Tuesday, 29 November 2016

"I wouldn't mind being sectioned"

Rewind a few months back, and I was sat in my local A&E discharge lounge, waiting to go home after one of my many self harm incidents, and the patient opposite me said, I wouldn't mind being sectioned.

Being sectioned means that you are no longer a free human being to come and go as you please. For many of us in mental health services, or those who've had encounters with the police in regards to mental health, we've had the threat of being sectioned, under either section 136, 2, or 3. The threat is enough to make anyone want to run as far away as possible, but for me and many others, being sectioned brings with it overwhelming sadness and hopelessness.

You have now been detained.

5 words than can change someone's life forever. Words that I never thought I'd hear being said to me.

Imagine yourself in a place, mentally, where you can't see yourself living to see the next day. When you think, this is it. It will all be over by tomorrow. But then two police officers have you in an upright restraint while you scream at them to let you die. You don't want to hurt anyone else other
than yourself, so you're desperately trying to get away from them but it's no use. You're a danger to yourself so they handcuff you, search you in the middle of the street and then put you in the back of a police car. They tell you you're now detained under section 136, and you'll be taken to a 136 suite. The whole car ride there you feel numb and detached, as if someone has reached inside of you and taken the part of you that feels emotions away from you. You pass by people who are going about their day to day life - shopping, going to pick up the kids from school, walking the dog. And you think to yourself, why can't I be normal? You arrive at the 136 suite and as soon as you get out of the car, you panic. There's no way you can go inside there! You try to run but it's no use - two officers already have a tight grip of you. You scream and stand your ground but they just drag you inside and the door is locked. It's over.

You're assessed by three professionals under the Mental Health Act and they decide you need to be detained under section 2. You cry and beg them to let you go home, but it's too late - you've already been detained. You're then taken to your nearest psychiatric hospital, which could be miles from home depending on the beds availability, where you'll be staying until your responsible clinician decides you're well enough to leave. The door that you've come through is locked by one of the staff, and thats when it hits you - you're no longer a free human being. 

You walk down the corridor and there's patients sitting chatting and they smile at you, and you think maybe this place isn't so bad after all. But then the screaming and shouting starts, and you start to cry. You beg the nurses to let you go home, that you'll try harder to stay safe. They comfort you but it's no use - all you want to do is go home. They've decided to put you on 15 minute observations so you take your chance to engage in self destructive behaviours. No one will find out. Then the overwhelming emotions come and you feel enveloped in this huge bubble of sadness and anger that hits you like a tonne of bricks. You can't stop yourself from screaming. You feel out of control; you cry, scream and hurt yourself. The staff come in when you're in the middle of your meltdown and try to calm you down. You shout at them, tell them to get away from you so you can hurt yourself. You didn't want to be here in the first place. And then the staff are restraining you away from the wall so you can't hurt yourself anymore. You cry and struggle to get out of their grip but it's no use because you're then held in a floor restraint and given an injection of medication to calm you down. Against your will. Imagine that you're then placed on 1:1 observations. You have a member of staff following you about constantly, watching you. When you're sleeping, when you're sitting in communal areas, even when you're in the bathroom. All for your own safety. You hate it, it's driving you crazy!

Your responsible clinican tells you that you can only have escorted leave around the grounds, three times a day for 15 minutes. But then when you want to go out there's no staff around and being on the ward is driving you mad. So you resort to sticking your headphones in and blasting your music. But then a patient comes up to you and wants to talk to you, and you feel rude ignoring them so you engage in a conversation that you couldn't care less about. These patients that you once thought were going to be crazy and violent become your best friends but then you see them being dragged to their room in a restraint, or you witness them screaming at the staff to just leave them alone. 

You lose most of your freedom and you end up staring at the same walls day in, day out. Days become focused on meal times and all your decisions are made by your responsible clinician, whether you agree with it or not. You may have no visitors for weeks at a time because there are no beds in your local psychiatric hospital, so you end up miles from home. Being sectioned and being in hospital becomes normality, so much that when you're given overnight leave your home doesn't feel like home anymore and nothing feels right. Your responsible clinician may decide that actually, you're not well enough to leave so you have to have another care programme approach, which isn't for 2 months time. Or how about you're told you have to be moved to a low secure unit or a psychiatric intensive care unit because you're too risky and your current unit can't manage you.

