Suicide and Me

Thursday, 12 March 2015

"That's interesting, I thought people with bipolar were the sort to attempt suicide." 
Brushing a beer-foamed moustache from his upper lip, an acquaintance of a friend professed to me in a pub three weeks ago. 
Sat on the bar side, I picture him hanging an imaginary patronising white coat over his shoulder. 
He does not go to bed rearranging his doctorate certificates above his bed, he's probably never cried in front of his mum, he does not know me, he does however hope I'll respond "oh yes." When he inevitably and eventually asks me if I can draw comparisons towards myself and Stephen Fry.
"Sorry?" I slump, biting the red wine remnants off of my lip and the rest of the skin on it nervously.
"You just don't seem the type."
I pat the pads of my finger around my glass. Eyes pointed at my feet, frowned.
"You're too confident and happy for that shit, you know?"
I wonder how I can satisfy his cliche perception, clawing at what it is that he thinks I am purely from a label.
What would Stephen Fry do?

When I was younger, I spent a lot of time off school ill. 
At the time, I knew something hurt or something didnt feel right, but I wasn't sure what. 
My stomach knotted and my head pulsed, a virus that kids contract by any other name or symptomised issue and Id plead desperately to have the day off. 
More often than not after tear tempered fits, my parents would let me have it.
I was- ill . I did feel strange and uneasy, as though I could vomit on queue the same way boys of my age were chanting "Pull my finger! see what happens!" And farting on demand. At any given point if I let myself I knew I could pass out cold or  throw up the three plates of mash potato Id asked for dinner.
Sometimes, I'd eat baked beans on penne pasta out of the pan at 2am and then throw it up hours later. 
I felt hollow, I wanted to cement this strange hole closed and I did so with food. I imagine now this is the relationship I have with wine. 

In those days off Id mostly watch loose women and stare blankly at Facebooks old, tired interface. It was an easy release, much less demanding than maths or history, and under the blanket on my sofa i felt safe. Each day would pass and every morning much later than I should've woken Id utter a 'still not well' from beneath the duvet, eyes peaking uncomfortably over and Id be left. 
It was usually the third day in that I'd stare forcefully at the window pane of my sitting room and feel alive. Convulsing with ideas and repulsed that I'd missed educating myself in the same way others were. I suddenly felt as though I could take over the world, be whoever I wanted, do more than my peers and was halting that by not attending.
Id go back to school and follow a similar routine, for years.
Even earlier than this memory, I remember watching Project Runway, believing I could win it at 11 years old and buying a sewing machine and forcing myself to make outfits for parties in under 5 hours with the remenants of a curtain. 
Later, id find myself in a shower after a phonecall, mind racing and, at the time, jovially forcing the thought 'you're like Jesus.' Stepping out of the shower and realising for those few seconds I genuinely believed it. I was high off of whatever my blood was nourishing me with, narcissistic and a bloated ego from a natural chemical drip plugged into my brain.
Then, a boy would break up with me, I'd throw my head over the bath to wash my hair to go to his best friends party, my friend listening to me sobbing through the echo of her hairdryer.
My nose blocked with snot that smelt of his cologne. I down a litre of vodka that night and make it out alive but experience depression in its extreme for the first time at fifteen. 

I struggle, I pace, I cry in lessons uncontrollably, I score scissor marks down my finger tips so I can't write my GCSEs and write letters to examiners instead of actually writing the paper I know I am competent enough to write. I feel ashamed. (I have withheld tears writing this until now)  I feel failed. I am embarrassed by what I have become but I assume I'm just hormonal. Mostly, because That is what three different doctors have told me. 
Six weeks later, at a party at my own house, I panic. I walk upstairs to see my friends and I don't recognise anyone. 
I know, everyone. 
They are all just faces and voices, potentially mocking me, and it is overwhelming.
Feeling anxious, I sit in the downstairs bathroom and have my first panic attack. Recovering, I am devastated. Devastated that it has happened and devastated that the short breathed paranoia has stopped. 
Reaching for the bottle hidden beneath the toilet basin, I drink half a cupful of bleach and pass out beside it. 
I vomit, I cry, I call a boy I have quickly convinced myself I am 'now in love with' who is just also a boy and sit out in the snow and cry some more until I pack my bags and move to my friends house for three days. 

Since then, I have felt this way countless times. I have acted on it six times. Sometimes in a full attempt and others to seek attention. Mostly, seventh pill in on an attempted overdose I see sanity for the first time in months and stop. In those episodes, I can't see my family. I can't see my friends and I can't see those who love me. They are invisible to me and I am invisible to myself.

I write this whilst I'm in a job I couldn't have dreamed of. I write this with family who love me beyond my worth, with friends who rely on me. 
I write this as an individual who deep down knows they have a lot to give to the world and would never let the perception of a mental illness get in the way proffesionally or personally. 
But, I am still a human being.
My body refuses to tell anyone that I know cares about me that this is going on in my head, but now I call a doctor. She's not pressured with emotional connection to save me, she won't go home and cry that I'm sad but she knows that I am a human being who needs help and that's what she does. This doesn't make my family or friends redundant, but it's not their job to superglue fragile pieces back together.
I just need their reassurance. 

Last week I attended the funeral of a family member who took her own life. 
I have spent these seven days reflecting on her beauty, her importance and her love- regardless of how long I felt them. She imparted emotions that so many of us are yet to feel or are yet to appreciate we have. 

Through devastation and loss, through grief and through pain and compassion, I look to her for telling me unspoken that my life is worth living. That people care. That I have as much time as I grant myself. 
That I will be conscious of my thoughts if not for myself but for the beautiful baby she has left with us in this world that might also need this message one day. 

What you have done is not selfish, what you have done is not indulgent, what you have done makes me strive to be a stronger person that wish I could've been whilst you were here.
Rest in peace. 

I am as much my own little girl as I am my own grown woman

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Bread bloated and Dalmatian skinned, with one hand I prod my thick fleshy thighs and reminisce back to the paradisal evenings where I could feed my exam pressures with two chicken mayo McDonald's burgers and still weigh no more than the six textbooks I should've been consuming instead. 

I scrape the societal camouflage I had hastily painted over my uneven cheeks with a foundation tinged flannel and watch each shade of orange and pink in their wet gradients pour down the sink. 

Raw faced and soot black under eyed, I pull grimaces at myself and pressure black heads with gnawed at finger nails. I am stressed. 

I try with determined will to change my habits almost upon the instant that I see this strange reflection. 
I still look young, no crows feet or strayed hairs, excess-oil waxing a pubescent sheen across the bridge of my nose- but you can nearly spot the indentations of a forty year old woman pressing to get out from within my tired glazed eyes, the youthful embers dimming. 
The fire now just a reflection of the passion in others, like two oval ashtrays upside down in the dishwasher. 


A month goes past with rapid spirit, chasing my heels that pace with a lash of unconvincing energy and I realise that this forty year old woman, with her punishing office anxieties could be harnessed into someone much kinder.

Lassoed by my heart strings, I pull her close and teach her how to be my mother.
An internal guardian to remind me to brush my teeth, change my socks, finish my peas and to tell me-

You're doing alright kid, stop beating yourself up.

I hold my own hand and learn the importance of believing that you have a duty to not feel alone with yourself.
That I am as much my own little girl as I am my own grown woman and I soon feel fortified again. 

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