AWOL

Ive been rather absent on here lately, real life and being back at work has zapped my energy along with the free time I used to use to sit down and read blogs.

I haven’t had much opportunity to write either, aside from a few hastily jotted down ‘phone notes’ here or there, this erks me because writing is often what keeps me sane when everything else is spiraling out of control (at least the only healthy thing!) That being said, I haven’t felt that overpowering ‘urge’ to write that has a tendency to grip me just as I start to fall asleep recently either…

When hubby and I decided to go ahead with taking over his parents Joinery business a few months ago, I knew I’d have to work in the office but I was planning to only work 3 days a week, at the moment I’m doing 5 and heaps of extra stuff at night and on weekends.

The plan is for this to be temporary because every time I have worked full time my mental health disintegrates into a pile of sawdust in the corner I am found rocking in and the reality of owning and running a small business is such that you can kiss your weekends, social life and financial stability goodbye for at least the first five years.

…But I digress, at least nobody can fire me and I won’t have management of an overworked underfunded department breathing down my neck about adherence statistics until I end up an anxious wreck overdosing in the carpark like last time.

This has become a touch ranty, sorry about that, I just had quick reality check mid rambling by way of a phone call from a good friend- she told me she’s just gotten  out of hospital after a horrible medical scare caused by a rare condition that ironically the daughter of a random stranger I talked to today also had (weird).

So this has left my friend with a lot of fear, pain and very few answers, not to mention she also runs her own business and is short staffed so has gone back to work. I’ll stop complaining about being a bit tired now.

Anyway, I will leave this here and attempt to write more interesting things next week because I’m going to be childfree in Sydney for 4 days (wahoo!) with Mum while she has her surgery. Uh oh, world war three seems to be breaking out in my kitchen (🙄teenagers!) see you on the flip side!

The Pixels Of The Universe

I’m watching shapes of collective ‘nothingness’ right now, those billions of dots that appear to make up the perceived universe are twisting and forming together again, noticeable enough to swirl seductively through the room as though they are about to physically manifest into something, it’s hard not to let it take my attention.

Glasses off, glasses back on. No change. 

It’s sudden obviousness is a little bit annoying. Nowadays, while they are always in the background, they are usually easily ignored and I rarely stop to notice them.

It’s hardly new to me, I think I’ve always seen the world this way. When I was young I was able to see the different hues within the ‘dots’ group together and form what I likened to a colourful shadow around people. When I mentioned this to my mother she became excited saying I was seeing ‘Aura’s’. 

I also loved to watch how the movement of the dots changed yet remained ‘dramatically organised’ near loud speakers in response to different music. 

People would look at me sideways when growing up I told them I could ‘see’ the particles that make up the atmosphere, I was laughed at by friends, shrugged off by adults and contested by the odd person who would momentarily humour my explanation, “The eye is incapable of seeing at a microscopic level, let alone atomic Kate”. I understood that, yet even when peering down the microscope in my fathers laboratory the dots swirled and fizzed in around and through all matter, solid or space, size unchanged. Perhaps they were part of the visual structure of my eye? Or from the part of the brain that perceives visual cues?

Somewhere along the way I gave up trying to work out what they were, it didn’t really matter, it just seemed odd to me that nobody else I knew could see them. When the digital age came about I likened the phenomenon to the pixels on a Television Screen, tiny dots that made up the world we saw, they were the pixels of the universe.  

When I’m manic they can seem explosive, like colourful fireworks exploding around me in several dimensions and I will often start to see them form into hallucinatory creatures or objects the way one sees images in clouds. While they can be annoying or overwhelmingly fascinating, they are never frightening.

I’m not alone here, I googled it and a collective of around a hundred people had replied to someone’s cry of “is this normal?” With screams of “Me too!”

We seem to see it basically the same way, for some it’s colourful, for some it isn’t, we all agree it’s nothing like eye floaters or ‘visual snow’, some have learned to group the colours and manipulate the flow of their movement, many seem hopeful that it could be a pathway to some mysterious psychic skill, telekinesis or even vision into an alternative reality. They don’t seem to be part of a mental illness- although those few of us prone to paranoia do perhaps find it makes it easier to start believing in the whole ‘Matrix reality’ theory… 

Old people, young people, all races and religions, glasses, no glasses – we have all seen them for as long as we could remember and were the only people we knew who could. The responses were filled with “Oh my God I am so glad that I’m not the only one!” And that made me smile.

I truly love the power of the internet to bring together those of us with weird and wonderful quirks, it helps us rise above our fears by offering a safe platform to ask “have you ever …?” and discover that we are in fact far from alone. Sometimes that small slice of unity gives us enough supportive courage to begin to celebrate our differences rather than feel like we should be ashamed them.

Has the internet helped you feel less alone?

Do you see the pixels of the universe?

For The Love Of Words

I was an avid reader from a young age, gobbling up works by Jackie French, Enid Blyton, John Marsden and Bryce Courtney like peanut m&ms.

While I read from most genres, I really loved relatable adventures. Descriptive  scenes I could picture myself in got my imagination whirling and books based on farms or in the Australian bush were my favourites. Once the stories ended I’d daydream for hours about how I’d react in the situations the characters found themselves in and imagined myself interacting with those characters. Books made anything possible!

Movies were great and all, but a book? Well that gave you imaginative control, the author may have guided your internal imagery by stating a characters hair or eye colour but it was you the reader that had final say in what they looked like. Movies took that magic away from you, not to mention they altered stories- destroying The Power Of One for example!

Nowadays, I love to write as much, if not more, than I love to read. Despite my love of reading, I hated writing as a child; journaling used to send me into a right tizz. I think I got too nervous about what was expected from me and just ended up with short sentences such as: “I went to the park. It was good.”

This was before I discovered it was okay to be imaginative and explain my experience of how I saw the park, that I could focus on the journey of travelling to the park, the sights, smells, feelings of anticipation as you tried to swing all the way around the swing set and even the disappointment of having to go back home again.

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I only realised that I enjoyed playing with descriptive text so much as an adult and while most of the words you read on my blog bear witness to the secret thoughts that have spilled from my overcrowded mind in a torrential downpour of snot and sorrow, I quite enjoy writing children’s picture books too! 

Something about the challenge of searching for a way to gently instill morality into a child’s mind by guiding them through a path of adventure and triumph over adversity and doing it as succinctly as possible gets me all tingly. Perhaps that’s why as someone who talks (and writes) incessantly, I prefer Twitter over other social media platforms – I need boundaries and the character limit is a brilliant challenge. 

