Detained.

I don’t recommend drinking cough syrup with suicidal intent. Not because it tastes bad, but because respiratory depression is a rarer side effect than they make out.

Things have been hard again lately. For the first time maybe ever, I thought I might actually been happy – that’s why the blog posts dropped off for a bit there: things were going quite well for me.

But then Ana got loud again. So loud in fact, that I was coerced into suicide attempt number three, which I (obviously) survived. The trigger? I ate some chips, and I’m not allowed to do that, so I had to be punished for breaking the rules, and Ana decided that enough is enough, fat stupid bitch, time to be punished for good. So off we went to the pharmacy, a lie slipping slyly from my lips that my housemate had requested I buy her cough syrup containing a codeine-derivative for her persistent dry cough which she has had for many weeks. Lol, no. I downed it all along with a few beers.

I found myself in the emergency department once again. This time, my therapist had called, and sensing something was off, told me I could either walk the short distance from my university campus to the local hospital, or the police could find me and drag me there. I choose the former: I will never forget the utter violation of being restrained. The chorus I repeated over and over fell on ears that refused to listen: I’d like to leave please. (While Ana whispers, yes, so we can try again, and better. Let’s go home to do it again, and better, because you deserve to be dead). Suffice to say, they were practically the only five words I uttered to the emergency psychiatric team who first interviewed me. Apparently, that was enough for me to be scheduled for admission, and detained involuntarily.

What a fucking mess I’ve made.

Considering my determination to self-harm in this small emergency psychiatric unit, I’m surprised I wasn’t sent somewhere worse, or at the very least subject to seclusion briefly. Three times I reopened recently sutured self-harm wounds with a plastic knife. Countless times I threw my body against the wall, in an attempt to relieve some of the pain generated by the thoughts in my head. I wanted to turn my head into a watermelon – the smashed kind, where grey and white matter dribbled down the sterile walls like the fruit dropped on the floor.

I’ve been released now – not discharged, released. I don’t know what I’m supposed to think or feel or do. Am I supposed to be sad? Or is it the opposite – am I meant to be glad that I woke to face another day?

This admission, I learned that when involuntarily detained, the doctor still retains the right to speak to my parents, even though I always always specifically nominate they be excluded from my care. After all, they do live on the opposite side of the country. And, after all, BPD doesn’t exist to them. I guess them finding out I still struggle is a good enough reason to stay out of hospital from now on – or at least, if there is a next time, which there no doubt will be, I need to lie my way to a voluntary admission.

I’m clutching on tight to my laptop, a good book, and two journals as I attempt to return to my mockery of a life. Three weeks until exams. Three weeks until I can try again.

Lessons

Just because they say they understand, doesn’t mean they do.

Just because they texts emojis, and kind words, doesn’t mean those sentiments are actually reciprocated.

Just because you’re good at your job, doesn’t mean you’re not at risk of being fired.

I lost my job. This isn’t to say that I’m unemployed, but I lost my consistent
“real” job (I’m still a tutor, after all). I lost my job because I spent time in hospital to ensure I wouldn’t kill myself. And when I returned to work, they told me that my “situation” (i.e. my mental health) made me unreliable, and I was fired, despite being a pretty great employee.

They said they understood; they provided a long sleeve shirt to cover my self-harm scars, they let me take extra breaks if I felt too anxious to continue. But when it came down to the real hard truths of my life with mental illness, they didn’t understand at all.

The first time I called in sick was two days after a suicide attempt. I was an involuntary patient, and couldn’t make my usual Saturday shift. The next time, the time that led to me losing my job, a friend had me admitted so I wouldn’t hurt myself. And I begged her not to take me. Because I just knew that I was going to get fired. She – and the hospital staff – convinced me that my anxious mind was pounding my with impossibilities, and I believed them, and allowed myself to spend time in a safe space.

And then I returned, and my world crashed down around me, and my sense of security and self-confidence were torn away, and I was left crushed and jobless and contemplating death. Work kept me alive. Sometimes, a shift was the reason I woke up the next day.

Even though I could, I’m not going to fight the fact that I lost my job. It’s an unfortunate fact. And even if I could somehow get my job back, why would I want to return to an environment that only provides false understanding?

No; instead I’ll treat this like the lesson that it is.

Some people will insist they understand, when really, they don’t at all.

People keep asking – A Poem

People keep asking me if I’m okay and, quite frankly, I don’t know what to say.

Do I smile as usual, resist the urge to smirk, as if my emotions are connected to my self-worth?

Or do I say what I’m thinking, as I’m collapsing, confess to myself and to them I’m relapsing?

Into what, they wonder, and so do I: into a pit of darkness and eternal night.

