The best friend I lost to suicide in rehab (trigger warning)

A few years back I was admitted to The Priory onto a women’s BPD ward for DBT. It was a new service. I was the first patient to be admitted. The second patient was Josie. Me and Josie spent most of our time together for the first 5ish days until new patients were admitted but continued to grow closer to each other. We spent time talking, we went to each other when we were struggling. We supported each other. We went to the gym daily together. We did jigsaw puzzles together all the time. We went to art together. We walked in the garden together. Sneaked into each others rooms and watched DVDs together. I knew I had met an amazing friend but I didn’t know what was going to happen in the months to come. This is hard for me to talk about. This might be hard for others to read and take in. But this is the truth of Best Friend.

Josie began to struggle. Her main diagnosis was BPD but like many others, she was diagnosed with other disorders including Anorexia. Going to the gym became something that she had to do. When one day, it had gone half an hour past the time we were meant to go and Josie couldn’t manage that we were going to get less time in the gym. That was the first day I recognised things began to go downhill. From standing at the door of the ward waiting, Josie ended up in the garden screaming, punching walls and kicking over flower pots. Staff were out with her but she stormed inside. Staff allowed her space but when they went to check on here, the panic alarm went off. She’d tried to kill herself by ligating. This was the first time Josie had done this on the ward and it also wasn’t the last.

Weeks went by and things for my girl got worse. There were many more suicide attempts. Once I went to find her and knocked on her bedroom door. No answer, opened it to see she wasn’t there but she was no where else. I asked staff, they looked on the ward but I went back to her room and thought to look underneath her bed. There she was. She’d ligated again. So while I got what she had around her neck, off, I was shouting staff and one member came and while she kept trying to get her panic alarm to work, I was taking Josie’s pulse. Finally her alarm worked and Josie was left with staff. Another time another patient and myself went to Josie in her room, to open her door and find her hanging from her bathroom door and going purple in the face. We screamed and staff dealt with it, again.

However, the last time she did it, there was no going back for her. I was in a 121 with a nurse when the panic alarm went of and the staff member checked what ward it was on and it was ours. She had to leave. I left the room and went to the communal area. It was Josie. I wouldn’t have even been able to count the amount of staff which were there. It was hearing what they were saying. We knew they’d started CPR and a nurse walked past on the phone to 999. Soon enough, staff decided to take us of the ward into a room on the corridor. I however, ran to Josie’s bedroom. I wanted to get to her, to be with her, to just hold her hand. Three or so staff restrained me as I got to Josie’s bedroom door and saw her lifeless and pulled me away and took me to the room everyone else was going too.

And then half an hour later, we were allowed back on the ward and Josie had been taken to hospital. It was a weird afternoon. We pushed all the sofa’s and chairs together in a circle and all just spoke to each other and had management there. We were allowed extra cigarettes (we had five cigarette breaks a day). The atmosphere was different, but not in a a good way. I self harmed. The ward went on to lock down and any patient’s who had leave were not allowed out. We all had to remain on the ward until things got better.

The problem was, they just got worse. Two days later we were sat down all together with all the staff on our ward that day and management. It was about 3pm on the 21st April. We were then told by our consultant that at 1pm that day, it was decided to turn the life support of and Josie had gone. She had died.

The months after were madness. And there still isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think about her. I loved her then and I love her now. She went her own way. She didn’t care what people thought. She listened to the music she liked and dressed how she wanted too. She loved art and had a passion for it and I was always amazed at what she could create.

Until this day. I have a pretty box where I still put letters in when I write to her. Yes, she is gone but I still write to her. In that box, I also have a photo of her, a flower she made, a bracelet she made me, her Aladdin DVD, a rose from a bunch of red roses I laid in memory of her and a heart from a helium balloon I let free for her. She is my star. My guiding star and she will always remain my best friend.

Once upon a time I met your friendly face and the beautiful soul that laid within beneath you skin,
I loved hearing you laugh and watching you while you grinned,
Your hair was so long and I miss plaiting in for you,
I wish everyday that you stayed and didn’t have to go,

It led to heartbreak and feeling so low,
We got so close and I needed to begin to let you go,
Someone I loved and always will do,
Please remember that you were never alone,

The weeks go by and the years go past,
But no matter what ever happens, in my memory you will last,
Someone so strong, unique and kind,
Never did you deserve to leave life behind,

I look at the stars and hope for you now,
I think of your family and hope they are well,
I will never forget you or what you brought to my life,
And I promise you now, I will never say goodbye.

