SA and my life – Breakdown

Trigger warning: suicide and self harm are mentioned throughout this post.

The first few weeks of this year were perhaps the worst of my life so far. We went to a family party on New Year’s Day but I just felt awful and wanted to leave for most of it. It amazes me how I can be so anxious even around my own family members. I wasn’t enjoying it at all and felt like crying. I felt ‘out of it’ somehow – cut off from everyone else and their apparent happiness. Like a tiny vessel lost at sea, drifting aimlessly. Nothing could bring me back. I don’t think anything in particular triggered me but I cut my thighs when we got home (after wanting to do so for most of the day) and went to bed, hoping I’d not wake up again, shortly after.

I spent almost all of the next 65 or so hours doing nothing but lying supine in bed, staring blankly at the ceiling and walls. I didn’t shower or get dressed or even brush my hair or teeth. I only managed 2 glasses of water and a total of one meal in that time. It wasn’t that I had intended to starve myself or anything like that, but simply because I lacked the energy to even get out of bed any more. It seemed a near impossible task. I didn’t even see the point in eating or drinking any longer, because I wanted nothing more than to die. If I’d had an ‘easier’ method such as pills available to me at the time, I would have taken them in an instant. All I could think about was going to the bridge, but how was I to go there if I lacked the energy to even leave my bed? I even dreamt about suicide in what little, broken sleep I achieved. It felt like I’d lost myself completely. I was just an empty, broken shell of a person. The depression was all there was to me now. It defined me. It seemed like I would never emerge from this nightmare. I felt too depressed to even kill myself, as strange as that may sound. I told myself that I had to stay alive for the sake of my family but doing so seemed pointless, because in my distorted mind, they all hated me anyway – no one had noticed or even seemed to care how I was. I couldn’t take any more of this.

I somehow eventually managed to drag myself myself out of bed, get dressed and leave the house looking like a tramp in the late afternoon. I walked to a quiet woodland area close to where I live. I’d phoned the Samaritans from there a couple of times before, since I didn’t want my family to know I was suicidal. I was pondering whether to phone them, phone my psychiatrist, or get on the train and head for the bridge. Psychiatrist eventually won. We talked for almost an hour but I hardly remember any of it. I told her that I was the lowest I’d ever been in my life, wanted nothing more than to die, and had wanted to jump off the bridge. She said that I’d probably have to be put in inpatients for at least a couple of weeks, but most likely longer, and she’d also have to tell my parents about the fact I was suicidal.

Stupidly enough, it had never occurred to me that this might happen if I told her everything. I don’t know exactly why I phoned her…I obviously wanted help, but not like this. A psych ward would probably be my idea of hell, and I definitely did not want my parents to find out about my being suicidal, because I feared what they might think of me and what they might do. I was worried that they would hate me and my relationship with them would be ruined forever.

I told my psychiatrist that I really didn’t want to be admitted to the psych ward or for my parents to find out, but she said I might not have a choice in either. This annoyed the hell out of me and resulted in me shouting angrily at her through the phone (something I would NEVER usually do). Why the fuck had I not just killed myself?! Could I still do it before anyone had the chance to stop me? If I was put in inpatients, I’d have almost no control over what happened to me. It would not help me get better at all. On a suicide support forum I sometimes visit, many people who had been in a psych ward before commented on how there is so much time to “sit and think your way through your problems”. Except that sitting and thinking about my problems and ruminating over every minute thing was how I got in this mess in the first place. Lying in bed all day, trapped inside my head, where no one else is getting better, was not going to help me. She told me that it would help but I didn’t believe her. She told me that if my parents found out, they could help and support me a lot more, but I could only see the worst possible outcome from everything.

To my relief, she finally decided that I could avoid being put in inpatients on the condition that I agreed to go to an ’emergency appointment’ the next morning and to keep myself safe until then. She would still have to tell my mum about my suicidality at some point in the near future though – something I was completely dreading.

I attended the emergency appointment and continued to see someone from CAMHS at least 3 times a week for the next month for so – something I often detested, but in my opinion, it was better than inpatients. I don’t remember much else of what happened in the 2 week period between phoning my psychiatrist and going back to university. I stayed in bed most of the time, occasionally watching a film or youtube videos. I’d completely lost the ability to read even small paragraphs of text. My cognitive abilities had been smashed to pieces. I self harmed a lot and had some extremely disturbed thoughts that I’m not going to share here. I felt like I’d completely lost it. Why stay alive when every part of me but my physical, biological self was dead anyway?

When it eventually came round to my first day back at university, I felt sick with dread knowing that my mum would find out about everything (except the self harm) that afternoon. My psychiatrist and I had agreed on this day because I didn’t want to be around her when she found out, for fear of how she’d react. I looked in the mirror and noticed that my eyes looked dead. It seemed like there was nothing behind them. I look almost like a zombie when severely depressed.

The afternoon arrived and both my psychiatrist and my mum phoned me after they’d spoken about my mental state at the time. The psychiatrist phoned first to let me know that everything had went okay and my mum, although shocked and upset, had taken the news well. My mum phoned me shortly afterwards. It sounded as if she’d been crying when she first spoke – I don’t know whether she had or she was just very upset. We talked for ages. She reassured me that she loved me no matter what and that she wasn’t angry with or disappointed in me, nor did she think I was weak, which reassured me a lot. She said that she just wanted to hug and comfort me. It both relieved me and broke my heart. In my twisted mind, I’d convinced myself that no one cared and that they’d reject me if they found out. It was very affirming to know that someone cared about me and loved me despite everything. I hated myself for upsetting her, and yet I was convinced that I’d still try to kill myself at some point in the near future. She became (understandably) very overprotective for a while afterwards, making me promise to text her almost every waking hour whilst at my grandparents’/ university. On the few occasions when I hadn’t texted her back within 10-15 minutes (due to being busy with something), she’d get very worried. This annoyed me somewhat at the time, but I was immensely thankful of how supportive and accepting she’d been. I probably love my mum more than anyone on the face of the earth. I was put on sertraline shortly after her finding out. She told my dad a few weeks later. He wasn’t very understanding but took it better than I thought he would – he didn’t tell me I was weak or get angry at me or anything like that.

