A prologue to the note

I was sitting at Birch service station after driving there, recklessly, in floods of tears typing out my suicide note on my iPhone. I was in my pajamas, I hadn’t showered in days and it was still daylight, but I was so numb I really didn’t give a shit.

I was studying the motorway bridge to my right, working out how to access the steps, wondering how many people would see me walk purposely over there, face streaming with tears, and if anyone would even care.

I was watching the traffic just past the hedges lining the car park zooming past, wondering if I could run out causing the least amount of damage to the people driving the car, and the most amount of damage to myself.

I was completely numb to it all, but the tears wouldn’t stop. My mind was trying its best to think as logically as possible, to make sure my note was thorough, to make sure I was hidden, to make sure I was picking the best method so not to upset too many people around me.

The only emotion I had really felt that day was anger at my timing. A few months before,  a bridge close to my house had the perfect access for anyone wishing to jump. The drying mass of flowers tied to the railings showed that many had succeeded. But because of this, the council built the railings over 7 ft high, so that option was no longer an option for me.

This was last week.

I’m still numb, but I’m still here.

The doctors have said my medication has stopped working. That I’ve just become immune to it after taking it for so long, ‘So here’, she said, ‘try this one – and don’t take it all at once’ – a sly dig at my last attempt the week before, when I just needed the pain to stop, and with a moment of desperation, took a large amount of medication which has the effect of slowing your heart. And that’s it. That’s all you get.

You sit there, and you cry out, and say that you’re desperate, and you get the question that all doctors ask,

“Do you have any plans?”

Yes. I have plans. I’ve made plans. I have 5 plans. My mind won’t stop replaying these plans, if I’m sitting watching TV, if I’m trying to cook dinner, if I’m trying to sleep, if I’m driving to work – what if you just thrust that knife into you? What if you just spin the wheel to the right over that barrier whilst on the motorway? Why don’t you just jump when that train is coming? And the questions won’t stop, ever.

And you tell the lady in A&E this, the one who gets to speak to you after all the medication you took on purpose has left your system. You tell your doctors, who you’ve been advised to see by the lady in A&E. The doctors give you a list of numbers of services to call when you feel this desperate.

You tell the Samaritans. You tell Victim Support. And what do you get?

“Do you have a list of numbers of services to call when you feel like this?”

Yes. I’m calling you right now. You’re my list. So what now? What can you do now? Please. I’m desperate.

“Why don’t you see your GP and tell them how you’re feeling?”

Because they gave me your numbers to call when I’m desperate. Because they have referred me to therapy with a 6 month waiting list. Because I am literally sitting here, begging someone to do something, anything for me, please, because I don’t know how much longer I can do this.

“Why don’t we call you an ambulance so you can go to A&E?”

Because they will listen to me cry, and howl, and beg, and tell them of my plans, and I will be sent back to my GP the next day who will give me YOUR NUMBER to call again and we will be having the same conversation tomorrow whilst I’m sitting in the service station contemplating throwing myself off the bridge because the new medication takes 4-6 weeks to work and I can’t do this on my own and I can’t take the pain and the darkness and the parts of me begging me to kill myself anymore.

And the person on the other end of the phone says nothing. Because what can you say? I thank them for their time and hang up.

They don’t know what I do next. On the last occasion this cycle happened, my friend managed to coax me into coming home. So I did. And I sat and cried and stayed awake staring at the walls for 24 hours straight, cuddling my puppy and wondering when I’ll break next. But I could’ve easily hung up, walked over to that bridge and jumped.

The services are failing us. There isn’t enough funding to provide the support we need. The waiting lists are too long and the only chance you have of decent support is private care, which that majority of people suffering can’t afford. One of the nurses I saw said ‘We’d keep you for a few days to look after you if we had a spare bed for you – but we don’t think you’re a risk to yourself.’

I replied, in agony from the pain, that I am a risk to myself. I am terrified of what I’ll do when I get home, my mind won’t stop, can somebody please do something?

I paid for the parking of the person who had taken me there after overdosing, and went home, knowing nothing had changed. After they informed me how many more it would’ve taken for it to have completed the job. After not even asking if I had that amount still left in my bedroom. The answer is yes, I do. More than that. Because one of the GPs I saw a year ago accidentally prescribed me 4x the dose of what I was originally on when they carelessly filled in my repeat prescription. The services are failing us.

Those who say that suicide attempts are a cry for help are wrong. My cries for help are a cry for help. My suicide attempts are what happens when these cries aren’t answered.

I wish I could end this blog on a positive note, or with some semblance of humour like the others but I’ve run out. Maybe my medication isn’t working, maybe I do need therapy, maybe I do need to keep calling the services and talking about why I need the pain to stop again and again. And maybe I don’t want to die. I just want the thing in my head that’s telling me to die, to die.

And I really need help.

 

A letter to the man who raped me.

Hi,

It’s me. I know you’ve tried to bury the memory of me into the corner of your little mind, but some of us don’t quite get that luxury. After all, I was the 11th person you’d slept with. I’m sure your memory is a little hazy. You were my first. You will always be my first.

You moved far away after it happened. I’d like to think that it was because of me, you couldn’t deal with the memories, but in reality I’m not that self-centred. You moved away because you could. I can’t. I’m always going to be stuck here. Reliving not just the hell you put me through that night. In fact, that was the least of it. The hell you have inflicted on me in the 7 years that have passed since you asked me not to go to the police, and the pain that fills me fuller than you did, the pain that you’ll probably never know the hurt you caused.

