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She sighed, her heels clicking along the dark, marbled tile, her thoughts hazy. The only thought that seemed to echo the loudest was "Why am I not happy?" Her fake smiles were proof of the actress she could be, fooling anyone who passed her by. Maybe her acting was too good. She wanted to cry for help, but a part of her was afraid to, so her sliced wrists stayed hidden underneath long sweater sleeves, much like the long, mocha turtleneck she wore. More scars were covered by her black pencil skirt and thick tights. Her husband had been horrified by how many stripes appeared on her body, until he couldn't handle her depression anymore. Rather than help, he left. He asked for no answer as to why she kissed the razor blades against her dark skin, but only picked up the children and left her alone. She was alone with her demons again.
She ran her fingers through her curls, smiling past a secretary posted in front of her office. She closed the door, pressing her back against it, almost as if to keep the demons out in the hallway. After a moment of deep breathing to collect what was left of herself, she slid to her desk and collapsed in her chair. How could the first female CEO of her cosmetics company be depressed? She made more than a livable wage, she had many coworkers who adored her, and hundreds of friendly acquaintances, but no interest. It was as though she were a ghost or a shell, an empty carcass wondering through the land of the living, feeling nothing.
A few tears fell down her cheeks. She had been on antidepressants since her husband had left, but they made no difference. If anything, the thoughts became worse, more intrusive. She would consider moving the blade down sometimes, or taking it to her throat. She was too afraid, but each time she considered it, the better it sounded. She reached into a drawer and pulled out a pill bottle and a bottle of scotch. She took a glass from another drawer and poured herself a tall drink, popped open the bottle, and downed every last pill. She wasn't afraid today.
Suddenly, she heard a pounding on the door. She leaned back, closed her eyes, and shouted weakly.
One of her coworkers, Douglas, strided in. He opened his mouth to speak, looked down at the glass and bottle, and changed his mind. "Are you OK?"
"No one cares, it doesn't matter. What did you need?"
Realization swept over his face. He dialed 911 into his cell phone, and, holding it to his ear, darted to her and scooped her in his arms, running for the elevator. He jabbed the ground floor button repeatedly, shouting into the phone to send help. She only slumped in his arms, slowly becoming weaker and weaker. She thought of her family, instantly regretting her decision to end it. Her children would be devastated, her husband racked with guilt and grief-stricken, and her mother would become a complete wreck. She didn't want to cause pain, just to end her own. Everything began to fade into darkness, a deep fear with a small sense of relief cradling her into what felt like sleep.
She awoke to bright fluorescent lights blinding her, silhouettes of faces coming into focus. Her children, two sons and her daughter, and the doctor. A man with his back turned stood in the corner, and after a moment, she realized it was Douglas. Her mouth felt dry and stale, her throat on fire.
"Mom?" Her son, Mark's, voice whispered.
"She's awake," Matthew, her other son, replied. "Can you hear us, Mom?"
She motioned to a Styrofoam cup of water on her food tray. The doctor passed it to her, smiling as she chugged it down. "That was a close call, Catherine. How do you feel?"
She cleared her throat. "Weak, mostly."
"If Douglas hadn't have called an ambulance, you'd be dead. Catherine, was this accidental, or a suicide attempt?"
Everyone in the room stared down at her, concerned, except for Douglas, who kept his back turned, a hand raised to his face now. His body shook with stifled sobs. "An attempt, sir. I've been depressed for a long time, but I didn't start having thoughts until I started antidepressants."
He sighed, disappointed, and reached at the foot of the bed. He lifted up a clipboard and passed it to her with a pen. "This hospital is partnered with a prestigious mental health facility nearby, and one of their doctors was sent here to leave this paperwork for when you woke up. You can sign this and once you recover, be transferred directly to the facility, or not, and risk going home and another attempt being made. It's up to you, Catherine."
She stared blankly at the papers, the words swirling through tears. She didn't want to be away from her family, but she knew that he was right. She looked up at her children, nodded, and signed. "How long will I be gone?"
"It's a short-term facility. They won't hold you longer than 30 days. If you don't feel like you got proper treatment during your stay once you reach 30 days, you can be moved to a long-term facility. We'll start with this, and see how you feel in a month."
She wiped her face as everyone filed out of the room. Douglas was the last one to leave, glancing back at Catherine for a moment, then shuffling away. She sobbed, wishing she had reached out for help before it had come to this.