People keep asking me for the why and how, as if the ageing of time will trigger memory now.

The latter is easy; a handful, a bottle, onlookers and rescuers I’m tempted to throttle.

The former is blurry; the sarcasm appears, because I’m sure the why is an unresolved fear.

People keep asking, and I continue to refuse, at least until the sensations diffuse.

Inside my soul the incessant itching, the arms and legs constantly twitching.

I can’t help it; I’m distressed, I’m anxious, distraught, for it is only with thoughts of death I am fraught.

Twice now, I’ve survived, barely scraping through. Twice now, I’ve survived, but survival’s nothing new.

Returning from the irreversible

There were many things I have told myself I would never do. I never thought I would let myself gain weight, but I have been physically recovered from anorexia for two years now. I never thought I would self harm, but now I have a body covered in the scars of my self-destruction. I never thought I would call myself a suicide attempt survivor, but now that is part of my story too.

I can’t bear to write this elegantly, but eloquence is in my nature. I never thought it would be an unfortunate trait for a writer, until it comes to a topic like this.

It was both eerily calm and satisfying, but horrific and terrifying. There was numbness. There was defeat, as I stared at the stars and listened to the waves; I always said if I was to die, it would be at the beach. Then there were sirens. And a frantic friend. Rough hands, broad shoulders, deep voices and a gurney. 

White walls, unbearably white walls, and a hard chair to sit in, and wait as the overdose kicked in. I began smashing my head against the wall as if that could smash the thoughts from my brain – unsurprisingly this achieved very little. I shouted and screamed and pushed my friend away – all this earned me was heavy sedation. 

The aftermath though. The relentless questions. As if there was a deeper reason behind my suicide attempt. I told them over and over and over, but still they questioned. They didn’t believe. It’s just like always. People don’t ever believe how much power she holds over my still. 

I told them the truth. I told them that I can’t bear to live in this body anymore, that it disgusts me, and there were too many memories in my head from before, and I wanted all of the bullshit to disappear.

Apparently, that answer isn’t good enough.

Whoops, guess what I discovered?

Alcohol.

In that single word I can see all of the mistakes I’ve made in under a month. I have been sober my entire life, despite growing up in a town with a heavy drinking culture, despite desperately wanting to fit in at university where it seems damaging your liver remains the best way to stay cool, and despite all my emotional upheaval, I have never had a drink. Until the past three weeks.

It started with the bottle of wine I drunk sort-of-not-quite accidentally while making risotto. The day after it was a few too many glasses with friends to squash my anxiety. Then last week, it was three beers and two cocktails in an attempt to drown the thoughts in my head the way they portray it in movies.

I discovered it doesn’t work that way. Because 18 hours after getting the most intoxicated I’ve ever been in my life, I found myself in a very unsafe place, having some very dangerous thoughts, making plans, and eventually standing in a friend’s kitchen with a knife in my hand, unable to resist it’s insatiable pull. So off to the psych ward I went.

(Just on that note, I’m discharged now. No, I’m not okay. It was only for a few days – it’s only a short stay unit because the acute ward in my local public hospital has a pretty bad rep for young people. But yay, freedom and stuff)

Anyway, I get addicted to things. I got addicted to exercise, and to dieting, and to calorie counting. I’m addicted to impulsivity and bad decisions and spontaneity at all the wrong times. I’m addicted to hurting myself, and I’m addicted to replacing old coping mechanisms with new ones. Because learning to self harm less means I need another self-destructive behaviour in its wake. So I guess that’s what I was seeking when I finished the bottle, when I felt myself getting lost in hot cheeks and fatigue and agitation all at the same time.

The weirdest thing though is that alcohol seems to exhaust me, yet it also makes me insomniac? Probably a med interplay that I’m electing to ignore. I don’t want to think about the meds. I’ll just take them anyway and hope for the best and wish I was strong enough to gulp down an extra handful.

So here I am on another not-drunken but very-regretful sleepless night, starting a puzzle at 2 am with a massive pot of tea and soundscapes to keep me company.

These are not my only needs

I need to draw to calm my anxiety, but I’m shaking so badly I can’t hold a pencil steady.

I need to stop shaking because it’s freaking people out, but I’m so agitated I can’t stop.

I need to look after myself, but a worthless person places all others’ needs above their own.

I need to stop avoiding sleep, but I don’t want to sleep when sleep just means a brief and peaceful interlude after which I will wake up and have to do this all over again.

I need to starve myself in order to be perfect, but I keep failing because of this thing called “being a human who needs energy to survive”.

I need to exercise more to lose weight, but the weight of existence is exhausting me.

