It’s been 3 years…

Today marks 3 years since the suicide attempt that nearly killed me. It was my third attempt that week, though the first two were more like practice runs to gauge how much medication I needed to take. I had prepared for that day for months, I had spent hours on a suicide note, wanting my last words to be exactly right, everything was ready and I was ready to die.

My memory of it is fuzzy, I remember only brief flashbacks. I don’t even remember getting all the medication out the packet and taking it, the first thing I remember is being slapped in the face in the car by my mum to try and keep me awake on the way to the hospital. I remember a Muslim porter at the hospital praying over me in the lift as I was taken to intensive care. And the next thing I remember is waking up to see my school counsellor at my bedside, the first thing I said to her with tears streaming down my face was ‘why am I alive?’

The pain had pushed me to the edge and then it pushed me off, I felt like there was no other way out, I felt like I had no choice. If I wanted to get rid of the pain my only option was to die and that seemed like the best option for me.

Since that day 3 years ago it hasn’t been easy, I try to keep my head above the water however sometimes I start to drown in the negativity I am so prone to. Though there has been periods of time since moving back to England 2 and a half years ago that I have felt mostly okay despite pain, that I have felt happy despite pain, that I have felt able to cope. So I know it is possible and I just have to keep working on it constantly and try not to drown in darkness that is sometimes oh so comfortable.

My journey with my never ending headache has been hard it’s been over 5 and a half years now and it’s unlikely that I will get better. But I have survived this far and I don’t want my headache to win, because I know I can be happy despite it so I will keep fighting for that.

I will leave you with my favourite quote which helps ground me on bad days:
On particularly rough days when I am sure I can’t possibly endure, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through bad days so far is 100%, and that’s pretty good.

Two years ago.

Two years ago tomorrow I came back to England from Dubai. I was incredibly suicidal and yet again it wasn’t safe for me to be in Dubai where mental health care is lacking and suicide is illegal. Having only just got away with it in September 2012 when I overdosed and ended up in intensive care. I didn’t want to come back to England, actually I loathed the idea. I wasn’t expecting to stay longer than a few weeks, so when I was told by the mental health people I started seeing here that it would take way longer than that, I was distraught. Dubai was my home and I hated England.
The mental health team were useless anyway and didn’t help so eventually I got rid of them and found a private psychologist who specialised in treating people with chronic pain. I hit the jackpot and she was/is great. She has helped me immensely with being accepting of my condition and learning to live a good and happy life despite pain. Taking every day as it comes, and incorporating mindfulness and pain management techniques into my life, which help a lot.

I never thought any of this would be possible for me, for me to be in pain but to be okay, to be happy. It is highly likely I will be in pain for the rest of my life, but that’s okay because I can cope, I can be happy and I can live a full life despite chronic pain. I still have bad days, bad pain days, flare ups which last weeks/months, days where I’m in a bad mood because of it. But that comes with the territory of chronic pain and not every day is bad.

After dropping out of school back in September 2012 after my overdose I never thought I would be back in education ever again. But I am, I’m at college and I’m doing well at college and hope to go to university after I finish my course in a years time.

I’ve come so far over the past two years, there has been many ups and downs and it has been an incredibly hard journey over the past five years since I got sick to get to this place. However I hope that maybe I am a better person for it. For what I’ve achieved and how far I’ve come.

None of this would have been possible for me if I hadn’t moved back, if I didn’t have the support from the people I do, my family, my school counsellor and my psychologist who support me every step of the way. In order to move back we had to split my family up, my mum lives in England with me and my Dad and sister in Dubai, it’s been hard on my parents and it’s been hard on my sister not having my mum there with her all the time. I feel bad about it but I can’t appreciate what they have done for me enough. I would never have got to this place without moving back and I can’t thank them all enough.

I am the never ending headache, but I have accepted that.
I may always be the never ending headache, but I can live my life as best as possible despite it.
I can have NDPH and be okay, I know that now.

Forever proving myself wrong.

Just over a year ago now I was hording medication to kill myself with, I was ready to end it all again, to end the pain and suffering and to just not be here anymore. It was around this time last year that something changed in me, all the work I had done with my psychologist finally made sense and I wanted to get better emotionally. So I threw away all the medication and decided to try and turn my miserable life around into a life of acceptance and peace despite pain; though it has been a bumpy road that has had many ups and downs.