As much as I love to write, I can’t write on command, well I can but I find it very difficult, I start to over think, over criticise and don’t produce the same quality of work.

My best writing happens out of the blue and often in the middle of the night. Something random suddenly triggers me, sometimes it even happens while I’m driving, I will get the overpowering ‘urge’ and I have to pull over and immediately write in the notes section of my phone, sentences pour out as though I am being possessed by a spirit.  These stories may be mine but in reality I’m just a vehicle for the words that seem to come through me from some sort of external force.

Because my writing guides me, I don’t guide my writing, as much as I love it, I doubt that I could ever be a successful author or journalist, I couldn’t imagine having to meet deadlines and conform with set structures. This is why I love to quietly blog, write little personalised picture books for my nephew and nieces, express myself through poetry and lyrics.

For me, writing is my art, it is a beautiful and powerful release, writing my memoir was the most therapeutic thing I had ever done, it is where I found the key to beginning to understand my authentic self and expressing my emotional ups and downs through my blog is where I discovered  an amazing, like minded community to share with.

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Are you passionate about writing too? How do you express your authentic self?

Catastrophic Ecstasy

I’m tired of all my emotional extremes, they’re slowly breaking me. Even when the bipolar is quiet my ability to turn mountains into molehills on a dime truly astounds me. I seem to subconsciously love to watch myself burn and then writhe around in agony.

Life can be so much more than a million shades of grey and while the bold, bright colours continue to try and bleed their beauty into my soul, for some reason, I can only seem to truly ever feel the world in black or white, all or nothing.

It’s catastrophic ecstasy.

It can be hard for me to form healthy boundaries, hard to care about things just a little, hard to know when to back off. I love passionately, I feel deeply, I rarely hate but I’m well practiced at indifference which some say is worse and I am acutely aware that fear drives many of my decisions. Fear of judgment, fear of disappointing or hurting someone and the underlying fear of being wrong no matter what anyway.

When the emotional sledgehammer comes down I want to pick death over consequence every time. I don’t know if it’s a need to escape pain, feel freedom from responsibilities, an attempt to gain some control by running away before my true nature can be discovered and I am hated by those who I cared for or at this point perhaps it’s simply become a bad habit. 

Whatever the root cause, if someone hurts me or worse I hurt someone, capital punishment for my real or imagined crime immediately feels like the only possible solution.

The other day in one of these unjustified fits of internal devastation, I wanted so badly to jump from a 32 story building – all because of a silent argument, no ill words were even spoken, simply a vibe I guess, body language I picked up on, just enough ‘signs’ to form the cracks in my fragile heart that allow that little voice space to squeeze through and spit it’s vile opinions. 

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“You know he hates you right? Deep down he regrets ever being with you. You are holding him back, he resents you, you have just been guilting him in to staying with you and he certainly deserves better than your ugly fat ass” 

I reviewed the half lit sobbing mess looking back at me from the mirror. I am disgusting; I am a worthless, hopeless broken child masquerading in a grown women’s body.

I peer gingerly from the window of my hotel room and look down at the lights of the city and the ground so far below. As I envisage a way out of this painful existence, the voice in my mind takes on an authoritative almost excited tone.

“You’re always going to be like this you know, you can’t just want to die every time he is upset with you, you’re a fucking sook, he can’t live his life walking on eggshells because you are too sensitive. That’s bullshit, that’s emotional blackmail and people like you deserve to die, do everyone a favour…fucking jump bitch!” 

It was true, he doesn’t deserve to be stuck with this mess, nobody does.

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I glance through the moon lit room back towards the bed at the snoring silhouette of my husband and put my hand on the metal window winder and start turning, quietly, one rotation at a time as not to let the oil starved mechanism wake him. Suddenly it stopped, the windows didn’t open far, certainly not far enough for my ever expanding frame to slip through. Heavy tears rolled down my cheeks and I crumpled to the floor pressing my face into the cold window glass and desperately searching the world below me for an answer to end this tragic woman I had somehow become. 

Train station, buses, drunken party goers stumbling around the streets looking to keep the night going. Hell even eating something from that dodgy looking kebab shack, the city was full of potential solutions to my problem but I was stuck 18 floors up in my pyjamas, too exhausted by the weight of living to sneak out of the room to the streets below.

The pressure in my forehead from trying to ugly cry silently was almost as intense as the waterfall of snot streaming from my nose and defeated I fumbled my way back into the bed trying not to wake my husband. As I buried my face into the pillow he rolled over and threw one arm around me “mmm I love you so much” he muttered, still sleeping. 

Turned out he wasn’t even angry at all, I’d somehow imagined the whole scenario, concocted yet another series of lies based on what? A funny look, a ‘vibe’? I can’t trust my feelings, it’s as though even when void of an episode of mania or depression I’m constantly being gas lit by a part of my own brain that clearly wants me dead and it’s absolutely exhausting. 

Along with the bipolar and food issues when I was in hospital I was once also diagnosed with “Borderline Personality Disorder” by a doctor that frightened me, a doctor I hated. This was a diagnosis I fought hard internally to deny, because – well I can’t give a good reason ‘why’ because when it comes down to it I suppose it was purely related to stigma. I knew very little about BPD, I knew that a lot of people thought people with Borderline were mean, attention seeking, emotional black mailers and the thought of being viewed that way absolutely destroyed me. I also believed there was no treatment, so if he was right, I was a lost cause.

At the time, I had been hospitalised for an episode of bipolar mixed mania inclusive of a suicide attempt and I managed to convince myself that the doctor had only suggested BPD because in my manic delusional state I had gotten really angry about something I no longer remember and yelled at him rather abusivly (which was something I had never done before or since to anybody let alone a doctor).

Since then I have learned a lot more about BPD, it’s a bloody hard thing to live with but it doesn’t mean your ‘personality is flawed’ and there are a lot of overlaps with bipolar (mood stuff, impulsivity, suicidal ideation) and even my ED (which has always been a trigger for self harm), many of the other symptoms of BPD do in fact fit me too, the dissociation issues, extreme sensitivity. My current psychiatrist has known me for 3 years now, she says I don’t meet enough of the criteria to also be diagnosed with BPD although I do have a number of “traits”.

Honestly, I was relieved when she said that, it felt freeing, like the shackles of stigma from a misunderstood ‘disorder’ had been officially released from my bruised wrists and yet unfortunately the symptoms I had long feared were caused by BPD didn’t magically melt away when the diagnosis did.

