Warning: this post may trigger as has details of mental health/suicide.
I woke up with Maria’s big eyes staring into mine, her head on the pillow and wagging tail hitting the duvet in excited speed, that I opened my eyes. She put a paw on my face and just left it there. To remove the paw from my face I knew to rub her belly. I also knew it was a bad day.
It would take all my mind power to face the outside world and willpower to take Maria for a pee. The clothes I put on smelled. I needed to put a washing on. Why couldn’t I put a washing on. I went through the actions in my mind, of scooping the clothes up, carrying them to the washing machine, squeezing the washing liquid into container, placing inside drum, closing the door and switching on. That’s all I had to do so I didn’t smell my clothes … but I couldn’t do it.
I returned from the backyard with Maria and was about to go back to bed when the buzzer went.
I froze in panic. OMG! Please don’t be for me. I stood by the buzzer and waited. It stopped and then went again. Shit … it is someone for me. I quickly switched the buzzer on silent and looked at Maria in panic. I had to hide but I had a dog. I ran to the living room and ushered Maria inside. She wanted to run to the door, but I cuddled her in, whispering sshhh we have to be quiet. My front door knocked. Oh no. Maria jumped out of my arms and bolted for the front door. Shit. Okay I’m going to tell whoever it is to go away, no matter who it is, I can’t speak to anyone. I walked to the door, with dread and opened it a fraction to say the words please go away. But I saw a big bunch of flowers and I was confused. I peeked out at the man and opened the door further. He presented me with a huge beautiful bunch of flowers in a vase. I took them from him, said thank you and closed the door. I stood at the front door for some time. Not sure what was happening but with a smile across my face. I was smiling. A real smile.
I put the flowers on the kitchen bunker and didn’t have to push rubbish out of the way because my friend had cleaned my kitchen the day before. Not having rubbish over my worktop was a luxury. I looked at the flowers and decided not to get back in bed. Today I would sit upright on my couch. I opened the card.
‘Hope these make you smile, even just for a few minutes J Lots of love from Aunty Ruth and the doggies at Bow Wow x’
The night before I’d published the blog, ‘The truth about my life right now’ and had received hundreds of messages from around the world. People sharing the reality of their mental health, which they kept hidden from the world. I had no idea so many people were experiencing the same as me and I didn’t feel ashamed anymore.
The word inspiration is used a lot to describe me. But it’s only a word and I’ve never been able to see why this word is used for me. But people were sharing exactly how I had inspired them, whether to get on a bike or face and conquer life’s challenges. I had no idea about this and wondered how it was possible. Was it something I wrote? Something I said?
I may have conquered the bed, but sitting on the couch, I knew it was a bad day. I messaged my friend, ‘I’m really bad again … I’m so sorry … could you take Maria out for a walk … I can’t do it.’
My friend came and took Maria for a walk and I was so thankful … to know Maria wasn’t suffering because of me.
When my friend returned, he sat down on the couch defiantly, refusing to leave me.
The first stage of the Tour de Yorkshire was on tele. This comforted me. To watch people riding their bikes. I remembered back to one of the happiest times of my life when I would go out cycling with my local bike club and then spend the afternoon watching the Tour de France from my couch. That was before the therapist.
There was a knocking on my front door. No fckn way. I panicked but couldn’t repeat my previous shenanigans because another human being was there to witness. I opened the door with dread. It was the police. They came in. I was confused. I asked my friend to leave us. The police made calls and asked if I would go with them to the hospital. I haven’t had a mobile phone for months, so I messaged my friend via Facebook … to look after Maria. Once I’m outside I’m on my own.
I struggled to think. The police helped me by advising what I needed to do before leaving … like closing and locking my windows etc. I followed them down the stairs of my close and outside. I saw a police van and was so ashamed, thinking the neighbours would think I had done something wrong. The police man began unlocking the rear door. Dread and panic. I’m not going in there? Am I? Yes, you have to.
