Off into the sunset

Guess who’s back.

I’m back because I’m not okay. My journey isn’t over – if I ever thought that, it was wishful thinking.

Last night I dreamt that I committed suicide. I dodged various people around me on a beach, ran into the sea, and swam away, fast enough and far enough that I wouldn’t have the energy to make it back.

I don’t think that’s normal.

What’s changed? Physically, nothing. Medically, nothing. I haven’t done anything *stupid*, but I notice I’m thinking about it more. My mood is volatile – it takes only the smallest of negative triggers for me to feel like throwing something.

I’m not a physical kind of person. To anyone else, I look fine. Sitting at my desk, doing my job, same old same old. Inside, it’s like I’m fizzing. I can’t really talk to anyone about it – if I try, I can’t find the words, and then I’m so overwhelmed that I stop trying out of frustration.

I guess that’s why I’m back. This blog always helped me find the words.

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Suicide and Me: Part III

I’ve finally gotten around to writing this following a reader request I received in April (I’m sorry this has taken so long!!). As the title suggests, this is the third part of a series, and if you haven’t already you might want to check out Part I and Part II. Part III is unique in that it covers events that happened after I started this blog; I’ll include the links in case anyone wants to read my ‘real time’ reactions.

Towards the end of January my mood fell through the floor, and as my interest in hobbies died I found only one replacement: trying to source chemicals that would kill me. I was obsessed with the idea of a painless self-inflicted death, and spent hours every day working out what would work best. The ideal chemicals are illegal, and getting hold of them is both very expensive and difficult…but I was sure that it was not impossible.

Following a difficult weekend which saw my Gran taken to hospital, and a surprising/painful falling out with a good friend, I reached a new dark place. One week later, I tried to kill myself.

I remember sitting at my desk on Friday evening, and reaching for my nightly dose of zopiclone. I was in a strange, impulsive state of mind, and quickly swallowed another pill. And then another. I went ‘med crazy‘. I don’t remember what happened after I took 5 Nytol, but my empty pill box and my internet history later filled the gap: I took 1200mg sertraline in a suicide attempt. I didn’t die, and instead woke up in a delusional state, with intense hallucinations that I misinterpreted as a psychotic episode.

In the middle of all of this I phoned my parents to tell them that spiders were eating the stairs so I was trapped, and they very quickly drove up and brought me back to their house. Somehow I talked them out of taking me to hospital – I couldn’t remember quite what I’d taken, but I did know I’d had at least a handful of Nytol, and I didn’t fancy explaining that to a doctor. The hallucinations stopped over the next few hours, and when I discovered the empty box of sertraline I started to panic about what I might have done. Pretending to my parents that I felt much better, I went back to my uni town to ask myself some serious questions. The answer, that I’d tried to kill myself that night, stunned me. This was not the controlled, planned suicide I had wanted.

I was still feeling very unwell at the point, and now I knew what I’d done, the idea entered my head that I might be slowly dying from organ failure. At first I thought I’d take my chances, but a little survival instinct kicked in and I phoned the non-emergency number. They decided it was an emergency, and sent an ambulance. The hospital said it was a classic case of serotonin syndrome, and that the worst of it was over. I was allowed to leave if I agreed to work with the Crisis team, so I did, but they turned out to be pretty useless.

Time passed, and while the sertraline worked it’s way out of my system, the dark unease didn’t. I returned to self-harming, and drifted along with some minor ups and downs. My GP decided to try me on trazodone to see if that helped, but unfortunately it was just another name to add to the list of med-failures, so it was decided I should go without meds for a while.

That may not have been a bad decision as I had a rather stable period that allowed me to write my dissertation. Then I made a mistake, and it destroyed my head again. I ordered a dangerous chemical; my bottle of X.

Actually having it in my immediate possession was very strange – it felt like I was actually holding ‘freedom’ in my hands. I couldn’t decide whether or not to use it; my mind was split, and the battle was excruciating. But in the end my depression won, and I tried to kill myself with X. Again, obviously, it didn’t work.

That turned out to be the beginning of a 2 month period of persistent lows and suicide ideation that I’ve only recently emerged from. I can’t give enough credit to my GP and the staff at the psychiatric hospital for keeping me alive – I always had that bottle of X nearby, but with constant support I managed to leave it alone. I have to admit, I’m kind of surprised to be alive and writing this; there were many times when I didn’t anticipate living through another day.

The cost of being open about suicide with the people you care about

I spent a couple of hours last night drinking cider in a field with a friend of mine (like all classy girls my age do). I’ll call this friend ‘Spike’; we met at university, and have been good friends for the last year or so since discovering we both struggle with our mental health, and that we share the same therapist (Dr T). Spike is the person who accompanied me to hospital the first time I tried to end my life, and he’s always been a great source of support in difficult times. I can’t describe how much I value him as a friend. Anyway, he’s struggling with a project at the moment so we went for a drink to give him an opportunity to vent…after which came the dreaded question of ‘how are you?’