The day you invited me to stay with you for the weekend. You were my first ever boyfriend, we had broken up 3 years before but, shocker, we will still friends. ‘How can you be friends with your ex boyfriend?’ my friends would exclaim, bewildered that we ended things amicably when you went off to University and I, 3 years your junior, was just sitting her GCSEs. ‘He was my first, we had a lot of fun together and we still keep in touch.’ I replied, knowing I was on a level of maturity far higher than they.

I was 19 years old then, had my own car (and wasn’t awestruck at your own 1960s Mini Cooper anymore) and was at University myself. So yeah, I’ll come up to see you. We’ll spend one night out on the town, then the next will be your birthday party, will be great to see all your old friends again, so much to catch up on. I waved my new university-based boyfriend goodbye and told him I’d be back on Sunday.

Seeing you was like putting on an old, woolly cardigan after the sun had set in the garden. We fell back into joking around, into being good friends and as if three years hadn’t passed us by so fleetingly. But I reminded you that it had, when I gushed to you about my new boyfriend on the bus into town, and you became quiet and turned away from me. Your reflection in the window frowned at me, and you told me you didn’t want to hear about him. I shrugged this off, as we walked into town to pick up some outfits for your party tomorrow, do you remember? It was pub golf themed. I got some awful chequered shorts, some white gloves and a yellow polo shirt from Primark and we laughed at how ‘university’ this all was and how ridiculous we’d look. Then we went for a drink. We went for a lot. You took me on a tour around all the bars you’ve spent your last 3 years and how cheap the drinks were. You ran into some friends and you introduced me, and I was amazed that they all seemed to know who I was – I don’t think I really ever mentioned you to my university friends? Then we were finally alone in a bar, and we were laughing about the first time we met, then you put your hand on my face and you kissed me. I pushed you off, and I can still remember the anger in your eyes. I reminded you of my boyfriend and you pushed the chair out you were on, so suddenly that it made me dive out of my own, and you strode off. You were gone for an hour. I didn’t know where you were. I was drunk and alone in a city on my own with no way to know how to get back. I rang my flatmate at the time, who told me to try and get the train home. I said I couldn’t, as my car and all my things were here. I sat outside and sobbed in a stupid little drunken state until you came to find me. You said we should go back home, and like a little lamb I agreed.

You told me to get in your bed, and you’d sleep on the couch. But your drunken flatmate was already passed flat out on it, and you asked if you could join me. You apologised for your drunken behaviour, and you put your arm around me and told me you’d make it up to me tomorrow. I was relieved to be in bed, my mind spinning with countless Snakebites and Vodka Red Bulls that I accepted your pathetic little apology and started to doze.

The next thing I knew your hand was down my underwear, and you were pushing, harshly upwards with your fingers. I let out a sharp and pained gasp and you just said ‘Shhh, he’s asleep next door’ – I’m sure you probably said his name, but any names of anyone I met out that night are muted in my memory. I started pushing your arms away, and pleading ‘no’ in as much as a hushed tone as I could. You were so strong as you climbed on top of me. In years to come, my Auntie would always say, ‘Oh but you know who I remember? Your first boyfriend. The one with those gorgeous muscly arms and those thighs.’ Those thighs. The ones you used to push my legs down as I kicked out. The muscly arms that just needed to hold my shoulders down to render me motionless and then the agony of you, just pushing. I kept moaning ‘No’ that’s all I could bring myself to say. I couldn’t say your name after, I couldn’t say anything else. And you said the one line that haunts my sleep every fucking night. The one line that just changed my life forever – the one line that has caused all this fucking bullshit to happen to me over the past 7 years.

“Shut up and let me finish.”

You know, just 2 months ago my auntie brought you up again, and ‘those thighs’, and only then was I only able to tell her what happened. But for 7 years I’ve had to grimace through my teeth every time she said it, tell her we drifted apart but yes, I remember ‘those thighs’ and it was a shame we broke up. I loathed myself even more with every time I said it.

I did what you said. I stopped fighting and I stopped writhing and I let you finish. Like a good fucking girl. And then you rolled off me, and you started to breathe deeply as you slept. And I hated you. I hated that I was still way too over the limit to drive home, I hated that I had to just stay here next to you until morning, and I hated that I didn’t have an answer to this. I couldn’t make it make sense in my mind. And I hated even more that I gave into sleep.

When I woke up, I woke up before you. I went to the bathroom and saw my bloated face and felt the sting between my legs as I finally relieved myself of all the alcohol in my body. I went back into your bedroom and silently started packing my things when you finally woke up. You told me to get back into bed as you reached for my thighs once more. I pushed you off, and you sleepily looked into my eyes and realised something was wrong. I don’t know how long it took you to remember, but you did. I repeated what you had said, ‘Shut up and let me finish’ and you cried. And I could’ve even felt sorry for you. Until you said, ‘I’m going to hell, aren’t I?’ You were a strong Catholic, and it was the fear of not reaching the pearly gates that caused you to weep like a child, not remorse for what you had actually done to me. I left right then and drove back.

I hid in my University dorm until Sunday. I couldn’t let anybody know what happened, I couldn’t let anybody know I was back so early. I sat, unmoving for a full day, not daring to go for food, cradling my legs as I waited for Sunday to arrive.