Being sectioned isn't like having break times with refreshments. It is a constant having to live alongside your thoughts in isolation - drowning in them. There's is no power in your life - your mind and clinicians have power over you.

Being sectioned isn't a walk in the park, it's a war ground, tackling it one day at a time. 

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Please, don't kill yourself

Approximately one million people commit suicide every year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

When you kill yourself, you won't be able to see your friends, family, girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, or children ever again. Your pain may be over, but it then transfers onto everyone that knew and loved you. People care, even strangers.

"Whenever I hear on the news that someone has killed themselves I bawl my eyes out - I understand that desperation they're feeling and I just wish they could see the absolute wonders that they were.  I wish I could have told them it got better, and I wish I could have held their hand through that journey."

"It's absolutely devastating when you hear someone's taken their life. I think about the people who loved and knew them, their family and their friends. How they won't be able to laugh with their loved ones, or talk to them again."

"My heart aches for that person and their family. It hurts because I was once in that position, and I wish I'd known the person so I could have told them that although life may be really bad right now, it will get better and to just hold on. Thinking of how their family and friends must feel breaks my heart."

"If I saw that someone where I live had killed themselves I'd feel so very sad that they felt that suicide was the only way to solve how they feel. Sad that someone amazing had lost their life battling their own mind and that they aren't going to be able to experience how amazing life can be."

4 strangers. 4 people who said they would feel absolutely devastated hearing on the news about someone they didn't even know committing suicide. If you're reading this, and you having even a single thought about ending your life, we care. I care.

I know how it feels. Not fully, because I'm not in your head. And I know you think no one cares. You think that you're a burden on everyone around you, and that you're hurting people by being alive so what difference does it make if you're not around anymore, right? I, and many others, have felt like this before. It's like there's no other way out, and the only way you can think of to stop the pain, is to end your life.

I remember a few years ago, there was a girl in my area that committed suicide. I hardly knew her, but she was such a lovely and caring girl. Everyone, even people who didn't know her, or knew what she had been going through, were absolutely devastated.

Your family won't ever get to see their baby again. Whenever they go upstairs, they automatically go in to check if you're okay. Or when dinner is ready, they shout you down. Everyone goes silent
- your mum, your dad, your sister and/or brother. Because it hits them.

You're gone forever.

Your friends text you to see if you want to meet up, or message you on social media. As soon as they send it, they remember.

They won't ever get to see you again. 

Your girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife, rolls over in their sleep, expecting you to be there. Or they knock on the bathroom door in the morning, ready to tease you about how long you're taking. But you're gone.

Your child or children ask where you are. Your loved ones try to explain that you're at peace now, in heaven, but they don't fully understand. When they grow up, they leave flowers at your grave on your birthday and at Christmas and sit there for hours, because that's the only way they can spend time with you.

When you commit suicide, you're gone. That's it. Your heart has completely stopped. And once it's done, there's no going back.

Everyone would blame themselves. Some of them knew what you were going through, and they'd blame themselves because they'd feel that they should have been able to do more to help you. But they didn't, and that will stay with them forever. Or people who didn't know your struggles, would blame themselves for not making more of an effort to talk to you, and to see if you were okay. They didn't want to bother you, in case you felt uncomfortable talking about it. The guilt would stay with them for all of their life, despite everyone else saying it wasn't their fault.

But they keep on blaming themselves.

When you end your life, your pain transfers to everyone around you. You think no one would care, but in fact, everyone cares. Some people don't show this well, or don't tell you enough, so that's what I'm doing right now.

Whoever is reading this - if you killed yourself, I'd be absolutely heart broken. Devastated that you didn't feel able to reach out for help, because maybe you felt like you were bothering everyone. I promise you, you aren't a burden and you aren't bothering anyone. I'd feel so sad that I hadn't reached out to you, to at least talk to you and ask if you were okay. My heart would ache because I hadn't told you that I'm living proof that life does get better, and if you just hold on tightly, you'll start to see the wonders of life that you thought you would never see.