This time last year I applied to go to college and to my surprise I got in to do an Access Course to get me qualifications to get into university on. After dropping out of school in 2012 after my overdose I never thought I would be able to go back to education, I never thought I would get anywhere in life. I thought I was doomed to spend the rest of my life in bed living off my parents due to pain and depression. I had a lot of anxiety surrounding going back to education, about whether I would be able to do it, would I be able to cope with studying and the pain. In September I started my course full time (4 days a week for 1 year), I found it to be too much to handle so made the sensible decision to drop to doing it part time (2 days a week for 2 years), which has suited me much better at the minute.
I doubt myself a lot, the problem is I don’t believe in myself, I don’t believe I can achieve anything. For years my life was a string of what I saw as failures, for example, I was unable to complete my A levels 3 times and I ended up dropping out of school. Those being my two biggest issues, so my fear of going back to education when I hadn’t had much luck or success with it in the past I think were pretty valid. I also didn’t believe that my brain worked properly anymore, I didn’t believe I could learn because of the pain, I felt stupid and didn’t believe I would be able to achieve good grades in going back to education. I still struggle with this despite proving myself wrong at every turn.
As it turns out I have got the highest grade there is on nearly all of the assignments I have done, and the one where I got the second highest grade I only just narrowly missed out on the highest one. I didn’t expect to get grades as good as that, I doubted myself and didn’t believe in myself and my abilities, every assignment I expected to fail, so you can imagine my surprise when it turns out not only did I pass but I got the highest grades possible in the majority of them.

I have proven myself wrong in that I have been able to cope with college and that I have been able to achieve high grades despite never thinking I could do this with the pain.
My old GP in Dubai who is a lovely woman and I am actually on a first name basis with, once said that I am not an ‘average joe’ that I am incredibly insightful, intelligent and mature and that I have a hell of a lot to offer the world, that I have something special that a lot of people don’t have, and she said she hoped that I could one day show the world what I am about. Part of me is inclined not to believe the words she once said to me, but that’s because I doubt myself so much and have a lack of a belief in myself. People tell me all the time that I’m strong, that I’m special, that they are proud of me, that they have great hopes for my future, however I tend not to believe them. Everyone else seems to believe in me, so why can’t I believe in myself.

I need to start having more faith in myself and my abilities because I am capable of achieving things despite pain, and it has become clear that I am forever proving myself wrong. I have come so far since this time last year when I never thought that any of this would be possible for me.

World suicide prevention day.

I am disrupting my doctors blog series to talk about a day that has great significance to me, today is world suicide prevention day.
As many of you know I am a suicide survivor myself, having tried to take my life three times in September 2012, the last attempt landing me in the ICU in hospital for a week. I’m a bit fuzzy on the details but after taking a rather large overdose I passed out unconscious, I don’t know how long I was unconscious before I was found, and it’s not something I like to ask my mum about the details of because well as you can imagine it’s a bit of a touchy subject for her to say the least. I do remember several flashbacks though, I remember briefly coming to several times in the car on the way hospital, I was angry, I was shouting at my mum who was slapping me to keep me awake, I was shouting ‘fuck off, leave me alone’. I didn’t want to be saved I just wanted to die and in my eyes they weren’t letting me so I was angry at them for that, at the time anyway. A lot of the next bit is a blur, I remember being in hospital and being taken somewhere in my bed still in and out of consciousness, angry and not letting anyone touch me so they nearly restrained me to the bed. But I remember the porter taking me somewhere and he was praying over my bed, praying that I would survive. I don’t remember much else other than waking up briefly and my mum asking me what I wanted, I asked for my school counsellor and the next thing I knew she was there at my bedside, she then proceeded to wipe away my tears when I was asking her why I was alive, probably the only time in over 4 years that she has seen me cry. It was kept very hush hush what I did because of legal reasons of the country I was living in, but I got visit from my GP and my psychologist and my two best friends.

