Monday, September 15, 2008

A Note on Suicide and Depression

I think the first thing I need to say about this post is that I am not promoting suicide nor am I labelling it evil or wrong I am just stating my views and experiences, and right or wrong they are my views alone. Suicide is a word and an act that scares many. The idea that someone should want to end their life prematurely is still a taboo and is perhaps one of the least understood and talked about side of mental illness and yet of the 4,300 people who die in the UK by suicide 90% have one or more psychiatric disorders(figures supplied by mind). So it is the deadly side of mental illness.

I have tried to kill myself on 5 occasions over the last four months (I think that's right- memory crap)- my chosen method overdose. The reason being that meds are often to hand and if not paractamol are too easy to get hold of. Secondly, because other methods such as wrist cutting, hanging, gas etc,can be too messy and unfair on my family or whoever found me to clean up. In my teenage days I also tried to kill myself although no-one knows this. I tried to hang myself and I also tried to drown myself in the bath- having written a suicide note on the loo roll with an eye liner. So I guess my grip on life has always been somewhat fragile though I have clung on with a finger or two. The thing that people say when they find out I have tried to kill myself is that I should be thankful for the wonderful life I have when there are people with terminal illness who would love the chance to live. However, I think this kind of response is somewhat ignorant as it presumes that a) The life of the person attempting suicide is rosy and worth living to that person (usually and in my case it seems not) and that whilst being on the brink of suicide then you are able to rationalise your thoughts and weigh up the reasons to live etc (in my opinion extremely difficult in the circumstances). Some see suicide as weak but it takes a lot to jump off that bridge, shoot that gun, shove foul tasting pills into your mouth despite your body sending them back up your throat. It also takes a lot to put them away and carry on living. Suicide is not glamorous- had I suceeded in one of my overdoses I would have been dead but only after a slow painful process over a week or so as my organs eventually shut down. If you imagine the force at which a body hits water or ground from jumping off a tall building or the paleness of a body drained of blood by severing a major vain this is not the stuff of movies its real and its harsh. For these people their deaths echo their life beforehand- painful, miserable, and lonely.

Everyday I live with the thought of suicide. Some of the thoughts are about my previous attempts. The last time I O.D I decided to crush the paracteamol so I could take them quicker I washed this down with Ribena, if you can begin to imagine the taste, then you will understand the vivid image that I live with. As I write this I can taste the mixture in my throat and I can no longer look at Ribena let alone drink it. On my way to A and E I was rather ill resulting in being violently sick over myself so not only the taste but smell is a pungent memory. They are the thoughts in my mind and yet I still continue to store paracetamol unable to pass that aisle in the supermarket and unable to throw them away once bought. Often the thought to kill myself is there - I think I read somewhere that it is easy to find reasons to kill yourself but harder to come up with reasons not to - this sums it up for me. I don't believe I will ever be rid of these thoughts and being in my mid-twenties it is highly likely that suicide will be my cause of death. I have accepted this, I am not scared to die - I am more scared of living, of being ill forever and of fighting this constant battle.

Oh dear think I have digressed and might seem self-pitying(not my intention) whether I will end up killing myself is not the point of the post but if you look at the statistics on mind website they state that 2% of people who attempt suicide and present at hospital will go on to be succesful and kill themselves in a year. Like it or not that statistic includes me - and although I sometimes fight to be the 98%, I am veering to that 2%.

For me suicide has gone hand in hand with growing up and seeing the world as it really is. When I was a child I thought the world was a fantastic place, I believed that I could be anything I wanted to be and that I could make a difference, I would live a happy life filled with happy friends and loving family and success of course. Then I grew up and realised that life is not like this. One person can't make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Happiness is not uniform and life is drab, dark and difficult. It is a place where bad people often prosper and good goes unrewarded. People say life is such a wonderful gift, but mine is more like a knitted jumper which no one wants and would gladly return for a credit note. I feel like I am walking through a lions den, the lions have spotted me and swiped a few times but now are playing with me, until they accept we've both had enough and they deliver that deadly blow. When you see life in this way then you can no longer see a future, if you can't see a future then you feel hopeless, without hope you are already dead and so it takes only a physical act to die on the outside as well as the inside.

To balance this up I would urge anyone who might read this and feel similarly to seek help. Talk to someone, let those close to you know your feelings, call a suicide line or see a professional. Although these things aren't for me they have, and will continue to save lives, the one thing you have to remember whatever your view on suicide is that if succesful it is final, so do not make any decision impulsively, as you may not have the time to repent.

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