This is a story about being hounded to death...
One week ago, I was shovelling pills into my mouth, washed down with pints of white wine. The LD50 is the lethal dose that will kill 50% of the test subjects. Lethal doses are normally calculated in milligrams per kilogram of body weight. Tramadol is quite a reliable way to kill yourself, with plenty of examples of successful suicides in the literature, for anybody who wishes to trawl the medical journals.
Most opiates will cause respiratory arrest. Tramadol seems to kill more often through serotonin syndrome, according to what I read in advance of my suicide attempt. I can tell you exactly what it feels like, to reach your wits end, decide to end your life, and follow through with the necessary steps. I can tell you exactly what it feels like, during the periods of consciousness, as you die.
Once I had downed all the capsules and their gelatin shells had started to dissolve, I started to become quite intoxicated, thanks in no small part to the wine I used to wash my legally prescribed pain medication - tramadol - down my throat. Of course, I had stockpiled the capsules, which is not what my doctor had anticipated I would do, when they wrote the prescription, but I was getting a box each visit to the pharmacist, with each box containing plenty to end my life.
I decided to send out some final Tweets, when I believed I was beyond the point of no return. I have no idea whether I inadvertantly saved my own life or not, by alerting my social media contacts to the fact that I was on my way to meet my maker.
Discussion of what pushed me over the edge is not really warranted here, suffice to say that I simply had nothing in reserve when my fragile embryonic new life in this Northern city started to crumble. I had given 100% to my new job, my new girlfriend and my new friends. I had no safety net, when the slender threads that supported me, snapped suddenly.
Firstly, it should be noted that it takes quite a long time for your stomach and large intestine to process enough capsules for you to start to experience the onset of a fatal overdose. I had imagined that 40 minutes would be plenty for the first wave of powerful tramadol to hit me, and to make me unconscious or at least delerious and incoherent. I was wrong - I was able to send out several Tweets that actually seem to make sense now - one week later - as well as being gramatically OK and without spelling mistakes.
Secondly, it should be noted that the ideal scenario of falling asleep and not waking up, did not happen at all. I did get waves of soporific effect from both the alcohol and the tramadol, but I imagine that the adrenalin of knowing I was on my way to the grave kept me mostly conscious. My eyelids would get heavy and my head would drop, but my body fought to stay alive and I kept jerking awake.
Thirdly, I have horrible snatches of memory. I can remember exactly what it was like to fill my mouth with capsules, and gulp them down with wine from a pint glass. I remember how agonisingly long it took to empty out all the packets into the box, which I used as a kind of cup, from which to tip a load of tramadol into my mouth before swallowing it. I can remember the emergency services battering their way into the bathroom, where I had slumped in the dark, waiting to die. I can remember telling them where all the empty pill packets were.
I can remember telling somebody - was it somebody at the hospital? - who my doctor was and exactly what overdose I had taken. I can remember the very worst moment, when the hospital told me that death was likely to be slow and painful, not the unconscious affair I had imagined.
I can remember when I started to have seizures. I can remember begging the hospital not to treat me with activated charcoal; not to pump my stomach; not to resuscitate me if I went into cardiac arrest. I can remember coming round after 12+ hours under sedation, breathing with a ventilator. I had a tube coming out of my nose, one down my throat and one up my dick - I had been intubated, catheterised and had several canulas installed, including an arterial one that was measuring my blood pressure. It felt like I had snot running down my face, but it was just a tube that was being used to put stuff into my stomach to neutralise the deadly chemicals.
I can remember a nurse or a doctor came and asked me a question, and I tried to reply but I couldn't. Every time I tried to speak, my lungs pushed air against the ventilator, and I would be left momentairily be gasping for air until I allowed the machine to breathe for me again.
I can remember a different nurse or doctor reassured me that I would be able to speak once the tube had been pulled out of my throat, where it was impeding my vocal chords. I was so relieved, because it was deeply distressing to lose my ability to talk and have moments where I couldn't breathe.
I can remember being asked how I felt about the fact I had survived an overdose that should have been fatal. I felt terrible about telling the hard-working intensive-care nurse or doctor that nothing had changed... in fact things were worse than ever, as I imagined that the overdose would have caused horrific organ damage. I expressed in no uncertain terms that I still wanted to die.
I can remember drifting in and out of consciousness. From Saturday night to Tuesday morning, I had no idea whether I was in A&E resus, intensive care or the high dependency unit. I can vaguely recall being told, but the memories seem all out of sequence, and dreamlike - quite unreal.
I can remember being wheeled into a general hospital ward at some point on Tuesday, and then wheeled off to my own private room. I can remember slowly regaining some mental capacity. I can remember a visit from a psychiatrist, where I again expressed my distress with my situation and fear that I would not be able to guarantee my own safety - what had improved since I had tried to end my own life? Nothing. In fact, my situation had worstened: I had no idea what kind of state my apartment would be in when I got home - my wallet, keys, phone and other personal effects had gone missing. It seemed unthinkable that I would have to face potentially being locked out of my apartment, with no money or credit cards on me, and no means of contacting anybody.