You called me so much I had to change my number, you texted me each day apologising for what you’d done. Eventually, my boyfriend found out after he overheard me yelling at you down the phone to leave me alone as I paced outside his house, ready for our next date. He wanted to kill you. I said it was fine, that I was fine, and convinced everyone around me that it was a drunken mistake, I accepted your apology and all can be forgotten.

So, that was where we left things off I suppose. I’m sure details are now all flooding back to you and we can pick up where we left off. A few things about the following years for me, in list format, as I’m sure all this reading has tuckered you right out!

  • I didn’t get the grades in my law degree that I was predicted. Why? Because I couldn’t bring myself to go to any of the lectures and seminars about non-consensual sex in Criminal Law without breaking down and hearing your words like a song in my head, taunting me as I skipped that question and holding my chest down with your arm.
  • I haven’t been able to stay faithful to anyone. For years, I couldn’t say the word, ‘rape’. I still struggle now even. What I needed more than anything was to convince myself that sex was nothing more than a physical act between two people. Because if I could do that, then you didn’t ‘rape’ me. I wasn’t ‘raped’. And I was fine. So I slept with anyone who would have me. I stayed out until stupid o’clock in the morning, drinking as much as I possibly could in the hope that I could make another mistake and prove to myself that sex is just sex. It doesn’t mean a fucking thing. I ruined so many relationships because of you, because hey, what does it matter? Sometimes it’s just easier to just shut up and let them finish.
  • I found myself in an abusive relationship, one that I thought I deserved. He knew about what happened, I had told him once in a misguided tipsy conversation thinking we were friends. He used our story against me for months. He recreated our night, but with more detail. He’d hit me, and he’d call me a slut, and he’d cover my mouth as I begged him to stop. He told me I liked it, he convinced me it’s what I deserved. I believed him. I was worthless, I was a lying whore, a cheating slut, I let men ruin me whilst I just fucking shut up and let them finish.
    You know the worst part about all of this, that I’m disgusted about? I went to the police about this abusive guy. And I tried to tell them what had happened. But they focused on you. And you’re the reason why my friends gave up on me and the police didn’t believe me enough to put him away. They said, ‘Your ex has said in questioning that you claim you’ve been raped before? Why didn’t you ever come to the police then, but you are now?’ And all I could say was that you apologised. I don’t even know if that was the real answer. But thanks to you, I became the girl that cried rape. And he became the guy, like you, that got away with it all.
  • I have nightmares every night. Without fail. Not always about you, about the other guy, about my friends calling me a liar, trying to ruin men’s lives and claiming rape. Sometimes it’s you. It’s always your arms and thighs I feel heavy on me whilst I try to sleep, and always your arm over my chest when my panic attacks set in.
  • I’ve tried to kill myself, and nobody knew the real reason why. It’s because I still believe to this day that I’m a liar. That I’ve made this all up. Because everybody tells me I have. But why would I remember those words so clearly, why would the flashbacks happen and the nightmares recur – I felt I was going mad. I was in a well screaming for help and nobody would lower down the rope and offer me the truth and the reassurance that everything I said had happened did really happen, and that sometimes I just need someone to hold me while I sleep and tell me that I’m not a bad person.
  • My therapist doesn’t know what has happened yet. We skirt around ‘the event’ that has caused me to develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or ‘events’ if you’d like to take some responsibility off yourself for this. She’s trying to teach me how to eat again, and how to sleep again at the moment. How to treat myself like a good person and look after myself. Baby steps, she says, as we build up to a day I can tell her all of this.

I think the worst of all of this is that you’ll never get to know how royally you fucked up my life back in February 2009. I’ll never get to read this letter to you, and you’ll probably believe what your Irish mum still tells you, yes, you’ll go to heaven because you’ve been a good Catholic boy. 

When I finally told my mum, the same day I told my auntie, she said ‘Well, at least it happened with someone you know, rather than a random stranger.’ I can’t tell anyone which is worse, but for me, knowing that you were my first and knowing that’s a privilege nobody can ever take away from you makes me want it to have been a stranger. Seeing you on my fucking Timehop each year makes me wish it had been a stranger. Maybe I would’ve actually called the police if it had been a stranger. Having had my mum and auntie recall how lovely and gorgeous you were every year since it happened makes me want to chop my right arm off for it to have been a stranger.

But it wan’t, it was you. And this is the first time I’ve ever wanted to talk to you. Because it is so unfair that I have to live through this every fucking day and you don’t.

But, hey. At least this time, I got you to shut up and let me finish.

Regards,

Your 11th.

 

 

 

10 ridiculous things depression is making me do

As a self-proclaimed work-a-holic, having been signed off work for my chronic depression to get used to my increase in medication, it has left a huge void in my life. In just 3 weeks I have morphed from a Superhuman Multi-tasker with a successful career in mental health and a thriving social life to a filthy slug with some bizarre paranoia and an addiction to avocados. I’ve been assured that what I’m experiencing is normal whilst my mind tries to repair itself, and subsequently my body will follow, so I’m allowing myself to laugh at the weird things depression is forcing me to do, and of course share it with you, in the hope that if you find yourself in a similar position, you’ll know this is apparently normal.

