I promised myself I wouldn't do this.
It was one year ago today that I was full of hope, writing exuberantly about passion and lightning and the fire in my veins. I put the bottle in the back of the cupboard, determined not to open it again. I was so proud of myself.
It was easy at first. I wondered if I'd ever needed that bottle at all. Then there was blood on the toilet paper six weeks into my first pregnancy after losing my twins, and the anxiety lunged out of its hiding place and wrapped its claws around my throat. I can't breathe. But I don't touch the bottle, because there's nothing wrong with me: there really is something to fear.
Yet we make it through. Through the life-threatening complication and the ominous test results. Through the near financial ruin and subsequent marital implosion. Somehow I end up sitting in a hospital bed with a perfectly healthy baby in my arms and my husband and daughter by my side. And maybe I kept having to leave work because I couldn't stop crying, and I haven't been sleeping more than a few hours every night and I can't feel my fingers or toes, but it doesn't mean anything. These aren't warning signs.
Home from the hospital, the old thoughts begin to drift across the back of my mind in a creeping, deadly fog. The shiny sharp edges of the kitchen knives and the pulse in my wrist. The speeding car and the ease of stepping into the street. Getting on a plane and never coming back. Of course these things would never happen. My children hold me tethered by love, even if I scream at them every day because of the whining, crying, whining crying God why won't they just shut up!
I put the baby down and walk away. My husband has been gone for 13 hours. When he comes home two hours later, our daughter is slumped in her high chair, having sobbed herself to sleep. Our son is in his swing, screaming hoarsely. He's been crying for a long time. I'm sitting on the floor staring vacantly at the wall, when my husband shakes my shoulder and I numbly turn to meet his worried eyes.
The next morning I walk slowly over to the cupboard and take out the little bottle of pills. I'm broken in some way that I can't fix, and I have to do this. Because there's always a next time.