Back to life

 

Possible CW for suicide / sectioning


 

So now it’s autumn.

I like autumn; thick sunlight and brisk air, sweeping rain and sweeping skies. Daddy long legs and back to school.

I eat breakfast, read the news. Return to my bedroom and fire up the computer, open Gmail.

I could stay. I could just stay here. The sun is thick and the air is brisk and I could just stay away from the world for one more day. It would be so, so easy. My sick note runs from July ’til last week, but it’d be simple to get another one.

I’m scared.

Compose new mail.

To: Supervisor
Subject: I’m back

Hit send.

I’m scared.


 

The psych unit at Lambeth was relaxed, or as relaxed as psych units get. Wake at six, toast and meds. Breakfast at eight. Sit in a horseshoe, watching daytime TV. There was an enclosed outside area so you could nip out for a fag – Homerton hadn’t had one of those. At Homerton it was two fag breaks a day, morning and evening. Like that’s anything like a good set up for a high security male-only psych ward. I was glad for my muscles, in Homerton. But they weren’t needed in Lambeth.

People shuffle. People shuffle in psych wards; when I first walked in to one I thought, I thought ‘Jesus, these people are all smashed out of it’, looking at them shuffling up and down, staring into nowhere. But there’s fuck all to do on a psych ward, shit books and boardgames with half the pieces missing. You shuffle, up and down. Nowhere to go. Nothing do to.

Plastic cutlery. They’d go and get you a can of coke if you wanted, but obviously they’d pour it into a plastic cup for you before you got it. My stubble grew, I can’t do a proper beard, I just look patchy and scratty after a bit. So I did. Increasingly patchy and scratty. You can shave, but they’ve got your razor, then they have to sit and watch you do it. Fuck that.

Fuck that and forget the world, you don’t have to care, no one cares. It’s easy. Wake at 6, toast and meds. Morning TV and breakfast, plastic cutlery. The nurses will do a shop run, run for fags and crisps and coke. Sit in the garden, sleep on your bed. It’s easy. Suspended, above life, outside it. After being crushed nearly to death with worry, you find yourself, lose yourself, without a care in the world.

It was upsetting, and stressful, and so, so boring. But it was also easy. So very easy.


 

Rounds. Rounds in the psych ward drove me round the bend, a whole army of social workers, psychiatric nurses, clinical psychologists and a consultant psychiatrist, ranged out so you feel like you’re walking into an interview. I wanted to tell them all to fuck off, didn’t they realise how intimidating this all was?

“How do you feel now?”

OK. Detached. Not suicidal, of course not suicidal; they’d plucked me out of my life and my cares and put me in limbo. It’s hard, really, to feel anything in limbo.

“You’re probably OK for discharge”

And so I was discharged.


It was strange, coming out of a building you’d spent so much time in but had never seen from the outside. It was too bright and too hot and, suddenly, August. I had little clue of where I was except I was within walking distance of home. My phone blinked the route, almost impossible to see in the glare.

Stopped at a newsagent; a double snickers and coke. Walking felt weird. The big wide world felt weird. Sometimes flat and sometimes too deep. Sounds at times jangling into one another, other times meeting and clasping like jigsaw pieces. I was free. I could do anything and no one could stop me.

I was terrified.

The pavement rolled under me, streets swinging by, my estate drifting into view. Key in lock, pull door just so, turn key, open door. Living room. I sit.

I know what’s in my bedroom. I know exactly where it is. I’d told them I’d got rid of it – I was bored on the ward after all, I wanted to stretch my legs, I couldn’t be bothered with the faff of getting rid of it. But then I was suddenly home, in a dim living room, knowing what was in my bedroom.

It wouldn’t work on it’s own, the LD50 was far too high, let alone the LD100. I’d need to go out and get something else which would synergise with it, but I could pick that up from Tesco. There’s a chilling efficacy in the plan in that it requires at least two substances to work; a nuclear launch sequence. Still. The tricky part was done with. It sat waiting in my room.

I didn’t want to. Did I? But I could. I could and I might. A world of possibilities, I could do anything and I was quietly terrified.