I was in such a dark place with my depression, caused by the pain I was in all the time, I couldn’t cope and I didn’t want to continue living if all my life was going to consist of was more severe pain and the misery that came with it. I had no hope, no hope that things would ever get better, no hope for my future because I didn’t want the future I could see that was in store for me. And I felt so desperately helpless, it seemed like no one could help and things would always be like this. I had planned my attempt for over a year, I was upset and angry that it hadn’t worked and that I was alive.

Chronic pain/illness can leave us feeling so desperately hopeless, helpless and alone so much so that we don’t want to live anymore and often people become suicidal, I did, I know what it’s like. But I’ve come to see that we don’t have to get better physically to be able to live a happy and full life despite our pain and limitations. There is hope and we can still achieve what we want to achieve. It’s possible even though it may seem like it’s not, I never thought it was but it is and I am proof. You may not recover from the chronic pain/illness but you can recover from depression, it’s not easy but it’s worth it.

To Write Love On Her Arms are a non profit organisation for the awareness of mental health, addiction, self harm and suicide are an organisation that I think are amazing. They are running a campaign right now for National suicide prevention week called No One Else, it’s message is that no one else can play your part, that your story is yours and it is important and people should hear it, you matter and your story matters, your pain and your hope matters. I think that is a very important message for people struggling with depression and things like feeling suicidal.

I don’t feel ashamed of my attempt on my life at all, though it’s not something I tell people I meet it is something I will talk openly about if I want or need to. There is so much stigma around suicide, it is such a taboo subject however it affects millions of people but no one feels able to talk about it for fear of being judged or shunned, I think that needs to change. Yes it’s not a very pleasant subject to talk about but people with depression feel like they can’t talk to anyone about what they are feeling because they fear they will be judged for it, for feeling the way they do, which in turn just makes you more depressed which doesn’t help. 1 in 4 people are affected by mental illness which is a staggering number, but it is a subject that people don’t speak about making the people that suffer feel more and more alone.
Take a moment in your day to smile at someone, to ask someone if they are okay and really mean it, no just one of them  quick ‘Hi, how are you?’ comments where you don’t actually really care for the true answer. It could make all the difference to someone struggling. Be kind, always, for everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

Decisions.

I hate making decisions, I always worry that I will make the wrong one and that will lead me down a completely different path in life. And then I worry whether or not that is down the right path and how sometimes a single decision can alter your life.
I often wonder what would have happened if I had never moved to Dubai, would I have got sick, would the things that have happened in the last 5 years still have happened if I hadn’t moved. It’s not really healthy to think like that though, to wonder what could have been if you had just made one different decision.

I’ve made some big decisions in the past 5 years, some pretty bad ones like self harming, and several overdoses, though I have made some good and healthy decisions too. Like dropping out of school (doesn’t sound good but it was the right thing for me at the time, so therefore is a good decision), and most recently, stopping my search for answers and an effective treatment, coming off all the meds that were just making things worse, learning acceptance and learning to try and move on with my life despite the pain, not letting myself be defined and held back by the pain anymore, having a more positive outlook on life, deciding to go back to school and getting myself a job, to name a few.

For a long time I dwelled on all the negatives in my life and the bad decisions I had made, I let myself be consumed by the negativity in my life and failed to see the positives in anything, which is easily done, if anything it’s the easier option. I’ve learnt not to let the flare ups drag me down deep into depression like they did so easily before. We all have bad days and that’s okay, that’s normal for people with chronic pain/illness. I still get them too, bad pain days, days where I feel a bit down, it’s hard but I try to focus on other things and not the pain, getting through each moment and taking it day by day. That makes the pain easier to cope with, I know I can get through the bad pain days because I’ve done it so many times before, and once you think of it like that the bad days get easier to cope with. Though sometimes the pain gets the best of me when it’s really severe and it becomes harder, harder to think straight, harder to remain positive when faced with severe pain, harder to distract myself and not think about the pain, so at that point I lie in bed and try my best to distract myself with nice things. And then that’s where hope comes in and hope is a powerful emotion to hold on to, I hope that tomorrow it will be easier, and the pain will decrease by the time I wake up in the morning. I know hope is so very hard to hold on to when you are in a lot of pain and it never seems to get easier and I know it’s hard to remain positive and that acceptance may seem impossible, but I promise you it isn’t and that if you let acceptance in things only get easier. And I promise you that acceptance will be one of the best decisions you ever make, not easy but worth it.

