On Tuesday I decided that I was finally going to kill myself. I didn’t think about self-harm, or poisoning myself with an almost-fatal overdose as I have in the past. This time, I was resolved to really go through with it.
It’s not like I haven’t made plans for this; suicidal fantasies, schemes and logistics go through my head at some point almost every day. That’s been happening on and off for years now. I’ve read all the info online about stats and success rates, the risks and implications of failing at each particular method. That’s a morbid pastime, but one that is darkly comforting when I am in a bad place.
I was supposed to have therapy on Tuesday afternoon, and for a while I thought I would skip it and just set my plan into action. I had a few drinks. That mellowed me, but unsurprisingly didn’t lighten my mood. I thought about J and about therapy, and realised that I wanted to go to my session, just to see her one last time. I wanted to tell her I am grateful for her help. I wanted to make sure she knew that I felt she had done all she could for me. I suppose a part of me was looking for a way to minimise the impact on her (clearly a pretty irrational part). And there’s no doubt that an unnoticed part wanted the chance to change my mind.
Anyway, I went to the session and it was really tough. J remarked that she had never seen me looking so sad. I think in that moment, I was mostly sad about the fact I would never see her again. I respect J too much to lie to her, so I did end up telling her I was feeling suicidal.
I cried a little. I got a bit angry as well, when she asked me to ‘consider my options’, because I felt I had none. It frustrated me when she suggested I look at it from a thinking place, not a feeling one. A tiny part of me wanted her to dissuade me, to care enough to intervene, while the larger part wanted to tell her to f*ck off. For that part, no alternative would feel like an adequate option.
The conversation mostly went around in circles, as I was too sunk into that darkness to see beyond what was submerging me. Now, I can see that a whole load of things combined on Tuesday to create this crisis.
- My sister was due to have her baby – that was bringing up a lot of difficult stuff for me around the family.
- On Monday I’d called my grandad to wish him a happy birthday, and he’d talked to me about how adorable my brother’s baby is and how they’d all been for a celebration lunch together at the weekend. It’s painful to hear repeatedly from family who still enjoy spending time with my abuser and see no issue with him being a father.
- I had some emails from work that highlighted how my work is being done to a pretty reasonable standard by my colleagues while I’m on leave. It left me feeling like they don’t need me or miss me and there won’t be a place for me to return.
- I heard from another colleague, who just got the promotion I was recently told I will never get because I’m unable to work full-time. It was hard not to compare and despair.
- I am still not talking to my mum. I can’t face having a conversation with her at the moment, as I feel too angry. At the same time, I’m missing her. It feels like there’s no easy solution that will enable me to have a relationship with her again.
- My wife had a long weekend. While I love my wife, I think I felt quite stifled by three days of us being together and not doing very much. I didn’t get the opportunity to self-harm (which I’ve been doing quite a bit recently) because she was home. I think that created a bit of a build up of pressure that could suddenly release when she left on Tuesday.
- I binged on sweets at the weekend, which made me feel terrible about myself. When I don’t restrict food, I feel like I’m out of control. I feel like I am failing, especially when I eat such calorific stuff.
- My blood tests came back for my ED referral and the nurse told me they are all ‘normal’. I interpreted that as ‘stop wasting our time, there is nothing wrong with you’, or even worse – an indication that I’m not starving myself enough to do the desired level of damage (or any damage at all). Absurdly, I felt I was failing at anorexia, as well as all the other parts of life.
That’s quite a lot of things when I write it out. None of them huge, but stirred up together, they produced a potent cocktail of despair, anger and hopelessness.
Obviously the fact that I’m writing this means you know already that I didn’t go through with my plans. I was open with J when she asked how safe I was feeling as we finished our session. I think that’s the first time I have ever told her I was feeling very unsafe. In the past, I haven’t wanted her to think I was being manipulative or melodramatic, so I’ve left a session feeling actively suicidal by giving her a politician’s response to the question.
Maybe this time was different because I felt I was genuinely going to end it if she didn’t help me stay safe. Those urges weren’t parasuicidial. Or maybe our relationship has changed and I am finding it easier to tell her things I know she won’t want to hear. Either way, it meant I went home, because I’d agreed I would, and I checked in with her a few times while I waited for my wife to get in from work.
Once I was home, I thought of running away, and even packed a bag. I got some warm layers on and said goodbye to my dog. Then I imagined how terrified my wife would feel when she got home and I was missing. I stopped and took some deep breaths. I called Samaritans, but couldn’t make myself say anything to them. I suddenly felt ridiculous and childish and ashamed.
It dawned on me that I was not thinking straight at all when I reviewed what I’d packed in my bag; my journal, money, loads of pills, a cuddly toy, a blanket belonging to J, some crisps and some chocolate. Aside from those pills, I reckon that’s pretty much what an 11 year old would pack to run away. And it’s more than likely it was the traumatised little girl in me that was driving my actions right then.
After all the drama and deliberating, the worst I did was cutting myself. I cut myself a lot of times, and more deeply than usual, but given all the alternatives I don’t think that was a bad outcome. I then curled up in bed and cuddled my dog until my wife got home to keep me safe.
That all feels pretty embarrassing now. But I’m trying not to beat myself up over it. I’ve spent the last few days trying to recuperate and rebuild some resilience. I know I need to keep reminding myself that although it was a terrible day, I got through it. And yes, I know it will probably happen again, but I can keep telling myself that when it does, I will get through it just like I did this week. It’s frightening, exhausting and humiliating when it happens, but all I can do right now is focus on the fact that I’ve survived it so many times and I will survive it again.
Photo: Michio Morimoto, Creative Commons.