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Mental illness, whatever the label, is the ultimate challenge, a constant fight against an opponent who knows all of your weaknesses, it can hurt so unexpectedly and so badly sometimes, it hurts like burns from fire and ice, but sometimes it opens your mind to endless possibilities, friendships and love.

Black and white, all or nothing, catastrophic ecstasy.

Free Fall

It took 20 minutes to descend from 35,000 ft to the earths surface below me and less than 20 seconds to plummet from the 18th floor of the skyscraper hotel I was staying in, all the way down to the ground.

Both were of course, gentle, controlled landings, but one can’t help but consider the potential outcome if any of the mechanics that can bring you safely and swiftly down to earth should fail. 

It’s a bit hard for me to admit given all of my recent ‘progress’, but I’d be lying if I told you that part of me wasn’t looking out across that aeroplane wing as I left the Brisbane sunshine behind me, hoping that this time I wouldn’t make it home, that I wouldn’t have to be strong anymore. 

That sadness that sometimes grips me was once again clawing for its freedom from that dark place where it quietly resides, deep within my soul; the same secret sadness I imagine some of you feel from time to time too. 

It has been with me again for a while now, not quite taking over but loitering in the background, sometimes pushing forward a little, just to call attention to its everpresence. 

It came and held me there in that flying metal tube, reminding me of my fears and nudging at my insecurities while paradoxically comforting me with it’s familiar embrace as we soared together, defying gravity across the mysterious blue evening skies.

 

As the sun set slowly over heaven and earth I absorbed myself within the breathtaking view, the yellow ball of glowing life melted away into an orange puddle, spreading itself across the horizon until it was quietly swallowed up by darkness, replaced by the twinkling light of distant stars that were seemingly sent to refuel our souls with hope of a new tomorrow and yet gently remind our egos of their true insignificance.

35,000 ft below, the world went about its business, oblivious to those floating high above, as we were oblivious to them. Each person in our little patch of the atmosphere was going about their unique life, we were brought together at this moment by hundreds of different reasons, we were people from different places, people with different experiences, different hair, different skin, of all different ages and different beliefs. But for all of our beautiful differences as I looked around the aircraft, noticed the crying toddlers and sleeping old men, I thought about how we shared so much more than just a common destination, we shared the incredible unique ability to think and question, each of us holding a unique dream and a unique perspective of not only life but this very moment. Together, whether we knew it or not, I realised that in that moment, we all shared the unique experience of person hood, and it was a truly magical feeling.

I took a deep breath and pushed back against the sadness, acknowledging its presence in my heart and letting it know I didn’t need it right now. This was my world, my choices and my perspective and it was beautiful. We descended from our secret little place in the sky back down into the chaotic city of Sydney below, welcomed by bright lights and beeping horns. I surveyed the incredible display of humanity surrounding me and I smiled to myself; this, was life

Dying From Embarrassment

Embarrassment is my strongest kryptonite. 

When I am shamefully embarrassed I can go straight from happy go lucky to suicidal with no in between time. 

I’m okay with mild embarrassment about lots of things, ie acting like a dickhead on the internet, wearing my hair brightly coloured – you know, controlled embarrassment, I chose to put myself in that situation and I’m ok with people judging me or laughing at me because of it, I’m expressing myself and not everyone will like that, but it’s part of the territory, right?

For me, soul crushing shameful embarrassment occurs when something I do, think or believe is beyond my conscious control occurs because of me or I do something accidentally to cause people to believe I am a horrible person when I didn’t intend to be and it kicks me square in the head, I find it all consuming and very difficult to separate myself from the situation or issue.

For some stupid reason, or even a bunch of reasonable reasons dating back to various childhood traumas, I deeply care about what others think of me, the real me. Not my silly YouTube persona or my blue hair- primarily I don’t want them thinking I’m mean or attention seeking. 

Due to some deep seeded childhood issues, to be either one of those things makes me feel completely unworthy of being alive. 

Yes, I am an extrovert by nature and well yes, I write a blog, so perhaps I am a bit of an attention seeker, (remember to follow & like 😉) but that’s okay with me because I can rectify it in my mind by admitting that I like getting comments and feedback and interacting with people, besides if they don’t like it they don’t have to read it. But I guess then I am a slightly closeted attention seeker because I don’t share these things with people in my ‘real life’.

I don’t cope well when I am embarrassed about doing the wrong thing, if I am depressed then that is multiplied by a million, if a car beeps its horn at me for taking too long at the traffic light I feel like my world has collapsed a little, the shame and guilt for inconveniencing or upsetting someone overwhelms me and I can end up with an anxiety attack from it, when I get really bad if I had a gun handy, it would be enough of a final straw to get me to pull the trigger. I have taken the blame for two car accidents that weren’t technically my fault because I was so embarrassed and shocked that I assumed they must have been. (One of them I was in a parked car. – Yes, my insurance company hates me!)

The embarrassment I am most fearful of these days is, I am ashamed to say, still related largely to mental health or social stigma. Fear of being judged if I ever spoke about depression or having suicidal thoughts, fear of being labelled ‘crazy’ or ‘weak’ by friends, relatives or even as “just attention seeking” by doctors. Perhaps when I was younger it was thinking that I was a middle class, straight, white girl from a good suburb that made me feel unworthy of feeling sad therefor unworthy of seeking help, I felt sure that if I asked for help people would just see my ‘great life’ and assume I was a spoilt little girl wanting even more. “There are starving kids in Africa you know!”

I decided early on in childhood that if I made a suicide attempt, I would make damn sure that it would be 100% affective so nobody could taunt me. When I finally decided to enact one of the thousand suicide plans I had whirling around my broken brain and while I did that to the best of my ability and available resources, circumstances beyond my control meant that my attempt failed. When I came to in the ICU department days later and slowly got my bearings I felt a combination of numb nothingness and guilty embarrassment but thankfully nobody accused me of just ‘attention seeking’.

The other major cause of embarrassment in my life is having these psychosomatic physical symptoms that I whinged about incessantly here. These make me feel ashamed because I feel like I should bloody well be able to just STOP it, although I am learning I can no more talk myself out of that than I can talk myself out of bipolar disorder, it’s hard because I feel like an attention seeking fraud when I reach for the heat pack, complain about my aches and pains or struggle to hand write a letter. It infuriates me that natural childbirth came easy to me yet I can’t seem to cope with a pain that I have essentially “made up” in my mind. Because I never know if anything I feel is real or not, frankly unless I’ve got an obvious physical issue, like a bone sticking out of my skin then I really don’t want to go anywhere near a doctor because they will just roll their eyes and assume I’m attention seeking. 

