TRIGGER WARNING – SUICIDE, SELF HARM
According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 1 million people commit suicide every year and for every 1 suicide that is successful, 20 are unsuccessful. On March 10th 2017 I became part of that statistic. But within that statistic, there are many different factors to consider. You see, attempted suicide can be split into the people that are trying to take their life and have planned to, the people who try to take their life on impulse and the people merely attempting as a genuine cry for help because they cannot get the assistance that they need. And as sad of a fact this is, it is unfortunately very true. Within the successful suicides, you have the people who were planning to take their lives and those who accidentally succeed when all they intended to do was cry for help.
I lie in a bed in the children’s department of my local hospital. It’s 12am and the first time that I’ve been alone since I was admitted to hospital 12 hours previous. Machines are beeping as my heart rate drops and then spikes, children are crying and assistance alarms are constantly going off. I’m attached to an IV drip- the cannula aches in the back of my hand and my veins burn from the Magnesium infusion they’d given me earlier that afternoon.
My phone is in my non-cannulated hand, the screen glaring at me in the semi-darkness. It buzzes every so often, a worried friend asking where I am and if I’m OK.
I text my closest friend.
I’m sorry, Ben. I overdosed and I’m in hospital. I’m just done with everything.
My phone goes back on the bedside cabinet and I curl up into a ball. Tears refuse to fall so I lie just watching my heart rate rise and fall. There’s no stability and my god, my body feels just as turbulent.
There’s no words to describe the feeling. I’m angry at myself for failing. Struggling to live but failing to die.
Am I ever going to succeed at anything?
I don’t want help. I wanted to end it all and that’s why I took the pills. Why does nobody understand?
I am discharged home after speaking to the Mental Health Liaison team. Mum runs me a bath and I sit motionless in the water for a good hour. My hand is bruised and swollen from the cannula and both arms have bruises from the amount of blood samples they took. Even freshening up does nothing for my mood.
Trying to answer the question of ‘what are you in here for?’ from parents with small children on the ward is difficult. Trying to fabricate a story is harder.
It takes two months to even start to feel normal again but underneath all that is constant chest pain, breathlessness and the fear of collapsing every time I went out alone. My weight was somewhere around the 30kg mark and I just looked and felt ill.
On October 31st 2017, my GP sent me to A&E a week after yet another overdose. I was struggling to urinate properly and was still throwing up or retching. My parents didn’t know this time so I went it alone.
I was forced to pick myself up immediately after this attempt as I was working but everything continued to spiral out of control.
My third self poisoning was on March 18th 2018. I attempted to go to work the following morning but was sent straight to A&E where I struggled to retain consciousness. My muscles were wasting and I was far too weak to work for 2 weeks but I still ploughed on through the days.
If I acted on every suicidal thought I have, this list of attempts would be longer.
What people fail to realise is that behind the sarky tweets, the chatting and smiling at work and the light hearted Instagram stories, I am suicidal and battle with suicidal thoughts every single day.
That is my normal.
If anyone I know from work or my social life is reading this, they’ll probably not look at me quite the same way again.
I’ve learnt to live with them until they get too much. Then I either seek help or act on the urges to hurt myself.
I spend every day trying to keep my head above water. I have no choice as I have no regular professional help – it’s just me fighting this alone until I get pulled under and need the A&E team
Thing is, I’ve had to put up a front all my life. I usually hide behind a resting bitch face, a smile or just pleasantries but when I do allow the negativity to slide, I’m met with criticism so why would I allow my demons and insecurities to show? I don’t want the constant “are you OK, Mel?” or the pussy footing that comes with people knowing you’re not OK. I just want to be as normal as I can be. When I do let the negativity slide out, believe me when I say I’m in a dark place.
I’m not going to explain what it’s like to have such intrusive thoughts because nobody on earth should ever know what it feels like. It’s a miserable, cold and lonely place to be but I am in that place daily. It’s my mental home.
On Suicide Prevention Day, I had to share my story because nobody really realises the impact a failed attempt has on a person. Since my attempt last March, there have been days where I’ve struggled going past A&E and the children’s department at work because it brings back too many memories. It’s scary. Suicidal or not, remembering my past attempts is horrible. The reasons why I did the things I did.
And what’s worse is knowing that one year on, you’re still struggling to want to stay alive. You still want out. Nothing has really improved.
Every post like this has a ‘if you need help, please reach out’ bit and cheesy ‘it will get better’ bit but I’m not going to do that because if you are in that dark place reading this, you know that nothing like that will help.
Do reach out though, please. To anyone whether its a doctor, a crisis line, a family member or friend. Please seek help in whatever way you can. If you live in the UK, there’s Samaritans and other mental health charities plus NHS 111. Some hospital trusts also have dedicated crisis lines that you can ring so speak to your GP or care provider and ask them whether your area has one.
I’m not going to tell you that things will get better because I struggle to believe it myself but I will tell you that you are doing better than you think you are. You are still here and you may have been through times like this before and come out the other side. That’s a huge credit to you and should be proud. It is so easy to let things swallow you up.
Keep fighting because while it is hard, it’s worth it.
To everyone on the outside, be kind. We’re all fighting battles that some of us know nothing about. Just because I smile, doesn’t mean I’m OK all of a sudden. Just because someone comes out at the weekend doesn’t mean their anxiety and depression has disappeared.
Reach out to those friends that aren’t themselves. Look out for the warning signs that somebody is slipping under.
You might just save their life.