Anger comes in many forms, and suicide is one way to express it.
Ashley was nine months old, seven months adjusted, when I felt the full wrath of anger. It had perhaps always been there, but maybe I subconsciously kept it under control.
For four months, I had been telling everyone that there was something wrong with my child: she was not sitting independently, she was not often moving intentionally and her very infrequent movements were significantly slower than her peers. The healthecare workers eventually listened to me and added her to the local pediatric care. She had a neurodevelopmental therapist and had just gone through a brain fMRI. However, people around me were hesitant to agree with me. They were concerned about my mental well being, and didn’t want me to have needless worries. Besides, Ashley often smiled and cooed at people, so they felt she was absolutely normal. “She’s only seven months old!” they’d say, “you can’t use the real age of a premature baby till she’s 2, and many seven month old babies can’t sit independently!”
Although worried, I carried on with my life plans. I had gotten a full scholarship from the local University, and enrolled in a PhD program in Engineering. I took Ashley to the University childcare centre and they gladly received her.
Ashley cried and cried at the care centre. She’d eat and sleep and then cry. However, the centre manager told me it was normal for young babies at that age to behave like that when just starting daycare. “She will be fine once she gains more independence.” the manager assured me.
One day, I finished my day’s work and went to pick up my child. I was a fair distance away from the care centre when I heard a loud cry. I knew immediately it was my child. She was lying on a bean bag, screaming non-stop, while one of the teachers was trying to calm her down. “What happened?” I asked. “She didn’t like being put down. She wants to be cuddled constantly.” the teacher answered. I picked my crying child up, and she quickly calmed down. “I’m sorry, but we don’t have enough teachers to be constantly carrying babies around.” The centre manager came and said to me. “We aim to help children develop independence.” she stressed that point again.
That was the last time I saw the centre manager. The second day was Ashley’s pediatric visit. Her brain scan was “complicated”, and it needed further interpretations by a neurologist. The pediatrician said Ashley had significant developmental delays, and that an average childcare centre would only delay her further. I nervously asked :”do you think my child has cerebral palsy?” The doctor looked rather grave and didn’t answer me immediately. After a long and uncomfortable pause, she slowly nodded her head and said :”it’s a possibility, but we can’t be certain at this stage.”
That fact took a while to sink it. From the moment my placental fell off at 33 weeks pregnancy, I had been tortured by two sets of facts: on one hand, I knew the risk of my child having cerebral palsy was much higher than normal; on the other hand, she appeared to be doing what many normal babies were doing after her age was adjusted. However, the confirmation of the doctor put something heavy in my chest. I was slowly suffocating, but I didn’t know.
My dad offered to help me looking after Ashley, and I became a part-time student. I was busy making these changes in life and temporarily forgot about that heaviness in my chest. My naturally Epicurean husband, unaware of my unsettling mental state, agreed to take on a job and was sent overseas for a month. I still remember watching his taxi driving off while carrying Ashley in one arm, sitting down on the staircase, and took a selfie with my happy child.
Then the heaviness struck. I could not sleep at night. Worries came rolling like thick, dark clouds before a storm. “What if she never walk nor talk? Would we need to send her to an institute?”. Things got worse when I started thinking about my future. I had travelled and lived a life of freedom till now: I was a professional engineer with a decent pay; we have a house and a big backyard; I played my favourite sports at a semi-professional level; we live in a socialist country with many pockets of beautiful nature to discover. I had many plans for our family: we were going to travel more in the world and at home; we were going to camp in the wilderness and go on months of road trips in a van; I was going to get my PhD and become an academic and my husband was going to start his own business; I was going to teach Ashley how to play many sports, and everyone would be so envious of our little family! All of these weren’t going to happen anymore. We were going to be tied down to one spot for the rest of our pathetic lives.
And then the anger came. “Why me?” I thought, “I’ve been a good person, I never stole nor killed, and I’ve always treated people nicely. Why not that fat, disgusting wife of one of our friends? She’s not only overweight, but also a cheating scumbag, yet they have a normally developing child! How unfair, how unjust! What have I done to have such injuries inflicted upon me? Who on earth would do this to me? God? but I don’t believe in gods! Who and how can I avenge such injustice?” an emptiness suddenly seized me: no one inflicted any injuries on me. I have no one to blame and nowhere to take out my anger. I was trapped in an invisible cage with the only thing I could punch – myself.
It was 2, maybe 3, in the morning, when I found myself sitting in front of the computer, searching for the most painless ways to kill myself. Apparently cutting my wrist is pretty slow as it takes a long time for all the blood to leave my body, which is why sitting in a hot bathtub is recommended to speed up the process; pills sometimes can do the trick but if you don’t die from overdosing immediately then it’s pretty painful too; firing a gun into my brain was an easy one, but often it still wouldn’t lead to instant death, and where on earth can I get a gun in this country? Damn socialist piece of sh*t, as if they knew owning a firearm wasn’t a thing for everyone.
I was desperate. I started to pull my hair out and run around the house screaming. I was becoming insane.
To be continued…