This is the second part of a three part series, so if you haven’t already you might want to read Part I first.
When the psychiatrist collected me from the hospital waiting room and led me into the Crisis assessment room, I was terrified – there were two other women seated in there (in addition to the doctor), waiting to listen and take notes. It hit me that this was being taken very seriously, and I mentally started telling myself off for being so honest with Dr T and my GP; this level of attention/interference was exactly what I didn’t want. Who were these people to tell me I couldn’t Exit, and threaten me with being sectioned? My right to life, my right to Exit.
But I sensed that now was the time to keep those views quiet, so I spent the next hour playing down my plans and what had happened. That hour was intensely frustrating; the psychiatrist kept talking about ‘things you can do to keep yourself safe’, and the other two women would vigorously nod their heads in agreement like these were great ideas, while I was sitting there thinking I don’t need this, this is a waste of all our time. I knew that the next time I wanted Out, I wouldn’t sit around trying to persuade myself not to. In the end my silence/vague nodding paid off, and I was allowed to leave the hospital with my first prescription for zopiclone. The first thing I did when I got home was look up how much zopiclone would be fatal, but unsurprisingly I hadn’t been given anywhere near enough. I spent weeks trying to research the ‘perfect’ suicide method (perfect for me = painless, and 100% success rate), but there were problems with pretty much everything I came across.
Things calmed down over the next few months because the Crisis team helpfully referred me to see a psychiatrist on a semi-regular basis, which meant I had access to new medications that I hoped might make a bit of a difference. On the strong advice of my GP to take a year out from uni I suspended my studies, and without work my life became appointment-centred. On a weekly or fortnightly basis I was seeing my GP and my therapist, and then a bit less often also the psychiatrist, who additionally assigned me a CPN (community psychiatric nurse) who saw me every six weeks or so. Having a CPN was a real novelty; she was essentially a problem solver, and I liked knowing that if things got tough I could just offload to her and she’d tell me how to fix everything.
But time wore on and I developed some low-grade frustration at the lack of progress in certain areas. My crisis had been around March, and by the following Autumn I’d tried numerous medications that had all been discontinued for one reason or another. The only med that I felt had made a difference, fluoxetine (Prozac), was stopped by my psychiatrist on the basis that ‘while it is working, it isn’t working enough‘. And one day my psychiatrist casually informed me that he was actually a junior doctor on rotation, and that it was time for him to move on so I wouldn’t see him again…whaaat? A little notice, anyone? I felt quite betrayed that I hadn’t been made aware of this from the start, and was further annoyed to learn that I would never have the same psychiatrist for more than six months.
At around this time I was experiencing some real eating-related issues: in brief, I’d enjoyed a period of time the year before when my anxiety had been bad enough that I rarely ate and lost lots of weight without trying, and I was trying to re-create that without the anxiety. My CPN didn’t know how to handle this, and signed me off without telling me (again, I was casually informed of this six months later by a doctor). My mood was deteriorating by the week…and then it occurred to me that I was staring the ‘perfect’ suicide method in the face…death by starvation. And as soon as that idea entered my head, I was sold, because I was haunted by the conviction that my mental illness would never end, unless I ended it. I would cut down my food intake over a few days, fast for two weeks, and then take a small overdose of OTC sleeping tablets. Job done.
Except, it didn’t work, because only three days into the total fast, I was scared out of it when I experienced some mental confusion. I remember standing up one evening, and suddenly I had absolutely no idea where I was (room/town/country). Since I had a week and a half left to go I was really worried about how much worse this was going to get, so I abandoned the attempt, and the following week Dr T gave me hell for even trying.
I started this blog in December, and the posts from that time into 2014 make it clear how my mood was almost consistently low from that time. Part III will outline how that led to my most recent suicide attempt.