CW: Suicide, mental health, depression, anxiety, bipolar, eating disorders, self harm
Yesterday was World Suicide Prevention Day. It is a big day and it is one that should be recognised more. Mental health issues affect 1 in 4 people in their lifetime. This could be a brief period of depression or anxiety, it could be eating disorders, it could be a lifelong condition. The variations are limitless.
This statistic also means that the chances of you coming across someone with ill mental health is humongous. In fact it is more likely than not. Ill mental health doesn’t have a ‘type’, it doesn’t affect only certain kinds of people, it is ruthless. It can hit at any given point and it can take a lot for some people to realise something is wrong.
I have suffered from mental health issues for a long time, and I didn’t realise what was wrong. I just thought I was awful, I didn’t deserve nice things, friends weren’t there because I pushed everyone away, it was my fault I was being bullied… the list goes on. I didn’t realise until people started talking about their own health. I began to read articles, I learnt that self harm was not just cutting. I began to understand, and realise that I might need help.
I have had thoughts of suicide before. I have thought about how to do it, what would be best for everyone else. I am thankfully still here.
When I was around 17 I was on a Harry Potter roleplay site, and I had been for 2 years at this point. This was one of the most supportive places I had been to (outside of my family) up until this point in my life. It was here that I eventually opened up about my self harm and depression. It was also here that I found people who encouraged me to get help. It got to a point where I was so ill, I couldn’t cope with it much longer. My friends on PottersWorld persuaded me to speak to my youth worker and see what help I could get, by this point, I needed it.
I still remember the week leading up to my reveal. It took me days of walking in and back out again, walking in and discussing other things, and avoiding the youth wing all together, before I finally spoke to Michaela. Honestly, I am so glad I did. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done, but one of the best things for me at the same time.
Now, I am not going to tell you everything got better straight away, that would be lying to you. In fact, things got worse first. I started harming more, my depression reached new lows and I was getting out of control. All while somehow still managing to hide it from those around me. I was referred to a personal worker in a local service, someone I actually knew well. She was great, and quickly I was also referred to CAMHS (Child and Adolecent Mental Health Services) who helped somewhat by giving me CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), but one day I was really bad and it got to the point that I was at risk to myself so much that my mum had to find out (I was below 18 so she had to be told).
I spent the day in the office with my personal worker, I spoke to her about how worried I was, I pleaded with her not to do it. But at the end of the day I knew it had to be done. It wasn’t anything against my mum, I just knew that it would upset her greatly and I really didn’t want to do that. I knew deep down that she had to know, and that it would be good for it to be more out in the open, but initially it did make things difficult.
That day was my real low point, I had worse days after that, but that day was the one that really stayed with me.
At that time, I was going through CBT with CAMHS, and as part of their service they told me that they were not keen to precribe medication. I didn’t mind that, I didn’t really want medication anyway as I didn’t want to be reliant on drugs to keep me sane. I tried just to use CBT and, for a while, it helped somewhat.
Eventually though I realised it wasn’t working well for me anymore. I felt as though the real issues I was having weren’t being addressed. I had tried to bring up my gender identity (this was pre-coming out) and it was brushed aside, I was told we would ‘focus on the depression then look at other things. I think honestly if it had been brought up then it could have helped, but alas it wasn’t and I eventually dropped out of CAMHS.
After that I went a while without any mental health support other than from friends. I started my mental health campaigning and created Free Your Mind, I was telling everyone I was okay. I came out, and began the process of transitioning physically from female to male. That helped a lot and for a while I was feeling better, euphoric even. But that did change. I don’t know when exactly it happened, but I realised it over time that I wasn’t right again.
It was in this time that I met my my wonderful partner Tyler. He helped me to come to terms with my mental health problems as he was fighting his own deamons.
I was struggling a lot, and it got to the point that when I got to uni, and I was being bullied by people on my corridor, I started to have blackouts and doing things I otherwise wouldn’t, putting myself and others in difficult or even dangerous situations. I walked out in front of a car and only realised what I was doing half way across the road.
It didn’t take long to be referred to councelling and I was soon working with the head of the councelling service. She was great and is still someone I speak to now. However, as useful as she was, it wasn’t enough. Eventually I had to give into the idea that I may need medication to manage my condition.
It was the summer of my first year at uni that I went to the doctor back home and asked for them. It didn’t take long, she listened to a brief explaination and I was given a prescription for Citalopram of 10mgs. It wasn’t much, but it started my journey on the route of medicating myself for sanity.
I was on citalopram for around a year, and it is just lately I began to wean myself of of it. Unfortunately not for the reasons of being better, rather because I was up to the max dosage of 40mgs and I am no longer feeling the positive benefits I was previously. I am waiting now without any medication for the citalopram to competely leave my body and for my head to get back to ‘normal’ so, as the doctor said, I can feel what it is like again without medication. I am not to sure how that would help, but I am going without for now until I start my new prescription. This time I am being put on 20mg of Prozac and seeing what that does for me. For the effects of that, watch this space.
Ill mental heath is not something I am a stranger to, personally or professionally. I encounter clients with ill mental health on a daily basis now, it is just a part of my life. I get it. It is a horrible place to be, but I get it.
I didn’t write this for sympathy, I wrote it because I feel it is important for a discussion to occur. Ill mental health is just as important to discuss as ill physical health and one day I hope that it will be spoken about just as much.
Remember the 1 in 4 statistic I quoted earlier? How would you feel to know that this is not the only shocking statistic? WHO (World Health Organisation) gave the following facts about suicide:
– Suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide in the past 45 years.
– It is now among the three leading causes of death among 15-44 year olds (of any gender)
– Attempted suicide is up to 20 times more frequent than completed suicides
– Mental health disorders (especially depression and substance abuse) are assosiated with more than 90% of all suicides
– Youth suicide is increasing at the fastest rate
More statistics can be found here.
It is awful to think about, but it is the facts.
Are you affected by ill mental health? Have you ever or do you struggle with suicidal thoughts? Do you know someone who has/does? There are some fantastic organisations out there, a quick google search will show you the contacts. In the mean time, please tell me what you thought of this post, and feel free to tell me about your experiences, I am genuinely wanting to hear from you on this.
Let’s start a discussion.