Monday, 27 June 2016

Still Alive

2016 is not a good year as far as health and hospital goes.

I've lost count of how many ambulances and trips to A&E I've had, but it's definitely a new record. 

Six months ago, the closest I'd been to an ambulance was patient transport and a couple of paramedic call-outs that didn't require transport. In previous emergencies, it's been quicker to drive the 5 minutes to hospital than to wait for overworked, understaffed paramedics. But between seizures and self-harm and smoking and starving, I've had at least 6 emergency ambulance rides this year, with two in the past three days.

The first was on Friday. I'd been messing with my meds and literally attacking - not just self-harming - myself with steak knives. Mum went for a walk, and as soon as she left, I deadbolted the doors and grabbed a knife and my stash of razors and tore my arms to shreds, stabbing, slashing, slicing, and emptied the medicine cabinet. I don't think I've used knives before, but it seems to be my current weapon of choice.

The whole day was just a mess. I pretty much had to beg mum to call someone since I can't talk on the phone and I needed to see my GP. I texted the dietician saying I was mid-crisis and asking if she could please contact my GP to phone mum. Mum wanted to call either an ambulance or her psych, but no one for me. When I told her I'd texted the dietician, she called my GP herself, and I went in to get my wounds dressed and have a chat.

It was only the day before I had to get dressings for more self-harm. On Friday, I saw her around 11am, and she gave me extra meds to replace what I'd taken, but they didn't last the day. I actually asked if she could give me any sort of sedative just so I wouldn't do more harm and wouldn't be so distressed, but there wasn't anything she could give me. 

At home, the day just kept escalating. I was cutting and hitting myself more and more, absolutely hysterical, crying and screaming. Not my finest moment, by far. Two knives snapped clean off their handles. Mum got tired of putting up with me so she went out for a drive.

I locked the doors, wrote a short note (in case of emergency) and emptied the (sparse) medicine cabinet. 

I'm still on daily dispensing, but I ended up taking two days of lorazepam, oxazepam and seroquel, plus a couple of day's worth of leftovers I hadn't taken this week because I'd been smoking and sleeping so much. I also took random painkillers (ibuprofen and 500/30 Panadeine) and leftover cold & flu meds just because I wanted to hurt myself. I've not used painkillers or codeine for self-harm in a long time, and I have to say, it scared me. I was also supposed to have my MRI later that day, but obviously it didn't happen. Partially because my GP gave me an extra 3mg lorazepam for it, but I'd scoffed them down as well. 

Around midday, mum and I started seriously clashing. By 1pm, I'd taken nearly a whole week's worth of meds. This was the third day in a row I'd overdosed to some extent. I had too many leftovers I didn't take from daily dispensing. We don't keep much in the house, for obvious reasons. Even basic painkillers are kept hidden from me. 

Mum got home and saw the carnage.
"Oh, Jesus!"

She called my GP straight away. She suggested calling an ambulance, and since I was so distressed and actively self-harming, it's protocol for the police to come too. 

Next thing I know, the house was invaded with not one, not two, but seven strangers - 3 or 4 cops and 3 ambos. It was absolutely terrifying. Obviously lunchtime during the week isn't an overly busy time. I should note: guests stopped being welcome after a particularly horrific assessment by the emergency mental health team several years ago. That was the final trigger, and I've barely let anyone in the house since.

I hid in the garage, in the car, with all four doors locked. Head in my hands, eyes closed, crying, I just kept saying "Please just leave me alone." 

The police all had cans of mace in their hands, ready to go. Given some of the shit I've done over the years, this was actually my first encounter on the other side of the police.

In the end, I had no choice. I could either go willingly with the paramedics, or go in the police car. I told them I wasn't harming myself anymore (true) and just wanted to lie down and cry. Since when is depression a crime?

"Well, we can do this the easy way or the hard way."

In the ambulance, I mentioned my GP, who shares a first name with the Horrible Psychiatrist. The ambo with me asked "do you mean the Horrible Psychiatrist?" and I totally freaked. But it turns out he no longer works in A&E, which takes a lot if the fear out of the public emergency room (the private hospital, where I go for COPD exacerbations, doesn't do psych). 

At the hospital, I turned out my pockets before going inside. I'd accidentally left a razor in my pocket, and sliced the tip of my finger. I spent from about 1-4pm in A&E, but ultimately left without a fuss. I'm not quite sure how I managed to escape even just a 72-hour hold after pressing a knife to my throat twice in three days. Probably only because I'm meeting this new psych soon, and have regular appointments with my GP and dietician.

At home I had a little bit of chicken and rice and polished off my last bottle of red, knowing it'd be coming back up anyway and desperate to get out of my head. Today's the first day I haven't thrown up everything I tried to eat as soon as I swallowed it. It's like my body knew I was poisoning it, just from that one lungful of smoke. 

