Thursday, 11 December 2014

Feeling suicidal *Possible triggering content*

Today I had planned to write a post about the myths associated with blogging, but if I’m honest my heart just wasn’t in it and I’ve spent the last few days re-evaluating my blogging and content. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy writing my posts about the more trivial things like beauty and fashion, but when I started this blog I wanted it to be a place where I could escape from all the demons inside my head and also raise awareness of some of the health problems I struggle with. So I’ve decided to go back to basics in a way, and talk to you today about where I am with my mental health at the moment.

Before I begin, I just need to make a few things clear. Firstly, this is quite likely to be a very sensitive post and will therefore be triggering if you are in a vulnerable place at the moment. So please do think carefully about your own mental health before you start reading. Secondly, I am only giving my own opinions and experiences of suffering from suicidal thoughts and feelings – everyone experiences these things differently, so please don’t take what I say as law. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I am not medically trained and cannot offer you medical advice in this post, so if you are struggling yourself I would really urge you to speak to a professional or phone The Samaritans on 08457 909090. If it is something that would interest you, I would be happy to do another post sharing some of the ways I cope with my depression and suicidal thoughts.

Feeling suicidal is probably one of the scariest things I have ever felt. I know people find it difficult to understand how someone with a seemingly ‘OK’ life can ever contemplate taking their own life, but depression and suicidal thoughts are extremely complex. Things can be going really well, yet you can still feel this suffocating darkness consuming your every move and thought. You can’t explain why you feel so low, sad and hopeless, but you do. That can often be one of the most difficult things and I have often had people say to me ‘But what do you have to be depressed about?’ Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, and does not discriminate against anybody. Old, young, man or woman, no matter what your life situation it is possible to be diagnosed with clinical depression.

My depression first became apparent when I was about 15, and came hand in hand with my physical health problems, as well as an eating disorder. Since then, I have had periods of being extremely unwell and periods where I been able to cope slightly better. But it has always been there. What makes it incredibly hard is that it’s completely invisible. People think you are doing OK because you smile or laugh, but in reality you feel like you’re dying inside. It affects every part of your life – your sleep, your eating, your physical health, work, social life…nothing escapes depression's grip. People have often told me that I should just try and think positive or cheer up – I wish it were that easy! It’s like telling someone with a broken leg to forget that their leg is broken and just walk on it. You can’t just think yourself out of depression. Yes, certain thinking techniques like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can be helpful to some people, but for some people (like myself) there are no treatments that help.

I recently did a bit of research and found that a startling amount of people suffer from chronic depression, which is not eased by medication or talking therapy. I am on high doses of anti-depressants and anti-psychotics because I hear voices, yet I am still crippled by my depression and the sad part is that there aren’t enough support services for people who suffer long-term. If you’re lucky you might get referred for a talking therapy, but I’ve been on the waiting list for over a year and don’t seem to be any closer to getting any support. And unfortunately, the support that is available is time limited, and as many people with depression will tell you, depression is definitely not limited by time. It endures over many years, and people are suffering alone, which just fuels the negative thoughts that people hold about themselves.

I’ve struggled on and off with suicidal thoughts and feelings for as long as I can remember, but over the last couple of years they have been particularly bad. I want to try and explain what it’s like to be consumed by these thoughts but it’s incredibly difficult to put into words. I feel like I’m constantly trying to wade through thick treacle. Everything looks like shades of grey and the colour just seems to disappear. I cry myself to sleep most nights. I purposefully inflict harm on myself to try and cope. All I can think about is how I can end my life – scenarios play over and over through my mind, making it incredibly difficult to think about anything else. I try and put on a front – go to college and paint on a smile, but in reality just continuing to breathe is a daily struggle. I’ve attempted to take my life on numerous occasions and have felt too ashamed to tell people what has happened and how I’m feeling. I’ve spent nights in hospital being pumped full of drugs to reverse the effects of whatever I’ve taken, then gone into college the next day and pretended that nothing has happened. And because it’s invisible people are none the wiser.

One of the biggest problems with suicidal thoughts is the stigma that surrounds them. People don’t feel able to open up about being suicidal because they’re labelled as selfish or crazy. When they do ask for help they get dismissed and fobbed off by the very people who could save their life, and if you do make an attempt on your life and then seek help, the majority of the time you are treated like a nuisance and a waste of time. I’ve been treated by doctors who refuse to engage in conversation with me and made me feel completely worthless after taking an overdose. At a time when I desperately needed to feel safe and worthy I was simply written off as a time waster.

We’re led to believe that there is plenty of support out there for people experiencing suicidal thoughts, but from the opinion of someone in that situation I can tell you that support is scarce. You often don’t feel able to talk to family and friends about it because you’re worried about what they will think and don’t want to put added stress onto them. Plus you also often feel that you don’t deserve their help or support anyway, which makes it incredibly hard. I am under a Mental Health Team, yet still can’t get support with these thoughts. I’ve told my nurse about them, only to be told ‘Well you’re still alive so you can’t be feeling too bad!’ I’ve rung the crisis line at 2am in complete crisis and was told it was late and I should be in bed. They like you to think they have support systems in place, but in reality they don’t work for the people who need them most. The only place I have managed to get any real support from is The Samaritans, and I owe them my life. Places like Mind and Beat are also great places to get advice from. But from my experience, the crisis support provided by my Mental Health service seems to be non-existent. It seems that the only way to get people to take you seriously is to actually take your own life, and obviously by that time it’s too late for you. It makes me feel so angry and let down that things have to get that bad before someone is taken seriously about what they’re saying. There’s a well-known myth that people who talk about suicide aren’t actually going to go through with it, but that’s all it is – a myth. Plenty of people try to reach out and inform people of their suicidal intent, only to be ignored and then go on to take their life.

I know me writing this post isn’t going to bring about huge changes to mental health care or stop the stigma that surrounds mental health, but I do hope that people reading it might just get to understand a bit more about what it’s like to experience suicidal thoughts. The more of us who speak up about these kinds of things, the more accepted it will be and hopefully the more support will become available. I want you to know that it is OK to say you’re struggling – it doesn’t make you a bad person. What isn’t OK is to struggle alone with suicidal thoughts and feel ashamed of how you’re feeling. Being suicidal does not make you crazy or selfish. It means you’re trying damn hard to fight against your demons and that perhaps you could benefit from a bit of support from someone else. I’m not going to lecture you and tell you suicide isn’t the answer, because to be honest I would be a hypocrite. But I’ll leave you with the following phrase that I have been turning to quite regularly just recently:

“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem”

Can you relate to anything I’ve written about? Could you possibly share this post to help break the stigma around suicidal thoughts?

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  1. Just wanted to say that you are amazing and I'm very proud of you. Well done for writing this :) Please don't ever feel that you can't talk to your friends when you feel this way. We will always be there for you, only ever a message away .x.