|Jun 21 2010|
Jennifer wasn’t her usual self, but I didn’t think anything was more wrong than the week before. She was more unfocused and easily confused than usual. I didn’t think much of it – I have had my share of days that my brain just didn’t work right and thought she was having the same sort of problem.
We had gone shopping and when we got home Jennifer made a comment about not wanting staff where we live to know that she bought medication. She bought two boxes of a sinus/congestion medication, one day-time and one night-time, a total of 24 or 48 pills. My response was to ask her if she was going to take them all at once in a sort of joking manner. She didn’t respond. I asked if that was insulting. She said she didn’t hear me. I let it go and went to my apartment.
Jennifer called not too long after that. I didn’t answer and she left a message. I listened to the message and was bothered by it for two reasons. One, she always begins every message the exact same way – except that one. Two, she spoke with urgency and asked me to definitely call her back because she had to tell me something. I called her and said several things worth noting. She asked me if I still wanted a cat and wouldn’t answer me when I asked why she was asking. She told me that I am a really good friend and that I deserve to know so. She wouldn’t commit to teaching me to roll cigarettes.
Off the phone, I started to think about all of these things and if my concerns that Jennifer might use the pills to hurt herself were valid. I tossed the idea around for about 10 minutes. It may not seem like a long time, but I was seriously debating. I didn’t want to insult her by accusing her of having a plan. I didn’t want to not ask her because it might well be true. Finally, I came to realize that if something did in fact happen overnight I would never be able to live with myself and that her life and very existence is more important that the possibility that I might insult her. I thought that every second that I waited might take her farther away from me. I called Jennifer.
I told her that I needed to know if she had taken the pills she bought. Jennifer denied it at first, but then admitted that taking the pills had been the plan. She said that I ruined the plan. I told her that I was in a new sort of dilemma because while I don’t think that it’s my right to decide what she does with her life I simply could not let her hurt herself. She said that she couldn’t go through with it anyways because of the guilt of hurting her like that. We talked on the phone for a while and discussed the causes of her depression, ways she rationalized what she intended to do, and the methods she considered. We talked about coping skills that don’t seem to work, the trigger of seeing her dad last week (which is a BIG deal – I hope I can convince her to never see him again), and the option of being admitted to a hospital. I basically told her that if nothing else helps, go to the hospital and demand that they adjust/change meds until she finds a combo that makes life more tolerable at the least. Medications was my last resort, but at least at the hospital she see a pdoc every day and can have side effects treated immediately. She didn’t want to go ‘even if it would help’ she said, but asked me what I would do. I said that when all else fails I would go inpatient. I made her promise me she would take the pills she had to the office and tell staff what was going on. She promised.
Immediately after I hung up with Jennifer I called the office and talked to Patrick. I asked him if he would go to Jennifer’s apartment in 15 minutes if she hadn’t come to the office. He asked if there was something he needed know about. I said that I would rather Jennifer tell him but he could call me if Jennifer didn’t come to the office in 15 minutes.
Fifteen minutes passed and sighed in relief and headed towards bed. It was way past my bedtime on a work night. After 5 minutes in bed I got a phone call from the office. I talked to Cindy this time and she told me that Jennifer was outside talking to other clients/residents. She asked if it was something that she should pull Jennifer aside for. I said I wasn’t sure and that she would have to decide. I told her that Jennifer had planned to take some pills and I confronted her about. I made her promise to take the pills to the office and I didn’t think she had taken them but really couldn’t be 100 percent certain. I let Cindy take it from there. Before we hung up I asked her if she would please not tell Jennifer that I called her. I’m not entirely sure now why I was worried about that. Maybe I didn’t want Jennifer to think I was tattling on her. Maybe I wasn’t ready to deal with that part. Heck, a lot was going on.
I tried calling Jennifer while at work today, the next day, but I didn’t hear anything more until after work. I went to the office for a prn med and asked Cindy if she heard anything new about Jennifer. She said she was going to ask me if I had heard from her. I replied that it was only an hour ago that I realized that the ‘unknown caller’ I had call me several times might be Jennifer. I usually don’t answer the phone unless I know who is calling. Of course, now that I intend to answer that unknown call I haven’t received another one. Cindy also told me that she lied to Jennifer. Cindy said that when Jennifer came into office she asked if I had called down there. Cindy said that she said no and that Jennifer’s response went something like ‘I could have gotten away with it.’
The only confirmation that I got as far as she did indeed make it to the hospital was another staff member asking me if I would feed Jennifer’s cats if Jennifer isn’t home by the time the person who is watching them now goes out of town.
I’m still mulling about this and will continue mulling for some time. Before this incident, I had always been the person in Jennifer’s spot. Every rationalization she rattled off was something I had told myself. I even went so far (though I didn’t mention this one to Jennifer) as to counter ‘suicide is selfish’ with ‘making me stay here so you don’t hurt is selfish.’ It completely baffles me why I did a complete 180 in this situation. I realized that I care very deeply for this girl that I’ve known less than 4 months. I am angry at the people who have hurt her. I want to find a way to make them carry the burden she has on her. She is thoughtful, caring, fun to be around. She doesn’t deserve misery. Am I right to take away her escape? Two days ago I would have said no. Hell, I think I even said it to her that night. But now I’m hoping that she can figure out that she has people who care about her and maybe that will bring some peace.
My thoughts will be with you, Jennifer, until I see you again.
Don't forget the good times...
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