real life

"What my Facebook memories from one year ago won't tell you."

Warning: This post deals with suicide, and may be triggering for some readers.

On this day, October 29 2017. I had been seeing professionals for over a year having struggled with my Dad’s death and a number of other life events. I was on medication, seeing a psychiatrist. I was also seeing a psychologist regularly. And paying a pretty penny for the privilege. Doing all the right things, right?

My work has always been a source of strength for me. I have always been considered and recognised as being a valuable employee. I have been first to arrive and last to leave on many occasions and even got to travel the world throughout my career.

I grew up with high functioning parents. I knew what it looked like to run a successful business and how to be professional in virtually any capacity. I learned that from my parents. But as the saying goes, work hard – play harder.

Suicide personal story
Me and dad. Image: Facebook.
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I’ve been blessed to have some of the most supportive manager’s throughout my career. They know who they are. But last year, the person in this role was in complete contrast to what I was used to. I was no longer being recognised for my efforts, I no longer had the support that I’ve had from previous mentors, I was instead criticised and devalued. Take away that sense of value, that belonging, that mentor and all that remained of me was a shell. An empty vessel. My father passed away a year earlier, I was disconnected from my family. Two of my closest friends were on the other side of the world. I was partying and drinking in excess with no real hobbies or interests. I was disillusioned with my life in general. Where did I fit in the world? What was I doing with my life? Would anyone even notice if I wasn’t here anymore? Why can’t I seem to get past this deep gaping hole within me? What is the point?

I had just left my boyfriend of a few years, and I thought being alone was what I needed. But, the thing with isolation is, if you’re not in a healthy frame of mind, the emotional snowballing can send you deep into a rabbit hole that is extremely difficult to get out of.

So on this day, one year ago… I called for help. I reached out. And I was turned away; from a private hospital no less – despite describing, in detail, how I planned to end my life. I called my treating psychiatrist’s paging service on a Sunday. I got a call back, hours later (while I ruminated and ruminated like a song stuck on repeat). An unknown psychiatrist who was on duty that weekend was on the other line. I told him I needed to be admitted – immediately – and he told me he would promptly have admissions call me within 15 minutes. To my surprise and dismay, when I phoned admissions an hour later she had received no such instruction.

I reached out. I asked for help. That’s what everyone says to do, right?

After an hour or two in a suicidal state of mind, out of sheer desperation I gave up and drove myself to the private hospital. In my pyjamas with no clothes, no toiletries, not even a toothbrush. Covered in soot, looking like a chimney sweeper. I was heavily sedated at this point but managed to find a nurse and simply said “I need to be here.” Low and behold, I had a bed.

I spent almost two months in hospital working through a lifetime of unprocessed trauma, grief, addiction, low self esteem and as I soon came to learn (despite over a year seeing this doctor frequently) I could attribute a lot of those things to a personality disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Generalised Anxiety and Substance Misuse Disorder – I think that was the official diagnosis anyway.

This diagnosis means that I am susceptible to addiction, risky and impulsive behaviour, lack of emotion regulation and an unstable self image. I was placed on a high dosage of a lot of medication, I agreed to participate in group therapy day programs and, other than that was free to roam about the place with the sedated masses. It was clear to me from early on that for many of the inpatients, it was not their first rodeo. I was “inducted” by my room mate – not a nurse, not a doctor but a patient. Told me when and where to get medication, where and when to get meals.

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I can count on both hands and toes some serious horror stories, but those are not my stories to tell.

I resolved that I would be admitted into hospital once and once only, regardless of how long that took. I made the leap and I sure as hell was not going to go through that again. I remember seeing my psychiatrist at 6pm one night, he would pop in every weekday for maybe five or 10 minutes – but I was never told what time. I just had to wait around until he was ready. I didn’t receive counselling or one on one therapy. Only group which was a few hours a day.

Naturally, I started making friends. Due to my “personality vulnerabilities” I thought I would be “safe from myself” at a private mental hospital. But no, I fell in with the wrong crowd, left the hospital grounds with another patient to go to her dodgy GP where she obtained 100 valium and 100 of another powerful antipsychotic – she gave me half as a personal stash. We returned to the hospital and neither of our bags were inspected.

I witnessed people drinking to the point of obvious excess (disorderly, vomiting) and I even smoked weed behind the staff car park a time or two. Safe place? I was able to self medicate with contraband in a hospital. I told my doctor what I had been up to. He wasn’t surprised, in fact he was even aware that patients had access to drugs and alcohol. Two days later, a patient ‘gave me the heads up’ that the nurses were going to be searching rooms for contraband. A day before the searches were carried out. I was not “safe from myself” at all.

One day, I didn’t attend group because I was bullied by a nurse in front of staff and patients. That afternoon my doctor said “you’re already on a lot of medication and if you don’t go to group then the next course of action is ECT”. In 2017. For not attending a day programme. Because I was bullied – by a nurse. From what I had heard, ECT had a number of negative side effects.

I was given the wrong medication by nurses on three separate occasions – I didn’t mind, they were drugs I was not supposed to have due to their addictive nature and having abused them for years (Valium and Codeine).

Week five I asked my doctor if I could attend the addiction program. I was told “health funds don’t like extended admissions”. Well too bad. I was doing it once and doing it my way. I later found out that the hospital would receive a reduced rate if I overstayed my welcome.

Two weeks later, I completed the addiction program and I finally discharged myself. I returned to work but still, two months on I had a follow up where I explained I was still depressed, anxious and not coping. I was again prompted to undergo ECT and given a prescription for yet another powerful medication to add to my already exhaustive blister pack. It was then I drew the line. I asked my GP to be referred elsewhere.

It’s been three months since I have been seeing a new psychiatrist at a different hospital and a little longer seeing a psychologist who has completely transformed my life. I have already come off one powerful antipsychotic and I am expected to be off all medication within three months. So not only am I stable – without the medication I supposedly needed, no ECT, no shock therapy.

On this day, one year ago I wrote:

My name is Jade and one day I would like to:

1. Learn Reiki

2. Go to Peru

3. Live by the beach

4. Have my own business with healing and crystals.

I’ve been off the drink for over a year now. In September I made it to Peru, I’m now a qualified Reiki Master and I am in the very (very very) early stages of starting my own business.

On this day… a year later and I have finally found the appropriate help.

Suicide personal story
Image: Facebook.

I did not go from being suicidal to not suicidal overnight. It has taken a lot of time and effort and it has not been a linear process. I was already on medication and seeing a psychologist, so I assumed that I must have been fundamentally flawed as a person because it wasn’t helping. It was the “symptoms” being treated, not the cause.

On this day, one year ago…. I – inadvertently – started a new life! A real life, with meaning and purpose. And I will never look back, but I will remember how I got there. I was relentless in my pursuit to find what sets my soul on fire and that just so happens to be drawing from my own experience to try and help others; instead of ending a life – starting a new one. Not only is it possible, it is worth it.

The semicolon represents a pause in a sentence where the author could have stopped; but they chose to keep going.

If I can put a semicolon in my life, you can too.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner or in Australia, contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue at 1300 22 4636.

This story first appeared on Mental Health - A Broken System and has been republished here with full permission. 

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