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This isn’t my whole life, but a small part of it that I wanted to share. I'll elaborate on anything that sounds confusing if it's wanted. Real names weren't used.
Let’s go back to high school, some years ago. I used to sit alone every lunch period, at an isolated table in the shade that was hidden away from everyone and stuck behind the main office building…I sat there and drew. In September-October-ish, I started something that I called my ‘suicide drawing’, at that exact table. No one spoke to me or anything, except the staff, sometimes, so it was a good place to get started.
It wasn’t originally supposed to be a suicide drawing. It was just a drawing that slowly turned into “when I finish this drawing, I’ll kill myself”. There was a lot going on at the time, the most prominent being an abusive relationship that had recently ended. It was, and probably still is, the most detailed thing I’ve ever drawn. I’m not much of an artist, and only do it as a hobby, so I classify that as important. I’d prefer not to talk about the drawing itself, but it’s important to me nonetheless.
I sat there every day for weeks, just drawing and keeping to myself. Monday to Friday, every lunch period at that table, drawing. It was really the only place where I was alone, besides Ryan (the man I hallucinate), but back then he was an asshole because of his own shit…
Well, Kyle the counselor always parked his car right behind that table, but he never said anything to me - we didn’t know each other, he was just another school counselor, I didn’t think much of it. He just passed by the table. I’d never look up at him, because I never looked up at anyone. I thought he never looked at me. He always wore dark sunglasses, and even when we saw each other on campus we didn’t so much as trade smiles.
Then one day…I still don’t know what motivated him to do it, or why he did, but he stopped and said, “Hello, faintvoiced.”
I was so startled that he knew my name, I remember that much. Our school only had 47 people, but it still seemed like he wouldn’t really know me because we never talked. No one ever talked to me and, by extension, about me. But, I said “Hello” back, to be polite, and didn’t look up. Color me surprised when he sits down next to me and says “How are you?”
I remember I covered my sketchbook with my hands before I looked up at him. My bench was in the shade. Because of that, he wasn’t wearing those dark sunglasses he usually wore in the sunlight, and I could see freckles on his face. His eyes were blue. I never noticed any of those things before he sat down with me that day, but after that every detail about him became important.
I know that I responded with “Fine, thank you”, because at that point in time I responded to almost every question with “Fine, thank you”. I know now, it was probably a little terrifying to the staff. I didn’t say or do anything out of the ordinary, but I talked like a robot. I’m pretty sure I really didn’t say anything that wasn’t direct answers to questions or “Fine, thank you”. It was my go-to sentence back then. Kyle didn’t dismiss it though, which was really weird for me. He kept talking. He looked right at me and said, “What are you drawing?”
I don’t remember what I said in response, but I know I didn’t show him the suicide drawing. There was no way I was going to trust this man who had dropped in on me out of nowhere. I said something like, “This one isn’t finished, but I can show you something I drew a while back”. So I showed him something older that I had doodled, and he said it was good. I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to say or do - it had been a while since I’d had a conversation that wasn’t “Fine, thank you”.
I know we talked some more, and I know that he made me laugh. Not a full laugh, but it was a step more than the pathetic half smiles I cracked in response to jokes. It was weird, because it hadn’t happened in a while, but it felt good. Laughter felt nice. He asked if he could see my sketchbook later. I said “Sure”. I was sort of startled that anyone would even want to, but I obliged him.
Well, “later” turned out to be that same day, during my art class a couple hours later. He pulled me out of class, just to do that. We sat in his office, and I showed him everything but the suicide drawing. He was impressed, and gave me compliments. I remember feeling proud, like some kind of door had been opened. There was another human being who was talking to me now, someone real and there who was listening to what I said and looking at what I did and validating me as a person. I felt like I existed outside of my own little circle of sadness.
The days began passing, and I still said “Fine, thank you” to everything and anyone…besides Kyle. He was the only one I held real conversations with back then. He would take time, whenever he had it, to stop at my little aside bench during lunches and see how I was. Sometimes he worked in the lunch room, and I would stop by when it was empty and talk with him.
Once, in that lunch room, he said, “Faintvoiced, cool! I wanted to show you this song.”
He showed me the "Such Great Heights" cover by Iron and Wine and I listened. I remember the light shining through the lunchroom door, turning things orange. He said he liked the song. I said I liked it, too. We sat there for a while and just listened to that music, and I felt something like happiness. Back then, anything that wasn’t emotional detachment was a blessing…I remember when the song ended, I just sat there smiling. We were sitting there quietly. And then I said I liked it again, really quietly.
He showed me the original version, too. It reminded me of space - still does.
We were in the beginning of November then. I couldn’t stop thinking about that song, days after he played it for me. It ran through my mind over and over, and so did he. “Come down now, they’ll say.” I kept working on my suicide drawing. It was almost done…I was almost done. I was preparing myself for the end as I nearly finished it, but. Something was nagging at me, some feeling that I couldn’t really shake.
