On Monday, the 7th of July, I contacted the Employee Assistance service that my Company uses. After a 20-minute assessment over the phone they advised that they were unable to assist me and I should attend my GP.
After months of coping with a growing depression, and a long history of mental health issues, it had taken a lot of effort to place that phone call. Their rejection felt like a physical shot to the gut, but I made myself walk to my GP’s office.
I have tried to kill myself a handful of times in my life, and have attended A&E for self-inflicted injuries more times than I can remember. Every time I entered a hospital someone, a nurse or doctor or parent, would ask me why I didn’t just ask for help when things got too much.
So there I was, finally asking for help, like I had been instructed to do countless times before. This might not seem like much to you reader, but believe me, it took every inch of my will to walk into that doctors office. At which point my GP, after some Googling, referred me to my local mental health clinic and sent me back to work.
At this point my mother, who lives abroad, was concerned enough to contact a well-known, affordable counselling service here and arranged an assessment for me the next day. So on Tuesday I mustered my courage and went to the centre for assessment. I remember sitting in the waiting room, feeling overwrought that I was down in this hole again, but with a tiny glimmer of hope that I had sought help in time.
Alas, only moments later, I was told I was not suitable to receive counselling for my depression and suicidal ideation because I have an eating disorder. Yes reader, I have an eating disorder. In brief: I was overweight, I discovered bulimia, I lost weight and suddenly vomiting was a daily necessity I had no control over. (This is an oversimplification of the matter but enough detail for you).
To recap, I am bulimic and I am suffering from depression. I have been to my GP, who was clueless, and I have been to two counselling services that have both rejected me. Trust me when I tell you this is more effort than most depressives will exert to find help. So on Thursday, the 10th of July, I tried to hang myself.
I shall spare you the details but, in the end, one of my dogs intervened and here we are. And rest assured sceptics, this was not a cry for help; I recommend you examine exactly why you had that reaction. Other than perhaps you’re an asshole.
I returned to my GP the next day, who spent two hours trying to find someone to assess me and eventually had to send me to A&E as it was the only way they could guarantee I would see a psychiatrist. After 10 hours of sitting in a chair, crying intermittently, I spoke to a psychiatric nurse and doctor.
I told both of them I did not regret my actions the previous day, detailed my current mental state and ‘pinky’ promised I would not kill myself.
And that was it, I was given an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication and told my local mental health clinic would ring me on Monday.
So my boyfriend took me home and I spent most of the weekend crying and sleeping, both of us counting down the hours to Monday. Of course nobody called me on Monday. But surprisingly, I picked up my phone and I called them.
Over, and over…I sat at my kitchen table in my pyjamas, dialled the number, held my breath, and then sobbed when nobody answered. I tell you this not for sympathy, but so you understand just how desolate I was. A very long story, a hospital mix-up and a short sobbing phone call later and I had an appointment.
On Wednesday the 16th of July, I met with a wonderful doctor at my local clinic, I cannot stress enough that meeting someone so helpful extended my life. She recommended inpatient treatment, and referred me to public and private hospitals (based on my insurance) immediately.
I am currently at home, still waiting for a bed. I am not looking for anyone’s sympathy, I am not your concern and you surely have plenty of your own. But I have done everything I can to get help; I have an incredibly supportive boyfriend. I have health insurance; I am not a drug addict or an alcoholic. I worked full time until the day I wrapped a noose around my neck.
On Thursday I tried to cut my throat, and I haven’t kept a meal down in a week. I have started to stockpile paracetamol, because I no longer think help will come before I break.
Our mental health crisis cannot be ignored, the struggle ends silently for too many.”