I have suffered with depression, severe chronic depression for as long as I can remember. When I was 13 I started using self harm to cope, I would cut myself, I started smoking too much, started drinking followed soon by recreational drug use. Around 14/15 after spending 2/3 of my school year bunking off and doing drugs my school decided I needed help and put me into a group therapy session held at the school. I wasn’t about to tell them anything. I never told anyone, I lived in a bubble of self hatred and punishment alleviated only by pain or the oblivion of alcohol or drugs.
Skip forward 13 years to my current situation, a year ago I went to my GP and broke down crying asking for help with my mental state. We tried a few medications and after some trial and error I ended up on my current medication 45mg mirtazapine, 150mg venlafaxine daily (both antidepressants) and 50mg of promathazine daily for my extreme anxiety and insomnia. I had been self harming, I had been starving myself, I had been drinking once or twice a week, That got better, I can eat, I can sleep, I stopped drinking. Still my mental health deteriorated. When speaking with mental health specialists they classed me as functioning so I was signed off from their care. Take your meds, if you feel like committing suicide go to a&e…. Great.
April 2016 I decided I wanted to die. I tried medication, I tried a self help book, I tried distraction techniques, managing my spirals, exercise, yoga, calming techniques. I tried so hard, I was too tired to carry on. For a few weeks I took some left over prozac on top of my already excessive medication routine, I don’t know if I was trying to over dose or just hoping more and more antidepressants would help me. I can’t think, I can’t concentrate my thoughts are spinning constantly and I feel so alone.
Monday the 25th of April, I got up, got my son ready for school and dropped him off the same as every other day. I came home, I sat in the middle of my bed, in the dark and thought about what a mess my life was. So I put on some loud music and grabbed a bottle of vodka, at first it was fun, I was dancing, singing, drinking. Thinking about something other than the constant barrage of negative thoughts I have always had to live with. But soon the music was too loud, I was too tired to dance and the vodka wasn’t as nice as it was at the start. The pain crept in, emotional pain. It was unbearable. So I dug through my medication bag and started popping pain killers, I couldn’t live with this any more. I got my razor blade, I cut my leg one slice after another. I was wailing, screaming, I sounded like a dying animal. All I knew was it hurt, it hurt so much.
I called up my GP in tears, begging them for help, please, please make this pain stop. I told them I was drunk and I had overdosed, it took some convincing but finally they managed to get me to go to a&e. I got to the hospital at around 2 in the afternoon. I was agitated, paranoid, twitchy and shaking all over. I barely held on to my composure while waiting to be called. I had already told them about the overdose so the wait wasn’t that long. After being called into a room with the triage nurse she asked me what I had taken, how much I had taken. Some other questions, what medication I was on, she took my blood pressure. She asked me why I was covered in blood (was I covered in blood? Why was I covered in blood?) she points at the bottom of my shirt resting on top of my thigh of course I had been cutting myself before I left, I forgot, the blood had soaked through my trousers, my shirt and my coat. The cuts weren’t deep enough to be life threatening, they went totally untreated for my entire hospital stay. I was stuck in a bay, they did an ECG, put a cannula in my arm, took some vials of blood, put a hospital wrist band on me and left me alone.
I couldn’t sit still, I was shaking, bursting with energy, why did I bother coming here? It still hurts so much, I scratch and scratch, cut my arm pretty badly, the pain doesn’t help. I bite my wrist, bite it over and over, harder and harder, I’m bruised, bleeding and it’s not enough. I pull the needle out of my arm, blood squirts everywhere. I pull off my hospital bracelet by the time they come back in the find me hanging out of the window… I want to leave, I want to leave, I need some air. They get the security guard to take me to an outside area, he watches me pace, smoke, pace, smoke he just stands and watches me. What is wrong with me? I have been here hours now, it’s gone 5 in the evening, I have a short call with my mum make sure she knows where to pick my son up. I think I sound normal, do I sound normal? It’s time to go back in.
Blood tests are back, the toxin level in my blood shows I need the antidote, they weigh me, stick another needle in me (very sternly, do not pull this one out, you need it) They dose me with diazepam, I don’t know how much 10mg I think? I’m not sure. He walks away, leaves me again. I don’t know what is happening, what are they going to do, am I being admitted? When can I go home? They hook me up to a drip, it’s just for an hour or so they say, you can go when it’s done, no you aren’t being admitted we just need to give you this medicine, you can go home tonight.
They move me to a ward, still reassuring me I have not been admitted. The antidote makes me sick, so sick. They offer me food, a drink I can’t stomach anything. I heave and puke over and over, burning stomach acid, there is no food in there for me to purge, I hadn’t eaten in 2 days at this point, still more and more comes up. Weak shaky and sweating, they give me a fan, damp tissue to mop myself up with, there is vomit all down my hospital gown. Would you like something to stop you throwing up? Yes, Yes!!! I really do. It doesn’t come for another hour, they have me on suicide watch now, it doesn’t matter now the diazepam has kicked in and I am too weak from the sickness to do anything, I just sit there in the middle of a hospital bed, covered in blood and vomit, staring in the space, shaking, still shaking, teeth chattering. Are you cold? No I am hot so hot. It is 8 in the evening now, my bag of antidote is empty, I still can’t go, I start to worry… A man comes over, touching my arm, leaning close, his breath smells, he is trying to be soothing. I hate him on sight. I’m sorry you need to stay in overnight, you need more medicine, if you leave we will call the police to bring you back here then we can section you.