  1. Buy really weird things on Groupon.
    I feel as though those going through a period of mental illness should have their online shopping accounts at least partially suspended until you are well, because being able to one-click your way through new material goods to ease your depression whilst high on Prozac will never go well, no matter how much Groupon tell you that THIS DEAL IS AMERZING. So far, I have a new BlueTooth Fitness Tracker, which is hilarious as I haven’t walked further than to the bathroom in 2 and a half weeks, I have a new curling wand for my hair (which was an obvious must-have, considering I have a really short bob rn), an exercise bike which has definitely not been used but was a bastard to put together (and subsequently made me feel like a DIY Failure) and £42 left to pay my rent this month. Today, I embargoed by account when I almost bought a set of outdoor furniture (despite only  having a tiny balcony for outdoor space) and an Indian cookery class. I just can’t help myself, my mind is saying no, but the depression is yelling “HEY, BUT HOW MUCH BETTER WOULD YOU FEEL IF YOU WERE SITTING ON YOUR OUTDOOR FURNITURE IN YOUR LIVING ROOM EATING INDIAN FOOD YOU’D COOKED WITH CURLY HAIR.” Fuck you.
  2. Wake my boyfriend up in the middle of the night TERRIFIED that I’d forgotten where China was.
    I had. I don’t even know if I ever knew, or this was a new unknowledge I had acquired thanks to Prozac, but I just didn’t know where it was in the world. He got up a World map on his phone and proceeded to show me. MIND BLOWN. Since when was it that big? AND WHERE THE FUCK IS JAPAN THO? Was Japan always that small? WOAH WAIT. CHINA BORDERS FUCKING RUSSIA. I actually asked the question, “How well do the Chinese and the Russians get along?” and “Why do we never hear about any nice things that happen between them? I’ve never seen a Russian person and a Chinese person be neighbourly or unneighbourly, so like, what happens? Do they like each other?” These questions went on for hours. THEN I SAW ALASKA. WTF. Did you know they want to build a BRIDGE to attach Alaska to… oh shit I’ve forgotten. Maybe Russia. Probably Russia. BUT MY GOD. I couldn’t sleep that night knowing that my world has either grown or shrunk and I couldn’t work out which was worse.
  3. Watch too many True Crime shows and apply to be an Investigator.
    Yep. If anyone watches TruTV or CBS Reality then you will KNOW about the absolute gold mine of TV shows on there that can satisfy your need to solve mysteries and watch murder reconstructions. OAPs Who Kill, Deadly Women, 48 Hours, Killer Twins, Psychic Detectives… they are channels made for my mind right now that needs to know things and work things out. I decided I was skilled enough to be an investigator sometime after 1am when I realised something. If someone has arsenic in the house, they must be planning a murder. I googled ‘other uses of arsenic’ and, after a few hours of searching, found there really weren’t any other uses. HENCE AND THEREFORE if a woman is found with arsenic in her house and her husband mysteriously dies then she definitely wasn’t using it for her FUCKING SKIN CARE REGIME. I’m a genius, says 2am I, I could do this for a living. So I sent my CV off to a place that needed investigators. Yeah, I needed a few years experience in like policing and shit BUT I’ve just solved 100% of arsenic related murders and I think that’s a skill they can’t do without.
  4. Watch every 9/11 Conspiracy Video I can find.
    For about 2 days, I became really passionate about 9/11 and working out what really happened. I’m not going to write down my thoughts because I’ve read that people have been killed for sharing their views on 9/11 (yeah, I really believe this). So I’m not going to indulge you, BUT, if you want to have a few sleepless nights, increase your psychiatric medications and watch Zeitgeist and then realise that you’ve just ruined your chances for recovery this week due to paranoia about people killing you for your views on 9/11. Absolute banter.
  5. Continue my Conspiracy theory obsession by reading about the fact NASA has already set up a colony on Mars and LYING TO US. 
    (Yeah, you think this is bad? Wait until number 6). Basically, liking ‘Anonymous’ on Facebook as soon as I increased my psychiatric medications was probably a poor choice, but despite forgetting where China is whilst I’m writing this and having to google it again, I felt like I was keeping my brain sharp. NOPE. It just led to the absolute shit show that is No.6.
  6. GO TO THE TOILET, HAVE A SIM CARD FALL OUT OF MY PYJAMA BOTTOMS AND BELIEVE SOMEONE IS TRACKING ME AND MY MOVEMENTS AND IT MAY BE NASA.
    This seriously happened, and I still can’t quite explain where the SIM Card came from, but I’m going to say now I’m 98% sure it’s not NASA’s doing. Before you ask, ‘U OK HUN?’ let me explain. I went to the toilet after finally dragging myself out of bed at around 11am, pulled my Pjyama bottoms down that I’ve worn for the past 6 days and out fell a 3 Mobile Sim Card onto the floor by my feet. “Someone must have put that in my vagina!” I actually exclaimed out loud and hence I started wondering who would do such a thing. Since it was in the midst of my NASA Conspiracy obsession, part of me questioned whether it was NASA. When I told my boyfriend when he came home, he told me he’d found it the other day and was going to ask me about it, perhaps it got stuck to my foot as I walked to the bathroom? NOPE. IT FELL FROM VAGINA HEIGHT, I said, and it may be NASA, so he told me I probably shouldn’t read conspiracy theories anymore. Looking back, that was a sensible ban.
  7. Make my body have a period for 12 days straight (and still have it perioding)
    My depression has apparently picked up the phone to MOTHER FUCKING NATURE, the twatmonkey, and said ‘Oh hey, you know what would be HILARIOUS? Let’s give her a period now too. For ages, like, a no end in sight kinda thing. That’ll teach her for believing the NASA Conspiracy theory and not showering for a week.’ And Mother FUCKING Nature said ‘Alright babe. LOLCAT’ And that was it. It’s like seriously MOTHER NATURE, CURE CANCER OR SOMETHING STOP KICKING ME IN THE OVARIES WHEN I’M DOWN.
  8. Become obsessed with Kylie Jenner and hate myself for it.
    That Coachella hair tho. Seriously. Hair goals. I want her lip kit, even though she literally has no right bringing out a lip kit when she’s only had lips for one year. And I hate myself again.
  9. Read over 200 reviews about Gwynth Paltrow’s new cook book with no intention of buying it.
    I just really needed to know about what people really thought of it. Apparently. Definitely mixed reviews, is my definitive outcome from my investigative work. Most comments say you need a Spiralizer. Some people say it is definitely better than her older one as recipes only take around 30 mins to prepare but the cost of ingredients is still quite high… WHAT AM I DOING, GO OUTSIDE TO NATURE.
  10. Actually have a really  nice time with my friends.
    Surprise! It’s not all doom and bloody gloom. I hosted my own engagement party on Saturday – we’d had it booked for weeks before I fell ill, paid for all the food and people had planned their whole weekend around it, so despite my inability to be a real human, I still pulled myself out of bed and decided I would push myself no matter what. And it was really nice. I was surrounded by such incredible people who knew what I was going through, we had some drinks, laughs, we danced, I sang Proud Mary on karaoke so loud I lost my voice the next day and got really lovey with everyone. And yes, I had some wobbles, and did end up falling to sleep on the floor spooning my wardrobe because I was too anxious to ask people to leave my bedroom so I could sleep BUT it made me realise that although my depression can make me bleed, can make me paranoid to the extent that people are planting things in my vagina and make me believe things are hopeless, it can also learn when it’s time to leave you be, just for a little bit while your friends try and heal you.

