**Trigger Warning(s): Suicide, sensitive content relating to depression**
I still picture you under that bridge when I sit alone for too long. Sometimes I read the note you scribbled drunkenly, or think of the day you told me you would down the whole bottle of Tylenol if it weren’t for your fear of the pain. I guess the vodka drowned out that fear. I don’t know if I believe in fate, but I’d like to think it wasn’t a coincidence that your mouth was too dry to swallow the pills.
I thought the inevitable decay of flowers would be depressing, so I bought you a cactus for your hospital room. The woman at the reception desk told me I couldn’t bring it inside because you might hurt yourself with the spikes. This, I found utterly ridiculous, but I had no energy to protest. I left the cactus in the passenger seat of my car and dragged my feet up to the seventh floor of the hospital.
I can still see you sitting on the twin bed, staring blankly at me as you lean against the sterile white wall, no drawstrings in your sweatpants, no laces in your shoes. You told me the boy in the bed next to you had left earlier that morning. You recognized him. He was gay, too. He felt alone, too.
Every night I worry I’ll wake up to another phone call from the hospital. My body transitions between numbness, dull pain, and agony. I am upset by doctors’ offices that resemble the psych ward where you spent those days. I know you are okay now, but I am not okay, yet.
I hadn’t seen you in 3 months. When I heard about the accident, I knew the driver had been fucked up. On the way to say goodbye at your mom’s apartment, I found myself engulfed by an emotionless swell of disbelief. We laughed and joked about the crazy people you would meet in rehab. I felt nauseous. I sat deathly still in the driver’s seat on the way home. Then the tower of my emotions came crashing down all at once. The guilt that had been building up in my stomach erupted into heaving sobs. I wanted it to be cathartic. It wasn’t.
I knew you were cutting, but I didn’t know how deep. I called 911 and told the operator where you were. I thought your parents weren’t home. I didn’t want you to know I called. I thought you would resent me.
He told me it was my fault you wanted to die. I felt like my lungs were collapsing. You two were supposed to protect me.
Your moments flash through my head often. I can’t be alone for too long. I cry when ambulances go by. Sometimes I feel paralyzed. Some days the world is too loud and bright for me to take in. I have contemplated suicide. I’m not sure how to process this trauma. Upon prompting, I can recite the details of these incidents without flinching. I have become frighteningly good at compartmentalizing. Yale has made me pride myself in my ability to repress my emotions and continue to be high-functioning in a stressful environment. I have coped by over-committing myself to everything and scheduling every second of my day to distract myself from the deafening silence that consumes me when I am alone. I know this is unhealthy, but I also know I will break down if I come up for air.