I have to go smoke, can I go outside, I need some air, I need some space, why is he still touching me? There is a change over of staff, the night staff are here. I get my very own nurse to watch over me, she helps change into a clean gown, I still have my trousers and shoes on, both covered in blood still. She helps me stand, walks me outside, she lets me smoke, she tries to talk to me, I don’t want to talk but she is nice, she doesn’t touch me or stand close to me, doesn’t try to be soothing she is using a normal conversational tone. I like that, I like her, she isn’t looking at me like I am a wounded animal that is going to lash out or run away at any second. We get back in, I have another bag of antidote put on my drip, they put me on fluids, she tells me without sugar coating it, this bag will last 5 hours after that you will need a bag that lasts 16 hours. She tells me how it is, answers all of my questions, no evading. I wish she had been here earlier.
I am taken to the ward where I will spend the night, she makes sure I get my anti sickness medicine, she makes sure my drip is working properly, she chases down my usual medication, she doesn’t try to make me take them, leaves them on the table next to me and goes to get me a fresh glass of water. I am still shaking, it is hard to lift the small paper cup to my lips, she just sits next to me doesn’t interfere. I like her more and more. I am drowsy now, falling asleep I have no idea what time it is, she asks me if I am in pain, I tell her my cuts hurt but that’s it. Cuts? No one told her I had cuts, I show her, she calls over another nurse to look at them, they take pictures and mark them on a body map then they are left alone. I am left to sleep.
Half asleep I roll over and look at her “you aren’t allowed to leave me alone are you?” I already know this, I’m not stupid she looks slightly regretful at this point, she confirms what I knew but then tells me she can sit just outside of my bay if I want to be alone. It doesn’t matter I am drifting off.
I toss and turn all night, every time I bend my left arm the machine that controls the drip gives off an alarm, around 1 am I am woken by her changing the bag to the 16 hour one, we talk some, I don’t remember what we talk about, it is at this point I finally take off my shoes and I fall back into my restless sleep.
The next day is mostly uneventful, my special nurse goes home as the morning staff come on, I am no longer on one to one care, they try to make me wait until someone can come with me to go down for a smoke though, I am not waiting and I tell them such, the first time I went and came back 5 minutes later they relent and say I can go alone when I want as long as I inform them when I go off the ward and then come back, I decline breakfast but I have been keeping down water all night and accept a coffee. I text my mum to come and bring me in some clean clothes. The doctor comes around, they take more blood, they need to check the level of toxins in my blood now and make sure my liver has survived the overdose. Assuming those tests come back clear, I really can go home when this bag is finished.
Lunch comes around, it looks disgusting, I don’t eat it. My mum comes, clean clothes have arrived, for that I am grateful, I have a wash get changed, I feel slightly better now. Mum goes, I am alone again but counting down the hours until I can leave this miserable place. The psyc eval finally happens at around 3 in the afternoon, more than 24 hours after I arrived for a suicide attempt. He keeps asking questions, questions that don’t make sense to me, he wants me to tell him more, my answers don’t satisfy him, I don’t like him. He is useless, no help at all. He tells me he is going to refer me back to the mental health team and when I get home I need to call them and ask them when my appointment is. I think a GP would have been more help, I ask him what I can do in the mean time, can I have another medication to help settle my nerves? Nope I have to wait until I see them. The doctor comes back around, my blood tests are okay, my liver is fine, I ask her, can she prescribe me something to help me get through? Again I get told to wait until I can see the mental health team. I feel like I am banging my head against a wall, why is no one helping me? I am asking and asking for help.
I get home, I eat, I sleep in my own bed. I am so happy to be home but terrified at the same time. How am I going to make it through? 9 am in the morning, I call the mental health team, tell them what happened, tell them I urgently needed help. They will call me back when they know, when they know is way into the afternoon the urgent appointment they have for me is more than 2 weeks away! I ask them if they are sure? Can I not see someone sooner? Not possible that is the best they can do. I start to panic, I can’t think! What am I going to do? I call my GP, I tell them, I am noticeably upset, it’s okay they will see me tomorrow, relief flows through me, one more day, one more day until I get some help. The GP is nice, understanding, she prescribes me something to help, only a small amount, I am not allowed more than a weeks worth of medication at a time now, it’s okay, they will see me weekly, they will support me, I have help! She writes a letter to the mental health team and tells them I need to be seen sooner, they arrange for me to see a mental health nurse, she is okay, nice but talks to much, she puts me into contact with a support group, I need to call them myself. All the help I have received since leaving the hospital, I have had to chase down myself, I call this place, that place, panicking or in tears. Please someone help me. The mental health nurse asks me if I have some hope back, is that why I am trying so hard to get help? No I have no hope, all I know is I need to keep fighting, I need to keep trying.
I wish I had someone on my side, someone to help me fight, someone to help me get the treatment I need. What I have learned through this though is I am alone, if I am going to make the best of this messed up health care system I need to keep pushing, keep trying. I don’t have hope, I don’t see a day where I can recover enough to be happy but I am going to keep trying anyway.