-JLW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living in summer with self harm scars

The sun is hot, the sky is blue, you are going for a walk in a park or sitting outside at a restaurant for a meal later on but you find yourself stood in front of your wardrobe choosing to wear leggings and a long sleeve top, day in and day out. No one can see. No one can see what you have done to yourself. No one can see because of the shame, fear and guilt you feel. So you hide away under clothes, feeling too hot and not being comfortable and wishing you could dress in shorts and a strap top or a dress.

This is me. This is also so many other people in the world too. I personally love this time of the year. I want to be in the sun. I want to soak it up and spend time gardening or in parks with friends and family and be able to feel the warmth glowing through my skin, getting a tan and just be able to wear what I want. However, the choice is so hard because I feel ashamed.  I feel if people see my scars, they will believe I am weak, stupid, pathetic and that they’ll judge me because I have self harmed.

Maybe it is all in my head. Maybe it isn’t. Logically, I know many won’t judge. They may look and feel sad and so on. They may not even feel anything. However, you always get the people who do judge too. The people who will question it when it is clearly obvious. Do I continue to hide away or do I dress how I want too?

Before last year, I completely hid my body for a good 7-11 years. My legs would never be on show and neither would my arms. PE at school became a no because I couldn’t change in the dressing room or wear the kit I was meant too but I could manage that, it is how it affects me every day, every year, for several years. Last year, I began wearing tops that went to my elbow. That was a huge step. This year, I have done the same and I have even worn shorts/dresses and had my legs on show. My arms have hundreds more scars which makes me anxious but the scars on my legs are very severe (due to surgery) which is also very scary.

But why should I hide away? Why should I not wear what I want? If someone questions it, I might answer funnily and say I was attacked by a cat or a toad. The thing is, I am no different, no one with self harm scars are no different to people with out. We simply found a unhealthy way of managing and coping and now we have scars which show we’ve been in wars but have also been the warrior. We don’t need to hide away. We have done nothing wrong. We are not bad people or different. We just coped differently. While I know many people won’t judge, if you are one that does or has, it’s so important to remember to show respect. Please don’t stare at us. We’re hot and we want to enjoy the summer weather. We want to dress in what we want. We don’t want to hide away but we’re scared.

And too all those with scars, remember what  I just said. You’re the warrior. You’re winning. Don’t be ashamed. Be proud that  you kept fighting through some of the most difficult times you have ever been through. Your scars do not define who you are. You’re still you. I’m still me. We are still us.

The truth of borderline personality disorder.

It can be a living nightmare. Let me explain what a worst crisis point can be like for me. 

My hands are sweating and I can’t stop shaking. My thought are all over but I can’t stop them from racing. I’m so agitated all am doing is lacing up and down. The emotions I feel are so strong I feel my heart is about to jump out of my chest and explode. The anger I feel is making my mind begin to blow and urges to hurt myself are driving me insane and I just have no idea how to cope. I can see spiders all over. They’ve begun to crawl on me and I can hear them and feel their legs running on my bare skin. I hear voices and his voice won’t drown and I can’t manage what he is saying to me and what he is getting the other to do, I’ve already checked my door is locked dozens of times but I’m sure it’s going. To unlock itself and they’ll get in to hurt me. The flashbacks are flashing but not just in my head but physically in my body. I can feel it all happening again. Everything is becoming bright, hold and loud and I’m beginning to scream because it’s too overwhelming. I need a drink I think. I need to self harm. I can’t do this. I have no reason anymore. No one loves rm and humans need love. I can’t do this by myself but I’ve pushed so many people away because I’ve been so scared they’ll just leave me. Ive failed at everything. I’m getting no where and each times things get better they fall down again and all I want, all I can think of, all I can dream of is dying. The suicide notes are written and I swear I’m blowing up. My mind has been poisoned and I know people can read my mind. I know they’re watching me becaus I can feel their eyes through the wall and burning through my skin. The dead bodies are underthings the floor and their black eyes sting my soul and blood. I can’t do this. I’m lost and alone. It hurts too much and there is no point anymore.

That isn’t it either. There is so much more and I can’t explain the feat and desperation it brings until I’m at the pint where I decide death is the answer. And this is when I end up in general hospital from lighting, overdosing, self harm etc. I try to kill myself. I have tried to I’ll myself. More than once. More than several times. I’ve hated who I am and how I feel so much that death had become the best way out.