That fear of particularly doctors, a profession I grew up having the greatest respect for, judging me, looking at each other and thinking I’m a fraud or a liar just makes me feel humiliated and stupid, I want to crawl into a hole and die making sure of course to die ‘properly’ so that I cannot be revived and accused of attention seeking! The symptoms might not kill me, but the embarrassment and shame connected with it has come close a couple of times!

As I am learning to understand myself better I am also slowly learning how to forgive myself, particularly learning to forgive that young me, the little child who was just doing the best she could with what she had. I am learning that the coping mechanisms she used such as using self hatred and self harm were a paradoxical form of protection from fear and embarrassment. (Hate and belittle yourself before someone else does then at least you get perceived control over the situation) I now know that they served their purpose fairly effectively at the time but they are not healthy and no longer necessary and I am learning new tools and healthy coping methods. 

I am also learning and better yet starting to believe, that things that go wrong aren’t automatically my fault. I still have a way to go with this embarrassment anxiety issue, but for the first time in my life I genuinely feel that it’s something I can conquer and something I deserve to conquer, and that already feels like a win.

How well do you cope with embarrassment?

Thirsty Dissociation

Winter is bleak. Or maybe I’m bleak… 

I’ve written about 10 lines of 10 different blog posts in the last week but I’ve lacked the enthusiasm to finish any of them. 

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I feel like I don’t know who I am right now, I don’t recognise myself in the mirror, who is that girl and why am I wearing her face? I know she has blue eyes and blonde hair like I remember I do, she looks like photos that are supposed to be of me and yet I can’t relate to her. 

It’s a detachment which is also filled with an odd sensation, like a buried anxiety/nervousness and it’s making me feel what I can only describe as deeply thirsty, ravenously thirsty, Burke and Wills on Lithium thirsty, to the point where I actually dreamed I was being waterboarded last night and it was sweet relief. 

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Should I be blaming my attitude, the bipolar, the full moon, the general social downfall of society or just recent events?

It is what it is.

I’m tired.  No scratch that, I’m absolutely fucking exhausted.

It’s like my inner self has been suddenly overthrown by a general feeling of bitter melancholy, but it’s not entirely unfounded, stuffs been happening this last 6 weeks, big stuff. 

Bad stuff, happy stuff, life changing stuff. I can’t really call it ‘depression’ in my usual sense of the word because of all the stuff, it’s more of a ‘burn out’ but honestly, it feels the same.

Mr 14 hasn’t been having a good run, he managed to step onto the blade of a knife he’d been throwing at him trees with his friend. One bounced back into leaf litter and bark landing blade up, he didn’t see it and managed to step on it, resulting in an arterial bleed and many stitches. Nothing like a spurting artery to remind you how far away the hospital is from the farm.

Then Hubby and Mr 14 were in a car accident, when it first happened I was terrified, thank you to JP who offered real time comforting support even though he lives on the other side of the planet! I got a call saying that they were ok but the ambulance was coming, it was hard to know what that really meant.

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The road was icy and hubby had just spun out all of a sudden. He saw the tree as it hit the side of the car where Mr14 was sitting and he thought 14 would surely die.

The car was a write off but thankfully they both somehow walked away un-injured, but hubby still sees that tree in his mind, still feels the fear of potentially losing his child and he hates that there was nothing he could do to prevent it, and nothing he can do to prevent it from happening again.

We have just taken over my in laws business, which should also be exciting. But it’s not, if I’m feeling anything, I’m apprehensive, it feels like a huge commitment to stay well, plus debts, expectations, trying to learn so many new things – I was getting really overwhelmed and anxious about it and then hubby had the accident and I stopped feeling anything about it. Now I’m only feeling numb again. 

I hate the numb, it seems to have become my default ‘can’t cope’ strategy over the last few years. I keep forgetting to shower and after I take the kids to school I just climb into bed and watch TV instead. 

Next week I’m zipping up to warm, sunny QLD with hubby for my brothers wedding – he’s marrying a wonderful lady who also happens to share my first name, so now she will have my full maiden name which is a little bit amusing and a little bit odd. I will get to see my gorgeous nephews and nieces again and I should be really excited, Hubby and I haven’t had a holiday together since our honeymoon 15years ago. I’m intellectually so glad my brother has found happiness, thankful to get away from the cold half of the country and grateful to spend time with hubby, but my actual emotions seem to have cleared off and the whole thing feels too hard, I would rather stay in bed and just sleep.

I just paused this to answer the phone, it was the insurance lady settling our claim. I should be happy that at least we will be able to replace Hubby’s car soon, but I still feel detached, unreal. 

Thirsty.

Just Call the F*ing Helpline

You know what is silly? I got so overwhelmed, upset and suicidal recently that I finally actually called Lifeline. That’s not the silly part, that was the smart part, the silly part is the reason I was calling was because I was feeling really embarrassed (read: deeply ashamed) about this bullshit psychosomatic pain issue I have which has been flaring over the last few weeks and yet until right before I finally picked up the phone I thought I would rather die from that embarrassment than make that simple phone call.

Now I didn’t call helplines, I’ve only done it once before (read about it here) and that was when I wasn’t suicidal or upset and it was a brief call purely to try and understand how they operated (this was due to some persistent paranoia about possibly being hauled off to a hospital by the police), and to let you guys know what to expect and also to give myself the confidence to call if/when I really needed to. But right now I am going to get on my soapbox and tell you to swallow your pride or your fears and when things get bad, just call the fucking helpline!

The other day my stupid hands stopped working to the point of being unable to type on my computer! This meant I couldn’t use my writing as my usual therapy to work my way out of anxious situations and I started catastrophising that ‘what if’ I couldn’t write ever again? Then in my tiny mind, there was absolutely no point to life. Then those feelings were overthrown by feelings of intense shame and embarrassment about the fact that this whole hand problem is all caused by a psychosomatic issue, I felt ashamed about my inability to control my own mind and prevent it from trying to destroy me and that turned into thinking about every negative thing that has ever happened and totally losing sight of any of the (plentiful) good bits. I decided that I couldn’t keep doing this anymore, thinking, living; I was too bloody exhausted.

An hour prior I had been reasonably okay and yet here I was about ready to end it all based on a spiral of negative thoughts, I grabbed out my hidden tablet stash and then I paused for a second, it was 2pm, a really impractical time to kill myself, the kids needed picking up and I couldn’t do it at home because someone would find me – FUCK! Then they would definitely think I am attention seeking and that really wasn’t my fucking goal here believe it or not, I just needed the pain and frustration to stop.