I somehow surpassed all my previous expectations and lived to see my 18th birthday. I celebrated it in the same way I had for the past 6 years – eating at a restaurant with family members. I was very anxious and didn’t feel like talking to anyone. I hated that everyone was pressuring me to drink and telling me that I was weird for not doing so. The meal was good but I came away from it feeling like a loser, because it was my 18th birthday and (except online) I didn’t have a friend in the world to invite. For most people, their 18th birthday is a massive event – typically a huge party culminating in them getting drunk out of their mind. I felt that in my 18 years, I’d achieved absolutely nothing in any aspect of life. I had zero friends, zero romantic experience, couldn’t even have a proper conversation with or feel comfortable around even my family members. Socially, I was a complete and utter failure. I couldn’t even make up for those massive failings in other ways – I wasn’t particularly talented at anything, was pretty average academically, and incapable of taking pleasure in the times when I actually did quite well because I’d just tell myself that I should be doing so much better. I didn’t have a job, was often incapacitated by mental illness and seemingly  doomed to be that way for the rest of my life. Not a single person at uni (besides JW) even noticed me or knew my name. Much the same as highschool, I was just the weird outcast. I would never amount to anyone or anything in life.

A few days after my birthday, on the 1st of February, I finally decided that I’d had enough of it all. After having a panic attack at university (and therefore being unable to do the work), I told the tutor that I was ill, and left. The anxiety and depression had finally got the better of me. I just started walking the 12 or so miles to the bridge and didn’t stop. It took me around 4 hours. When I was around 4 miles from the bridge, I thought I’d send a text to say goodbye to the online friend I’d met on the suicide support forum a few months before. He’d helped me through so much in the short time we’d known each other, despite having to go through so much himself. He’d been more understanding than anyone. I reasoned that because he lives in Sweden, there was nothing he could do to stop me from carrying out my plan. He realised what I was going to do and panicked, pleading with me to stop and turn around. I didn’t listen. I was so selfish. I hated myself for feeling that even family was not reason enough to stay alive for anymore.

When I got to about 2 and a half miles from the bridge, my online friend said something like: “Look – I’m sorry, but I didn’t know what else to do, okay?” I immediately panicked, wondering if he’d somehow managed to contact a family member or someone else who would try to stop me. I got mad at him and demanded to know what he’d done. A few moments later, my phone started ringing with an unknown number. With a great sense of dread and anxiety, I answered. A woman who sounded in her early to mid twenties spoke to me. I could tell she was local due to her accent being exactly the same as mine (I later found out that she lives just 3 or 4 miles from me). I was initially confused and very hostile, but then she told me that my online friend had contacted her via the chat room on the suicide support forum. I could hardly hear her over the roar of the traffic (I was right beside the motorway when she called me), which lead to even more confusion. She was on the phone with me for over an hour, all the time trying to convince me to live. With half a mile to go, after a lot of persuasion, I finally decided that I would stay alive for now (I often immensely regret this decision). The woman on the phone helped me to find the closest train station via google earth. I thanked her for everything and got on the train without paying (I had no money with me). I thanked my online friend and was grateful that he cared about me. I still felt awful but I was going to stick around for at least a little bit longer. I made it back to my grandparents’ house around the same time I usually would if returning from uni. None of my family members ever found out about what I’d done/ come close to doing that day.

I added the woman who’d phoned me on facebook. We talked on there for a little while. She’d mentioned that I was welcome to join her and her friends for nights out, or that we could meet for a coffee or something sometime. Unfortunately, my SA meant that this never happened – something which made me even more regretful. I could have potentially had a group of friends there (or at least acquaintances), but my anxiety ruined that chance just like everything else. Just another thing that I missed out on because I was too afraid… Still, it was nice to know that there are some genuinely nice, caring people out there.

Over the next few weeks, I continued to feel much the same. The self harm escalated to the point where I was doing it very extensively (easily 60+ cuts in one session, at times) and the deepest I ever have. I’d bleed quite a lot. I have scars that are almost definitely permanent on both my thighs and my left forearm as a constant reminder.

Apologies that this post was so long. I always worry that I perhaps go on too much about certain things. I hope this wasn’t too monotonous to read.

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5 Responses to SA and my life – Breakdown

  1. laurennjade says:

    Your writing is so honest. Message me if you’d like another online friend who understands how you feel. Xo

  2. fellowsocphob says:

    I bawled my eyes out after reading this, u have some amazing friends, and again you are so brave. I hope you consider meeting the lady that helped you, to be able to help someone in that way is a gift.

    • Gemma says:

      Thank you. I’m sorry that the post made you cry. I do indeed have an amazing online friend. I’m very grateful to have a true friend in my life. I’d rather that than 10,000 fake ones.

      I’ve recently been thinking about the woman who helped me and I’ve been considering getting in touch with her, even if just to say a proper thank you, if nothing else.

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