I need to relieve some tension by taking it out on my body, but I’m trying to self harm less.

I need to get out of bed in order to face the day, but I just can’t bring myself to.

I need to focus on the present, but I’m struggling to let go of the past.

Need and can’t and won’t and shouldn’t and couldn’t and would and could and should and wish and want don’t get me anywhere. Those words are a path paved with shallow possibility, that leaves me in a darker place than before I left the dusky shore. Each time I cross from the darkness to a brighter horizon, my standards are reset, until I find myself in the blackest place yet. Why must it come down to self harm, and suicidal gestures, and the extremes of my mental illnesses before I am noticed, before I am heard. Why must there be such a divide between the existence I live, and the one that you see. You think I’m better – I hear you whisper it to the person next to you – and you even congratulate me face to face, but you don’t see the tears soaking into my carpet, as I clench a knife in my fist, desperately trying to resist the overwhelming urge to punish myself, the pain I so desperately deserve, and the release I so desperately desire. You ignore the clenched fists and tense shoulders as if they are normal, and for me, they have become normal. But they are not. Normality is based on a timed spectrum, but a decade of suffering doesn’t make mental illness less real.

I need to get better, but I also need to cling to this pain and anguish and despair, because it’s the only part of me that’s left intact. It’s the only part of me that I know anymore. When I fail to meet all my other needs, there’s no point giving myself a chance if it means being let down again. So here I rest, clinging to the past, worried over a future I may not ever reach, yet trapped in the present thoughts and dark demons patrolling my mind. It doesn’t matter what I need. It doesn’t matter what you think I need. 

It just. doesn’t. matter.

The Verge Becomes The Edge

I don’t generally include trigger warnings on my blog posts, but as a forewarning, this post deals pretty explicitly with suicide and suicidal ideation. You know yourself. If this isn’t a safe topic for you, please don’t read on.

It started on Wednesday. I say that’s when it started, but of course it’s difficult to know for sure. In fact, this breakdown wasn’t unprecedented. I was expecting it.

So, it started on Wednesday. I’m not sure why this particular Wednesday was difficult. It just felt bad. I felt bad. The sort of negativity and numbness and self-hatred that I have come to recognise as signalling the distress which will soon follow. It’s a whole new realm of emotional dysregulation. It’s own category of sadness and despair and hopelessness and regret. Memories were pursuing me as strongly as ever, laying a trap which would become impossible to escape, threads of triggers tying me down and rendering me hopeless and defenceless. The torrent of memories and past failings and present failings and future failings brought with it a torrent of anxiety, and finally, a need to suppress that.

So I binged. And binged. And binged. And binged.

And I curled up in bed, and the dark thoughts consumed me.

On Thursday, I made a plan. I went to work. I bought blades on my break. I intended to slash my wrists at the end of the shift. I would do it at the beach. I would do it at the beach because the beach is the only real home I’ve ever had.

I was no longer treading the edge of the precipice, no longer dancing around pieces of facade crumbling around me. No; I was submerged between the cliff and the river, I was dangling, I was unsafe.

And I kept repeating the same things, over and over and over.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do. I can’t do this anymore. Please don’t make me do this anymore. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do.

A friend picked me up at the end of the shift, and she saved my life.

We didn’t go to hospital. Because my values have always been fucked up, and even though I have never felt so utterly worthless as I did in that moment where I collapsed in her arms in her parent’s lounge room, sobbing uncontrollably, inconsolable and in my darkest place yet, I knew that I couldn’t go to hospital because I had an exam on Saturday.

I didn’t kill myself because of an exam. 

I think I seriously need to re-evaluate my life.

Anyway. I got through Thursday night.

And on Friday, the suicidality returned with a vengeance. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. About the knives and the scissors in my friend’s house. About the busy road a short walk away. About the nearby bridge I could slip off. About the fucking knives. About the knives. About the knives. About the knives.

And I melted. I melted again, for the second time. I can’t remember what happened that desolate soulless Friday night. This isn’t uncommon for me. I know there were memories being regurgitated, but that’s not what truly triggered the distress. I know that I was trying to hide my tears, and my face, and my shame. I know that I was lying on my back, dissociating, crying, and someone touched me, and it was triggering, and I started sobbing, and curled up and wanted to scream and run away and act on my plans. In that moment, I was more suicidal than I have ever been before.

And then, I slept.

I slept it away.

I sat my exam. I made a safety pact. I went home.

And I have taken a step back from the precipice. It still lingers there, in my periphery. It still glistens in the distance, in the charming disguise of “an out”. An end. An escape. But it’s fading again. And sometime soon, I hope to be okay again.