If you're reading this, and you're thinking about suicide, please, talk to me. Reach out, even if it's just to say you don't feel good and you need someone to vent to. Or maybe you're wanting more practical advice. Whatever it is, I'm here, I care, and I won't you leave you.

Please, don't kill yourself

"Losing someone is the hardest thing to accept. Remembering you is easy, I do it every day. Missing you is the heartache that never goes away." 

Saturday, 12 November 2016

I am a suicide attempt survivor

More than 55,000 suicides occur in the European Union each year, including more than 6,000 in the U.K. and Ireland.

This figure means that each hour, 1 person commits suicide. This isn't counting the number of people who attempt suicide. 

Whenever I hear that someone has committed suicide, whether that be through social media or the news, I can't help but feel extremely sad, and my heart aches. I feel for the family - the parents that will never be able to hug their son or daughter again, a sibling that will never be able to play fight with their sister or brother. I feel for the friends that will never be able to celebrate their friend's birthday with them being here. I feel for everyone that knew that individual, because they will never be able to see them again. I feel so deeply, and why? Because I know what it's like.

I am a suicide attempt survivor.

I can't put into words how miserable and fed up I must have been, to try and end my own life. "Selfish" and "attention seeking" was what I'd get told sometimes, all because I failed. As someone who has survived countless suicide attempts, I am not selfish and I was not attention seeking. I, and many others who have attempted or died by suicide, have been in excrutiating emotional pain when carrying out that attempt. Imagine being set on fire, but the fire is in your head instead. It's that painful. I didn't necessarily want to die, but I just couldn't stand living in this much pain anymore. If I was selfish for being in so much pain that I tried to end my own life, then why did I carry on living for so long? Why did I drag myself through everyday, despite not wanting to live? Because I knew I would tear my family and friends apart. And it only got to the point when I wasn't eating, sleeping or looking after myself, that I thought, I can't do this anymore.

I couldn't physically or mentally cope with the amount of mental pain I was in. I knew it wasn't a quick fix, and if it couldn't be quickly fixed, then I didn't want to live. When I made that suicide attempt, I didn't take into account what impact it would have on those around me. I tried to think of others, but it was as if my brain had blocked it out. 

When I made that suicide attempt, I didn't think I'd be here today, writing this blog post. 

As a survivor, I am dedicating this post to anyone who has, or wants to, end their life.

It's not worth it.

I didn't expect to survive, so I didn't think of anything I'd have to deal with as a consequence. I didn't think of how distraught my family and friends would be. I didn't think of anything but how I felt.

If you're in the position I was a few months ago, and you're even just thinking about ending your life, let me give you a few reasons not to:

1. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. You won't get to see your family or friends again, you won't be able to do anything. You'll be gone forever.

2. Life will get better. Maybe not now, or next week, but it will. I am living proof that life gets better. A few months back, I never thought I would be content with my life and stable, I never thought I'd be getting myself job interviews. I didn't for one second think I'd ever enjoy life again.

3. You have so much to offer in this world, this life. Don't throw it away over a problem that will get better. 

4. You may not think it, but everyone will be distraught if you died. Your family, friends, even people who didn't really talk to you much. They'll not be able to stop blaming themselves, thinking that they could've done something more to help you.

I promise you, life will get better, no matter how bad you feel or how dark a place you're in right now.  I went from being not being able to get out of bed, hardly sleeping or eating, not looking after myself and landing myself in hospital every week. For months on end, I don't think there was one week that I wasn't in hospital. And now?

I smile and laugh, and for once it's genuine. I don't have to hide how I feel anymore, because I'm not ashamed. I'm not ashamed to say I've struggled and that I am a suicide attempt survivor.

I am a survivor, and you can be too. 

"Someone once asked me how I hold my head up so high after all I've been through. I said, it's because no matter what, I am a survivor. Not a victim."