I think the one thing that has been really tough is the guilt, that’s constant and relentless. I am constantly thinking, ‘What could I have actually achieved in these three weeks?’ and I become so upset at the lack of achievements I’ve made (apart from the fact I could now win a pub quiz solely based on Kylie Jenner’s life) that I find it hard to get out of bed again. And that’s always going to be a struggle. We’re constantly bombarded with messages that we only have one life and we’ve got to make every day count BLAH BLAH BLAH – we know. We really know. I’m really aware of this. Too aware of it, that it’s actually making me anxious about sitting still and looking after myself. I need to constantly be on my phone reading things to the point of obsession, I need to be working, I need to be applying for things that will make my life worthwhile and buying things that will make me happy and I need to be exercising, meditating, learning a language, see all my friends, visit my family, hold down a 9-5, chase my dreams, buy a house, have some babies, write a book, keep things clean, eat good food and FOR FUCKS SAKE PLEASE STOP IT’S ALL TOO MUCH. I just need to breathe. And so do you. And that’s what this past three weeks have shown me. So what I didn’t get out of bed today? I actually really needed to sleep whilst my body adjusts to life again. Sometimes a fucking bubble bath and a cup of chamomile tea isn’t enough – sometimes you just need to dance until you can’t move and laugh until you can’t breathe just to remind yourself you’re still human deep down and this depression can suck a dick. Maybe I don’t want to meditate today? Maybe I want to walk to Starbucks and eat a cake and listen to Fall Out Boy and remind myself that life is tasty and can be as good as I was when I was 16 and Sugar, We’re Going Down.

It’s Depression Awareness Week this week, which my mind has so perfectly synced up to. I really encourage you to talk about it, take the pressure off yourself and know that it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to lay in bed for days sometimes and just BE. It’s okay to laugh at it, because it’s healing. And it’s okay to take all the advice you are given, and it’s perfectly okay to put two fingers up to the advice you’re given if you know that it will be better for you. Whatever works, just don’t feel guilty. You got this, there’s so many people rooting for you and if I can make it to the end of this, so can you.

 

15 days on 40mg.

“You’re unfit for work. I’m signing you off for four weeks. I’m doubling your medication. I’ll see you in four weeks.”

I looked at the doctor as though he’d literally shat in his hands and told me he was making a pie. I told him four weeks was way too long, I have so many responsibilities and you know, I’ve coped this far, I’ll be reet.

No dice. His word was final.

Now, I know so many people would revel in knowing they’ve just been given a get-out-of-work free card for 4 weeks, but I actually fell into a state of panic.

Two weeks in, and lying in bed I’m ready to share the effects of doubling your anti-depressants mixed with being a workaholic being blocked out of her work emails. Because my concentration is limited, I’m going to share with you in bullet point format the best and worst things about my last two weeks.

