(Trigger warning: Description of a suicide attempt, some readers may find this upsetting – please close the page if this is the case.)
15th November 2012. It was the day before mine and The Ex’s 3rd anniversary, and things weren’t good. They hadn’t been good for some time, but I think we were both just in denial about the state of our relationship. I woke up that morning and knew something was wrong though, more so than usual but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
On that day, a close friend of mine was admitted into hospital after taking a massive overdose and I could see her friends were in so much pain from her situation. I wrote a massive blog post (on a blog I kept detailing my history with depression) begging her to get help, and calling her out in an attempt to shock her into seeing how much damage she was doing to herself and everyone around her. Through her boyfriend, she was furious and told me to take it down.
I was juggling so many emotions at the time. It had only been a few months since I’d returned to work after a four month recovery from a mental breakdown and things were still rough for me. I was still self-harming in response to The Ex talking to the American – a girl who had tried to split us up when we first got together, and had openly told me that she couldn’t give up talking to MY boyfriend because he ‘was like heroin’ to her – and he refused to let up despite the pain it caused me. I was also exchanging sexually explicit emails with a close male friend of mine, because despite feeling repulsive and unwanted, he made me feel beautiful whenever we spoke. I was deeply unhappy.
The Ex got ready for work with barely a word to me, despite my attempts to poke him for information. I was sure he knew about the emails. In one way, I didn’t care because he was hurting me so this was hurting him back. But I loved him and I didn’t want this to carry on. He went to work. I continued to bug him through text, asking him over and over. It was like I suspected – just as I’d been scouring his emails for his messages to the American, he turned the tables and went through mine. He insisted that things would be fine, and we’d talk about it when he got home.
You selfish bitch. I berated myself, pulling at my hair and slapping myself in the face. You selfish, spiteful little slut. Why would you do this to him? You need to fix this. You need to make this right. He told me not to do anything stupid. I was racked with guilt, shame and fear. I couldn’t face him. I told my dogs that I was going to make it right. I grabbed some of my mom’s antidepressants – dosulepin, a very old treatment for depression – and took one after another, sobbing between gulps. Fight or flight, that’s all that went through my system, and all I wanted to do was die. But just like that, I snapped out of it and was desperately trying to throw up the tablets I’d taken – around 15 in total – but I couldn’t. I called my mom and told her what I’d done (“You stupid, selfish girl!”) and waited for her to come home from my nan’s.
I called the GP and they told me to either call an ambulance or just get myself to the hospital as soon as possible. When Mom came in, she continued to yell at me, so I told her I was going to take myself to A&E without her. She spat that I was being spiteful, and I was – I needed her to support me, not scold me. As I left the house, I told her not to tell The Ex, because he’d just be angry with me.
It was so surreal, paying for my taxi and walking into A&E, booking myself in (“I’ve taken an overdose and I was told to come here… is that okay?”) and just sitting in the waiting room for my name to be called. My mobile was dying and I hadn’t thought of bringing a charger with me – in fact, I didn’t have much with me. Clean knickers, some face wipes, my purse, lip balm, notebook and my half-dead phone. I was drifting in and out of sleep as my mom’s meds began to take hold, before I was called in to the assessment room by a male doctor. I rattled off what I’d taken and why, he took my venlafaxine off me as well as the remaining dosulepin tablets.
And that’s when it all goes a bit fuzzy.
The next thing I remember is being wheeled into resuscitation by a very nice porter who tried to keep me awake. A nurse helped me get out of my t-shirt into a hospital gown before hooking me up to the ECG machine, taking my stats and even giving me my phone to text Mom. I told her where I was, and to tell The Ex not to come to the hospital because I couldn’t face him.
My phone somehow ended up back in my bag as I floated back into conciousness to a nurse trying to take blood from my arm to no avail. She told me very gently that she would have to go into my wrist, to which I groaned against but I was once again out like a light. I woke again, still there but this time with several marks where the nurse had tried to take blood from me, along with an IV of fluids hooked into my other arm. I tried to ask what was going on, but everything was so hazy, almost dreamlike as I looked around me. Another drop into sleep, before the porter was back to take me to the immediate care unit. I don’t know how it happened, but I ended up in a bed with the cover over me, with my jeans still on under my gown and a very heavy head.