I disposed of it.

I was still scared. I was suddenly out in the world, and I could do anything. Far from easy.


This time around, I avoided hospital by a whisper. I didn’t want to go, they’re boring, so boring. I didn’t want the shuffling, the gazing into nowhere, the plastic cutlery and the interview sessions. I just wanted everything to stop.

I had nothing home to harm myself; it’d all been removed by my house mates. They were on orders to watch for any big packages which arrived for me, open them, check they weren’t a special kind of deadly.

It maybe wasn’t the best idea. The first week, there we’re dangerous moments; bridges, roads, rail lines. Eventually I kept myself inside.

Eventually I let myself out again.

Still. Still suspended, in limbo, outside my cares and concerns. Easy. My pendulum moods slowly slowing to a more genteel swing. And while I knew I couldn’t stay there forever, the temptation… no cares, no concerns; having no responsibility is dangerous, intoxicating. Sooner or later I’d have to come off the sick notes but I could get another one, I think, for now.


 

I don’t. I hit send. I go back into uni. Anything could happen, now.

I’m terrified.

 

 

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Take my life

I’m not going to make a habit of posting up rediscovered journal entries (not least because I’ve got a fun post about the time I had in Birmingham before the fascists came along, and want to review Naked Boys Reading; and besides, I’m feeling ‘normal’ now so why go over upsetting stuff?), but I happened across this today. I wrote it while an inpatient in psychiatric care. I remember the confusion, the fear, the hopelessness; knowing I didn’t belong in hospital, not knowing where I belonged outside it.


 

So. This is weird.

I’m not sure I’m meant to be here. Everyone seems far more unstable than me. But then I think how I must look; unkempt hair, three day growth, until recently stinking of BO.

When I got to Homerton the thing that struck me was all the aimless wandering the patients were doing. Drifting slowly across the floor, shuffling through the ward. I assumed it was a symptom of schizophrenia or psychosis or medication; but then I found myself standing, drifting. You see yourself through other’s eyes, wandering. Drifting.

Some are more with it than others, of course; and I’m probably the most with it. Sometimes I think I’m completely fine but then this morning I found myself sobbing, howling, that strange adult keening and gasping, ’til a therapist came, took me aside, talked me down.


Oh, it feels so GOOD to have showered!


I’m waiting in my room at Lambeth. Finally got here this evening. It’s plusher here, and I finally have a proper room. I’ve not really had any privacy since Monday morning.

I wish my life could have turned out different. I wish I could have turned out different. Regret.


I’m not bad enough to be here, I know that. I’m sad, and confused, and maybe I’m unsafe out there. But I’m not bad enough to be here.

What am I going to do now?

What am I going to do next?

Nothing appeals. Not even death. Death only appeals as escape.

Section 3 told me he’d never take his own life since he knows he’d go straight to Hell. Cruel comfort, I guess, keeps you safe. I guess.

Take my life. That’s all I want, something to take my life, give me a new one, give mea new me. One where I have clean sheets and a good bed, and a nice flat and a boyfriend and a fun job.

Not this. Not this life.

I don’t see anything in my future. Nothing. I’ve lost my future and I’ve fucked up my present. All just a chaos of wire and broken glass on the floor.

Nowhere to go. Nothing to do.


 

I’m going to leave here today, and I’m scared.

I’m scared because I don’t trust myself, still. I’m scared because I don’t want to face that noisy, senseless world. I’m scared because there’s nothing out there for me and I am no-one and it will be too cold, or too hot, and chaos.

I’m scared.

 

 

 

We talk

Another post about suicide. Less raw and bloody than the last; still – you have been warned.


 

The uncomfortable truth is that stereotypical forms of masculinity – stiff upper lips, “laddishness” – are killing men.

– Owen Jones, writing in the Guardian

I have no mouth and I must scream

– Harlan Ellison

Owen Jones’ makes a common claim; men’s increased risk of suicide is due to factors relating to an unwillingness to talk about depression, embedded in a wider culture of masculinity which prevents conversation in this area. It’s claimed not only by newspaper columnists but also by charities such as the Samaritans and Mind.  It’s claimed to be the case for good reason – there’s substantial evidence for it.