Saturday was probably the worst day in my head, although it didn't last long, and I managed to avoid the emergency room. 

I had a big mess this morning. You know how I smoke those legal synthetic cannabinoids**? Never ever again. I scraped down all of my containers to find traces of powder for one tiny smoke that morning, since I had no actual meds left and was desperate. I either mixed the wrong trace chemicals or plastic/metal scrapings or something, because within a minute I'd fallen over and dropped everything I was carrying. 

Mum found me sat on the kitchen floor with my trackies around my ankles, talking utter nonsense. I didn't know where I was or what was going on. She asked me something, and I told her to check with J (my non-abusive ex). This was bizarre. Mum screamed "That was over four years ago!"

Thankfully it doesn't last long before it starts to wear off, so I avoided mum calling another ambulance, and was back in my head within 15-30 minutes. But I'm never touching those chemicals again. I've said that before, and they've nearly killed me before, but I think this is it for good.

I went to the bathroom and turned the cold tap on full blast, folded up my towel to give me some padding to sit on, and emptied all of the ice cubes from the freezer into the tub. I sat clothed in the bath until it was about halfway full when mum convinced me to get out. Then I went into the kitchen and pulled the bottom three drawers out of our upright freezer, then sat in and pulled the door shut with about an inch open. That's also a new one. 

I'm also getting scarily good at suddenly turning cold and saying calmly to mum "Oh, but I'm fine!" with a shit-eating grin. She did call for help, but my creepy calmness meant there was little they could do. 

Yesterday (Sunday) involved more police and paramedics, and was probably a worse situation than Friday.

The morning went okay. At midday, I asked mum if I could please have privacy to eat my 170-cal cheese & Vegemite sandwich, as the lounge is the only room I eat in. I spent 25 minutes nibbling  at it, trying not to throw up, and it was over. Mum came back in, because I had apparently had more than enough time, but I'd not even made it through the third quarter. 

I lost it. I was darting around the house screaming
"You don't want me to eat, you just want me to die and then you'll be happy."

I threw out most of my food and semi-trashed the kitchen. 

I locked the back door with the only key, threw it into the garden, and gussied up all of my strength to drag the heavy chimenea in front of the side gate to stop anyone coming through.

I gave Billy a hug and cried "I'm sorry, I can't do this, I love you."

Next thing I know, I've got three cops staring out the kitchen window at me, then coming around the side gate with the paramedics. Three of them watch and try to talk to me while the rest scour the yard for the key (the only key). 

They ask if I have blades or knives. I say I do, and reach for one to give up, and he grabs my arm. I try to stand up to get my purse of razors from behind my armchair cushion. And he grabs my arm again. 

The other day, they just asked me for my sharps and turned out my pockets. This time, although I was much calmer, I got a full bloody frisk for the first time in my life. I wasn't even allowed the safety pin to hold up my trackies, or the disposable chopstick holding up my hair.

I kept telling them I'm fine, I just want to be alone, I just wanted to eat my sandwich in peace, I'll be fine, just please leave me alone and tell her to let me eat my sandwich.

It's scary how strongly I believe I have a right to self-harm or die if I want to. 
My new favourite line seems to be
"It's no one's business if I want to hurt myself, it's not illegal, if I want to die, it's my body."
Then they throw the 'duty of care' line.

"I just want to be alone and lie down. I'll be fine if I can just lie down quietly."
"It's too late for that,"
Again, "we can do this the easy way or the hard way."

The policewoman held my elbow as I took the walk of shame out to the ambulance, crying with my hand covering my face. Mum says she wouldn't notice emergency vehicles parked outside houses in our neighbourhood, but I know I sure do - especially when it's an ambulance and two police cars, one of which was parked right outside the neighbour's window, and especially if it happened multiple times in a week. As if I'm not the neighbourhood freak enough as it is. This is why mum parks in the garage and I won't go out to the street to get in the car for appointments.

"I'm not a horrible person" I cry to the paramedic, trying to convince myself it's true.
In the back of the ambulance, I apologize for wasting their time and money and resources. 

I texted the dietician again from the ambulance. I told her I was sorry for texting again, but I'd fucked up again, and mum doesn't want anything to do with me and that I was just totally lost and alone. She was wonderful, and asked me to go see my GP the next day with mum to make a plan. 

I sat alone in the bare interview room of A&E crying, scared and alone with the police guarding the door, watching to make sure my multiple school friends that work there wouldn't see me in such a state.

Stomach acid and bile kept coming up. Eventually someone from the mental health team came to talk to me for an assessment. Mum never came in, and I dreaded the conversation when my brother came to get me, so I babbled randomly on the drive home to avoid a conversation I desperately didn't want to have. 