  1. Being brutally honest with people is hilarious. Now, I work for a Mental Health Charity (ironic, I know) so of course my work understands where I am and what I’m going through, but other humans that I need to come into contact with have no idea. I’ve stopped telling people I have a flu akin to ebola when explaining why I can’t play or human today. I’ve been brutally honest. And it’s hilarious. To my drama teacher for example, who told me if I didn’t go to a make up class for the class I missed I wouldn’t be able to continue the course. I responded, in a text message, “Hi David, I lied, I didn’t have the shits. I actually have chronic depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and an increase in my medication meant I couldn’t walk in a straight line last week. I also couldn’t bring myself to shower, and I didn’t want to upset you all with my drunk, dirty and disorderly behaviour. I also tried to learn the script for the lesson, but everytime I got to the third line I forgot what I was doing and fell asleep for 3 hours. So, it wouldn’t have been productive for me turning up. But I’m getting better, I’ve been awake for at least 10 hours today, so I hope you will let me continue with the course, because I like acting a lot. It helps me be other people who don’t have chronic depression and I like that. Thanks.” His reply was simple, “Bless you. Please stay with us. I will wait to hear when you’re better. David.” I’m  unsure if his ‘please stay with us’ meant in the class or in life, but I’ll do my best to do both, David, thanks.

2. I forgot how many days were in a year and had to Google it. I then went on with my business (learning the same three lines of script and sleeping) and forgot again, so had to bookmark the tab for the rest of the day. Writing this now, I still think it’s 352. I don’t know why the Prozac is preventing this knowledge sticking in my brain, but it is. Sorry, world.

3. I’ve lost all coordination when crossing roads. Like, they don’t write this on the ‘Side Effects’ bit of the patient information booklet, but it’s a serious side effect. I stand at the side of the road, looked left and right (thanks, Hedgehogs) and instruct my legs it is safe to walk. But nothing computes. And I don’t walk. I panic, I stumble, I try to walk but there’s cars so I jump around a bit like a loon and turn back and go home. It means that I don’t go out much at the moment without another human to push me along.

4. When I do manage to cross roads, I can’t human in supermarkets. I went to Tesco yesterday for milk. I’ve also just come on my period which was a lovely surprise to add to the ailments of life right now. So I needed lady supplies. I managed to not get hit by a car, but I also couldn’t take my eyes off the ground as walking was hard to fathom and I was worried I was going to trip. I went into Tesco, and went to self-service with the following items:
– A reduced pack of chicken
– One avocado
– One large pack of mango
– Fabric softener
– Soya yoghurt
– One pack of Crumpets (despite being Buy One Get One Free)
– One pack of Tena Ladys
– One apple
I had no need for any of the above.
I had my own bag. I didn’t tell the self service till, so I had to pile everything up in a mountain on the bagging area and support the avalanching items with one arm whilst I paid with the other before packing into my own bag.
I then realised, on a whim, that I hadn’t smoked in 3 days. Depression leads you to lose interest in many things, like washing and socialising, and as such I’d lost an interest in smoking, but at that point I decided I’d like a pack of cigarettes.
NB. Don’t make snap decisions on Prozac.
I went to the till and saw that there was an ecigarette on offer for £6. I thought Brill, I’ll have that (?!) and said to the cashier, “That ecigarette, I’ll have that. Is it £6?”
As he brought it over to scan I realised it was normal cigarette flavour and not menthol which I like. Shit, I thought. Do I have to take it now? There was a queue building behind me.
He scanned it. “Oh, it’s £6.30 actually, but it says £6 up there, shall I get a manager?” PANIC NO I DON’T REALLY WANT IT.
“Erm, no, it’s okay now actually, I’ll just take a normal pack of cigarettes”
And he said “No, no I don’t want to encourage you smoking if you’re going to quit, let me get the manager.”
“NO!” I shouted at him as he walked away. I’ve attracted the attention of ALL of Tesco Express at this stage.
“I actually want a menthol one, is there a menthol one?”
He said “Yes actually, here it is, I don’t know how much it is though.”
I said “I DON’T CARE I’LL TAKE IT” and he rung it up for £5.99 and handed it to me.
Now I have an ecigarette I really don’t want.
I have a pack of Tena Ladies when I needed tampons.
I have a pack of crumpets, which Tom has been eating just to justify my purchase but secretly I know he doesn’t really like them.
And I have fabric softener with no washing powder.
I’m a life failure.

5. The more you try and convince your boss you are fit for work, the less you appear fit for work.

6. I have horrible urges that I can’t shake. I’m not going to act on them, but I have an overwhelming urge to stab myself in the stomach. Something is telling me I need to do it. I know it’s just the imbalance of serotonin right now, but I lay in bed until 3am this morning reading stories of people who have done it and what happens to try and tell that voice in my mind that IT’S THE WORST IDEA EVER. My mind is still like, ‘Nah, babe, you should give it a go. I’m curious and LOL.’

7. Buying self help books in public is a huge mistake. I went to Waterstones to pick up some books to try and improve my attention span and ensure I was still able to read and shit in all of this. So I thought I’d look in the self help section too, to see if any books can help me through this period of ill health. I ended up buying a book called ‘Reasons To Stay Alive’ (which I would recommend to anyone, it’s great) and a few others, like ‘Everything You Need You Have’ and ‘At Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’. Now, looking back, it probably wasn’t the most optimistic combination of books to set upon the cashier’s desk, but I expected, like when you go to Ann Summers, that people won’t judge you on your purchases. I was mistaken. The gentleman behind the till launched into, what I can only describe as a make-shift therapy session, and led me around the shop for another HALF AN HOUR recommending more books that will make me ‘not want to die.’