When I did finally make it back home, things were worse than I had even imagined. My laptop and digital camera had been stolen. Every single prescribed medication had been stripped from my shelves and drawers and cupboards. There was one single solitary pregabalin capsule, almost left mockingly on my bedroom floor which lay in disgraceful mess. I need pregabalin for nerve damage in my left ankle/foot... as a non-opiod painkiller. I desperately needed some of the zopiclone that I had stockpiled, in order to sleep after such a horrific ordeal. These are not dangerous medications, ironically. I had moved myself off the tramadol, because it was not desirable to use it as a long-term painkiller. I had stockpiles of zopiclone, because it was useful for these very eventualities. The home treatment team had thrown bucketloads at me, because sleep is so important for good mental health. Where was all my prescription medication?
There was no sign of my mobile phone anywhere, and without my wallet and laptop, I was completely stuffed in terms of being able to get a message to anybody. From Saturday night until around 3 or 4am on Wednesday morning, I had been completely cut off from the world... mostly unconscious, and without access to telephone, email or social media.
Wednesday daytime, the way I was treated at the office - where I went to store the few valuables that had not been stolen - was extremely odd; if not downright rude and unpleasant. It was most unsettling indeed to be treated so oddly at my place of work, especially after surviving a suicide attempt and having suffered a burgulary. I was also fighting off panic attacks and pain, because my legally prescribed medications had been stolen too.
After a quite baffling experience at the office, where I was ushered out of the door as if I was an interloper, the CEO of the company I had been doing consultancy work for, spoke to me to say that he would be very happy to see me for a beer, but that I could spend the rest of the week sorting out everything that now dauntingly lay ahead of me: repairing the damage from the break-in and replacing the stolen items. Life is profoundly difficult without your credit and debit cards, mobile phone and laptop.
I managed to get an emergency prescription for 7 days of pregabalin and zopicline, so that I could restabilise my medication regimen. I managed to get enough cash out from the bank to replace my laptop, but not my smartphone or pay for repairs to my flat. I was starting to be overwhelmed with the enormity of the task that was expected of me: for a suicide survivor to carry on with their life as if nothing had happened. My home felt violated and insecure. There was something weird going on at work. It was deeply unsettling.
Gladly, I was re-admitted to hospital at Accident & Emergency, because I was driven into crisis by the horrendous near-death experience, only to then find that my two most valuable and prized possessions - my smartphone and laptop - had been stolen, and my flat had been ransacked; my front door and bathroom door were smashed up; the place had been turned upside down.
The fact that I was discharged from hospital and ended up back at my trashed apartment at 3 or 4am on Wednesday morning is something that should never have come to pass. What the fuck are you doing discharging a suicidal person in crisis, into a situation where they've got more on their plate than they can handle? How the fuck am I going to go back to life as normal, without my smartphone, laptop or a secure home to keep myself and my possessions in? How the fuck am I going to get through life without the pain medication for my nerve damage, and sleep medication for the horrendously stressful circumstances.
Being re-admitted to hospital - first the Accident & Emergency department, and then psychiatric hospital - was inevitable, and essential for my safety and wellbeing.
I could have bounced back, but the strange experience at the office and the amount of things I had to sort out due to theft or loss, was simply too much for somebody as sick as I was then.
I managed to get a replacement debit card for my business bank account, and make some cash withdrawals using my passport, but after replacing my mobile phone and laptop I had very little money left; I was exhausted stressed and in no mood to return to my home that not only felt violated, but also not a secure place to keep myself and my valuables.
My very worst fear was realised: that of finding myself completely alone in this Northern city with nobody to turn to for support. Without a smartphone, I felt completely cut off from social media. By some strange co-incidence, my work colleagues were both out of town. This was the perfect storm. This was exactly what I never wanted to ever happen - to be isolated and alone.
I thought about throwing myself off a high building, or under a bus. In the end, I finally made it back to where I should have been allowed to stay: the safety of hospital. Surviving a suicide attempt is a big deal, and then to have shit to deal with at work and home, was horrendous.
My memory about how I arrived back in hospital is just as fucked up as you'd expect of somebody who's been through a near-death experience and survived, but only barely. I'm not sure what's real and what's dream. I feel like I died all over again. I have these strange memories of trying to replace my mobile phone, laptop and get enough cash out of the bank to replace my iPhone too. I can remember waking up on a hospital trolley and re-orienting myself with reality... there were lots of things that I could vaguely remember, but they seemed to be from a different life. Had I died and had my heart restarted? Certainly, there was a period where I was sure I was dreaming. Perhaps I was still having seizures, because of the unbelievable disturbance to the stability of my life, including the regularity with which I was able to take my medications and soothe my jangled nerves with alcohol.
