Easy as A, B, C . . . from CC
Before my Monday moan a story needs to be told…
“You stupid girl, who do you think you are? You’re not worth loving. Look at you, nobody asked you to prom. Ha, ha, ha…do you hear them all laughing because you think someone would have? You’re too dumb to know how to read…to write…to do simple math. Your resource teacher told you ‘We’ve been over and over this; you should know it by now.’ Isn’t that what he said?”
Louisa’s long black hair frames her beautiful, golden brown face, long eyelashes dressing up her big brown eyes. Thoughts creep into her head day after day, breaking down bit by bit any self-worth she has. Being a teenager is tough…being adopted is tougher…being a black woman in a white school is toughest.
She steps off the bus and wonders: Who’s going to give me a hard time today? Are the guys going to call me porch monkey or nigger again? Stupid boys, they think they’re big, picking on me all the time. Will the girls laugh because I don’t fit in…like always?
Thoughts of doom are constant in her young mind: “You’re not a good enough sister… daughter…person…You’ll never be like your big sister. She went to all the school dances. She was popular. She was homecoming queen. No one even knows you. You don’t have your own friends. You hang around your little sister’s friends.” The dark voice seeps into her heart, where she guards it…believes it…accepts it…
Months of dark thoughts place Louisa in a deep depression spiraling downward. “Nobody notices me…Nobody cares for me…Nobody wants me…I’ll be better off dead…”
“You’re right, you should kill yourself, do everyone a favor and just do it already,” the dark voice repeats and repeats.
“I will, I’m going to,” she says. Not meaning for anyone to hear, she looks around to see if anyone has. They haven’t.
“When…? When will you? Do it today…No time like the present…Do it now…You know how. You watched the video on ways to get it done. Just do it,” the menacing voice says.
With tears threating to flow down her face, and a lump in her throat, she says, “I told you I will. When I get home today, I promise. Now leave me alone. It’s been six or seven months of being plagued by you, I can’t stand it any more.”
The voice, subtle in the beginning, now screams all the time, louder. Louder. It sings in her dreams, negative poison tears at the fabric of her soul, leaves her defenseless with no obvious pathway out.
Today is the end of the voice…of hopes…of life…the decision is made.
As the day nears an end, Louisa’s anxiety becomes too much to handle. Panicking, she watches the teacher packing to go home. I can tell her…No, I can’t…Yes, I can…
Louisa walks inaudibly to the desk, stands before her teacher, looks down at her feet. She mumbles “I…um…I think…I…”
“Louisa, are you okay?” the teacher asks.
Tears flow involuntarily down the girl’s face. She tries to speak, her voice held back by the growing fear in her throat. Sobs flow uncontrollably from Louisa, her body now shaking.
“I am––going––to hurt myself.” She has done it…said it. Did the teacher hear her? Did she understand Louisa wasn’t kidding?
The teacher comes around the desk and hugs her. She says, “Come with me, Louisa. Let’s go for a walk together.”
They walk down the empty hallway to the front office.
“Sally, will you get the vice principal on the radio and tell her to meet us in her office?” The teacher leads the sobbing girl back to a room with a desk and some chairs. She seats Louisa down gently and hands her some tissues.
Louisa can no longer verbalize what she is feeling. She can only sob, taking in shallow breaths, hyperventilating, getting dizzy. She rolls herself up in a fetal position and is nonresponsive to any questions.
She doesn’t notice when Mrs. Ross, the VP, enters the room. Others are in the room. Where did they come from? Mr. Walker, teacher of the year, and Mrs. Crawford, the school police officer and Louisa’s father, Mr. Cob, is suddenly in the room.
Her father is sitting in front of Louisa’s chair. She can see their mouths moving, but she can’t hear any words. A fog settles in the room and people are blurry. Tears continue pouring down her drenched face and shirt. She is holding tissues, but has no idea how she got them. Drawing a deep breath is impossible; her body jerks with every vocally-charged sob. Her own voice is keeping her from hearing, but she can’t settle down. Frozen with fear, she doesn’t answer anyone—even her father. Her father has spoken kindly, gently with her. She isn’t afraid of him. She’s frightened of herself.