Nurses were keeping an eye on me all night, and once again one of them handed me my phone. Mom had texted me, telling me that The Ex was outside the unit trying to get in but not being allowed. I said I didn’t want him there, and told them to turn him away. Later, she told me that he’d come home in pieces and had gone straight to bed. I missed him so much but I couldn’t face him. I fell in and out of sleep, my mouth dry and my head sore. A lovely night doctor came and brought me a sandwich, which I scoffed before passing out again. I didn’t see her again but I really wanted to thank her.
The on-call psychiatrist came to see me, and by this point the intense shame and despair I felt as I took the tablets had all but gone. I gave him a very TL:DR version of my mental health history, and spoke about what had drove me to take an overdose but insisted that I was doing okay at that point. I just wanted to sleep and go home. Looking back, I wonder why he never followed my comments up as I was showing really obvious borderline traits that evening. He was very lovely though, said that the tablets would be flushed out of my system and although I’d taken a nearly fatal dose, there would be no lasting damage.
I slept as much as I could – there was a woman in the four-bed room squealing like Orville the Duck about how she wanted to go home pretty much all night, until another woman shouted at her to ‘shut the fuck up and go the fuck to sleep’ as I giggled in a slurred and drugged up fashion. I turned my phone on to two of the saddest things I have seen in my life. A text off The Ex saying ‘Happy 3rd Anniversary – here’s to many more together. I love you x’ and a tweet saying the same. Why wasn’t I dead?
Morning came with orderlies bringing around breakfast and tea. I asked for cornflakes with cold milk, though he insisted on giving me hot milk – have you tried cornflakes with hot milk? It’s gross. Don’t do it to yourself. I also had a cup of tea and loads of water, before noticing my IV was gone, replaced with a plaster, and all my ECG tabs were gone too. I had been really out of it. I was given some towels and soap to go and shower, which I was grateful for as I had sweated all night, although it was weird walking across the hall in a busy ward afterwards in nothing but a hospital nightie and not feeling as clean as I would had I showered at home.
The nurse told me I was being discharged as she gave me my meds, I just had to wait for the doctor to sign me out. Another fifteen minutes passed and I was out. I called Mom on a payphone (not many of them around anymore) and she was grateful to hear that I was coming home, else she would have come in with things for me. I got in a taxi and came home to my mom and The Ex, who even after everything could still not tell me what he was thinking or feeling.
The epilogue of these events? My hospitalised friend was eventually diagnosed herself with BPD, the emails between me and the friend stopped as he was concerned for my health, and a dive back into The Ex’s emails showed me that he had been talking to the American that night I was in hospital – she berated me for my ‘selfish’ actions and he let her do so. We would split at the end of January 2013. I went back on my medication, work became tense as my colleagues struggled to work alongside me after my attempt. I began to get closer to MFP.
Honestly, I’m surprised that I was in and out of hospital so easily. The one thing I’ve struggled with over the many years of dealing with my mental health is that doctors, nurses, therapists and psychiatrists have all taken my self-awareness and apparent eloquence as a sign of being high functioning enough to help myself. The truth is, I’ve always needed more help than I get. I tried to admit myself earlier in 2012 when I was regularly slicing at my wrists, but Mom refused to let me as her own experiences in a psychiatric ward jaded her views. There have been plenty of times over the years where I’ve wanted to admit myself, there were a few instances where I honestly thought they’d keep me in hospital, but it never happened. I’ve had to learn to look after myself because that’s just how life has been.
A lot of people have extended stays in hospital. Others have short stays like I did. I’ve read plenty of negative experiences, but an equal number of positive ones too. Some of my online friends have told me how staying in hospital saved their lives. It gave them the chance to be the centre of their treatment and get the medical attention they needed the most.
I just wanted to share my very brief, dazed stay in hospital. I’m grateful to the staff who looked after me, and although I still struggle not to feel shame that I felt at the time, I lived through it and my life couldn’t be further than what it was at that very low moment.