If I didn’t take tablets I would be dead.
(trigger warning - suicide)
It isn’t dramatic. I have wanted to die. I have tried to die. Without a careful and artistic blend of medication, self management, mood mapping and support I would absolutely want to die again, either on purpose or by putting myself through dangerous behaviours and activities.
One of the problems with psychiatric medications is that they impact negatively on your physical well being as they support your mental and emotional well being.
I have been on a cocktail of psych meds on and off for almost twenty years and on on on without exception for at least a decade.
I am currently more mentally stable than I have ever been. I haven’t been sectioned for a decade. I haven’t tried to die on purpose or by accident for a decade. Result!
Unfortunately, like many other people on psych meds; I have over time developed metabolic syndrome. This syndrome had caused me to gain a significant amount of weight, develop dangerously high cholesterol and become diabetic.
It is irreversible. Stopping my meds would reduce the impact. Stopping my meds would kill me.
Unmedicated my mood would soar. I would become detached from reality completely, I would be delusional, see things that aren’t there and destroy my relationships, job and carefully managed self.
Eventually I would crash, becoming so depressed that I would literally be unable to move about, crawling from bed to toilet. I would feel desperate, deep, dark despair. I would become consumed with self loathing and convinced, utterly and wholly, that I must die in order to release myself from the pain of my existence and my children from the burden of it.
I may know, in some semi rational kernel of sanity, that suicide would hurt my children. This would in no way deter me. I would simply begin to obsess about ways to die that would not look like suicide.
I’m not even exaggerating.
In December 2001 I had been in this pit of despair for months. I had been erratic at work, isolated myself from friends. My self care suffered. I deeply and passionately loathed myself.
A year before, a close family member had committed suicide. I had seen first hand the devastation it had caused.
In a lack of logic available only to someone extremely unwell or religious, I had conceived two plans to kill myself. I clearly couldn’t cause the hurt I had seen the year before, but I had to die. I simply could not go on in so much pain and being of so little use to anyone.
My first plan was to throw myself under a bus. On my sons birthday (the only day I had childcare) I went I to town to carry out my plan.
Death by bus is not easy to achieve in a busy town centre. Firstly, the buses aren’t moving so fast. Second, there are do-gooder people all around that are willing to interfere. Embarrassed and defeated, I went home.
Plan B it was.
This cunning plan was to brain myself with a rock, making it look like a bungled burglary (you’ll know where this idea came from if you read my blog).
My irrational, desperate logic was so focused on protecting my children from suicide that I never considered any other impact on them.
It is incredibly difficult to bash your own brain in.
I smashed the massive rock against my head over and over, drawing blood, causing pain and dizziness, but nothing else.
I was so useless that I couldn’t even get this right. Without a cartoon style set of pulleys or a Wylie Coyote to drop the damn thing in my head, I didn’t know what to do.
In a dazed haze and bleeding heavy, I tried raising my arm above my head and dropping the rock onto myself. Again, it hurt but no success,
I gave up on the rock and banged my head against the wall, somehow fixated on a head injury as a death my children could deal with. It did nothing but get blood all over the wall.
I went back to the rock. I carefully balanced it in the top of the open door and positioned myself underneath. I opened the door.
I woke up on an acute psychiatric ward with a fractured skull and a surprisingly ununique (according to the doctor) story.
For a few years, the shame and horror at what I had inflicted on myself, my family and my friends, threatened to destroy me. Now I am grateful for the memory.
This single memory, above everything else I have felt or experienced, keeps me swallowing my killer meds.
Taking these meds is my religion. Metabolic syndrome is my penance, diabetes is an extra battle and I struggle every day.
Die if you do, die if you don’t.
Real life doesn’t offer easy answers and it’s rarely, ever fair. The universe dishes out some shit and I figure this is my portion to manage.
My kids are just glad that they still have a mum.