“Provided the right ingredients, I could kill myself so easily. I look at everyday items and see their potential to poison me.”
These are the words I said to a psychiatrist on my first overnight stay at a hospital due to a suicide attempt.
I didn’t realise I had depression till I was an adult. So, I never experienced CAMHS like everyone else I know with the mental illness, from what I hear I’m lucky as I’ve never met someone with a good experience from them.
I went to the doctor because my boyfriend at the time (who also suffers with mental illness) was able to see the symptoms of mental illness in me. The first thing your GP usually would get you to do is a quiz, asking how often you feel certain ways.
I was first put on Citalopram, I haven’t met any who’ve had good experiences with this particular SSRI. The first time I was on it was working well for me, the second time I had to have friends monitor me as I was feeling extremely low. Most I know have a good experience with Fluoxetine. However, I am currently on Sertraline, which works alright for me.
The one thing I would want you to take away from this article is the importance of medication. Being judged by my mother for taking the medication was the major setback in my recovery. Living with someone who brought me up, who strongly believes that chemically-made products would be bad for me, was not helping me stay on track with my medication. My self-harm got worse, more discreet yet more lethal ways of hurting myself. Eventually, I had to move out and to this day she doesn’t know she’s the reason.
GPs generally don’t like giving out anti-depressants but because of how long waiting lists are for counselling and therapies, it’s a temporary coping mechanism.
The two main therapies I know that are used to treat mental illness are:
From what I’ve heard, CBT is used to help shift your mind-set of a situation, help you go recognise the processes to help you change your perspective.
I’ve attended some DBT, which has four main components; Emotional Regulation, Distress Tolerance, Mindfulness and Interpersonal Effectiveness.
I think it helped me better recognise what is going on, last time I tried to kill myself. I was able to recognise something I would call “subconscious hopefulness”. If a suicide attempt isn’t the first thing you do when you’re feeling suicidal, you are subconsciously feeling hopeful that life will be easier to cope with. Nothing feels more draining than making sure I don’t kill myself.
I’m currently on medication, trying to eat better, living in supported accommodation run by Cardiff Mind. Life is getting better but it’s still difficult. One of the stigmas that really gets to me about the stigma of mental health is if we choose to go on disability benefits. The majority of people on benefits don’t want to be on benefits. They want to feel they can contribute to society (volunteering can help but only so much and only some people would be able to do it) – it is an important factor in feeling self-worth in a society where work is something to aspire to. I’ve had a job before and I want to work again when I am able to. For so long, I haven’t sought out help and now that I have accepted that the chemicals in my brain are more imbalanced than others, I will be able to give myself the time to practice better coping mechanisms to manage my difficulties more effectively before I am able to return to finding work.
Suggested Self-Help Reading
Dialectic Behavioural Therapy Skills WorkBook – This has been recommended by Adam Richard Kaps (Junior Editor) as it has been used in Cardiff Community Mental Health Teams.
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