breath here and my first breath in heaven. It’s not for me to decide when that day is, but His.
Some of you may have considered suicide. Some of you may have made an attempt. Some of you may know someone who has attempted suicide. Some of you may know someone who successful committed suicide. I’m deeply sorry for your loss, and theirs. It is never your fault. You were never the reason. If any of you have not removed the fiery dart that suicide pierced you with, now is that time. Let’s point you into the right direction and remove that dart so you can heal. You’ll be left with the scar of the experience but you can move forward and have the confidence to share your story without shame. To anyone seriously considering suicide… now is your time to armor up and carry that shield. Suicide is not the answer. It’s a question that needs to be answered the right way, with help. In either case, contact me personally [email protected] or search for me on Facebook “LeeAnn Babirad”. I will provide you several helpful, life changing resources. You are so worth it. I promise.
Today, is the day. Live it.
Lee takes you on a journey through real life rough terrian experiences and leads you to the place where she learned how healthy perspective, radical love and an unyielding hope can squash any trial or tradgedy.
“LOVE BIG” is being released in an untraditional way. A chapter will be released every Monday and Friday evening. There is a group page set up here if you’d like to join the discussion and have live Q&A with the author.