Suicidal Thoughts, Attachment and the Irony of the NHS Mental Health System

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TRIGGER warning for suicide.

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I woke up this morning and burst into tears that I was still alive. That should probably be a sign that things are not going great.

I remember being a young teenager and when adults asked me about my plans for the future, being internally convinced that I would die before I ‘grew up’. I always felt that either something would happen to me, or if I could not rely on Mother Nature, I would kill myself. I remember being on holiday in Greece and practising against the lines in the swimming pool to see how deep I’d need to swim before I couldn’t reach the surface after I exhaled. Drowning was always my preferred method until some frustrating sod told me it would actually be really painful. Now I don’t have a method, nor a plan, nor any means and ironically, I probably think about suicide more now than I did when I had it mapped out.

Apart from one scary occasion when the thought process (voice..?) in my head was telling me to kill myself even though I really really didn’t want to, these suicidal patches happen because I feel helpless and overwhelmed, and because the landscape ahead of me is either negatively sloping, or is just a vast expanse of the same old shit as is going on in my life right now. I have to feel like it can get better than this. When I’m in therapy, and thus there is always next week, I have survived pretty much without any sui thoughts. But when I’m in a therapy gap, or when support is looking sparse or unavailable, I bounce back so quickly to the feeling that I cannot live like this forever.

This week has been a mess because seemingly, NHS and other mental health support is one massive, complicated system that you have to actually be mentally well to manage. If you’re struggling (which you would be, that’s why you’re in the system…!) then God help you if you don’t have an advocate or someone fighting your corner – or at least propping you back up after each round in the ring. My GP was, as I posted, absolutely incredible on Wednesday, but she’s now not here any more. T is away on holiday (13 more sleeps), and 13 sleeps feels like a lifetime when you feel 6 years old. So when the battleaxe MH nurse rang me yesterday and asked me to come in again on Wednesday ‘for a further chat’, I really had no resources to throw at the situation. I started to say that I couldn’t possibly come, because I couldn’t manage without G. But how long can I keep saying that for? I might never see her again. So I told the woman I’d come and I’ll just have to hope that someone is around to mop me up afterwards, or that it is a day when Little will trust my sympathy and support and be ok with just that.

I tried to go to a support group this week too, but I had the timings wrong. I think it would really help me to sit in a room with other people who understand… At this low point I feel horrendously isolated. I’m not sure which support group to attend though – I spoke to both on the phone, but the eating disorder group said they thought I may need to attend the self harm group, and the SH group said they thought I’d be more suited to the ED group. Both are happy for me to ‘have a go’ (and I preferred the ED group so I’m going there) but I’m very concerned that, even from the outset, I don’t feel like I fit. I can’t even be part of the gang nobody wants to be part of!!

T2’s lasting legacy has been to encourage me to just do the next thing. I miss her terribly this week, after a number of weeks without really thinking of her. I miss her logical and calm outlook – I used to empty my rucksack of panic and confusion onto the table between us and then look at her, wide eyed and goldfish mouthed whilst she carefully and logically organised it with me. I am much more capable now than I was before her, she taught me lots – but this week, I’m out of my depth and I am desperately missing that calm environment, sat with a person I respect and value, with the belief that things will definitely get better because we’re both working towards the same goal. Now, this week, in this gap where both my current ‘safe adults’ are away, I feel like its just me, swimming against a tide of opposition and I could really use T2’s metaphorical shove right now to make the swimming easier.

She was also my vision of my goal. I was never going to magically morph to be as pretty as her (though that would be nice)! But her precision and calm and togetherness was so appealing. I think I’ve said this before but she’s the epitome of my mother’s expectation and that dictates my subconscious wishes. Right now I feel a million miles away from that, whereas at least sat with her, acting on her words, it felt possible. I miss her, and it hurts. Sniff.

Despite thinking about dying almost constantly the last few days, I am interested in my development since the last time I was here. This time, I can see the reasons why, which gives me the power to do something about those reasons. Metanoia list some very supportive, positive actions to be taken, all of which I’m doing. I have a really intense need for immediacy usually, so allowing myself to wait until the date I have in my mind (which is a number of weeks away) is giving me the option to chip away at the feelings, until they crumble all together. Their weighing scales analogy is absolutely right – right now, my fear and pain and ultimately, my exhaustion, is weighing heavier than my coping strategies. But in 2 weeks time when T is back and I’ll have spoken to G and hopefully been to a support group and my referral will be done and sat on someone’s desk and I’ll have done lots of self care things I’ve planned… It will look a lot brighter and the scales will be reversed.

Just need to keep the faith, those scales will bounce back.

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5 responses »

  1. I can identify with much of what you say in this post, having been in and out of therapy with mental health problems myself. What I love about your post is your honesty and your clear expression. Even when things are hellish, you tell it the way it is – and I think this shows a strand of wellness and feisty spirit, if you understand what I mean.

    My heart goes out to you with regard to the childhood abuse.

    I shall look forward to reading more of your posts.

    Alienora

      • Excellent! Delighted to hear! Me too: I have even started shouting and swearing at my panic attacks. Doesn’t stop them, but makes me feel a bit more in control. Writing definitely helps, I find. Do you?

      • It definitely helps – and because I’m grammar obsessed, going back through it helps me see the situation more clearly, like I was reading someone else’s story.

      • Grammar is calming, I find, as is punctuation; it is, for me, like the order and safety of listening to Baroque music – and, yes, it is a distancing technique, in a sense, because the you who is worrying about where to put the semi-colon, or verb agreement, or whatever, is at one remove from the mental maelstrom.

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