Wednesday, March 28, 2012

scintilla day 11: to intervene or not.

Well, just like that, today is the last day of the Scintilla Project. I have absolutely loved this experience, and I have already started nagging the ladies to do it again soon. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading my responses – and here is the last one:

Today’s prompt asks: Talk about a time when you intervened. What prompted you? Did you regret it?

To answer this, we first have to talk about a time I didn’t intervene - at least, not enough. When I was in high school, I had a very close friend, P, who was suicidal. And I knew it – she would talk about it, and I would try to talk her out of it, and I felt this enormous weight of keeping her alive on a day to day basis that no 15-year-old should feel. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking “should I tell someone? Should I talk to her parents?” but I felt like that would have been a betrayal. So I carried her load, her secret, myself.

I’m sure you can see what is coming. Despite my sometimes-hourly efforts to encourage her that life isn’t that bad, she attempted. She came very close to succeeding by overdosing on a truckload of pills, but woke up within minutes of a probable stroke and told her parents. After an in-patient hospital stay, a subsequent attempt, another hospital stay, and many, many medications, she recovered, sort of. A lot of things happened after that to strain our friendship beyond repair, although occasionally she reaches out to me.

So. When another close high school friend, A, became suicidal a year later, you bet your ass I intervened. I told a teacher, I told a guidance counselor. I sat in a guidance counselor’s office with her and begged her to promise to me that she would be alive the next day. She couldn’t promise. I begged more. I cried. She cried. It was a mess.

She was, in fact, alive the next day, and all of the days after that. She never did attempt to kill herself, as far as I know, and I believe she is much happier now, although we lost touch after graduation.

God, high school sometimes sucks, doesn’t it?

I absolutely did not regret intervening. Who knows? Maybe getting a counselor involved earlier with my friend P would have prevented her from ever trying in the first place. Maybe it was what set A on a better path. But I knew I couldn’t handle the weight of personally being responsible for someone’s life at that age. Better to let the grown-ups help.

As an adult I now know that what happened with P wasn’t my fault, but holy hell, it took me YEARS to get here. I felt so much guilt and so responsible for what happened with her. And it makes me so sad for 15-year-old me.

I just looked at the calendar and noticed that today is the anniversary of the day that P tried to kill herself all of those years ago. I still remember the date. What does that mean?


Brandeewine said...

It's so hard to know...especially when you are that age. The thing is, you can't change someone. You can let them know that you care, and try to snap them back to the understanding that they AREN'T alone.

I am so very glad that both of your friends lived... their sakes and for yours.

M.A. Brotherton said...

You were a good friend. You cared, and sometimes when its you versus oblivion, the only thing that keeps you from falling off into the darkness is knowing that there is one person behind you that will feel your absence.

Tracy said...

You were also a teen. That's a heavy load to carry and deal with. Too heavy a burden. You did what you thought was right at the time. And thank goodness things worked out but I would never place blame on you. You did say something the next time other friend.
Like Brandee and Matt said, YOU cared. You noticed and you were present for them. You are a good friend.

Alycia (Crowley Party) said...

You did what you felt was best. That is all you can do. Like others said, you were a good friend!