8. Losing a sock you just had on can instigate breakdowns. My feet go from being really hot and uncomfortable to being super freezing. So I put socks on and take socks off at least 9 times a day. So, casualties will occur. However last night I just took my socks off, to realise I was too cold and went to put them back on again. And I could only find one. That was it. That was the end. I broke down. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t remember how many days were in a year. My Tena Lady was in an awkward position. I hadn’t eaten a real meal in 2 weeks. I had the worst panic attack I’ve had in ages. Over a fucking sock. Tom had to take me to bed to calm down. Then he pretended to be a turtle for a while and things got better.

So, it’s Friday. 2 weeks since I’ve increased my medication, and it’s been really hard. But I’ve learnt some valuable lessons.

  1. Socks should have those strings on them like children’s mittens have to stop you from losing them.
  2. No snap decisions should ever be made on Prozac.
  3. Always say you’ve brought your own bag with you.
  4. You know you’ve got a keeper when your boyfriend eats crumpets to make you feel like a worthwhile human, and turtles around to calm your panic attack.

Tomorrow, I’m hosting a party. Something I don’t even like to really do when normal. However, lots of people have RSVP’d, food has been paid for, and maybe being around humans will help. But I’m concerned at how this will go. If I at least make it there with all the roads I think I will have done okay.

Lots of love,

Depressed and zombied on Prozac. x

 

My First Birthday.

It’s my birthday today. I’m one year old.

I’m not doing anything special. My Facebook page isn’t littered with present and martini-glass emojis. Nobody has sung at me. I wasn’t woken up with gifts, or breakfast in bed. I doubt there’ll be a cake, unless the cafe at work decides it needs to use up all the eggs before the weekend. I’m going to work, and I’m continuing on with my day. But I am celebrating. I am celebrating harder than I celebrated my 21st birthday.

A year ago today, I tried to end my life. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the date actually. How could you forget it? The date that you stood there in your room, pretended to everyone you knew you were going to work, as normal, and decided that today is the day I have decided it should all end. There was nothing special about that date either – it was just the day that I woke up and realised that I couldn’t physically go on anymore. I told work I just wasn’t coming in. I didn’t give a reason. In my mind I didn’t need to, because I wasn’t going to get in trouble anymore. I wasn’t going to be hated and shouted at anymore. I didn’t have to put up with the nightmares and the flashbacks anymore.

I’m not going to tell you what I did, because it doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t matter. What matters are the steps I took after. I’ve never told anyone what happened really, or how I ended up in Manchester Royal Infirmary that day, so on my birthday, just as a parent will talk about your conception and subsequent bloody birth at any big birthday celebration, I’ll tell you about how I came to conceive my new life, and become reborn.

At some stage during my actions in ending my life that day, I became frightened. I actually became frightened. There was a twinge of doubt and that doubt was what I held on to. I was scared for who would find me, and when they would find me and began to feel so much overwhelming guilt. I called my doctors surgery to try and make an appointment. I actually called the doctors surgery. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I didn’t know what else to do. My head was fuzzy, I was in dire need of instant support and yet I spent 12 minutes on hold waiting to speak to a receptionist to book an appointment. Then I started to feel extremely drowsy. I couldn’t stand up properly and I was so warm all over, yet I needed to be wrapped up. I was bleeding and crying. I felt like a barrel full of holes. I wasn’t ready to be empty. I called NHS 111 and spoke to a lady who I remember was Scottish. I don’t remember what I said, but at some stage the lovely Scottish lady on the phone suddenly became stern and told me she was overriding my consent and my pleas not to want to make a fuss and sending an ambulance over to my flat straight away.

I was fighting to stay awake and conscious. I wrapped myself in my duvet. I put on a hat. I have no idea why I chose to put on a hat, but I didn’t have the energy to change out of my pyjamas so in my dizzy mind I thought a fluffy hat would suffice. I sat in my hat and I just waited, willing my eyes to stay open. The ambulance crew arrived and did something I never expected. They climbed under my duvet with me and told me I was safe now. They brought some bandages with them and the blood pressure kit and a notebook and just stayed with me. It’s difficult to remember what they did. Or how long they were there before they took me downstairs to the waiting ambulance, but I do remember I was so tired, and I couldn’t stop crying. I felt so guilty for having them come all the way out to see me but so relieved that they were there and taking me with them.

To keep me awake in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, one of the ambulance crew said he wanted to tell me a story. He told me that he’d been in my position once before. He did exactly the same thing, had exactly the same thoughts but was so relieved now that he managed to fight through and continue to live. He told me that his 9 year old daughter had been killed by a drunk driver. He explained the pain he experienced after her death was so overwhelming, he didn’t want to feel anymore. Not just the pain, he didn’t want to feel anything. He felt that he didn’t deserve to feel, when she couldn’t anymore. He was so distraught by grief he tried to end his life. He didn’t succeed. He decided then, at his lowest point, that he owed it to his daughter to keep fighting and to continue living. He reached out for help, he rekindled his relationship with his wife which had been so severely strained after the death of his daughter and a year later she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. I suppose she’ll be 9 years old now. And he quit his old job, and joined the ambulance service, so he could help pull others back from the brink and give them their hope back.

