I am full of guilt and self-loathing because, yet again, I couldn’t resist the urge to ‘act out’. I feel like a total f**king moron; a self-obsessed, pathetic failure. There are so many people who go through struggles in life without resorting to the kind of melodramatics I displayed on Tuesday.
My new meds are not working. I’ve been on the Brintellix for five weeks now, and all I’ve felt are side effects. I have noticed that, if anything, my mood has become generally worse and less stable. My self-destructive thoughts have increased and my behaviour has got more impulsive. I have no inclination to take better care of myself, I’ve not gained any of the motivation my psychiatrist assured me I would get from being on this drug.
A lot of painful stuff came up in therapy on Tuesday. I’m not sure what was really happening for me, other than a lot of sadness and loneliness. I cried a little bit, which doesn’t happen very often. And I did get some comfort from being with J while those feelings were around. I feel like that’s the only time I am not completely frightened of my feelings; when I’m with J I have this confidence that she can somehow keep me safe from what I feel.
But then I had the same problem I always have when therapy takes me to an especially vulnerable or painful place; I can’t cope with those feelings when I leave. I’ve taken an overdose straight after therapy before, because I just couldn’t tolerate the force of what had come up in a session. Even though J gets me talking about ‘here and now’ stuff before I walk home, the emotional stuff doesn’t close down that easily.
This is what happened on Tuesday. I’d been having suicidal thoughts for a few days. I brought this up during the session, but maybe I didn’t make it clear enough that it wasn’t just a passing thought. I wasn’t merely fantasising – I was planning. I didn’t tell J that. But I did talk about why I was thinking about death again. I suppose I talk about it so often that there is no way for J to tell whether I am at risk or not.
When the session finished, I left J’s and walked around for a while, making different plans in my head. I decided I would buy something good to drink and head to a secluded place to down it and all the pills I had in my pocket. As I walked into the supermarket, I realised that this plan could very likely succeed. I realised I didn’t want the certainty of it. I also didn’t want the police out looking for me, which is what’s happened the past when I’ve gone missing. It is incredibly embarrassing.
I talked myself down and went home, but I’d already had a fair bit to drink and had taken a few Lorazepam. So when I got home, my judgement was impaired. I knew I should call out, but I was too ashamed. I even dialled the Samaritans, but couldn’t bring myself to say anything. When my wife got home, I was in bed, crying and could only tell her I wanted to die.
Then, when she went to call the mental health crisis team (what I’ve been told we should do in this sort of scenario) I did something really shitty. I took a load of Quetiapine that I had beside the bed. So while she was desperately begging an unsympathetic call handler to help her keep me safe, I was in the other room doing exactly what she was most scared of. I can’t forgive myself for that.
The crisis team were as crap as they always are. They wouldn’t send anyone to the house, but said we had to go to a support centre called the ‘safe haven’ to get help. Apparently there would be a CPN there who could assess me. So accessing help in this kind of crisis relies on a person being able to get up and out of the house and make their way to one of these places. It requires walking into a strange place full of strange people and declaring that you want to kill yourself. I can’t believe that anyone thinks this is acceptable.
The walk in centre was a shithole of a place. Low ceilings, low lighting, tatty furniture and a lot of drug addicts hanging around. Don’t get me wrong, the drug addicts were nice enough, but they seemed to be there for more of a social event than to get urgent care. They were rowdy, laughing and joking together. They all knew each other.
It was likely the effect of the drugs I had overdosed on, but I felt utterly paranoid. It seemed like everyone was staring at me and talking about me. I felt like I had no control at all over what was happening. I couldn’t stand up. I couldn’t stay conscious for more than about 5 seconds at a time. When people spoke to me, I could hear them but I couldn’t respond. My words just came out as slurred noises. It was so frightening.
On top of that, my body was having some kind of response to the medication and I was having these horrible muscle spasms. My wife repeatedly asked the staff if we should stay to see the CPN or go to the hospital. They all said I would receive better care if we stayed for a psychiatric assessment. Eventually, we saw the nurse. He quickly realised there was no point trying to ask me anything. I was getting increasingly distressed by my physical symptoms and the fact that I couldn’t make myself understood, and he sent us straight to the hospital.
I felt traumatised when I got home. Despite being inebriated, I could remember it all, and in particular the sense of helplessness. I had a fitful sleep, because I kept dreaming about what had happened, waking with the relief that it was just a dream, only to notice the ECG stickers on my body and the needle marks from the hospital. It happened every time I fell asleep, and each time evoked panic, relief and then dread. Dread at the realisation I had done it again. Dread that the horrible dream was real.
It’s hard to move on from this. It was hard to see J on Wednesday and confess that it had happened again. It’s hard that my wife is so worried about me and is scared for me to be alone. It’s hard to feel as though I have broken her trust and let her down. I know hating myself isn’t useful, but I just can’t help it right now.
Photo: Carolyn Saxby, Creative Commons.