I write to you now, in stone cold sobriety. My alcohol consumption has been practically zero for a whole week... cut at a rate that would easily cause problems, especially considering that all the other medications that I have been prescribed have been very irregularly given to me too. Rebound insomnia from suddenly stopping zopiclone would be expected. Suddenly stopping pregabalin will have terrible consequences, as with any of the GABA agonists. I'm surprised I haven't had MORE seizures or perhaps even been killed by the sudden withdrawal of medications that I had become physically dependent on, as well as alcohol. You can't just suddenly stop drinking and taking the pills that I had been prescribed - you have to taper down gently.
In a way, I'm in a good situation now that I'm off all the alcohol and most of the meds that I had become dependent on. My sleep is terrible, I'm in a lot of pain, and I'm overwhelmed by anxiety and a general sense of unease, but it's good to not be drinking so much and having to take pills just to stay calm through some incredibly stressful events.
My housing, employment and general situation is dreadful. I'm being royally dicked over by everybody who has sensed that I'm in a vulnerable state. It's an abosoute disgrace, how people have tried to put the boot in and deal the final death blow to me, when I was already bruised and bloodied and at death's door.
I'm in psych hospital until Monday at least, which is a blessed relief. I have a room with a door that hasn't been kicked in and has a fairly sturdy lock, with which to protect my valuables. I get three hot meals a day and there's plenty of hot water. There are loads of mental health professionals on hand if I was feeling suicidal again.
Sadly, I am having to turn to the law to defend me from mental health discrimination, illegal eviction, and hopefully recover my valuables that were lost or stolen due to negligence. At least I am in a safe place from which to defend myself. Justice will prevail.
I think it's outrageous that I was ever declared fit and well enough to be let out of hospital, especially given the ransacked shithole I had to go back home to, and the mistreatment I received at work. However, I am also sympathetic towards the police, who have a difficult job to do, as well as to the fact that I have received a substantial amount of hospital care, to save my life.
There's a fairly simple ethical guiding principle here though: don't fuck with vulnerable people. I'm pretty mad that I'm the one with the stolen iPhone, MacBook, the battered and bruised body, the missing medications and having faced some terrible stress, on top of the situation that was already so horribly desperate that it drove me to try to end my own life. Nobody is coming to me and offering me compensation of any kind, despite my phone and laptop being supposedly covered under a company insurance policy.
I have a fully functioning conscience - a moral compass - and I am trying to set matters straight that I am responsible for. Even in the midst of what might have been the final hour or two that I walked upon this Earth, I still had concern for rectifying certain things, and I still do. I'm being treated like shit, but I don't feel that entitles me to treat others like shit. I'm in a horrible situation, but I'll do what I can from where I can... although I do expect to be treated fairly and in accordance with the contractual obligations, housing obligations and obligations to not be discriminated against because of my mental health crisis. The door swings both ways, and I take my ethical conduct very seriously.
Sadly, the law and solicitors of various flavours are being involved, which means I can do little until they're back at work again on Monday. I need to proceed through the official channels, seeing as I'm being beaten with a legal stick. I'm outraged that my housing and income is under threat, simply because the opportunistic shits that I've been doing some work for have sensed an opportunity to try and scam me.
I wish everybody would just do the right thing, or offer to rectify things when they have made a mistake.
Anyway, as you can tell, I'm feeling quite sorry for myself, given the shitshow of my life. My guardian angel has arrived in the nick of time to help me stay afloat, but I'm still battered, bruised, organ damaged, hospitalised, under threat of illegal eviction, my client is in breach of contract with unpaid invoices, my employment offer has been withdrawn due to mental health discrimination, and the dreadful ordeal on Tues/Weds with being released from hospital too early, has pretty much fucked any chance of recovering my delicate poise. Everything was so fucking fragile, and it burned down in the blink of an eye.
Fundamentally, where is my girlfriend, my friends - my support network - as well as my work colleagues, income, housing and all the other pieces of the puzzle that make a liveable life? All I can see are circling vultures, greedily eyeing me up as a piece of carrion.
At least we have a decent legal system here in the UK and justice will prevail eventually. Nobody can get away with acting unethically and abusing vulnerable people. I'm safe in hospital. I can defend myself from here.
Finally... I got my replacement laptop working and I'm back online.
Without the structure of being able to capture images and compose my thoughts on the pages of this blog, I've been rather cut adrift. Without my social media contacts, I've felt totally isolated and that nobody knows what I'm going through, although my guardian angel has bridged the gap very well, so I must give a great deal of thanks to her.
Nobody knows just how close to the edge you are until it's too late. What an absolute shitshow.
Tags: #mentalhealth #suicide