So, I picked up the phone, took a deep shaky breath and called Lifeline. I guess my confidence boosting technique had helped me more than I realised after all.

An older guy answered the call, I don’t know his name, they don’t automatically use names at Lifeline, but for the purposes of this I am calling him Barry because he sounded like a lovely old guy I worked with once called Barry. Anyways, I introduced myself in the dignified manner of immediately bursting into tears, on the bright side I guess he gets that a lot because he could accurately decipher “sob-talk”. He was super nice, validating and understanding and he let me vent even though my problem was stupid – well I thought it was, he said he didn’t think so.

I’m like: “I’m feeling like an attention seeking idiot *sob* and now I’m calling you which is pretty much just proving that that’s true *sob* but I can’t kill myself right now because I don’t have time, I have to pick the kids up form school…*sob*” After quickly convincing him that suicide was definitely off the menu for the moment Barry was like: “You have called us once before, ever, and we get people who call us every single day 5-10 times a day, you are hardly one of our ‘frequent flyers’ it’s okay for you to call and you know what? It’s okay for them to call too! If you need to talk, you can always feel okay about calling us.” That made me feel better, we chatted a while and then he gave the spiel about my perception being my reality and whatever the cause of the pain was I was still feeling it and that made it real, he assured me I was already doing all the right things by seeking help and being open minded.

The call made me feel heard and a lot more grounded and when I got off the line I was actually smiling, if you need to feel better call Lifeline Australia (13 11 14) or your countries version of the suicide hotline. Seriously, I was holding the bottle of pills in my hand (I neglected to tell Barry that part) and had been ready to literally die from what was essentially embarrassment, suicide has been my ‘go to’ response for such a long time now that it was difficult to see that all I really needed in that moment was someone compassionate to vent at. Damn my impulsive streak.

I guess what I am saying here is at least open yourself up to the possibility of calling before making any permanent decisions, if you are hell bent on suicide then you have to admit you have nothing to lose by making the call and if you are scared of being talked out of it then you and I both know deep down that means part of you wants to live and while living can be hard and painful and scary, there is help for the bad bits and it is worth holding on because life can also be fucking beautiful and amazing and you deserve to experience the good bits too!

Do you get really, devastatingly embarrassed?

Have you ever called a helpline? If so what was your experience like?


Lifeline Australia ph 13 11 14

Psychosomatic Pain & Feeling Like an Idiot

Note: This was written a few weeks ago, forewarning – it is very ‘woe is me’ and completely un-inspirational but I thought I’d share it anyway.

I am severely frustrated right now because my hand/forearm cramps are acting up again, both sides but predominately my right hand, presumable because I use it more, anyway it is making it really difficult to type right now. I lost the ability to write more than a paragraph with a pen by hand around 10 years ago, but luckily it’s the new millennium and we have computers and smart phones so other than the odd note to a kids school teacher I rarely have to hand write anything.

It’s an issue that is ever present on a mild scale seperate to but also weaving in and around my mental health problems. It also flares up really badly from time to time and when that happens it’s really hard to do basic things like hold a coffee cup, cut with a knife etc – it renders me to arthritic grandma status for anywhere between a few weeks to a month and then settles down again. Normally when this flares up it flares with a bunch of other bizarre disconnected physical symptoms, headaches, weird vision, numbness, tingling and stiffness (like I over did it at the gym)mouth ulcers from hell and increasing upper back/neck/shoulder area pain.

The first doctor I saw about these issues when I was about 16 said it was caused by iron deficiency because of the eating disorder, then it was because I was still a vegetarian so I even started eating meat again, then it was because I was pregnant, then I was told at 19 after having my second child that it was because I was too fat. (!) Then I lost weight (and relapsed) so it was because I was too skinny, then I had my 3rd kid and finally had a normal BMI and no iron deficiency so it must have been because I was stressed.

During a really bad flare Mum made me change doctors and drove me there herself, I was so stiff I was barely able to walk, borderline incontinent, dizzy, lost my sense of smell, had useless hands not to mention what I know know was severe dissociation and depression – I needed constant help to care for my children. The new doctor was really nice, he listened and ran a stack of blood tests. He was concerned about the possibility of MS and referred me to a neurologist, the waiting list was 8 months. By the time the appointment arrived my flare had passed and I was symptom free and even able to climb stairs and smell again, I was also unexpectedly pregnant with my 4th child. (Surprise!)

At the long awaited appointment the Neurologist spent less than 10 minutes with me, he asked if I could smell some cloves (I could) and got me to walk across the room (no worries) then told me there was nothing neurologically wrong and he couldn’t give me an MRI even if he wanted to because I was pregnant. He charged me $450 and said my symptoms were psychosomatic due to stress/depression leaving me humiliated and feeling like a total fraud who was wasting everyones time. I didn’t go back to the nice doctor out of sheer embarrassment that after all his kind concern, I was just subconsciously ‘making it all up’.

When I started having physical issues again I didn’t do anything until years later I suddenly got a very obvious foot drop and was forced to seek help. I was referred to a different neurologist and given an MRI which was negative for MS (yay!), unfortunately the steroid treatment I was given only took 1 day to launch the manageable and rather productive hypomanic episode I had already been in for several months into a full blown psychotic mixed mania that was the beginning of the end of my public service career.

I was treated for mental health issues and after a subsequent depression the mania re surfaced, they looked a little further into my history of depressions and wonderful periods of euphoria and careless impulsivity I was officially diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and part of my life suddenly made sense, but not all of it, I still had those pesky physical issues although they were never as severe before my 4th pregnancy. I also still had the damn foot drop which lasted more than 1/2 a year.

The neurologist had initially said the foot drop was definitely physical because of something to do with a nerve conduction study but after the Bipolar diagnosis my GP was certain it was all psychosomatic. So due to that embarrassment coupled with the fact that nothing was treatable I didn’t bother going back to the doctor for these ‘same old’ problems, until now. I decided to go back to the GP and ask for a physio referral just in case there was some sort of strengthening exercises I could do to help the issue.

GP : “We never found any specific cause in the past and you have a history of mental health issues, so we can pretty safely assume it’s psychosomatic, now fuck off and stop bothering us.” (Okay, she didn’t say the ‘fuck off’ part.)

