The story I am about to share, I am sharing because I made a pact with myself that I would do what ever was within my power to help prevent another family from having to go through what ours endured. I am also sharing this story because I was inspired to by a recent conversation with Ed Arranga, founder of Autism One. This is my own version. I’m sure my husband and his co-worker, who is a friend of the family, would remember details that I may have, for what will become obvious reasons, forgotten.
I think it is important for this subject to be talked about in our community. I’m pretty sure that most at one point have considered taking this action. A last action.
I had a dream for my own family, and my children, just as we all do. My dream, and our reality, for a long time were polar opposites.
On November 14, 2005, I decided I had had quite enough. There was much more going on in my life at that time than autism and being a military spouse. I’ll spare you the details, but it was a lot of weight on my shoulders, weight that I had been carrying for over 20 years. Autism on top of this? Now I have to carry this too? I felt a tremendous burden of guilt, that I had caused the boys to have autism. I couldn’t take anymore.
I went to the base that day to visit Dave at his office, and chatted with a few people in his office. I was on a mission. I stopped at the base store on my way out and bought myself a nice bottle of Vodka. True to my mission, I came home and made myself a vodka and cranberry drink. I began to clean the catch plates on the stove. I made myself another drink. Still cleaning those plates, they were gross you see, I made another drink. I have no idea how many I’d had by the time Dave got home. I’d had enough of life, but I hadn’t had enough vodka and cranberry, that was for sure.
When Dave got home, I had another drink. I don’t know if I was done with those gross catch plates, and that was my cue that I was done? I don’t remember. I was going to meet the porcelain God, and not in the way that you think. I think I may have had another drink. I needed to be numb before that “meeting”.
Dave greeted me, and went upstairs to change out of his uniform. I calmly stopped whatever it was I was doing, walked into the bathroom, got down in the puke position, lifted the toilet seat and proceeded to slam my head into the porcelain bowl. I slammed it so hard that Dave heard it all the way upstairs. There was more slamming of my head on that toilet I use every day, over the course of the evening. At one point I locked myself in the bathroom when Dave left me unattended to go do something, and he heard more slamming of my head. I remember him screaming at his co-worker that this person could not let me into the bathroom unattended. That is the only way I even remember that his co-worker was here. Dave had to take the door handle off to get to me. It’s still jacked up from that evening.
Yes, I am one determined bitch. I had simply had enough. Honestly, with how hard I hit my head, and how many times, I should be dead. I guess God had other plans. It was shortly after this that I made the pact with myself.
I had to deal with the grief, the guilt, and the burdens I’d been carrying around for so long. If I was going to live, then I had to get through this to be there for myself and for my family. About a week later I wrote this poem in my head in the shower one morning.
“I slam my head into the toilet,
Leaving visible the wound my heart feels.
My Brain takes a turn,
My soul snaps into place.
I realize guilt and grief are not my destiny,
Not my fate.
As the wound on my head heals, so does the one on my heart;
At times painful, but it is a start.”
I had no idea what was to come, but I put my damn boots on again. To do anything else would have been selfish beyond measure. I was done being selfish. It took about a month for the wound to finally just be a scar. It’s taken a lot of other things, including much humor, a lot of writing, and of course some sex (I wrote about that HERE), to bring things back to where they needed to be for our family to heal.
I wrote another poem right around that time. It means many different things to me.
“Judgment’s passed by those who don’t or refuse to understand,
Prevented our family from receiving a helping hand.
The pain this has caused, the agony untold,
The manifestations are beginning to unfold.
The song in my heart, extinguished like a flame,
The Karma God’s are looking to place blame.”
So, as I said, God had other plans for me. I guess maybe he heard the pact I made with myself, and gave me some extra strength to make it through all this.
I wanted to share my story with our community, because there are many signs of someone contemplating suicide. Although in my case, the only one was depression, and outwardly it was not that bad. I was really good at masking how bad I really felt. I believe it’s important for our community to have this brought to the table, because we all remember too well hearing the words, “your child has autism”, and just how devastating this can be. I know the guilt I felt about wanting to be done with it all compounded what I already felt.
I have not been able to locate any statistics on suicide in the autism community, but we all know we’ve see a few just this past year that made headlines. We need to be aware. We need to rally around those joining our ranks, and support them. And if we need help, we need to ask for it. I know every single person I’ve met on this journey would do anything they could to help a parent in crisis. Life is precious. Our children are precious, and they all need their parents there with them to make it through this journey called autism.
To learn more, please visit http://www.suicide.org
Angela Warner is an Air Force spouse and mom to four children, two recovering/recovered from autism. Ang doesn’t drink vodka, and she doesn’t drink the Kool-aid either.