And that brings us to today. This morning was rough, with another meltdown full of self-harm and locking myself in the backyard so no one else could get to me. I got a text from the dietician first thing, again asking me to make an appointment to see my GP. When mum called to make an emergency appointment, she was booked out, and instead I saw the nurse for dressings, as they didn't do them in A&E yesterday.

When my GP came in to have a quick look, I asked if I could go on her cancellation list to possibly see her before Thursday, but she said no.
"I'll just see you on Thursday."

As soon as we reached the car, the mental health team from the hospital called for a follow-up,  and were worse than useless. For the first time ever, I'm begging, pleading to talk, but no one cares to listen. This is my comeuppance for not taking the help that was offered for so long, for keeping my mouth shut for so many years.

At home things just got worse. I needed so badly to talk to my GP, and her refusal to put me on the cancellation list drew me to the conclusion that she must want me to die so she doesn't have to deal with me any more. Took the whole day's worth of meds, slept, and here I am now. It's nearly 10pm, and I've spent most of the day writing this post.

After smoking synthetics on-and-off for a little over 6 years now, it's not the first time I've had a scare. They've nearly killed me more times than I can count. But I think this is it. I'm done. If I touch them again, I hereby give you all permission to bitchslap me until I come back to my senses. 

For the next week, I intend to do nothing but lay on the couch watching silly movies, writing in my journal and trying not to think.

Tomorrow, I see the dietician in the morning. Then on Thursday I'll see my GP, and hopefully work out where to from here.

A lot of this is very embarrassing, but I've got nothing to lose. If my experience in the last six years of synthetics hell can some day be put to good use, help legislate against them, or even just in research, I'll be happy. Nothing can make it 'worth it', but I really hope at least one of you read this and think twice before trying it just because it's not technically illegal.

Apologies for going AWOL again, especially for so long. Everything's a bit of a blur. Most days I couldn't even bring myself to open Blogger, but I think I'm all caught up now (although I haven't had the energy to send as many comments as usual). My memory of the last week is very fuzzy. I've tried to piece it together as best I can by looking at dates and times on messages I sent, notes I scribbled and asking mum questions. I've tried to post for the last few days, but more and more crises have kept popping up.

And an extra special thank you to my two lovelies who were constantly spammed with my panicked messages over the past week or two - my English Starsister and my Bahraini Sweetheart - especially at the times when my family weren't there. The dietician will be getting a massive hug tomorrow, too.

** I don't talk about my smoking a lot, mostly because it's a very complicated issue once synthetic chemicals are involved, but I did write a bit about my experiences after they gave me my first seizure

The offending cheese & Vegemite sandwich (170 cal)
I managed to eat a little less than 3/4 before the defecation hit the oscillation

Never let anyone tell you that instant coffee (black with liquid Stevia - no funny business)
doesn't add up to anything significant

Backward handwriting skills are on point, though
(Friday, before the first 000 call out)

In A&E

Sat alone in the interview room with police by the door


Saturday, 11 June 2016


The dietician was supposed to be back on Tuesday, after not having seen her for the past two weeks.

I was having a really rough morning. My mood was rock bottom. I didn't even want to see the dietician because it felt like a waste of her time since I didn't want to talk about food or my weight. Mum urged me to go, and to see my GP, but there's nothing they can do to stop the thoughts.

I gathered myself up and left for the appointment. In the car, I asked mum if she could please sit with me in the waiting room instead of walking me in and leaving me, because I couldn't stop crying and I felt like a fool.

I waited and got more and more anxious by the minute. After 30 minutes passed, the waiting room was filling with people, and one of the receptionists asked mum and I over to the desk.

Obviously, the dietician did not turn up. It took half an hour before they got in contact with her husband, who said she wouldn't be back until the next day. I think it's the first time in the four years I've been seeing her that she's unexpectedly not been in. I asked if she'd be in on Thursday, and I got her last appointment at 6:30pm.

Usually by 6:30pm, I've had my dinner and am winding up my day, but on Thursday, I was headed out to see the dietician. She works the morning on Tuesday, but only afternoon/evening on Thursday, and this was the only appointment she had left.

I didn't get on the scales. We'd already talked about the fact I'd gained a few kilos since my hospital admission, and I told her I really didn't want a gain to be logged. She said I need to weigh soon, I said it's obviously fine (which is not fine with me). We agreed to weigh in on Tuesday morning in two weeks There's no way I'd let her weigh me even at midday, let alone the end of the day.

I've also started exercising again in this past month. The dietician's concerned, and wants me to limit it to no more than four times a week, because I start intending to do just 30 minutes, but it always builds into 60, 90, 120 minute sessions.

And I wanted to say quickly - I was amazed by the response on my last post. I figured it had to be something more than just beating myself up. That's one thing I love about this community - you're never the only one.

Happy long weekend.