This blog post will not be an easy one. But it’s one I want to write. For myself mostly but maybe a little bit for other people, to know that it’s okay and there’s no shame in having attempted suicide. It’s a very difficult subject for me to approach (even with my psychologist I block mid-sentence and she usually guesses where I’m going).
If you think you might be triggered by the subject, I suggest you stop reading here.
The following text is not a how-to or how-not-to. It’s simply my story told in my own words. In a lot of words.
When I was a teenager I used to self-harm. It’s a habit I developed not as a cry for attention (it was hidden) but as a way to punish myself for all these feelings I had. Every time I hurt myself I felt a bit of pain go away. Of course the pain always came back, and usually it was worse. I was feeling ashamed and I couldn’t stop doing it because it was the only way I knew to make me feel better, if only for a short period.
I say when I was a teenager but it really started in elementary school and I must admit I have self-harmed as an adult as well. But the difference is that now, I can stop it. I have done it in times of great stress, and I always feel that deep regret the next day. I also tend to become paranoid and think that everyone around me knows and judges me.
I know it’s a really bad habit. I wish I’d never picked it up. But anyone who’s done it will tell you – it’s addictive. The scars remind you of all the problems you’ve had and you currently have, but they also remind you of that moment when you felt good, and maybe you deserved it anyways?
I don’t know if people even notice the scars on my arms – even I usually don’t see them. Except the one inside my wrist. This one was not self-harm – not most times anyways. But it’s not like we see in the movies. It hurts like crazy and I have no tolerance to pain. And maybe it’s for the best really. Because now I’m here and I can tell you my story.
I don’t remember most of my childhood. I don’t know why. I actually barely remember yesterday to be honest. I’ve been told it’s weird. I’ve learned to live with it. So I’ll tell you what I remember because I feel like sharing and if it can help you it’s even better.
I think I was 11 the first time I saw a psychiatrist. I spent some time at the emergency with my parents and unwillingly explained to the doctor how I wanted to die and it wasn’t a big deal, so let me go. I ended up spending the night there and met with my teenage years psychiatrist. I must admit I never really liked him. He did diagnose me with Bipolar Disorder after all… A few years later I realized I was on the verge of an attempt so I asked my mother to bring me to the hospital. I spent one or two weeks at the hospital with other youth with diverse issues. I remember one time there was a young doctor with my psychiatrist during my appointment with him I yelled as loud as I could “I AM OKAY, I WANT TO GO HOME.” I’m surprised they actually let me go.
I was put on lithium then. I’ve had many changes in medication since then. Now I’m on a little cocktail of my own and I’m hoping it’ll keep going the way it does (although, as I will mention later, not all is pink unicorn and rainbows at the moment).
A few years later, finally being an adult and at the moment no longer on medication (because I had decided to stop, like many other times) I thought I was good. Until it wasn’t the case anymore. Everyone at work was worried for me because I wasn’t smiling anymore. I was seriously depressed and once again suicidal except I no longer had a doctor so I had to find a new one. I found a psychologist willing to take me for talk therapy. When I realized it didn’t help me because I wasn’t willing to talk, I abandoned it (you’ll notice that seems to be a pattern of mine).
A few years later again, I went and asked for help at the same hospital and lo and behold, I was told that I probably had Borderline Personality Disorder but I wasn’t really sick and I should really stop wasting their time. It hit me personally but I must admit thinking back to it I realize now how strong we can be when we need help. I didn’t drop the ball and I kept looking for that help. I found some for a short period but it was only temporary.
I later put myself on a waiting list because I could no longer take it. I was able to get a regular doctor, who got me referred to the CLSC, and now I have the best mental health nurse one can have. Even with their help, I was not able to get a psychiatrist at the time. I was working at a very stressful job and I broke. I wanted to take my life. But I went to the hospital instead. I spent a few days there (waiting to be admitted, in the psychiatry emergency hallway). I left and, of course, promptly went back. I spent a week there. I actually had a nurse tell me “You shouldn’t say things like that”. I’ve also had another nurse tell me “You have nothing to be sad about. Why are you suicidal?” like it was idiotic of me. Well you don’t say. I really wish I wasn’t feeling this way you know?
I have been in-and-out of the hospital a few times since then. I’ve tried other ways of ending my life. I don’t think it’s important for me to say how – I think what’s important is that I didn’t follow through. Call it laziness or fear, or both. But it saved my life more than once. And there shouldn’t be shame in that. My family still loves me. They don’t know the extent to which I’ve been but they know I’ve been there. My friends love me. Some of them know.
Suicidal ideation and suicide are not the direct fault of those experiencing them. Should we feel ashamed every time we cough when we have a cold? Should we shame the diabetic for his symptoms? Of course not. So we also shouldn’t be ashamed of telling our stories. Because it tells other people like us that we matter. They matter. We all matter.