Thankfully, those really dark places have become less since my last impatient stay which was March to May this year. I know those moments will come again. I know those more nts have been back since that after a day of being discharged from inpatient, I was back on a section and in general on 3:1 and constantly being restrained and I injected. And do you know what, this is so scary to write, to put out there, but shouldn’t be. 1 in 4 people are known to struggle with mental health problems. I’m not the only one who has felt like this. I’m not the only one who struggles with these things. How many friends do you have? Plus your family members? Think about that 1 in 4 people. Thin ack to when you were at school and there were 80-100 people in just your year alone and then think about from year 7-13. Think of all those 1 in 4 people who have, are or will struggle. No on is alone in this.

I become attached sometimes. I often get intense emotions and act implusivley. I fear people I love leaving me that often I’ve pushed them away before they’ve left me. I severely self harm resulting in stitches, staples and surgery and hospital admissions. I used to drink up to five litres of vodka a day and went on detox twice because I have a very addictive personality. I struggle with anxiety. I can be awkward. My relationships with people can become very unstable. I have crazy mood swings and so much more. So if I don’t thank you for holding a door open, if I isolate myself from you, if I act awkwar etc, know it’s not you. Know it’s my struggles and that I really am trying to work on it all and recovery.

I want to be the person I really am but I still don’t quite know who that is. And as much as I hate BPD and my other diagnoses, they’re helping me shape into the person I am becoming and the person I am try if get to find. They’ve made me see the smaller things in life which mean life to me. They’ve helped me see beauty in the darkest of times and a want to help others. 

It’s not an easy road, it never is and never will be, but I hope. I have hope.

Recovery

The days are hard. The thoughts and urges still run rough my veins and sometimes I think I can do this. I want recovery. I don’t want to be the person in urgent care everyday or in hospital and drips, in psychiatric wards for months/years again. I keep busy and focused and think positively to get through it. Over times I feel I can’t do it and spend hours crying, being agitated and having panic attacks because I feel I can’t do it and it becomes so hard that even with using skills and distractions, it feels impossible.

I have come to the conclusion that recovery for me and others can be harder than when I’m not in recovery. That doesn’t make sense does it? Maybe not to some. So let me explain myself. When I’m not in recovery, I’m self harming, drinking, overdosing and so. An urges comes and I act on it immediately because I’ve given up. I’m not fighting. The the release hits and I feel better for a while until the next urges comes and I start the process again. However recovery means that I am wanting to recovery, because I don’t want to go back there. So instead I’m fighting. And while I have hours of feeling positive and fighting and feeling optimistic and stronger despite the urges and thoughts, I have moments where I think I need this, I need self harm and all the other destructive behaviours I’ve engaged in. I can’t do it is what I think. I need it. Sweat and tears. Crying. Panic attacks. Agitation. Frustration for hours on end. Feeling so alone and lost. But still wanting to recover just as much as I want to give into to it all.

That’s why it’s hard. When I not in recovery, I’m simply not fighting. As horrible and low as I feel emotionally, I give in in the first few seconds because I don’t care anymore. I’m at a point where I couldn’t care less what happens to me by what I do to myself. However in recovery, there are still times and many of them, where I want it all, the pain, the destruction etc but I also want recovery so I’m fighting the urges and the thoughts and intense emotions.  It’s so hard to fight something when you want it but what recovery and to be better too. I guess it’s like quitting smoking. You want to give up the cigarettes but you crave it. How can I fight something that I want so badly but don’t want so badly at the same time? And maybe that’s why not everyone who tries to stop smoking, ends up stopping or having lapses.

I constantly have to remind myself of where engaging in the destructive behaviours will lead too compared to where fighting against them will lead too. It’s either hospital trips and admissions, sections and blood, sweat and tears or being able to live in the community and start building my life back up with just sweat and tears.

In all honestly whe all this began nearly fourteen years ago, I never thought I would become addicted to so many behaviours. Even more so I didn’t think stopping engaging in them would be so hard. But it is. It’s damn hard. I write, blog,name posters and lists so when I’m at my lowest now, I don’t have to search my brain to why I want to keep fighting but I can just reach for something, look, read it and remind myself. Recovery is hard, from any mental health problem or behaviour.mits never going to be a straight forward road. There’s lots of twists and bends and bumps. Relapse may happen (it has many times before but I’m hoping I’ll be able to kick it this time) but lapses may happen too. I might slip up once or twice or three times, but I now know that is part of recovery. I aim not to relapse or even lapse, but I now accept that when I do lapse it’s part of my journey and part of my recovery. I can’t beat myself up about it because if I do, I’m more likely to relapse. Instead I have to pick myself back up again. And when relapses do happen, it’s hard but I’ve always come back to starting recovery again. At the moment it feels like the end of the world and that I will never become better but if I look at the evidence I’ve still a always picked myself back up again (with help and support), hence why I’m still alive.

