I haven’t really written about this in any great detail other than the odd mention here and there, but this post will be about my big fat #MarchMentalBreakdown, suicide attempt and resulting emergency section in hospital. Oh yeah, time to get your waders on ’cause we’re going in deep with this one.
In March of this year after the events of the few months previous, I experienced a severe nervous breakdown with temporary psychosis. What that means is, well, I went totally and utterly batshit crazy. Not in an aggressive or violent way, it was all very much internal but as I’d been keeping the feelings that had been building up for several weeks beforehand to myself, I just sort of imploded.
For anyone that doesn’t know, a “nervous breakdown” is a culmination of extreme anxiety and depression – you’ve essentially reached your limit and you’ve cracked. Your body is flooded with excess adrenaline and cortisol, you can’t sleep, you can’t eat, you’re incredibly anxious all the time with continuous panic attacks, you might see and hear things that aren’t there and you can enter an incredibly depressive state. All in all, it’s very shit. For me, mine came with temporary psychosis which I’m told would have been brought on by my existing PTSD because you don’t really get it for no reason. It started slowly in the weeks leading up to the breakdown: I started to hear voices. Two, specifically, both female but not my voice or the voice of anyone I know. They didn’t sound like they were inside my head, but rather as if someone was standing at each side of me. That’s a fairly unsettling thing to experience to say the least. Initially I couldn’t make out what they were saying, they were very faint and it was almost like whispering. It would come and go, and of course I didn’t tell anyone because that’s reeeeally not a good sign is it? As other areas of my mental health continued to deteriorate, the voices got stronger and louder and I could distinguish between the two. They began just to speak, not about anything in particular and sometimes just narrating the things I was doing or saying my name. As I began to recognise that something really wasn’t right, I became increasingly paranoid and delusional and so the voices fed off of these states of mind – or maybe they created it in the first place. They would tell me that people could hear my thoughts, that people were going to harm me, that everything they did had an ulterior motive – and of course, I believed it. My psychosis also took the form of visual hallucinations and I shit you not when I say this: I saw my brother. Yes – my very much dead brother. He’d just appear. Like one day I was standing in the kitchen trying to sort some paperwork and he was standing next to me telling me it was in the wrong order. I mean ???? Come on. I knew that he wasn’t really there, and that’s something the voices would tell me too; “You’re losing your mind/Don’t tell anyone/They’ll lock you up” but I couldn’t help but speak back to him, quietly of course but this is something my housemate has told me since that he’d often notice me talking quietly to “myself” a lot. Like I said: batshit.
Along with these, my suicidal thoughts shifted from very much passive thoughts to active. I began thinking about it in detail, and I started to plan it and weirdly it excited me. But again, I was very paranoid that people knew what I was thinking so I started acting overly chirpy and cheery. Maybe it sounds like a joke to say “the voices told me to do it” – but quite literally, they did. And so I did. I won’t go into detail about how I did it, but quite obviously it didn’t work (plot twist: it did and I’m writing this from beyond the grave o0o0o0oh). You all have my friend Dave to thank for that, as he was the one that found me purely because I was “snoring” which actually is the most ironic thing considering he sounds like a dying whale when he sleeps. I wasn’t actually though, I’d lost consciousness and the snoring noises were my airways closing. He said I looked a bit like a Smurf when he found me. I did die too, for just under two minutes, but here I am telling the tale. In case you were wondering what dying is actually like – it really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it’s just nothingness. I got really tired, and as far as I was aware I just fell asleep. No bright lights at the end of tunnels and shit – just nothing.
It wasn’t until I woke up in hospital that I realised the scale and repercussions of what I’d actually done. I’ve never felt so guilty and ashamed of myself in all my life – I felt beyond selfish and although it shouldn’t have taken for that to happen to make me realise, but it hit me that I don’t actually want to die. I was given an emergency antipsychotic in the form of an injection, and was told that for my own safety and in order for me to recieve the treatment that I needed I would be sectioned under “Section 4” of the Mental Health Act, which is for 72 hours. This is also known as an emergency section. Truthfully, I was mortified – I’d officially gone insane. But being sectioned isn’t straight jackets and padded walls. I came to realise in my three days in hospital that it basically just means I was a danger to myself in that current mental state and I needed help fast. Nobody treated me differently or badly and as the antipsychotic took effect, it was like the fog of crazy was lifted.
The thing is though, as embarrassed as I was at the time I soon began to realise that it wasn’t my fault. I was incredibly ill and it was because of something that I couldn’t help and didn’t ask for. While, yeah, it’s a bit shit to admit that I went nuts but here I am: nearly four months on and I have a new job, new house, I’ve travelled by myself, different areas of my mental health are improving and I feel like a fairly well functioning adult. No more voices of delusions or seeing things. I know it might sound morbid, but maybe it was the best thing that could have happened in the sense that it was the catalyst to me receiving treatment that I desperately needed and wouldn’t have sought otherwise. Yes, I fully accept that it could so easily have had a much more serious and awful outcome – but it didn’t.
I didn’t talk about it properly for quite a while much to my friends’ and family’s frustration. I was embarrassed to say the least and I just wanted to forget about it, and this behaviour ended up causing an enormous argument between Dave and myself one night. We’ve never done that before, but shit truly went down with slamming doors and shouting at each other and I’m quite sure he called me every name under the sun – but he was right. I was being totally selfish; I owed everyone a conversation about it at the very least instead of trying to forget that it happened. Eventually I did when I felt within myself that I’d accepted it and made peace with it. I really wasn’t thinking correctly, and I really wasn’t myself either. I can talk about it quite openly now – I don’t mean that I’ll just randomly bring it up, but if anyone asks me questions I really don’t have an issue with talking about it. In my view, it happened, it’s done, so move on.
It’s safe to say I am a totally different person and in a totally better place than I was then. It’s actually kind of amazing how rapidly I bounced back, and actually came up stronger than I thought I could have been. Things have turned around considerably in a relatively short space of time and that’s quite amazing really. It just goes to show that we are often much more resilient than we realise or give ourselves credit for.