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My name is Morgan Olson, and this is my story of survival.

I am 23 and I survived Suicide

I never knew how close I was to the edge until I fell. I had a relatively "normal" life. I played sports, went to public school, went to college, and got a job in the financial industry. I had followed the path that society told me was right, and good. But I discovered that following path others lay out for you is a disaster waiting to happen. My whole life I had always felt different, in a bad way. I felt as if I wasn't good enough. I felt like no one loved me, or that no one ever could because I only caused hurt wherever I went. I needed to numb that pain. I turned to drugs, to pills and Xanax and Klonopin. I drank every chance I got. I slept with anyone I could just to feel some momentary validation, and then hated myself every morning for it. I started cutting myself just to feel physical pain instead of emotional pain. None of it worked the way I wanted it to. None of it stopped the morbid self-loathing inside of my mind. I couldn't take it anymore, and I tried to slit my wrists on a Friday night. I was so drunk and high I barely remembered until I woke up in the hospital the next day with bandages on my wrists. I spent the weekend back home at my parents house, and spent time with my friends who were so supportive. But when Sunday came I went back to my apartment in DC for work Monday. I had to keep up appearances I guess. I felt horrible that whole Monday. My anxiety had never been that bad. I felt like I was on fire inside, that I was being ripped apart. I got home that night, and sat on my floor with a bottle of liquor and a bottle of Klonopin. After a few drinks, I washed down somewhere around 25 mg of Klonopin. But as my body started going numb, that survival instinct kicked in, and I became terrified. I called 911, and faded in and out on the way to the hospital. The amount I had taken felt like a lot to me, but it wasn't enough for the need to pump my stomach. The doctor told me that and told me to sleep it off. But I wanted to try again. I pulled a tall cart of medical devices towards my bed. I found the thickest cord I could, wound it through the bars of my bed, around my neck, and back through the bed, and then I rolled off. It was never going to work of course but I was so high and suicidal I wasn't thinking straight. After the doctors got me out, I passed out. I woke up the next day in the psych ward, not remembering having been transferred there. When I finally woke up, they took me to the Psychiatrist. He read from a standard questionnaire that sounded like it was put together before I was born. I was still so high I don't remember what I said, except that I wanted to leave as soon as possible. I went back to my room and back to sleep. This place was straight out of a horror movie, or Girl, Interrupted. The bathrooms had no doors, there was urine everywhere, all of the lights flickered, and one patient woke up every day, put a suit on, grabbed the paper and a phone that didn't work, and genuinely thought he worked on Wall Street. I think I was high for four days straight. I slept mostly, ignoring all requests and barely eating. After 72 hours, I was released on Thursday. I went home and got high all day and had been cutting myself. I went out that night, and after however many drinks ended up at someone else's apartment. I called in sick to work that Friday morning, and spent most of my morning there with her. I went home to repeat my routine. Xanax, Klonopin, cut, drinks, her apartment. This time I had my Klonopin, and I asked her to cut me. She thought my jeans were too tight. Now it was Saturday. I had the same schedule that day. But around 4 am Sunday morning at her apartment, I felt sick. I wanted to go home. But when got there my roommate wasn't home. Drunk, high, and desperately alone, I grabbed a bottle of Vodka, and a bottle of Trazodone, and put down as much of both as I could until I felt ill. But again, survival kicked in and I called 911. I passed out before they came. I was woken up in the ER by a pipe being forced down my throat until I threw up everything inside of me. I fell back asleep in my own vomit for an entire day before I woke up and realized exactly what had happened. I didn't know who I was. I was kept on a heart monitor for 3 days. I was going to be involuntarily sent back to that same psych ward, but I promised to go without question if only they would send me to a different hospital. This one was different: nicer, cleaner, less terrifying. I was still unhappy but not ready or willing to change anything. I gave the staff there a lot of pushback. They would try to get me to attend group therapy sessions, which I declined, and then got mad when the Psychiatrist wouldn't let me leave. Eventually I became so frustrated I filed a plastic toothbrush and gashed my arms. I was regretful after, and showed the doctors what I had done. That ended up earning me another week in there. Eventually I had gone to enough therapy sessions and said the right things to the people enough times that I was going to be released. As I was looking at the large stack of papers to fill out, I thought, "If I had taken just ten more pills I wouldn't have to deal with this bullshit." I had a moment of clarity where I realized that was not a normal line of thinking, and went straight to my social worker and begged her not to let me leave on my own. She had been telling me about inpatient facilities, and I told her I now wanted to go to one. After a few more days, I was released with a plan to head to an inpatient facility, with a duration of stay