Normally I’m very open with Spike, but recent events have not been ‘normal’ or easy, and I’d been filtering them out whenever we briefly chatted online. This was for his benefit; Spike was amazing following my sertraline OD, but it came at a high emotional cost to him, and I swore to myself I’d never put him through anything like that again. But when he asked me head on how I was doing last night, I couldn’t bring myself to lie, and he saw through my hesitant attempts to play down how touch-and-go things have been. Spike ended up hearing the whole, true story, and I could see it worrying him.

The reason I’m writing about this is because I’m wondering how other people deal with the difficulties of being open about suicide with friends. To my mind it carries such a cost – a cost of fear/anxiety/sadness etc inflicted on the friend in question – that it seems unkind of me to be honest with other people, like I should shut up and bear my own fears and pain in relative silence.

It ends up in a situation where the only people I can really talk to are medical professionals, like my psychiatrist and psychotherapist, on the basis that they’ve probably heard it all before, and have had the training to be able to cope with it. But at the same time, that can be very isolating, and isn’t generally considered to be very healthy; these doctors tend to encourage me to open up to my friends, and it is certainly frustrating to keep these kinds of secrets.

I mentioned this little inner-debate to Nurse L when I was up at the hospital yesterday, and she immediately started teasing me for apparently having ‘psychic powers’ that allow me to read the minds of others. Obviously I don’t claim to be psychic. I just can’t forget the tears on Spike’s face, and his discomfort in A&E all those months ago. I can’t shake off the guilt.

At the end of the day, no one wants to hear that someone they know has attempted suicide, or is thinking of doing so. But Nurse L said people would rather hear the truth and have an opportunity to help change things, than never hear about it until it’s too late. I guess she’s right, but to act on that I’d have to find a way to make myself okay with the pain I’d potentially cause people.

Have you ever been in this kind of situation before? Or have you been on the receiving of someone you know opening up about problems like this?

Reminder #1001: don’t expect fate to be fair

I was feeling brighter yesterday, and was finally starting to move out of the suicidal place my brain has been living in recently.

But now I’m writing this and crying.

Today fate starting sh*tting on me again. Or more specifically, people starting sh*tting on me. One forgot me, and another has just announced they’ve chosen a drinking session/meeting over plans we had made for tomorrow. The latter was my brother, no less (he lied about the drinking part, but forgot he just broadcast his attendance of the event over Facebook). 

Dark parts of my mind are whispering about how this just keeps happening, and that I can’t trust anyone. Family, friends, doctors, tutors. That a commitment to life is a commitment to more of the same. I was just beginning to lose my fear of what I might do when exams (and my promise not to ‘Check Out’) end tomorrow evening, but now it’s back. Suddenly I’m glad I didn’t get rid of my bottle of X. 

I don’t think I want to die, but I sure as hell don’t want to live. But you can’t exist in limbo, and I know which option is lit up in neon lights.

It doesn’t even feel like a choice.

Eating me from the inside out

I don’t fully understand what’s going on with me right now; all I know for sure is that it feels horrific, as I tried to express in last night’s post.

I’m not sure how to describe this, but I keep…zoning out. Before, I’ve had instances where my brain almost literally seems to take a break, but this is different – I start spacing out, and then the world goes all fuzzy, and I wonder if I’m going to faint, although it’s not the same as being dizzy like in the old antipsychotic days. And now I’m not on any meds except propranolol, which I highly doubt could be the culprit here, so I’m wondering if there’s something psychosomatic going on. But hey, what do I know – I don’t even know if this paragraph makes sense. 

As per usual, I can’t concentrate on anything, except now the ’empty time’ is filled with tears. Tears at the immense pain, and the thought of what I’m building myself up to do. The goodbyes, and all those other words that will never be enough. But I haven’t properly cried (I make the distinction when my breathing changes, so tears alone don’t count). 

Sadly though, I came very, very close to crying today. I had an appointment with my GP this afternoon, who has always been a trusty support. He insisted I made an appointment to see him during the exam period because he knows I still have my bottle of X, and he’s (rightly) worried about me using it once exams have finished. I think what I wanted out of this appointment was to vent – as I’ve said, I feel like I’m drowning at the moment, and my GP is one of only a small handful of people in my life who can appreciate what that feels like. Obviously I wouldn’t tell him about the ‘plan’, but I desperately needed to express at least some of this pain, if only for a minute.

Cue disappointment when I was asked how exams were going, and was then shown the door (albeit with instructions to make another appointment for after exams). 

