Anniversary reflections
Posted by lucyd
1st Sep 2015

This weekend marks the first anniversary of my suicide attempt.

Over the past year, there hasnít been a single day when I havenít thought about it. Sometimes it has just flitted across my mind; others, it has been more preoccupying. And now, as the anniversary approaches, Iím thinking about it more than ever.

What no one really tells you about a suicide attempt is what itís like afterwards. Twelve months on (and only seven months on from my second overdose, and five from what would have been a third, had I not been caught out) I am amazed by how well I feel. This time last year, I was broken, defeated, frightened, lost. This year, Iím at the tail-end of a brilliant summer and, thanks to the right medication, I can confidently say that Iíve come out the other side of what was undoubtedly the most difficult 18 months of my life.

But I still live with the knowledge of what I did, what I wanted to happen, and what it was like.

No one tells you how traumatic it is to survive a suicide attempt. It is, frankly, horrific. And just at the moment, I feel totally overcome with memories. I am overwhelmingly thankful, now, that I didnít succeed, but the flashbacks to being in hospital, on both occasions (because to a large extent, theyíre all rolled into one) are really shaking the foundations Iíve built over the past year.

The immediate aftermath. Needles, blood tests, drips, ECGs. Vomiting over and over into a cardboard bowl. Collapsing on the floor in the toilet and wondering how I was going to get up again. Passing out as they tried to put me in a wheelchair to move me to AAU, and having to be wheeled there on the bed instead. The blur of ceiling tiles above me as I was pushed along corridors. The shame of people seeing me like that - my husband, my best friend, even my vicar - drifting in and out of consciousness, with wires in my arm, electrodes on my chest and a bedpan full of puke at the end of my bed.

Then, psychiatric assessments. Social services referrals. Having to pretend, just so I wouldnít lose my children or end up locked in a psych ward, that it was a moment of madness, that I didnít really intend to die, even though I did. I really, really did.

Being on the ward, so lonely and so very, very scared. Phone calls from my baby girl, tearful that I wasnít there for bedtime. Phone calls from my husband, with no idea what our daily routine involved.

And then, days later, getting out but feeling shaken to the absolute core. The school run impossible; even walking to the shops feeling like a massive, terrifying task. Feeling like everyone was watching me. Like the slightest thing could shatter me into pieces. Not knowing who knew what. The frightening new reality of being a suicide survivor.

This, and more, is whatís hitting me right now.

Iíve never really thought too much about anniversaries of other stuff, but this one feels very raw and intense. I'm even wondering - not for the first time - if a failed suicide attempt can cause some degree of PTSD. I feel like what I really need is to sit down with someone and just explain how horrendous it all was and why I feel so fragile at the moment, but I canít. It was my choice to do it, so I canít expect any sympathy or empathy.

Itís something I have to get through on my own.

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