listed as "open-ended." The psychiatrist at the hospital I was leaving ended every session we had with, "And don't kill yourself." I always thought that was so powerful. I went home that night, and flew to my new home the next morning. I cried when my father dropped me off and begged him not to leave me. I was so afraid, and it didn't help that I spent most of my few days detoxing with the preview for "A Cure for Wellness" playing over and over. When I showed up there, I was 131 lbs., and I am 6'3". Much later, I was affectionately told by friends I made there that I resembled a Spider upon entry. At this point, I was still in denial to myself and to the staff about the severity of my anorexia. This place was intense. We did six hours of therapy every day, and went to meetings at night. I was so angry and in denial I barely said a word my first two weeks. I thought this was a bunch of self-help, hippie bullshit. A big part of the "curriculum," for lack of a better word, was to write letters. It took me a while to write my first one. They were big on parts of self. And so I wrote letters to and from my "addict" self, my "cutting" self, and many others. After a few weeks, I decided that this was either going to work or it wouldn't, but I was going to try my hardest. I made two promises to myself. One: I would say at least one thing in every therapy session and meeting. And two: that I would never say no. I ended up breaking that second promise far later, but for a reason. So I started writing, and reading what I wrote, and speaking up, and asking for help. The last thing I was still lying about was my eating disorder. Eventually I made the decision to be honest and get help. I walked to the office of the Eating Disorder Therapist there, knocked on her door, and said, "I have an eating disorder, will you help me?" She invited me to her office that afternoon, and we started on a plan. I gave everything I had to this place. Eventually I started running meetings for Narcotics Anonymous and Sex and Love Addicts anonymous, and became an active participant in Co-Dependents Anonymous and Eating Disorders Anonymous. I even became the community leader, running the morning meeting in front of all of the clients. The staff there are all wonderful people, and I love all of them. But those meetings with the clients were invaluable. They gave me love and support I had never felt before. We became lifelong friends through mutual suffering and perseverance. Overall I spent 110 days in that facility. I discovered myself, creative outlets I posses a talent for, what I want in life, and who I really am. On my final day I weighed 185 lbs., had four months of sobriety, and found love like I never had before, internally and externally. At the end of any client's treatment, there is a ceremony where your group goes around and gives you their hopes and concerns for you. When it was my turn to respond, I thanked each one of them, and told them what they had done for me and what they had given me. They always told me I would cry in group therapy, though I never did. Until the end of that ceremony, when I looked at my therapist and cried harder than ever before or since, and said, "Thank You for saving my life." That man is a tremendous person, who I am eternally grateful to. We still talk to this day. The day I left that facility was not the end but the beginning. When I left I thought I was strong enough to go back to the same environment. But I wasn't and I relapsed. But after two weeks of drinking I was terrified. I decided I had to leave. I called my Mother on a Sunday night and told her I wanted to come home. The next day I told my boss I wanted to be transferred. I'm so thankful that both of them obliged. After making that transition in July, I started doing really well. Loss had been a big part of my life in the year prior. Eight people that I knew passed away, some close some not. In September it was my Uncle, who died of cirrhosis from alcoholism. It had been exactly one year since the first of those eight passed. Again, I relapsed. It was one night and a few drinks, but a mistake nonetheless. I hadn't been to a funeral for any of the others. Death has always terrified me. But I went to my Uncle's funeral, and I cried my eyes out. Its been five months since that slip, and I know that there won't be any more. Every single day is a battle for me. Not against drugs, or alcohol, or any addiction, but against sadness and my own thoughts. A quote often wrongly attributed to Buddha, although it was a buddhist proverb, is, "Pain is certain. Suffering is Optional." Every day I try to improve myself. I am in therapy, on all the right medications, and I strive for something new every day. At this point in my life I live deliberately. Everything I do I want to gain something from that activity that I didn't possess before. Whether that be a new fact, a new idea, a new viewpoint, a new level of emotion, or anything. My life is my life, and no one can take from me the work I have done. A friend of mine recently asked me if I had quit drinking forever. I said, "I don't think that I am a physically dependent alcoholic. I could have a few drinks, stop, and nothing bad would happen. But it wouldn't improve anything. And the hangover would cause me to lose an entire day. I haven't decided anything forever, but I will continue to abstain until I can see some benefit from it." No matter how alone you think you are, I know that you are a unique treasure. And because of your suffering, you will come out of the other side of the tunnel with fury. You are not alone, the night is almost over;

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