Everything within me screamed not to get in the back of the van. But Maria’s face filled my mind and I knew I had to get in the back to get help. I climbed inside the cage, which was a mixture of cold white aluminium of the van and metal wire. Looking through the wire I had reached a new low. I felt like an animal. A criminal. To escape my reality, I went numb and by the time we arrived at hospital, thoughts of getting help had left me completely. I wanted to die but I knew first I had to make a will to ensure Maria was looked after. So, although I wanted to die, I was safe. Or so I thought.
The police waited with me for the couple of hours it took to be seen. I felt bad that I was taking up police time. The police were really good. They treated me with warmth, concern and respect.
Two mental health staff asked me lots of questions in a private room. We discussed my medication and they told me I shouldn’t be having the side effects I’m having. They couldn’t change my medication … it had to be my psychiatrist, but I wasn’t seeing her until June. I was advised I could go to my GP and explain even though they may insist changes of treatment come from my psychiatrist. They said they were recommending one on one support until my group therapy began in two months’ time, but upon checking they saw a one on one appointment with a mental health nurse had already been scheduled for next week.
It was 9 pm and the police were still waiting in the hospital to drive me home. I can’t thank the police enough. I had to get in the back of the van again which was procedure. It was explained that sometimes they have to take people to hospital that are aggressive or violent. Again, I became numb.
Before I walked away from the van to my house the police woman said to me, don’t let tonight put you off, we are here to protect, if you need to call the police please do, we are here to help. I looked at her face and I could see she genuinely did care.
I knew however, that I would never willingly sit in that cage again. If the police were ever sent for me again, they’d have to take me by force and I would become a statistic of being aggressive.
My friend brought Maria back and she ran into the living room, a frenzied tornado of love, jumping all over me, licking me and making excited squealing noises. My friend insisted on staying over on the couch. I didn’t argue.
Soon after arriving home something happened to me. Everything about me was gone and all that was left was taking a knife across my wrists. This was urgent and I had to do it right now. I was so detached that even when I looked at Maria curled up in her bed, I wanted to take a knife across my wrists. I had no feeling, no attachment, nothing.
My friend was crying as he pleaded me not to. That things would get better. His words meant nothing to me. But he remained, in-between me and my actions.
Eventually it passed. Sure, I still wanted to die but I had feelings and attachments to Maria, people and the world around me. I had me.
My friend reminded me how much Maria loved me and how much she needed me to stay alive. I broke down sobbing that she was better off without me. Over a week and a half ago she had developed sores on her ear, which had grown, and the fur had fallen off. I waited to see if it would go down, but it just got worse and for days now I had wanted to take Maria to the vets. But I hadn’t been able to do it. I sobbed that I couldn’t take care of my baby girl. My friend said it would pass and that I wasn’t to worry about Maria, that he would walk her and would take her to the vets the next morning. I worried because I didn’t have any money to pay if there was something wrong and I’m not in a catchment area for PDSA help.
Eventually I went to bed. I wonder. If my friend hadn’t been there at that exact moment, would I be one of the 10% who kill themselves but are known to mental health services.
I’ve begun reading up on suicide via Facebook groups. Not to get facts but to try to understand where society is with it. Are people so desperate and scared because they know they are not getting the help they need? Say one in four people at one point in their lives suffered a broken leg. They go to the doctors and are told they will be waiting 11 months for treatment and in that time the broken leg may deteriate and the more it deteriated the harder it would be to treat. The doctors are not positive what is wrong but there will be no scan and also, statistics say there is a chance you could die from this. Can you imagine the effect on the patient, on their friends and families and workplaces? Can you imagine the worry? Do, you think people would just stand by and allow this to happen? Would the public just stand by and allow this to happen? So why is this happening when it comes to the brain? The brain is one of the most important organs to a human being. It controls everything. Why is my health being discriminated against because my brain illness has been grouped under mental health?
And this will continue, with little treats of progression flung our way, as an answer to protests, until we stand together and demand equality for our health.