Me: “I honestly don’t care WHY it’s happening anymore, I’m happy if its psychosomatic then maybe it will go away, but in the interim, maybe some exercises or even the placebo affect of seeing a physiotherapist will help? Please just make it stop because it’s making my life really, really difficult!”

GP: “Definitely psychosomatic, but I will give you the physio referral if you insist”

Sometimes it just infuriates the fuck out of me, you know? I know it’s in my head, I know. I accept that we have ruled out everything else and proven that to be fact but it still hurts and it still irritates me because there is so much judgement and stigma associated with psychosomatic pain/issues. I am aware on one level that this is probably no more consciously preventable than depression is, I mean we all know we can’t think our way out of a thinking problem, or whatever that catch phrase is. Subconscious playing up and  causing a physical sensation, yadda, yadda, I understand the theory but still I can’t help but hate myself a little more every time my arm goes numb again or I get another headache or whatever weird sensation is happening.

Right now I am really struggling to even type – my typing ability isn’t usually affected like this and I keep making mistakes because my hand is trying to twist itself into a pretzel while I push it anyway because all I want to do is rant and rave. I also want to stomp my feet and scream at myself, “For fucks sake Kate, pull your fucking head in and STOP this shit! There is absolutely NO FUCKING REASON for this pain or muscle contortion. YOU are causing all of this to YOURSELF you are MAKING THIS UP in your silly little brain, they did scans and bloods, we all know that there is no problem to find because IT DOESN’T FUCKING EXIST, the pain is IN YOUR STUPID LITTLE IMAGINATION and yet you can’t seem to stop torturing yourself for no obvious reason or gain! You don’t like the pain, you certainly HATE the embarrassment of seeing doctors about it and so why can’t you just fucking STOP making life so difficult for yourself!!!!

Wow I’m being super catty today, sorry, I’m apparently mean when I’m frustrated. I do know that psychosomatic pain is still legitimate pain, it is still real pain felt by the body even if the cause isn’t physiological and I am not trying to diminish anyone else’s experience I am just really, really over it. I got so low after that doctor visit that I became suicidal from just the embarrassment of the whole thing.

Have you dealt with psychosomatic pain or have you had doctors dismiss your physical concerns due to you mental illness diagnosis?

Update: I did talk to my psychiatrist about this and she is very certain that it’s physiological not psychological and the physiotherapist agrees, she thinks the hand stuff is from an issue with my upper back and is fixable, she is giving me exercises to work with. Fingers crossed!

When Mothers Leave Their Babies

*Kira turned to look at me for a moment from the passenger seat and gave a weary ‘I guess this is it’ anxious half-smile, her eyes were glistening with the tears she was trying so hard not to let out in front of her children. “Hurry up Mum!” Whined Kira’s 15yr old daughter *Taylah from the back seat, she and my Mr 15 were waiting to be dropped off at their friend’s place down the street and couldn’t understand what was taking us so long.

“Okay, sorry sweetheart, hang on” Kira said as she reached through the open widow to give another hug to her 10yr old daughter who was standing just outside the car. “You make sure you keep your phone charged, okay? I am going to text you and I want you to text back!” “Yep” her daughter replied, not really listening as she was preoccupied playing with my own daughter. “No, seriously, *Haley, make sure it’s on and has service. Promise me, okay? Now listen to your Dad and… remember how much I love you!” “Okay, love you too” said Haley skipping off to show Miss 9 her new baby lamb.

I looked at Kira, she had put her head down, her face mostly covered by her long black hair and she was biting her lip in an effort to stave off the tears for a few moments longer. “Just drive already!” Taylah cried from the backseat, “OMG you guys are SO SLOW” exclaimed Mr 15. “You ready?” I asked Kira knowing that the real answer was she would never, ever be ready for this moment; she looked up and me, took a deep breath and softly said, “Yes.”

I started my car and we headed down the driveway of their property, pausing momentarily for Kira to get out and shoo her old pet Cow out of the way who was standing stubbornly in the middle of the road chewing cud and pretending he couldn’t see us. We turned out onto the dusty road and drove for a while before reaching the kid’s friends place. Kira gave Taylah the same spiel about making sure her phone was on and was in a spot that had service. The teenagers scrambled out of the car and ran off to meet their friend, not a care in the world. Kira called out the window “I love you!” and Taylah yelled back “love ya too Mum” without even looking back, not understanding that this was the day her life was going to change forever.

You see today, Kira was leaving her husband. And for the foreseeable future, she was also leaving her children.

How could a mother voluntarily just leave her kids? It’s not exactly a common occurrence and I can hear everyone gasping and throwing down judgements from here. But you see, it’s really not that cut and dry, sometimes mothers have to make the excruciating decision to leave their children, for their children.

Kira’s marriage had been on the rocks for quite a while, she and Kev had been together a long time but the relationship had become very co-dependent. Kira’s mental health was sketchy at best, her first child had been born when she was just 15 and had been taken from her a few years later, the state put the child with her mother but as their relationship was bad, Kira wasn’t granted visitation. She moved onto an abusive partner from where she had to flee with just the clothes on her back and her new baby Taylah. Kira had spent time in jail for a traffic offence shortly after meeting Kev and Kev had stuck by her and even cared for Taylah, who was only a toddler, during that time.

After she got out of jail Kira had lost her drivers license for an epic 10years so she relied heavily on Kev who worked and took care of both of them, they moved to his parents bush block in our small country town and he drove Kira wherever she needed to go. Eventually they had baby Haley together but things were always very hard financially and emotionally. Kira had never received therapy or support for the abuse she had sustained as a child and had slowly become a severe alcoholic, she is also dependent on prescription pain medication and was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder somewhere along the way too. Other than Kev and a few mates that only came by to drink with her on weekends she had no support network and was lonely, isolated and understandably depressed.

Despite all that she has been through, Kira is a really lovely person, not a mean bone in her body and despite little education and years of substance abuse she is an intelligent, polite woman who cares deeply for her children and is desperate for them to have a better life than she did. So, you might ask, if her husband has been caring for her all these years and she loves her children so much, then why on earth is she leaving?

Like everything, there is no simple answer, Kira has been stuck, emotionally and physically isolated. She’s suffered every kind of imaginable Hell over the course of her life – neglect, abuse, teen pregnancy, poverty, having a child taken from her, mental illness, physical trauma and pain, time in jail as well as continuing addiction and she has never been given the opportunity to work through these things beyond the crisis care stage. Every now and then she becomes inspired and motivated to improve her life, she starts to work on cleaning up their disheveled home, it is perhaps on the back of a hypomania but she tries really hard to drink less and reduce the amount of substances she uses but quitting alcohol without medical supervision is dangerous for a person with her level of addiction and the temptation of self medication for the pain and isolation always tends to overthrow her deepest resolves.