Still.

Let me tell you a story.


 

It takes me forever to see an A&E psychiatrist, these days. I’m not sure how much this is to do with them being busy, and with me having a large wad of notes to get through.

I don’t mind them reading through the wads. It means I don’t have to go over everything, everything, all over again. Doing so is exhausting. Draining. And I’m quite drained enough.

My head resting on Daniel’s lap, his strong, heavy hand resting on my shoulder. I’m hot. I’m tired. I’m running on empty.

Nurses come, check my blood pressure, my heartbeat, still beating.

“How’s your neck feeling? Your throat?”

I hold Daniel’s strong hand.

I’m tired.

The psychiatrist comes, Daniel goes. I’ve already seen the psych nurses, they’ve referred me up the chain. Been sitting in A&E, hot, cared for, empty, for hours. Since morning.

We talk.

She seems nice. Caring. I try to convince her I don’t need admission to inpatient care. Inpatient care is endless, pointless days. Wandering around blank and drugged in a room full of people wandering around drugged and blank, plastic cutlery and cheap plastic and foam mattresses. Unshaven and unsightly because you have to ask for your razor and be watched while you slide it across your skin, in case you slide too deep. Who can be bothered with that? Unshaven and unsightly. I don’t want hospital. Still; I’m unsure which way she’s going to sway.

We talk.

“Why let it get to this stage, before you seek help?”

I laugh. There is no humour.


 

Comprehensive school green. This is the first time I’ve been in this room. I’m howling, I’m mumbling, I’m quivering on the foul brown sofa, the foul plastic and foam sofa.

“What is it? What happened? What happened, eh?”

I don’t know who he is. He looks just like an A&E nurse. Why is he asking me these dumb fucking questions? My counsellor sent me, she called ahead, the triage nurse knew exactly who I was so why is he asking me these dumb fucking questions?

“It’s not that bad, it can’t be that bad; c’mon, talk to me”

Shut the fuck up

He leaves. I’m tired. Alone, I sleep.

The door slamming jolts me awake. Two psych nurses, one senior, one student. Clipboards. Tea.

We talk.

“…and have you tried to harm yourself?”

No.

“Have you tried to put any of this plan into action?”

No.

Go home. You’re stressed. Take some time off. “The next time you feel this way, just come to A&E”.

I go home.


Comprehensive school green. I’ve been in this room before.

I’m tired. I sleep alone, on the sofa. The shit brown sofa. It takes forever for a psychiatric nurse to come. Then again, it’s late.

We talk.

We even chat, which is nice. He apologises afterwards, for being unprofessional, for veering the subject away from me; but you know it’s nice, in the middle of all this. A break in the clouds.

“It’s nigh on impossible to overdose on sertraline, you see? So I realised I couldn’t do that. So I came here”

“So you didn’t actually take anything?”

No.

“Have you tried to harm yourself in the past?”

No.

He chews his pen. I look at the grey lino floor. I’m tired.

“Talk to your GP. Maybe get your dose looked at”

I get the bus home. I think. I come up with a far more effective plan than sertraline.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.


 

Spring.

I’m feeling fine. Good, even. Everyone knows people are more likely to feel worse in winter and better in spring, except of course that’s not true – rates of both depression and suicide are higher in spring. Still. I’m feeling good.

Alex, less so.

“Flashes – I get these flashes of violence. Horrible things in my head, it’s like they come from outside”

I know. I tell him I know. It’s shit. It’s scary. We share the scary images that invade our heads.

“The crisis team came over, I told them. I’m scared what I might do

“They asked me if I’d tried to do anything”

I know. I tell him, “they won’t take it seriously until you do”

“But I’m not going to try anything!” grimacing, eyes frantic, mouth quivering. “I’m going to do it. The first time I try will be the last”

“I know”


 

Women are more likely to attempt suicide. Men tend to utilise more violent methods. Men are more likely to complete. First time.