To those of you who know someone who is struggling, remember how hard this probably is for them.mwe don’t choose to have mental health problems. We don’t want to feel so low and have such intense thoughts and urges. And to those who are struggling or in recovery, know it is possible. Nothing lasts for ever and this too shall pass but remember there’s going to be bumps along the way but you can’t let them drag you back down. Radically accept what’s happened, validate your feelings and start moving forward again. Recovery is possible.

Love to the world

I have been thinking about writing for a while and now seems the wrong time with everything that is going on in the world and in the country I live in but here it goes.

After a hospital admissions, a section and just over a 2 month stay in an out of area ward at The Priory, I have begun to settle back at home. It’s been a hard ride this time and I try to not be ashamed but I can’t deny that I feel fear when writing this and anxiety when clicking post. Two days after discharge, I ended up back in general hospital for a few days needing treatment and back on a section. Since, I have tried so so hard to remain safe and begin living again and there has been slip ups and the days can be so hard and the nights so long. Nothing seems easy. Not even going outside for a walk. I can say that the people in my life walking by my side are making it easier for me and I am so thankful for that.

When somethings goes wrong, really wrong and you’ve been hurt, it doesn’t leave for a long time. I think we have to work through what has happened and overcome it and so many things went wrong when I was younger and resulted in going through several trauma’s. And as I began to try and work my way through, in December my life changed for the worse. I am no way near ready to be open about what happened or talk about it to people I don’t feel comfortable with. In fact, I don’t really talk about it. My mum has supported me a lot and while I have spoken to her many times including when hitting crisis point about this trauma, she’s the only one I have spoken too. Now I am beginning to see a specialist service but the trauma that happened, changed everything and on top made all the past trauma’s come back and bite me even more.

Living with BPD is so hard. Not only does my mood swing erratically, i struggle with relationships, I have attachment problems, I fear abandonment and sometimes push people away before they pus me away. I struggle with addictions (self harm, alcohol etc). The image of myself I have in my head can often make me hate myself and want to hide from the world. My anger can come from no where and the urges and thoughts I have can become life risking when I become impulsive. Sometimes I don’t even think. I have a thought and ten seconds later, I’ve lapsed and I’m doing something I shouldn’t be. Hallucinations and hearing voices can take over and in the moments where I am unstable, I don’t realise they are hallucinations; I think it is real. I can become very paranoid to the point where over the past few months, I checked my door was locked, for up to four hours of going to bed up to 52 times before I could feel settled enough to sleep. And on top of it, a diagnosis of OCD traits, Bulimia, EDNOS, depressive episodes and PTSD also haunt. Sleeping become a problem, eating can become a problem (even if its not appetite due to my mood), socilising becomes impossible, coping is non existant and I lose touch with reality.

I’m glad to say I am doing better. I wouldn’t be without certain things and certain people. My family mean everything to me. Several friends help me more than they will ever know. DBT (Dialectical Behavioural skills) can save me and I am putting in time to self soothe and do mindfulness several times a day along with other skills I try to use. Distractions can keep me safe. Focus and motivation help me a lot but are something I lose a lot too. Projects like the butterfly project helps me. My pets help me. Lush baths help me. Watching a film snuggled in bed helps me. When a stranger is kind it helps because it gives me hope.

The fight can feel so impossible at times that at points, I don’t know if I will make it through and as hard as the days can be, the good days are beginning to shine back in and the darkness fades away. This is real. I am real. We are all real. It can be hard fight and some days I have to take it literally minute by minute, but the truth is, I am writing this and you too are reading this which means we’ve both survived 100% of our bad days and that is what I and you need to focus on. And if you don’t struggle and can’t relate to this, hard days will still hit, but they are still possible to get through and it’s important to remember that we all matter. Caring for ourselves is so important but so is caring for one another. Lets love and have hope.

I want to end this by sending my thoughts out to the people involved in the attack in Manchester. I don’t think there are any words that can as such make it better. But I do think us standing up and standing strong together as warriors can help us go a long way. “Our comebacks are stronger than our setbacks”. My thoughts go out to those that have lost their lives or are injured. My thoughts go out to those that have lost a loved one. My thoughts go out to the people who witnessed it all. My thoughts go out to people in Manchester. My thoughts go out to people who were born and are from Manchester. My thoughts go out to the country. My thoughts go out to the world.