Also, to Kira it seemed as though every time she began to try and improve her life Kev had been unconsciously trying to sabotage her efforts. She couldn’t understand why he became very snappy about her substance issues once she began to cut down and then angry about the messy state of their home after she had begun to clean it up. When she eventually got her drivers’ license back and had made a huge effort to limit her substance use so that she could safely drive. She felt he was road blocking her efforts to get a job and then he seemed happy when after one day they had had a fight and she made a very poor decision to drive under the influence and subsequently got caught losing her license once again. They seemed to end up getting into bigger fights the more Kira tried to improve herself and she would feel more alone than ever and turn back to old habits to numb the pain.

Perhaps he had been caring for her for so long that the possibility of her gaining independence frightened him, if she didn’t need him anymore, would she still want him? I don’t know, I’m not a shrink. But I did understand when Kira said to me that if she was ever going to make the important changes to her life that she needed to make for herself and her girls that she wasn’t able to live with Kev while she was doing it and as heartbreaking as it was, she knew she was not able to provide a stable, safe enough environment for the children and they needed to continue to live with Kev.

So, that fateful day we left Taylah and Mr 15 at their friends place and headed towards the city. We had a good talk and Kira cried and cried about how guilty she felt and what an awful mother she had been and all the bad decisions and horrible circumstances. I tried to reassure her that she was one of the most loving mothers I had ever met and to be able to make that heartbreaking decision of leaving them both with Kev because she knew it was in their best interests right now took a huge amount of strength. We discussed that this didn’t mean she would never be able to see her daughters again, there were no court orders involved and Kev was hurt and angry but not vindictive at all so she could call them every day. I told her that this was her time, now was her chance to find herself, to care and nurture that lost little girl inside her that had never been given a chance.

We hugged as I left her in the care of a friend in the city, he and his wife would take her in for a few days and help her find some more long-term accommodation. I headed back home and picked up the teenagers, Taylah knew her Mum was going away for a bit, Kira had sat her down the previous night and told her what was happening and asked her if she was okay to stay with Kev. But Taylah had shrugged it off saying “you’ll be back”. Taylah looked at me as she got back into the car “Did you drop her in town?” I nodded, “Who’s she staying with?” I told her and she looked relieved. She is all too aware of the negative influence of some of her mother’s friends.

We got back to Taylah’s farm and I thanked Kev for letting Miss 9 play. I was just about to leave when little Haley suddenly asked “hey, hang on, where’s Mum?” It broke my heart. Taylah and I looked at Kev and Kev sighed deeply “She’s visiting a friend in town…” “Oh okay, are you picking her up Kate?” she asked me innocently. “Come on inside Missy, it’s getting cold” Kev ushered Haley into the house and nodded goodbye to me with a sad smile knowing he about to have to have a very hard conversation.

I really hope Kira is able to tap into the amazing strength she doesn’t realise she has and finally work through her past so that she can create a better future for herself; she has made some bad choices, but she deserves hope and so do her girls.

*Names changed to protect privacy

Pandora’s Paradox

You know what I seem to have discovered recently? Much to my confusion and subsequent awe at the capabilities of the human mind… I figured out what caused me to start becoming suicidal before the age of 8 and why it developed into a pattern of chronic suicidal ideation throughout my adult years. ( spoiler – cliche childhood issues.)

You know what triggered the whole damn thing? Well, it was actually many little traumas over a short space of time that are super complicated and I won’t go into right now… But ultimately they culminated in the same thing – a lack of control and a fear of death.

Yep, being suddenly thrust into an unknown world I couldn’t control and then having a series of unfortunate experiences then a trauma that made me terrified of a particular type of death and then nightmares and flashbacks of said trauma, not being able to process that fear (due to the fact that I was 6years old and didn’t want to burden my mother who was going through her own stuff) is actually what slowly started me down this long and windy lesser travelled path of becoming chronically suicidal.

Short version: I choose when and how I die, then I can’t possibly die that way. = Control.

I also somehow figured out how to dissociate when I was frightened and got just good enough at it to block out my specific fear totally and as long as no 3rd party brought it up specifically (in any context, at any point over the next 27 years of my life) I could block it from my daytime thoughts adequately and had perceived CONTROL over it. Dissociation became something I would subconsciously use to varying degrees when I couldn’t handle or understand what was happening around me and I still do, but now that I know what it is I can be mindful if I notice it starting to happen and question the deeper reasons for it.

I got a little older (age 7ish) and a little plump and started getting bullied by other kids at school for being fat, I had no idea about the relationship between the extensive amount of junk food I ate and my weight gain yet so I took ‘control’ over the situation in the only way I could come up with and bullied myself first. I used my dissociation talents to not only watch from afar when I was being beaten or teased but somehow created an almost seperate part of myself that took the beatings. She looked at me as I believed the bullies saw me and could handle these punishments without crying as she fully believed I/we deserved them. I used her presence to tear myself to shreds emotionally until I believed everything she told me whole heartedly- she had control over my thoughts about my appearance and self worth and if I had no self esteem left, then none could be taken from me by anyone else – so I thought I had control too.

Another long story short, I used to hear voices – or more like hear random thoughts that didn’t belong to me. Mum thought they were spirits communicating to me because a.) she was into that type of thing and b.) some of the stuff I said that I couldn’t have known had actually happened. Around age 8 I heard a voice that told me I was going to die at a certain age, as my mother had told me I was psychic, I believed the voice and it scared the crap out of me, but of course I couldn’t tell her because I didn’t want to upset her. Around that age the bullying was bad my self esteem was non-existent and I fell into the first real depression I remember having, I decided for the first time that I wanted to kill myself. If I was dead the sadness would stop so repeatedly tried all I could think of at that age but of course I failed to hold my breath until I passed out let alone passed away. Around then my Mum was in a terrible car accident and nearly died. I remember feeling really scared that she could die and guilty because I was the one who wanted to.

Mum recovered, that deep depression left but every six months or so the depression fairy visited and the familiar overwhelm came back. As I got older and more knowledgeable, I became more and more comfortable with the idea of wanting to end my life until it became almost a fantasy, a security blanket. I would plan out the various ways I could do it without getting caught, how I would make it look like an accident so I didn’t upset my parents. Making the unnecessarily intricate plans was enough to fill my desperate urge to self annihilate without actually needing to go through with it. Plus I was terrified that I would mess it up and be labeled as an attention seeker – a fate I felt was much worse than death.

