Trigger warning: this article contains graphic descriptions of suicide, self harm, and substance abuse.
On the 31st of October 2016, I was put on suicide watch. I thought that I was losing my mind. I had spent two or three days feeling manic and suicidal, and like my emotions were spiralling out of control. I was worried I was just going insane and that I would never feel good things again. I felt a constant undercurrent of manic energy and tears were persistently collecting behind my eyes. My thoughts were always racing, and all I could think about was how bad and evil I was.
I had tried to reach out to several people, and felt like no one was taking me seriously. People would change the subject when I tried to raise how I was feeling, or minimise my emotions. I had several university assignments due that made me feel physically ill to look at. I was dating a man who seemed to only care about me when I was happy and would tell me to try to “cheer up” and stop thinking about my problems.
I felt desperately, desperately alone, and a deep hollow of sadness and distress was growing in my chest. The voice inside my head kept telling me that no one cares, no one gives a shit, no one fucking cares.
I had previously struggled with suicidal feelings linked to drug use. I knew that taking drugs would push me over the edge, and so I took them. This was partly to do something self-destructive, and partly to give myself motivation to do something more drastic. I tried to self harm, and expressed to a friend that I had a strong urge to take all of my antidepressants at once. That’s when another friend showed up on my doorstep and took me to the hospital.
I was detained in the emergency room until the drugs were out of my system. I was a voluntary admission, but it was made clear that I would have been held against my will if I tried to leave. After talking with a psychiatrist, I was finally diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, which has helped to explain so many of my persistent struggles. I ended the relationship with the man I was dating, and vowed to never take hard drugs again.
My mental health is vastly better without drugs.
I was never a regular drug user, but I found it hard to stop once I started. Taking drugs really appealed to my impulsiveness and desire to be self-destructive. It allowed me to get outside of my head and experience euphoric emotions that I don’t often feel. The problem is the aftermath, when my brain crashes and I become overwhelmed with negative emotions. The complete drop in serotonin during the comedown makes me feel like evil snakes are crawling around inside my brain and whispering nasty words in my ear.
It might seem obvious, but I never realised how much better my mental health would be without drugs. I feel more level and in control when I’m not playing games with my brain chemistry, and wasting time and money on partying. I still feel cravings at least once a week, and still have nights where I lie wide awake, unable to think about anything but drugs. But overall I feel like after a year of being clean, I have control of my impulses.
It’s easy to justify taking drugs and telling yourself that it doesn’t really affect your mental health that much. However, from quitting them completely, I can see now that my life is so much more worth living.
Being in a relationship where I am understood makes all the difference.
The brief relationship that I was in just over a year ago was incredibly invalidating. He called me selfish and a bad person for self harming and being hospitalised on suicide watch. During the relationship, he often got annoyed at me for talking about my negative feelings, or told me that I should just try to distract myself from my suicidal thoughts.
Before that relationship, I dated men who loved me but never really understood me. They tried their hardest to care for me, but couldn’t imagine what it felt like to live with surging emotions and a voice inside my head that constantly tells me I am worthless. I have spent my entire life feeling alone, misunderstood, and like no one will ever ‘get’ me.
My current boyfriend has struggled with his own persistent mental health issues. He is full of empathy, compassion, and knows how to validate my confusing emotions. He understands a lot of the emotions that I experience, and knows how to help me to recover. When I am feeling manic or out of control, I finally feel like I have someone who won’t be angry at me for being unreasonable and will understand what I am experiencing.
There are ways to manage my personality disorder and live a life worth living.
I have spent a lot of my life feeling like there is something fundamentally wrong with me and that I will never recover. My diagnosis of borderline personality disorder has opened my eyes to the ways in which I have formed maladaptive strategies and that I am not alone in my experiences. From my diagnosis, I have been able to start dialectical behavioural therapy, and I have individual therapy with my regular psychologist. I have begun to understand my brain and my experiences beyond what I ever could before.
A large part of dialectical behavioural therapy is about regulating emotions and creating a life worth living. I have refocused on the values which are most important to me, and am prioritising travel, writing, and validating relationships in my life. I try to do as much good in the world as I can by looking out for the people around me and validating the struggles of others. I am regularly keeping up with my therapy and I am committed to recovery.
One year ago, I almost lost my life. But today I want to keep living.
If you are struggling with suicidal feelings and feel like the people around you are not listening, then please reach out to services such as Lifeline. If you feel like your life is in immediate danger, please contact emergency services or the Mental Health Triage.