TW: contains detailed descriptions of self harm. Please proceed only if you are comfortable with the subject matter.
I thought I’d use this post as an attempt to describe to you what things look like when I feel the kind of desperation that makes you look skyward (regardless of faith or religion) and pray that someone, somewhere will take away the pain.
I had one of those days this last Wednesday.
I woke, instantly knowing that ‘today was the worst kind of day’. I knew I needed contact with someone so immediately dialled my surgery, managing to get an appointment with my own GP at 4:10pm. On hanging up the phone, I realised this was too long to wait…I didn’t know if I could get to 4:10…I didn’t know if I would live that long. So I called my CPN whose status was ‘out of the office’. Probing further, the length of said status seemed to be indeterminate.
That was no use…what next? A shower. So I gathered my things, washed, dressed and brushed my teeth. Looking like a fraction of a human being and feeling like the Duracell Bunny full of Duracell, I grabbed my SH ‘equipment’ along with some wound dressings, got in the car and drove to the beach. I parked the car somewhere quiet, rolled up my sleeve and began the ritual of creating a cut. Using my Mindfulness Breathing to help with the pain (ironic, right?), I achieved a wound of decent depth and immediately froze…what in the name of God was I doing? There was already blood running everywhere – my clothes, the seat of my car…what if someone came along and called the police? Or an ambulance? I didn’t want to go to hospital but I was hardly likely to be able to explain myself in a coherent and rational manner. What other reason did I have for being in my car, with a blade at my wrist, bleeding everywhere, but to cause myself, at the very least, harm?
As best I could, I dressed the wound and cleaned up the mess. Think, think, think…what to do? There was A&E, but that is and always will be a last resort. There was the option to go home and ask my brother for help, but he’s busy with his final year at Uni. There was my cousin, but she has two babies to look after and doesn’t need a third burden. Then it dawned on me that I wasn’t too far from the surgery. I could get out of the car and walk there, ask to be seen. If it came to it, I’d simply say I didn’t feel safe.
So I did. With legs that seemed to have no substance, I walked the 10 minutes from where I was to the surgery. I was met by a receptionist who said she had no appointments. I told her it was urgent, that I’d even see a nurse if need be. She asked me what it was about…she was joking, right? In front of a waiting room full of people and with a queue behind me, she wanted me to tell her why I needed a Doctor there and then? She must have correctly understood the look on my face, suggesting a ‘private room’ where someone could chat to me. I (and this is no exaggeration) bore my sole to this stranger in front of me, including showing her my wound. I’m in and out of the surgery frequently, and often wonder if the different receptionists and admin staff know why…they do now! After she had consulted with the Duty Doctor, I was told to sit in the waiting room and I would be seen as soon as possible.
What happened next isn’t really relevant to this post. I wanted you to be aware of what Mental Illness has done to me. The ‘real’ me would never have been so bold as to walk into a surgery and refuse to leave until I’d been seen. In fact, the ‘real’ me is the very opposite of this person. This illness has taken EVERYTHING from me…dignity, integrity, rationale, concentration, purpose…EVERYTHING.