Age 12 – watched from a dissociative distance as I was sexually assaulted by someone I thought was a friend, my fix? Promiscuity, I guess subconsciously I thought if I put myself out there first then nobody could take my body from me against my will.

Age 13- Hating my teenage mood swings (what was unbeknownst to me bipolar disorder rearing it’s ugly head) embarrassed myself and my friends all the time and then hypomanically thought it was a good idea to shave my head *facepalm*, friends gave up on me so met some new ones, formed a misfits group and started wagging school, drinking and smoking pot – rebellious control.

Age 14 – Overweight, bullied constantly along with the rest of the misfits, with the self esteem of a dead slug I decided to finally take charge of my body and show the world what I was made of, who I could be. Result? Full Blown Anorexia – once again, control…

Age 15 – quit school,  Age 16 – moved out,  Age 17 – 1st baby, postnatal psychosis…

I’ll stop there, you can buy my book if you’re interested in the sordid details of my soap opera life (if I ever publish the damn thing!) Yeah, so I wasn’t exactly the poster child for a perfect teenager and it’s a bloody miracle I didn’t end up a junkie or dead, but now the point I was actually trying to get to when I started writing this post is just how spectacularly things can spiral out of control, and perhaps my life would have looked quite different if I had only felt okay about telling my Mum I was scared back when I was 6 or that I needed her to help me when I was bullied, or that I needed boundaries when I was a teenager or that I needed her to make the hard decision and get me proper help for my Anorexia…

My Mum and Dad were really nice, non-judgemental, loving parents too so realising that so many of my issues can in fact be traced back to not feeling able to share my fears in early childhood and a lack of boundaries in later childhood is confusing for me. They always seemed to hold me in such high regard and treated me as an equal and a friend so I carefully hid most of what was going on with me because I was so scared of hurting or disappointing them when what I really needed was some firm parenting. It scares me because I fear how much I have messed up my own children with all that I have put them through.

Sorry, this turned into a ramble rather than anything informative or helpful… Opening up Pandora’s Paradox if you like. I’m glad things ‘went wrong’ the way they did because otherwise I wouldn’t have my wonderful husband and children or all of you guys. Perhaps I just needed to think over things and vent today, but I guess it’s my blog and I’ll vent if I want to 😉

Did childhood fuck you up?

 

Is Suicide 100% Preventable?

The awareness campaigns have good hearts, they are filled with messages of hope and positivity, their aim is to remind people that they can always choose life! But when they proclaim that suicide is 100% preventable, they are sending a message that I feel is not only inaccurate, but one that could potentially cause a lot of emotional harm to the surviving friends and families.

If we want to be painfully technical then yes suicide may be 100% preventable, but for no reason other than the suicidal person can decide not to do it. You may disagree with me, “of course it is preventable” I hear you say, “we just need to look for the warning signs, we need to ask people if they are okay, we need to provide them with helplines and good access to mental health care!” While awareness is extremely important and those are all wonderful ways to help people, my main problem with the thought process behind it, is the fact that when interventions are unsuccessful, grieving families are left behind blaming themselves for not saving their loved one from a “100% preventable” death.

One of the most important lessons we can learn as human beings is that yes, we can absolutely influence our environment and the people around us, but the only thing we can completely control is ourselves and our own actions and reactions to situations. Implying that it is possible to prevent another persons suicide, ALL the time, 100% of the time, is putting an unjust amount of responsibility, pressure and blame onto those left behind.

People miss ‘red flags’ all the time, some seem so obvious in hindsight, but such is the nature of hindsight. Often though, the warning signs are much more subtle. The fact of the matter is we are human beings, not mind readers and we simply have to accept what we are being told, and many, many suicidal people lie about how they are feeling. Sometimes even when the warning signs are recognised, when professional help has been sought, despite therapies and medications and lifestyle changes, in the end the final decision lies with the suicidal person, I should know, it happened to me.

I was actually hospitalised in a psychiatric unit sectioned involuntarily under the mental health act the night I reached the rock bottom of my 2015 Bipolar depressive episode and took the overdose that nearly ended my life. There I was, in a safe place, surrounded by trained mental health professionals that wanted to help me, and yet I was still intent on and able to attempt suicide. Now people that hear this story tend to jump in and play the ‘blame game’ at this point, I’m quite sure my family did when they first found out I was in a coma in ICU.

Where was the hospital in all of this? You might ask, wasn’t I supposed to be in their care? I was clearly unwell and deemed enough of a risk to myself that the state had decided to involuntarily detain me, so how on earth had I managed to acquire enough tablets to overdose so spectacularly and why didn’t anyone notice and stop me?

But you see, even though I was definitely unwell and yes, in the hospital’s care, there was nothing they could have done differently at the time to prevent this outcome. When it came down to it, the decision to end my life was entirely my own and I had in many ways made it long before going to hospital, long enough to research and plan a foolproof method of smuggling a fatal dose of prescription medication past the extensive security measures and onto a locked ward and then have it prepared and ready to go ‘just in case’ I was ever sectioned and wanted to die. I was also then sneaky enough to perfect my timing of taking it around the regular room checks as not to arouse suspicion. Although, had I died that night, a court of law may have found I was not of sound mind and thus not legally accountable for my own actions, the fact of the matter is, my suicide attempt was not 100% preventable, it was absolutely suicide in the 1st degree and the only person who would have ever been able to prevent it, was myself. It was purely luck that a nurse stuck her head in my door when she had to unexpectedly check on a different patient who had cried out and happened to find me unconscious just as my breathing began to cease that I am even here to tell this tale.

So, I believe that leaving the grief stricken loved ones of suicide victims with the message that absolutely all suicides are preventable only serves to leave them with terrible feelings of guilt, lamenting over what they ‘could’ve, should’ve, would’ve’ done better when in reality, the outcome was not their control.

While suicide might not be 100% preventable it is still very preventable; and it is absolutely something that as a community we can help to reduce. We can do this by teaching our children and peers the importance of good mental health and how to achieve and maintain it, continuing to raise awareness of mental illness thus reducing the attached stigma, we can quietly or loudly spread the message that during a crisis in one form or another help is always available and most importantly, within our capacity to safely do so, we can be there for family and friends who are struggling, to help out a bit or just listen in a loving and non-judgmental way.

Do you feel suicide is 100% preventable?

Charles Heath - Author

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