The brightest smile, sometimes hides the most pain.

I was saddened to hear of Robin Williams’ death, I grew up watching many of his movies, movies that still to this day I love. By now we all know that he hanged himself, that he was battling depression for a long time. Suicide and depression are something that hits very close to home for me, after suffering for years myself and the attempts I made on my own life in 2012 several times.

Sometimes the people with the brightest smile are in fact the people that hide the most pain, they put on a happy smiley front for everyone else to see, when in fact inside they are feeling completely the opposite. Suicide isn’t necessarily about death, it’s more about stopping the pain that you are feeling, you feel like you can’t cope with the pain anymore, chronic pain or emotional pain. A lot of people don’t understand how someone could even consider taking their own life, that it’s selfish. And in a way that’s sometimes a good thing because they have never gotten to that place where everything is so painful, that there is no hope for things to get better and death seems better because there is no pain.
As a suicide survivor myself I understand why suicide makes sense to a lot of people suffering, I understand that need to end the pain and I don’t believe that it is necessarily selfish either. However I do believe that things can get better if you let them, if you ask for help. However there have been times in my past with my depression that I have been so deeply and desperately depressed that I didn’t want any help, that I just wanted to let my depression continue to spiral me downwards into a deep dark pit which I never wanted to get out of, so I get that too.

It’s okay not to be okay, but you need to be able to recognise when you can’t get through this on your own, when you need a bit of help and someone to talk to. You have heard me talk about it before, but I’m a huge believer in therapy, and how it can make the difference between life and death, because it did for me. And I know going to therapy may seem like a big scary step but really it’s the first step towards hopefully things getting better, in a lot of cases anyway.

There’s one thing I hope everyone takes from Robin Williams’ death and that is that mental illness’ can affect anyone, that everyone is fighting a battle most know nothing about. That people put on a front to hide what is really there, with a smile or by using the almost code words of ‘I’m just tired’. I know, I use to say it all the time and it hardly ever means that you are actually just tired. So take a moment, ask that person who just told you they are ‘just tired’ if they are really okay, it might make all the difference. I know I would have felt like someone actually cared if someone had cared enough to en-quire about if I was really okay or not.

This post is dedicated to Robin Williams, may you rest in peace.

Achievements.

When suffering from chronic pain/illness it’s important that you recognise your achievements no matter how small. For a long time I believed that I had no achievements in the past 4 and a half years. My school counsellor would always tell me I had loads of achievements and listed off a reel of things, however I never saw this all I saw were my failures, one after another. Several of what I thought my failures were included:
– Not completing school and my A levels
– Only completing one A level when everyone else could do three or four
– Not being able to cope with school
– Trying to kill myself
– Dropping out of school
– Having to move back to England due to my mental health
To me these were huge failures and they dominated my mind for a long time. Now looking back I can see my achievements of that time and my most recent achievements. Some of these include:
– I got out of bed everyday and went to school no matter how I was feeling I turned up (I wasn’t very productive but I went to school everyday without fail)
– I completed my GCSE’s with all grades above a C
– I asked for help by going to see the school counsellor
– Completing one A level despite my circumstances
– I started working helping teach Taekwondo in Dubai for 6 months
– I handed over medication in April 2013 when I had the chance to hoard/take it all
– I came back to England for help
– I started therapy in England
– I stopped self harming
– I threw away a bunch of hoarded medication and chose to live instead
– I gained a new positive outlook
– I accepted the pain and chose to live despite it
– I applied and got into college starting in September
Some of these achievements are small and some life changing. It’s important to recognise both and no matter how small they are. They may be hard to see, it’s only now looking back that I can recognise my achievements, for a long time all I saw was a string of failures. Start with seeing something small as an achievement, like for example something as simple as getting out of bed on a really rough day. If you suffer from chronic pain/illness sometimes getting out of bed can be the hardest thing so really it’s not a small achievement if you get out of bed it’s actually a huge achievement even though you may not see it as that.

For a long time I was so focused on all my failures or rather what I thought were my failures that I couldn’t see any achievements. You may be the same but I guarantee you they are there, you just have to look a little closer.