I feel like I don’t exist as a person struggling with depression; in the eyes of those around me, I’m a ‘student doing exams’. And this is such deja vu – back when I was writing my dissertation, I was only ‘interesting’ in respect to how much I’d written, and how much I had left to do. Any other kind of struggle, or element to my existence, just didn’t exist. At least Dr T didn’t treat me like that…and yet following last week, it’s like he’s abandoning me now. 

I don’t have anyone left. 

Depression is eating me from the inside out, and I can’t contain it. And yet somehow I need to contain it for five more days.

Part of my brain tells me that the second my last exam finishes, I need to go to hospital, either directly or via Dr T. But other parts of my brain remind me that all that achieves is me being trapped for longer in an existence I no longer want. 

I think I might be cracking out the sleeping pills tonight. I don’t know what else to do.

14 days from now

Today has been a reasonably good day – the revision session with Prof A went well, and I caught up with a friend. But something is wrong. Or to be more accurate, something will be wrong.

And I think I know what this is. Up until a few days ago, this blog was filling up with suicide-related posts – I was in a bad place for what felt like the hundredth time, and I finally acquired what I needed to Catch The Bus (my bottle of X). As I’ve written before, I tend to lose the ‘Temptation Game’. I tried to Catch The Bus about ten days ago, and failed, although at least that taught me what I need to be successful. 

But all of that had to be put on ice as my final university exams crept up on me, and I found myself starting to be successfully distracted by all the anxieties that inevitably brings. Those exams start on Monday, and end a fortnight today. The rising panic combines with another thought – that I don’t want to be mistaken for an ‘exam suicide’ – to make me safe.

Since yesterday I’ve been dimly aware of something bad coming my way, and it’s a sense that I will no longer be safe in 14 days time. In fact I think the situation might be more dangerous than that. My GP has sensed this too, and after weeks of patiently encouraging me to ‘do the right thing’ and hand the X over to him by my own choice, he told me last time that the deadline is that Friday. It doesn’t matter though; I won’t be forced. Trust me.

…it’s interesting that I wrote ‘something bad’, isn’t it? I guess it shows that battle in my head is ongoing; the battle between the parts of me that want (or even need) Out, and parts that want to live. 

They have 14 days to fight it out. Place your bets.

A sprinkling of survival instinct

To say I was nervous this morning would be a real understatement. It was time for my next GP appointment, and on top of still recovering from the pain of his concern for me last time, as usual I was stuck debating how honest to be. The war in my brain over life and death rages on, and it feels like I can’t even live in this undecided space. It hurts. It pulls at my chest, fills me with fear, and makes me feel a step out of time with the world around me. The events of Wednesday night both upset and scared me, as does the potential for a repeat. Catching the Bus should not be an impulsive thing, like it was that night. It can’t be done in this house, and it can’t be done without the chores to minimize the impact on other people. I want to do it right.

Fear of committing suicide under a crazed, impulsive state of mind, combined with a sprinkling of survival instinct pushed me to be honest with my GP, even if that meant taking the risk of ending up in hospital. I think I did the right thing. To my relief I’m ‘completely un-sectionable’, and my GP knows better than to start demanding promises I can’t keep. He asked if I wanted to see the Crisis team or a psychiatrist, but I turned that down as they tend to make things worse. We also talked a lot about reasons to live – it’s always impressed me how my doc will sit there and try and fix my non-medical problems.

Ultimately though it comes down to the bottles of X in my room. Even though it’s no secret than I can obtain more within 24 hours, I’m supposed to at least consider taking my stash into the surgery as a symbolic gesture of commitment to life. But I can’t do that – I won’t relinquish the freedom of choice X gives me, even if under different circumstances it scares the hell out of me. Fortunately my GP isn’t forcing the issue, and either way I’m supposed to go back and see him on Wednesday.

So that was that, and although the fog around me remains very firmly in place, I’m glad it isn’t permeating hospital walls. I feel very lucky; my GP understands my frustration about being honest. It has irritated me for a long time that being honest about suicidality/self-harm can be effectively ‘punished’ in the eyes of the patient by interventions/other people being brought in etc. Right now I really want to be honest, and my GP wants me to be honest too, so he is open about not ‘punishing’ me in return. Given the situation we’re in I owe him a lot for this. 

The other news today is that a little bit of an attitude shift has crept in. As I was walking down the street ruminating on my mood, I mentally stood back and acknowledged the fear and sadness I’m experiencing. It’s like I can see a little girl in a lot of distress, and I feel very sorry for her. So today I’m trying to give that girl some comfort, with a voice in my head gently asking what I can do to make her feel better. It’s only little things, like sitting in the sun outside to study, and buying nice food, but it’s like a mental-hug to the inner-me who no one else can really touch.