Trigger warning: please don’t read if you will be affected by talk of suicide.
Three years ago today I attempted suicide. I took a lot of tablets at home whilst my mum and sister were at work but my dad and brother were home. My mum came home and felt like she should check on me (I was 16 at the time and my sleeping pattern was very unpredictable due to my M.E so although it was lunchtime, it wasn’t unusual for me to still be asleep) and found me in my room. She couldn’t find a pulse and she had to perform CPR whilst my brother phoned for the ambulance. I was taken to hospital via ambulance with my brother and my mum drove behind (my dad is disabled and as it was such an emergency he had to stay home. My mum also knew she would need the car to get my sister from work as soon as she was able to). I don’t remember any of the day or the days that followed and I’m quite glad I don’t. I was almost immediately moved to a hospital about half an hour away from our house as our local hospital was equipped to provide the care I needed. Due to the amount of medication I took, I was in a drug induced coma and on a ventilator. My mum was told that someone had overdosed on the same medication but had taken half of what I had taken and sadly, they had died. My family were constantly by my side in the ICU and from what I’ve heard, the nurses and staff there were phenomenal. They gave my mum a little diary to record what happened each day (‘you moved your hand today’ ‘sissy read to you’ ‘you had a blood transfusion today’) and after nine days they decided to try and take me off the ventilator.My mum was with me and thankfully, as they reduced the breathing support, I took over and started breathing for myself. I was in the ICU for two more days as they thought I had an infection and during that time, everyone realised I wasn’t mentally well. I wasn’t making sense which I think initially was put down to me only just waking up, but the longer it went on, they realised something was wrong. I was talking about things that nobody else could see and was very delusional. I was evaluated and diagnosed with psychosis. I remember bits and pieces about these days but it’s very hard to explain what it feels like when you’re psychotic. I thought that parts of my body were being swapped with other people’s, at one point I was convinced I was on big brother and there were cameras everywhere, I was convinced my sister was dating Harry Styles and that she’d just come back from a holiday with him. These things are amusing now to me now but there were also darker things which were extremely scary to experience. I was completely and utterly convinced that everything I felt was real and having family/staff say things like ‘there’s nobody there’ or ‘I promise that’s not true’ only made me feel like they were in on the conspiracy.
I turned 17 whilst in ICU and the nurses decorated my room (I was in the side room at this point, I had woken up a few days before and it was when they thought I had an infection). I spent most of my birthday asleep and my mum has since told me that I was very on edge as I was waiting to be moved out of ICU back to our local hospital. On and off all day, my family were told transport was coming and then it wouldn’t turn up! I was eventually moved that evening.
I remember a little bit about the ambulance ride back to my local hospital, a lovely nursed was with me but I was terrified. My mum was meeting us at the hospital and I thought that I was being followed and didn’t want my mum to be spotted by them. I was very thin before I was admitted and had lost even more weight whilst in the coma so I was constantly cold and had wrapped myself up like a little burrito in a hospital blanket and the ambulance men let me keep it.
I was admitted onto a normal medical ward but my mum says that majority of the patients there were elderly people who were very ill. I was put in a side room with a huge window and little toilet room of my own- I couldn’t use it though, as the light didn’t work I thought that people were secretly taking photos of me. My family tried to make me as comfortable as possible and brought my tv from home to the hospital. Unfortunately, they came back the next day and it was gone! My mum asked the nurses and they told her, I had tried to throw it out the window overnight as I believed there was a camera inside it.
I only spent a few more days in general hospital before I was physically ok and my family were told I would have to be transferred to a psychiatric ward. There weren’t any beds in adolescent wards at the time so I was moved to an adult psychiatric hospital.
I don’t remember anything about the place, I’ve been told I was only there for a day or two and as I was under age, I had a staff member with me 24/7. My family have told me I hated it there and they hated leaving me even more, I think my sister actually contemplated escaping with me in tow! Like I said, I was there for a day or two before a bed was available and I was moved to the adolescent unit.
I’m not going to talk about my time in the adolescent units I was in because that’s a whole other part of my recovery and eventually I’ll make a separate post.
I want to end this post on a positive note. I was very unwell back then but now, three years on, I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time. I don’t believe I would be here without the unwavering support of my family. They all had to see their daughter, sister, cousin, and granddaughter going through things that they couldn’t control or change but they were there every step of the way. I pushed them away again and again because I was in so much pain and without wanting to, I caused them a lot of pain too. But they never gave up. I love them unconditionally.
I also just have to add that all the nurses I remember encountering (and everyone my family remembers that I don’t) were amazing. It can’t have been easy for nurses working on a medical ward to treat a mentally ill 16/17 year old but they were all lovely to me. I never got to thank them myself but I hope they know how grateful I am to them for saving my life.
Lastly, if you are going through something awful right now I am so sorry. But please know that things can and will change if you give them time. I am living proof of that. X