Today I received my first request for a blog post topic, asking me if I would talk a bit about my history of suicide ideation and subsequent suicide attempts. This is a HUGE topic, so I’ll post this story piece by piece. Here goes:
The idea of suicide first entered my head around three years ago, and it scared me, because it felt like these thoughts weren’t mine. Of course they were, but they were coming from a new, darker part of my brain. Initially this ideation was dampened as it was around this time that I entered the world of self-harming, but within a couple of months self-harming wasn’t enough. I wanted Out, with a capital O.
The suicide ideation plagued me for weeks. It was relentless, and quite hard to deal with while I was juggling a packed uni timetable. Then a friend of mine in a similar situation sat down with me, and I admitted what was going on in my head. I remember saying to her, ‘I wish I had some time to really think this through‘, and she recommended that I book myself a hotel and take a couple of days to do exactly that. In hindsight that was a dangerous and stupid suggestion, but I took it eagerly. Five minutes and £200 on a credit card later, I’d booked myself into a small B&B by the seaside for a week.
On day three of that little ‘holiday’, I decided to commit suicide. It seemed like a rational decision: I felt my depression had drained me, I didn’t see myself ever getting any better, and I believed I was an unacceptable drain on my friends and family. Suddenly determined, I wrote a goodbye note, and headed out into the night to sit at the end of a rock-pile that stretched out into the sea. The plan was to die of hypothermia, as I’d heard you fall asleep before you feel any pain (note to self: good luck not drowning first, idiot). Time passed, and I was soaking wet, increasingly cold, shaking, waiting and watching the scene…and the scene was beautiful. I wish I had a photo to show you – the lights of the town in the distance were reflecting on the sea and the clouds giving everything a golden tinge, and there were small waves rolling in round the rocks to gently wash up on the beach…wow. I’ll never forget it, and the sight calmed me down, giving my brain a chance to stop racing. And once my brain had slowed, I started to think about the immediate consequences of what I was doing. It occurred to me that this was going to be a massive pain to the B&B owners; a guest missing, her bill unpaid, and her belongings left in the room. This might sound silly, but the thought of this really bothered me. My Exit had to cause a little trouble as possible to those around me. I left the rocks and went back to the B&B, deciding to commit suicide in a week or so’s time, in a way that wouldn’t cause inconvenience like that.
When I got back to uni I had my last session with Dr T before the Easter holidays, and I was terrified. There were big gaps as I answered his questions about my week, and he sensed something was wrong. It was awful: I won’t lie to Dr T, but I knew it would be dangerous to be honest about my suicide plans. Well, as always, in the end Dr T squeezed the story of my little trip out of me, but his reaction was a big surprise. I gave a firm speech about how my Exit was my decision…and he agreed. For a moment he scared me by saying it occurred to him that maybe he ought to be bringing in a suicide-prevention thing over the holidays, but when I said no, he was fine with that. I left massively relieved that that discussion had gone so well, and I really respected Dr T for recognising I should be allowed to make my own choices.
I set an Exit date for about a week later when I would be living on my own, and began stockpiling paracetamol, but a couple of days before that date fate decided to intervene. This intervention took the form of physical pain behind my left eye, which was so bad I ended up in hospital. The Easter holidays literally zoomed past, filled with scans, neurologists, ENT specialists, pain medications, and I was stuck living with my parents to be in the vicinity of all these doctors, so there was nothing I could do on the suicide front (there was no way on earth I’d do it in my family home). And then my GP came back from some time off and called me in to see him after reviewing the various medical letters he’d received. I remember him very gently telling me that in his opinion this pain I was experiencing had more to do with my psyche than my neurology. The doctors were dismissed, and I had to try and get my head around the fact that I had somehow managed to bring this pain upon myself. And the fact that it had happened two days before my planned Exit date…
To this day I honestly don’t know, but something in me said to give my GP this information. He was surprised, but not shocked, and immediately said I needed a lot more support, putting in a referral to our local psychiatric hospital. But my mood deteriorated before my first appointment with the psychiatrist, and there was some panicking behind the scenes when I refused to promise Dr T that I wouldn’t kill myself before our next session. Next thing I knew, I was summoned to see the Crisis team.
Continued in Part II…