Close Encounters With The Blind Kind

Turns out a razor and a pencil aren’t as effective as they used to be


My face was covered in blood. I knew nothing until my hand turned red, and when a five-year-old sees red fluid on their hand after touching their face they have one single thought.

Am I going to die, Mom?

I was not scared until I saw my mother’s face. It didn’t hurt. It just flowed out like my face was one big hose and someone wouldn’t turn off the water. The bathwater looked a little red too, and I was finally old enough to take baths without my parents being there.

So I stood there, bleeding, and called out for my parents. My mom rushed in with my dad behind her. I remember nothing more than the panic in her eyes. That panic reduced me to tears and had me ask her that fateful question. Then she too broke down in tears after patching me up.

Her baby boy was not going to die, but her daughter almost killed him.

I have a rough relationship with that sister. I have a fairly decent ego and she said I cheated on a chess game with her. I did not cheat. I will always remember her saying I cheated — and that annoys me more than the fact that she carelessly tried to kill me.

This girl was told several times to not put her razor near the bathtub. She was told that her younger brother takes baths. She knew not to do this, but in a careless move, she forgot her razor on the lip of the bathroom tub. This location is perfect for children of young ages to have a “new toy” to accidentally pick up and try to play with.

At that age, I still played with my classic Disney Cars Lightning McQueen Rust-eze Body Wash that has the bottle cap near the exhaust pipe. That razor probably looked like a funky new car that was missing some pieces, because I ended up playing with it.

Only when I put the razor to my eyebrows and chin, there were no wheels that rolled across my face. There was a sharp blade that cut so softly and quickly that I felt nothing. I felt nothing until I started to experience the panic of watching fluid leave your face as a child. My parents said I screamed after seeing the red pool of blood form in my hand, but I only remember feeling scared when I saw my mother’s panicked face.

Back then I was afraid of death. I think we all have had a time in our lives when we were afraid, but that fear subsided as I got older. Just a few years after this incident I found myself embracing the idea of killing myself. I still think about it at times, but I only attempted it once.

The attempt is kind of funny to me now, but at the time it was not funny or scary. It was just like the razor cutting open my face — I felt nothing. The feeling of nothingness might have played a role in why I attempted, but I do not remember why I tried it at that age. The rose-colored glasses of my childhood tell me things got worse after I turned 10, but I remember this attempt was before that juncture. I only know why I would attempt it now.

It all started on the couch. Before we got a “new” bargain couch and love seat that did not fit our house. If I remember it right, the attempt was after school — which would be fitting because of what I tried to use.

I sat there playing with a number two pencil, it might have been one of those fancy Dixon Ticonderoga pencils that us middle-class kids favored as writing utensils, but all that I remember is that it was not sharp enough. The pencil was not a dull one, mind you but it was not brand new.

It was a used pencil, but there was no bite or chew marks on it. I was not a barbarian — even as a child — and would never find it socially acceptable to do such a thing to a former tree. But why does it matter if it was a lightly used yellow Dixon Ticonderoga, as opposed to a black Dixon Ticonderoga, a Jot pencil, or any other name brand?

Well, you’re right. It doesn’t really matter because they all enter your eye the same.

It’s hard to explain exactly how I stabbed my eye because I guess something in my head said that I wanted to be careful when I was doing it. The best description of how I did it would be to picture yourself slowly inserting a knife into your chest, but going so slow that you didn’t feel anything until you pulled out the blade. Only the blade entered my eye — and by blade I mean pencil — and by eye I mean cornea.

The graphite chipped away after hitting the protective layer of my eye but the base of the pencil remained sturdy. I blinked.

Why am I still alive?

The plan failed as I blinked a few more times and the graphite was removed from my retinal region. I could see. Being able to see meant I was alive.

Nowadays, I can see how that sounds very “problematic” and “ableist” to some individuals, but at that age, I thought you would die if you could not see anymore. I had no concept of blindness at that age, but I guess I would have gotten a pretty good idea had the plan worked.

In general, I am too vain to admit I need glasses. I was supposed to have perfect vision. I will not allow myself to be defined by my attempt, even though in the back of my head I remember why my eyesight is poor every single time I squint.

Even when I had my glasses I would refuse to wear them unless I was looking at the board. I lost that pair and keep forgetting to buy another because I won’t use them in day to day life anyway. I’d rather be visually impaired than “wear” the lasting impacts of my attempt.

Though it’s hard for me to not think about that attempt and another one, I have found numerous ways to cope. My only suggestion to anyone experiencing the dark thoughts is to talk to someone they trust about any issues they have, mental or physical. I refuse to go to therapy or talk to any professionals because I have found a better support system in certain friends for free.

Although I understand that mindset doesn’t work for everyone, I will always try to be available for anyone that needs me because I have found people have been there for me.

The most powerful words I have ever read were in Mitch Albom’s The Timekeeper. Whenever I think about ending it all I remember the words “You were never alone” and I think about the novel.

There are many very personal lines in that novel, but I always remember the line that follows one of the main characters contemplating a suicide attempt. She wanted to end it all to get back at a boy she liked for embarrassing her all over school after that boy had tried to sleep with her.

“Hurting ourselves to inflict pain on others is just another cry to be loved.”

The book then follows to show her that a homeless man at the local soup kitchen thought more of her than that boy ever did. In the scenario where she had died, the man asks where is the girl that gave him extra bananas and when he is told they don’t know he softly says he misses her and that she was nice. The boy seduces another girl, gets her to pity him for how the death turns out and says the exact same words he said to her, “You can’t loose with booze.”

In short, you never know just how much you mean to anyone else and sometimes it just takes talking to someone to realize how much you are loved. Although I still have the dark thoughts, I know that there is always someone that may need my help at some point and I also know that sometimes I need help.

Resources are available including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273–8255, which is available at all times and the Suicide Prevention Lifeline website if you would prefer to not talk on the phone.