An hour passes before she can breathe easier. She can speak two-word answers to their questions. “Don’t…know…” she says.
She listens. They’re going to send me home. No. I can’t go home. I’ll hurt myself if I go home. Nothing will change. I still hear the ugly voice in my head. I won’t be able to ask for help again. No …No…I can’t go home.
Louisa manages a small voice, asks, “Can I go to the bathroom?”
“Yes,” someone answers. Louisa isn’t sure who.
She walks down the hall. Feels numb…desperate…resolute…
“I don’t think she should go by herself,” Mr. Cob says.
“Oh, you’re right,” Mrs. Ross says. She leaps out of her chair, follows the path to the closest restroom.
“Louisa,” she calls. She checks all the stalls—no luck. Louisa isn’t in the first bathroom. Panic sets in. She races to the second bathroom calling, “Louisa…Louisa…Are you in here?” She hears a toilet flush. Looking under the stall door, she sees Louisa’s feet.
“Are you all right?” The door opens.
Louisa appears to be in a dazed, nonresponsive state. Her bleeding wrist indicates she is anything but all right. Mrs. Ross holds back her tears, grabs paper towels, applies them to Louisa’s wrist. Keying the mic on her radio, she says, “Make the call. I’m bringing Louisa back.”
Paramedics, already on standby, arrive at the school in minutes. Louisa’s father keeps calm. He isn’t a new cowboy to this rodeo: his family consists of his wife and five teenagers. Years of experience have taught him how to respond in emergency situations.
“She’s going to be all right, medically speaking. I do think she needs to go to the hospital to be evaluated,” one of the paramedics says.
“Yes, I agree,” Mr. Cob says.
The ambulance heads for the hospital with Louisa.
“I’m so sorry, I wasn’t there fast enough,” Mrs. Ross says. She can no longer hold back her tears. A few escape the corner of her eyes, but are wiped away as she tries to regain her composure.
“It’s not your fault. Louisa has been troubled for a while. This will help her get better,” Mr. Cob says.
She manages a smile and reaches out to shake his hand: “Good luck—to you and Louisa.”
“I think you need more than a handshake.” Mr. Cob pulls her into a hug. “I’ll keep you informed of Louisa’s progress.”
“Good bye and good luck, Mr. Cob,” Officer Crawford says, extending her hand.
“I got a hug from the Vice Principal,” he says, giving her the hug she needs.
He offers a hug to Mr. Walker, but they settle for a hand shake.
+ + + + +
What is my Monday Moan, you ask? I did not see it coming. “Louisa” acted happy at home. She went to school functions and extra activities. She is able to drive wherever she might want to go, and many times visits two other mothers in our neighborhood.
She identifies with adults. After asking these women if they had seen any warning signs, they told me they had not.
This can happen to anyone’s child. Girl or boy, no matter the age, or background, or type of family they come from.
Why does it carry a stigma? Nobody wants to talk about it. If you’re the one who has cried out for help, you’re labeled, talked about, deemed a leper.
Why does the humiliation have to be re-lived? Can’t we embrace these children, speak out, let them know they’re not alone? We all know someone who has thought about suicide, or acted on it. Possibly even died a self-inflicted death.
People—if you see something, and it’s not your child, reach out anyway. You can save a life. Reach out.
Parents: put a safety plan in motion. Tell your children, if they can’t speak to you, who they can or should talk to. Hug them a little tighter. Understand you may not have anything to do with their decision. It’s not the time to lay blame; rather, it’s time to reconnect and let them know how lost you would be without them in your lives. Talk often to them about suicide—as you would drugs, alcohol, or safe sex. Don’t be afraid of the subject: bring it up. Let them know you interested in their lives.
See you day-after-tomorrow for Wednesday’s WIP