tw – this talks about suicide and ideation. It is pretty graphic in places, but I didn’t want to pussyfoot around or downplay the seriousness of this issue. If you feel like this may trigger your own illness, please do not read this and call a group or local medical authority for help. I’ve included 2 numbers for UK and US readers since that where stats tell me most of my readers are from.
Mind – 03001233393 (UK)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline -1-800-273-8255 (USA)
I’ve been accused – often – that I always make everything about me. Recently, what I thought was innocuous chat descended quite quickly into a screaming match about how little that person really knew me. The same person, a few months ago, reacted to the painful secret I finally opened up about, that I’d tried to kill myself, with a curt ‘Well thanks for letting me know’. Those words are burned into my soul. In hindsight it was a shitty thing to tell them over the phone, and without going into why, the worst possible timing. I guess I wanted to be honest about my weird behaviour, and hopefully re establish a connection I miss deeply. I failed on that front. We are more estranged than ever, it seems.
When I decided I should kill myself it was because I wanted to just stop. I have a physical and mental pain that I do my best to ignore, or explain away. I don’t have life that bad; a doting husband, treasured friends, and a home I feel safe in – so why do I feel so bad? I feel completely undeserving of complaint and any sadness is absolutely unjustified. After all, I could have it so much worse! And yet, that darkness follows me around. I don’t want to accept it, it feels like losing somehow. It was far better to stop existing altogether. My loved ones would mourn a while, then move on, quietly relieved they didn’t have to deal with me anymore. I wouldn’t feel pain anymore. I wouldn’t be a constant fuck up. People wouldn’t make bets on me failing ever again. Everywhere I went I imagined how I would do it. Running in front of traffic. Jumping of those hateful bridges I’m so scared of. I even had a recurring fantasy of watching a movie in the cinema while pushing razors slowly and carefully into my wrists, to go before the end of the credits and fade away before the lights came up. Finally, after all that thought I hit the realisation that no matter what, it just needed to be done.
So yes, I made that decision. And for hours afterwards, I actually felt happy, happier than I had in a while. I danced around in work. I giggled inwardly at how clever I was being – I knew Gof was waiting for me at a show, so I’d go home, swallow all the painkillers I could find (I have a prescription of co dydramol, paracetamol and Amitriptyline for my back/insomnia), drink it down with vodka and text him goodbye just before going to sleep. I even finished off a packet of co dydramol I had with me to jump start my plan. By the time I finished my shift my manager knew something was up, I was drowsy and mumbling nonsense. She asked me a few times if I was ok. Annoyed at her interference, I spat out I was just fine thank you and walked out. I didn’t need anyone questioning what I was doing. I stood at the subway, wondering if I shouldn’t just jump in front of the train, then dismissing it since I didn’t want to pass on more bad mental health issues to the stranger who would unwittingly hit me. It began to dawn on me just how flawed and fucked up my reasonings had become. I was willing to make a permanent and indelible mark on my loved ones lives, and yet I was sparing a stranger that same fate and calling it fair. Then I thought of Gof’s face, how he would look and feel when he found me, too far gone. I imagined him hugging my body in disbelief and pain, and it felt like a punch to the gut. Imagined him having to call my mum, my sisters, my friends and tell them I was gone. The confusion my young nieces and nephews would feel. All that snowballed in me in an instant. I sat down on the stairs and felt the weight of what damage I could have done. I called Gof and told him he needed to come get me.
We went to the hospital. The doctor took blood and the like and was confident I hadn’t taken enough painkillers so far to cause any real damage. We talked, I cried, and there was discussion about admittance. I just wanted to go home. Suddenly all I wanted to have the comforts of the life Gof and I have created around me. I flatly refused to contact my family. I was ashamed and didn’t want their pity. More than that, I didn’t want to shine a light on how bad things were, especially when they had their own shit going on. So we went home. With a new prescription, a phone number to a psychiatric nurse and a request that Gof handle my medication. I slept for days. I made the conscious decision to keep everything private, and most definitely OFF facebook. For the first few days I was off it completely, but then I got messages asking if I was ok, so I created my ‘Nicki is fine for facebook’ persona. I tried to maintain the illusion that all was well. I blamed my losing my job on my physical shortcomings, when in reality it was my inability to let them know when I wouldn’t be crazy anymore. The Jobcentre wanted to take legal action against them, but I vetoed it because I knew I couldn’t handle it.