In his article, Owen Jones does touch on the failure of psychiatric services to take seriously men’s mental health, but I think this is only part of the problem. The whole system is geared to only work once people are at crisis, but this means services remain blind to men’s cries for help even as we are screaming; we are scared, we are in danger, we are going to do it and there will be no second chance.

We talk.

People just don’t fucking listen.

 

Falling

This post continues a series (first post, previous post) which discuss a suicide crisis which took place approximately a year ago, and my subsequent treatment. Partly it’s therapy for me. Partly it’s to demystify what for many people is an opaque and frightening subject, which I believe should be spoken about more, and with more frankness. But obviously this could work as a trigger. Tread with care.

Oh my GOD this is embarrassing do you remember holidays in Wales your brother’s jacket and castles a sting of hot vinegar in your eyes – chips! – I mean I love them all so much it hurts it hurts; I have a niece, she is beautiful, it hurts it hurts…

I’m sitting, this is awkward, I’ve no more tears left and my throat hurts. There are forms, an officer sits with me and asks me questions. He’s young, attractive.

Scratch attractive, he’s gorgeous. Cockney accent and gleam in his eye, handcuffs suggestive at his side; I try to joke with him – oh my God, he’s going to think I’m unhinged or something! – I try to

“hospital. Do you understand what”

try to

hurts

Violet sky in the forest black trees in fading autumn light plugged into my Walkman walking twilight violet light fading. Yes, I understand, I say.

Scratch attractive, he’s gorgeous. I smile. I try to give a good impression. Aim to please. We go through the paperwork, my throat is sore, I’m tired, I understand.

What the fuck am I doing here? I need to get back to work, I just walked out I I I try to give a good impression, he’s gorgeous! I smile. I understand. He asks how tall I am, my eye colour, date of birth, birthday, they always spelled my name wrong, Mrs Wright was kind, she showed us a snowdrop – catch myself. Good impression. He’s gorgeous. Next of kin? I answer. What the fuck am I doing here?

We’re moving. Tommy’s doesn’t take sections from the police, I understand, we’re driving through London. My God this is embarrassing, he’s going to think I’m unhinged or gorgeous. Awkward. Sitting, I close my eyes; no more trying, tired, falling through London, hurting, fading.

Steel and glass

This post continues a series (first post, previous post) which discuss a suicide crisis which took place approximately a year ago, and my subsequent treatment. Partly it’s therapy for me. Partly it’s to demystify what for many people is an opaque and frightening subject, which I believe should be spoken about more, and with more frankness. But obviously this could work as a trigger. Tread with care.

He was gorgeous.

I don’t know which hospital I was eventually taken to. I remember the sunlight was too sharp, as if the world were steel; I remember worrying about what work were thinking; I remember exhaustion, and grief, and closing my eyes and finding how easy it was to fall into myself. All the time this static, barbed wire buzz in my mind, sometimes louder, sometimes softer. All the time, memories like rain on glass.

I was sectioned, but only to get me to the hospital. A handover took place; I found myself talking to an on duty psychiatrist and explaining, wearily explaining to her. I was so tired by that point, and I knew my fears and pains with a weathered intimacy and contempt. I’d been there so many times before; sat in a small hospital room, speaking my soul to a stranger.

I’ve learned – you do learn, eventually – not to trust myself too earnestly, learned to hold my beliefs lightly. I was asked what my intentions had been on the bridge; I was asked what my intentions were with the materials lying in my room. I was asked if I thought I should stay for a while in the hospital.

“I don’t know”

And I didn’t know. How could I? I’d set up a plan and then deviated from it radically. The moments before the bridge I’d been running, screaming down the street, mind white hot and chaos. Moments before that I’d been in the office, got up calmly from my desk and walked out the building. Smiled to the receptionist on the way out. I’d been a visitor on psych wards before and they’re not the most inviting places; I didn’t want to be admitted. But my head was full of barbed wire and sharp, perfect plans; I was tired, and confused.

“I think it might be helpful if you stayed with us a while”