Life throws a lot in out paths but together we can fight.

 

 

The sad reality 

I sit here looking around at all the different people, staff and patients that I can see at this moment on the psychiatric ward I am on. And the truth is, we’re all so very different in so many ways … but we’re also very similarly in a lot of ways too.

I’ve been considering writing a blog the past few days. It’s taken me some time on whether I felt able to or not. I’ve always been conscious about sharing my story to the world and although I’ve never gone into detail and never had really bad things said to me, the fear is still there. Despite that, it feels like there is a fire burning inside of me that wants and needs to share my story and talk about mental health to break stigma, raise awareness and help people struggling know that they’re not alone, because they’re are not, because you are not.

Take me back 4/5 weeks ago and I lost every part of me. The few weeks from there are a blur. I ended up in general and then detained on a Unit again away from home in Darlington due to no beds in my area, on 121 observations which I’ve managed to just get off. And this is reality. And not just for me but for so many other people too.

Everyone has bad days. My bad days can get to the point where I no longer want to live. I feel like I’ve fought too long and the urges are to strong and I can’t do it anymore. And I’m not the only one. It’s hard to reach out to someone when I feel like that. Partly because I know they would try to stop me from acting on the thoughts, but also because I feel no one cares, I feel unloved and worthless and more so pathetic and weak and I become too scared of being judged. I believe along with wanting to die, I also deserve to die, so why tell someone?

I’m sad though. I’m sad of how many people I’m seeing struggling. I’m sad because even though I’ll never understand, of hit homes and I can relate and it makes me sad to see people I’m close with go through these things and even people I don’t know we’ll go through it too. and this is it. People struggle. We all have mental health like we have physical health. If you had a broken leg you wouldn’t be able asahmed bad not receive treatment nor would you judge someone else for it and think bad. We all need to start being there for each other as well as being therefor ourselves because the reality is now becoming too sad with self harm statistics rising and suicide rates increasing.

It’s okay to feel low. It’s okay to have bad days. But it’s also okay to reach out for help. To say that you’re struggling and to reach out for help when you need it. You are not alone, you don’t have to be and it can get better.
Hope is alive. Hold on to it 🌸

To everyone.

To all the people who have had a hard time,
To all the people with mental health problems,
To all the people who have had a bad day or been through something bad,
To all the people who feel suicidal,
To all the people who have been through trauma,
To all the people who engage in self harming behaviours,
To everyone who has struggled  at some point, wants to begin to understand, to the ones who understand too well, to the ones who feel at the end, to the ones in recovery, to everyone who has struggled with something.
To everyone.

You are never defined by the trauma you have been through.
A diagnosis does not create you,
You were never asked to be abused or hurt,
Self harm isn’t going to make anything better,
Thin is not pretty and not eating is not having control,
The bad days you have been through didn’t last, nothing ever does.
Things get better because nothing lasts forever.
The nightmares will stop.
One day you will be able to sleep better again.
Time can heal.
Asking for help is okay.
Taking drugs or drinking alcohol isn’t going to take the pain away.
The voices you hear don’t always tell the truth.
The hallucinations are not in control of your life.
You are beautiful.
You deserve self care.
You deserve love.
And you deserve life – suicide is never the option.

All the people struggling (diagnosed with a mental health problem or those who are going through a hard time) in the world deserve to know that things will get better. Nothing lasts. Not even happiness. Neither will the sadness and the depression. Life is ups and downs. Some times you are going to feel low and have bad days, or weeks or even months or years but it is so important to remind yourself there have been happy times too and to hold on to those times and the good memories. To remind yourself that it isn’t always going to be this way. That things can in fact get better. That this isn’t going to be your life forever.

Know you are loved. To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world. You are cared about. I care. I love. Bad times come but they also go. You have a whole life to live for. You have a future. It can be bright. It might be hard but things worth fighting for, don’t come easy. Things don’t happen because we’re lucky. Hard work is needed and it can become exhausting and I know sometimes it feels like there is no point to living any more and death can sometimes see the best way out of this nightmare you feel trapped in, but you are here. On earth. With blood pumping through your veins and in your body and a heart that is beating and you deserve that. You deserve air. You deserve to breathe. You deserve a chance at life. You deserve life. You deserve love. You deserve happiness.

Things are never going to be easy forever, but like the bad times come, so do the good ones. Remember that. Recovery is possible but you need to believe and work. And the people who are going through a bad time, the same applies. It gets better. Hold onto hope and it will keep you alive.

And you, my friends, deserve life.