We’d arrived at the hospital long before he finished his story, but the other driver didn’t want to interrupt. I can’t say how long I sat and cried for, but I know all I could say was the word sorry. Over and over again. And I was so sorry. I was so sorry for his loss, and so sorry his grief drove him to this point. I was so sorry he had to look after me. I was sorry for my own dad, who may have had to bury his daughter too, had this turned out differently. At some point, he wrapped me in a blanket and brought me a wheelchair. I was registered in A&E, had some tests done, was bandaged up and taken to a room to rest and let everything take its course. The ambulance crew came in to say goodbye to me. The man who had poured his heart out to me said he wanted to leave me with something, but he couldn’t find anything appropriate, so he apologised when he handed me a sticker with a cartoon ambulance on it saying ‘I’m friends with the North West Ambulance Service!’ and a matching fluffy bookmark. The sticker is still on the back of my Kindle to this day. Yeah, I suppose I felt like an actual child when I was handed a sticker and a bookmark but actually, it meant the world that he wanted to leave me with something. He told me to stay strong and he left. I’ve always wanted to find him, and thank him for what he did that day, but I’ve never been able to.

After an hour, a junior doctor brought me a cup of tea. I found out later I wasn’t even his patient, or he wasn’t even supposed to be in the ward at the time, he was just walking through and saw me in bed crying.

I was woken up a little bit later by a lady shouting in the room next to me that she cut up her own melon rather than buying it from the shop because she didn’t like people contaminating her melon. She then asked the police officer outside her room if he had melons in his country where he was from, and the police officer replied that he was from Bolton and yes they have melons there. You know when you’re drunk and you remember random parts of the night, and you don’t know why those and not others? Yeah, that’s where that melon story comes in.

I was seen later on by the Community Mental Health Team, when they were sure I was in the right place to talk to them. I told them everything that had led up to that day. Why I felt trapped, and why I felt as though this was the only way out. Life had become so intensely tangled and hurtful that I didn’t want to be in it anymore. I’m not going to tell you why. If you know me, you know why. If you’re reading this and you don’t know, that’s okay. Again, the reasons why people make these decisions are so different. Some people say ‘Your life isn’t that bad! There are people starving in Africa! It’s so selfish of you to want to make this decision’. Never let anyone tell you your feelings are selfish. Your feelings are REAL. They are your feelings. You are living with them and nobody else. If you are led to the desperate situation where you feel that death is the only way out, no matter what has led you there, you need help and you deserve that help.

I made the promise to the Crisis Team that I was better. I made the promise there was someone at home. I made appointments to be seen the next day and I was allowed to go home. I had been there for 8 hours.

I don’t know what I expected to happen when I got home. I think many believe people make these attempts on their lives for attention. Believe me, the attention you get afterwards is not nice. I had a call off my best friend who couldn’t stop crying, blaming herself for not being there that day, which broke my already battered heart into so many more pieces. My boyfriend was at home when I got in and he was confused and shocked and unbelievably upset at what had happened, and why I hadn’t spoken to him. I never told my parents. I had to tell work though. I was forced to do the most awkward ‘Return to Work’ interview you’ll ever have to do. My work weren’t understanding about mental illness, and as such I was expected to return to work two days later, and made to feel guilty about the extra work I put on the other staff if I didn’t. They asked me questions like ‘So what was wrong that you had to take these three days off?’, them knowing full well the answer was ‘Because I tried to kill myself.’ My doctor wouldn’t give me any of my prescribed medication without my boyfriend there to keep them on my behalf. The old friends who had, in part, driven me into that dark place told me I was stupid and needed professional help, and then refused to talk to me again. Life after attempt isn’t all about hugs and messages of love and forgiveness. It’s really hard. Have you ever been in a busy supermarket and knocked over a huge display of cans or something, and everyone looks at you? And you don’t know whether to walk away and leave it all, or try and sort the mess out? You decide the latter, then you scramble around on the floor being watched by everyone whilst you try and pick everything up and put everything back where it was. And some people are laughing, some people are whispering about you, some try to help but don’t know how, some try and call the shop assistant and some just look pitifully at you? Life after attempt felt like that. You decide to stay and try to clean up the mess. You’re scrambling around, trying to pick the pieces of your life up that you decided you were just going to leave behind you whilst everyone is watching.

This year hasn’t been easy, but it’s been full of life I almost lost. I went to Amsterdam for the first time, and then Turkey. I was accepted into a new family. I made so many new friends. I’ve laughed so much. I’ve cried so much. I’ve loved a lot. I quit my old job, just as the ambulance man did, and decided I wanted to work in a place that allowed me to help others, just like him. I started working with a mental health charity, and since then, I can say I’ve genuinely saved a life too. I called an ambulance out for someone in need, just like the lady on NHS 111 did for me, and that person decided it wasn’t time yet either. If my decision to keep fighting means anything at all, it means that someone else is still fighting too.

To anyone living with these feelings right now, please know that it’s okay. That if you feel low, please call an ambulance, or go straight into A&E and ask to speak to the Crisis Team. People are there who actually care about you. Who will share their own stories and bring you tea when they don’t have to and actually look out for you. I’ve told you right here what to expect, and it’s honestly okay. But please know that there is always someone, somewhere willing to listen to you. Samaritans, NHS 111, A&E – you’re not alone at all. Please don’t think that is the only option for you. I’ve been there, and it gets so much better once you start talking.

So, on my birthday today, I can say I’ve truly lived a year. I’ve known what it’s like not to want to be here at all. I will always remember November 27th as my real birthday because I made a choice to live this life. I mean, of course I’ll still accept presents on my other birthday (24th December in case you’ve all forgotten) and I’ll never actually want anyone to throw me a party or anything. But I’m going to quietly celebrate this day each year, with each year that I heal. I am one year old today. And I’ve never felt older, stronger or prouder.