Finally, I decided the closest of my loved ones had the right to know what I had nearly done. I had varying levels of success. We haven’t talked about it in a while. I don’t tend to keep them updated. Easy to do when your loved ones at best try to ignore (at worst dismiss) the seriousness of it. I don’t blame them, but I can’t deny it hurt. I don’t expect to be the centre of everyone’s world, nor that everyone will be particularly comfortable discussing mental illness, but on those days when I feel like I can’t do anything right, when I’m scolded and insulted by people who don’t really know the damage their words are causing – the sweet release of slipping away taunts me. I know I can’t do it. I mustn’t. I know depression lies. But Death teases me anyway.
I’ve tried very hard not to make it all about me, but the flaw in that plan is because I’m not telling, my loved ones don’t know how bad it is. If I tell, I run the risk of recapturing that drama queen reputation I’ve secretly being trying to get rid of. Catch 22. I won’t win either way. So I may as well polish the damn crown.
It’s been 4 months since that night. I’m still working with my doctors to maintain some form of normality. Yesterday morning, when I walked in, my ‘bad cop’ doctor (ie, the one who doesn’t mollycoddle me or ever, EVER say ‘poor you’. I love him for that) took one look at me and said I looked terrible. Cheers Dr M! I knew why though, so we talked about it. I’m mostly faking emotions right now (fake it til you make it!) with sudden insistences of deep and intense emotions, usually over something daft. I’ve been paranoid to the point of fear, guilty, angry and incredibly joyous. It’s all a bit exhausting. I don’t sleep well at the best of times, and this hasn’t improved matters. The physical and undiagnosed pain that put me in hospital earlier this year has reared it’s ugly head again, which seriously has not helped my mental state. I still deal with suicide ideation, to put it into the medical jargon my file now has imprinted within its pages.Then an awful thing happened to the world and triggered me far more than I could have guessed.
We’ve finally made the decision I’ve been putting off. More medication and potential hospitalisation if I can’t cope with the side effects while it works its way into my system. Further tests on the undiagnosed pain, which is reassuringly yet annoyingly real and not my being a hypochondriac. I’m scared. It’s difficult to want something to be wrong just so you can fix it. With each fresh result ruling out x, y gets a little more terrifying. More than that though, I’m scared of the new meds. The last time I was on antidepressants like these I had hallucinations and intense panic attacks for too long. I’ve not took the first one yet. I know I’ll need to today, just to get to started. After that comes balancing myself on yet more medication. Gof bought me a pill box that dismantles into 7 bits, each with 4 compartments; morning, noon, evening, night. It’ll give me my daily meds, some semblance over self control, but not too much that I can do any harm if I find myself in a low spot. I know I need to reconnect – at least try to – with some people I’ve let down. I’m not looking forward to that, it’ll be like raising a mirror and seeing the ugly truth about me. I need to face that. But first, baby steps. Hell, I need to stand up nevermind walk.
So, plot twist – this has been all about me after all. I wonder how many ‘I’s and ‘me’s are in this. Too many, probably. All I know is what I’ve being doing so far isn’t working very well and there must be another way. So I’m embracing the uber selfish caricature of me for a while, because really I’ve been selfish all along. Expecting acknowledgement of a fight I’ve mostly keep secret. Thinking that I’d gain respect by not talking about a story most people didn’t even know was happening. This is my missive to health, my love letter to life. I’ll answer and talk about anything anyone wants to discuss in private, but this stands as a declaration that I admit my many, many faults and I’m trying to overcome them. I won’t constantly talk about it on facebook, I’m not looking for sympathy, props or a free pass for acting like a dick. Just know that I am working hard in the background, and maybe try to understand and accept that I’m not at 100% quite yet. I’m trying. Very trying, I know. Forgive the dramatic flourish, the epic novel. It’s in my nature.
Depression lies. A simple yet undeniable truth. If you’ve found yourself nodding along at any of the things written above, please take time to look after yourself. You matter, and you are loved. Let’s agree to love each other gently and with kindness. Find yourself support where you can, and don’t hide pain away out of some form of obligation to maintain the status quo. That way is harmful and unnecessarily damaging. The more we talk to each other about this, the brighter we shine a light on that darkness. Ask questions. Share stories. We may get out of this world alive yet.