Even Ryan’s voice couldn’t reach me then, his bitter and angry words doing nothing to me at that point. I sat at my bench, I worked on my drawing. I cried a little, sometimes, out there. I was glad that no one noticed. (Once, Kyle did, and he sat next to me and made sure I was alright. He was the only one.) My daily talks with Kyle were the little point of life and light in my day, and I found myself looking forward to them more than anything else I had in what felt like years.
I was days away from finishing the last details of the suicide drawing, mid-November. The last circles were being drawn in the background, something that would only take me a day or two more at most. And then a realization pushed me, shoved me off the teetering edge of “I should, I shouldn’t,” The nagging feeling in my stomach that was keeping me from finishing the drawing entirely. I had, at least a little, fallen for Kyle. Maybe it was the fact that he was the only person in my life who cared enough to talk to me, maybe it was his kindness…I couldn’t say for certain. But I felt something for him, some form of love, that compelled me to tell him of my last drawing.
When I went into Kyle’s office that day, I said to him, “Can you close the door? I have something I need to tell you.” And he did.
I know that I opened my sketchbook and showed him the suicide drawing. He was stunned, because it was like nothing else that I’d drawn. He said he was impressed by all the details and everything I’d put into it. He said he felt like he could see me in it. And then…
I closed my sketchbook, and I looked him straight in the eyes. And I hadn’t planned to say it, but it just came spilling out of my mouth then: “Kyle, when I finish this drawing, I’m going to kill myself.” His expression didn’t change, and I honestly don’t remember what he said after that. You’d think I would, but I honestly cannot remember the words he said after I said that. I just know that it felt like, suddenly, a weight was off my shoulders. I could breathe again, see again, think a little better.
That afternoon, I saw the suicide alert team, my mother came to the office (they had called her), and I ate some waffle fries from Carl’s Jr. They decided I was unstable, obviously. The ambulance came somewhere around 7 or 8 PM. They strapped me to a gurney, standard procedure, and wheeled me in. I know I felt numb, and a little euphoric.
I know what Kyle said then. He said, “Bye, faintvoiced. Feel better.” My mom said bye, too. Everyone said bye. Then they shut the ambulance doors, and we were driving away…
The two people in the ambulance were really nice. They didn’t need to turn on the sirens or anything, so we drove down the freeway. I could see out the back window, and I watched the cars go past. We talked a little, they said they hoped I would feel better. I hoped so, too. I know I fell asleep for a little while, until we reached the place. We went in the back entrance.
The workers at the psych ward had me shower and did a search of me to make sure I had nothing I could hurt myself with. They asked about my scars. I told them it was self harm.
Then, the doors shut behind me, and they sent me to sleep in one of the rooms in the hallway. And so I slept.
I’ve tried hard to write about that psych ward before, but it never comes out the way I want it to. I remember, very specifically, that I called my friend Alex, but he didn’t answer. Not that I was really expecting him to, because who answers their phone anymore? I don’t think I do even, not really. I can’t remember how long I stayed, but I was let out the day before Thanksgiving. It was nice to go home and spend that time with my family…
School rolled back around after break, and I remember sitting at a bench in the sun – a different bench from my old one. It was still isolated, but it wasn’t alone. Everyone commented on how much better I looked. I felt better, too.
When I saw Kyle, he seemed nervous. I would have been too, if I’d been him. I mean, you never know how people are going to react to being sent to a psych ward. Maybe they hate you for doing it afterward.
But the cool thing is, I didn’t. When I saw him, I waved to him. And I started the conversation.
He asked how I was doing. I said “Great”.
And then I thanked him for what he did. And we talked. And things went back to normal - actual, real normal. No more “Fine, thank you”. No more suicide drawing. Normal.
I did end up finishing that drawing, in the end, but as a drawing of life. As a matter of fact, the signature and date says I finished it on my birthday that year.
I still think about Kyle a lot, even though I’ll probably never encounter him again. He saved my life, and that’s a lot to be thankful for. I don’t know if he knows how much of an impact on me, since I find that he did this for a lot of kids at other schools, but…
He’s the reason that, no matter how close I come, I don’t think I’ll ever kill myself. I think of that drawing, and I think of the song he gave me, and I pull myself back. And no matter how tough the going gets, I’ll always think of him and the chance he gave me to fix things.
The life I’m living now is worth everything and more, despite the pain I feel sometimes. I’m thankful for it. All of it.
What a stark, emotional, and beautiful story--so honest and all-encompasing. I hope that sharing your story helped you, and I admire how well things turned out for you in the end. A story of pain leading to hope and recovery is always remarkable; I think this story might help other people as well. Thank you for sharing :)
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