What About God?

What About God?

For some of you, perhaps even most, God is a subject in which you have little or no interest. For me, it’s a subject in which I’m interested but slightly afraid of. I’m not trying to force God onto you, but I thought those who are interested should have an opportunity to hear about suicide from this point of view.

My friend Sharon has written a guest blog which I hope sheds some light on the subject for those of you who give it a read.

Suicide + God = ??

For many the question of God’s view of suicide is far from relevant – you may have long given up on any hope of a God of love. For others the niggling fear of hell may begin to raise the God issue. From the outset I am going to be entirely honest with you – I am a Christian and not just one of those nominal Christians. I am a passionate and dedicated follower of Jesus Christ. So yes, what I write will be entirely biased by my convictions about God and his unfailing love for you. It will be biased by my absolute belief that God not only loves you but cares for you and declares your life as precious; that he is in the business of making beauty from ashes.

It is not for me to explore the morality of any form of suicide but I believe God wants to speak to the emotional and spiritual distress that can lead to suicide. Suicide is not the killer, it is the hopelessness, loneliness, self-hatred and despair that pervades the soul and squeezes out any signs of life. God wants to bring hope and life, to bring light into the darkness. He wants to convey to you NOT disappointment or frustration but unyielding love and compassion. Come as you are, call out to him – God is there and wants to be found.

Sharon

More information on mental health from this perspective.

Podcast by a church leader who lost a son to suicide

Christian helpine: open 9am-midnight.

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Finding Support.

Finding Support.

Have you noticed that humans are normally drawn to people who seem similar, or have something in common with themselves? I certainly do… When I walk into a room by myself the first thing I scope out (after the toilets) is people I think I might get along with. People around my age, or people dressed in a similar style, people reading a book I’ve read or someone I overheard talking about something that I like. Why? Because we aren’t supposed to go through life alone. We are like magnets, we’re pulled towards other people so that we can share burdens as well as joy with them. So that we don’t have to do it all by ourselves. Even if you’re very introverted you probably still have a couple of friends who you’re happy to chat with, you still don’t want to be entirely alone. Nobody does if they’re honest with themselves.

When you’re dealing with suicidal feelings, or even if you’re just feeling a bit down; the worst thing for you is to try and cope without any support. There are people out there who we can talk to who understand what we’re going through. Charities such as the Samaritans are great for this, they’re empathetic and kind on the phone and they even offered to have me over for a cuppa once. If you don’t want to talk to someone you know about how you’re feeling it’s worth giving them a call. There are other people too, doctors can refer you to mental health teams or give you medication which might help, at least in the short term. There are also online support groups: on facebook there are groups for people with all sorts of diagnoses which are great for getting support from people who know exactly what you’re going through.

Family and friends are the best support you can get though. Even when they don’t understand what you’re feeling, they’ll still want to help and they’ll do their best. If you don’t want to talk about it I’d still recommend giving someone a call, they could pop over and bring ice-cream, you could go out for a coffee or a walk. Do something you’d normally like with them, without the worry of having to discuss how you’re feeling and it’ll help more than you’d expect.

If you’re supporting someone with mental health problems, or someone who’s just having a bad week; try to respect their wishes. If they don’t want to talk about it why not just watch a movie with some snacks instead and just be there. If they don’t want to go out why not go to their house, have a night in and just hang out with them. And if they do talk, just listen. You might not be able to solve all of their problems, but having someone there to help them get it out of their system, even if they need a rant, is good enough.

What I’m advising is not to try and do this without help. Life is a constant battle, and you wouldn’t send someone into battle without an army. Build it around yourself and let your friends help you to fight! It’s too hard to keep fighting on your own.

Loving Yourself.

Loving Yourself.

Did you know that the life of a pearl begins with a piece of grit? When grit gets inside of an Oyster shell, the oyster begins coating it in the material that makes a pearl. Despite its beginnings, pearls are valuable and desirable. People wear them around as jewellery and show them off.

Did you know that diamonds are found beneath tons of dirt?

Did you know that in order to find gold, we panned in dirty rivers?

Not only does this prove that everything precious has to be worked for; but this also shows that no matter how dirty or worthless you feel, it doesn’t make you worth any  less. You are precious and worth the work!

I’ve felt worthless. I’ve felt unloved. I’ve felt dirty.

When I was at my worst I did things to cope which only spiralled me further out of control. I did things which made me feel dirty, worthless and undeserving of love. I stopped loving and started playing games. So when you read this blog please don’t think that I’m perfect or that I find it easy  to love myself, it’s been a struggle for years. Take heart in the fact that I’ve got there, and since I’m no better than you – you can  get there too!

Take a look at yourself in the mirror. What do you like about yourself? At first everyone laughs or shrugs this off as though there’s nothing you love about yourself but if you look hard enough you’ll find something. I like my cheekbones, there’s a lot about myself that I don’t like the look of but I cling to the fact that I have good cheekbones. Even negatives can be turned into positives sometimes: I am a perfectionist which means it’s harder for me to reach a standard I’m happy with, but it also means that I work hard at everything I do in order to reach that standard.

It might be hard work, but trying to find something you love about yourself is worth the time and effort.

Now think about something that you regret, a mistake you’ve made. How does it make you feel? Maybe this is a layer of dirt that you think makes you less beautiful or less precious. I’ve done things that made me feel like this, and sometimes they still do; but I’ve figured out that this isn’t true. We all make mistakes, we’re humans and it’s our trademark! But these mistakes are nothing but a thin layer of dirt around a diamond – we are still worth the same. Our mistakes do not define us: they’re just something we did, or maybe didn’t do.

Can I tell you something else? This applies to everyone! There could be someone you know, right now, who’s feeling worthless; and you can help them to see what’s special about them. Why not drop someone a compliment? Tell them they look nice today, tell them you’re glad you know them, even simply smiling at someone can make a difference!

If you’re struggling with this and want to talk to someone about it why not give the Samaritans a call? They’re brilliant, and have helped me more times than I can count.

Samaritans

Surviving – A Practical Guide.

Surviving – A Practical Guide.

Your survival is important, so the first thing to remember is that whatever you need to do in order to get by is okay. (Unless you start doing something illegal I guess.) If you can’t go to work, university, school or whatever it is you do – that’s okay. If you can’t face cleaning your house – that’s okay. If you have a sudden desire to eat a pint of ice-cream – that’s okay. It’s called self-care and is quite frankly a term I’ve heard so much about I’ve grown a little bored of it.

 

Learn/Practice a skill:

When I was at my worst I baked. I enjoyed baking before, but I was never any good at it but being unwell gave me the opportunity to work on this skill. Not only did it keep my hands busy but I also achieved something which is great for improving your self esteem. If you’re struggling with concentration, pick something practical like this to get you out of your head, and into an activity. It takes up time where you could be pondering how awful your life is – and if I’m honest, mulling in your sadness will only make things worse.

Build a safety net:

You may think that nobody understands but even with this perspective, people can still help. When feeling this low it can be tempting to avoid people altogether and become very secluded, but this won’t help. Sure, some days it’s okay to spend time alone doing something you enjoy, but there are people who will want to help – because you’re precious! So every so often arrange to meet someone, even if you text them twenty minutes before and they only come over for a coffee. It’ll remind you that people care.

Search for the positives:

This can be tricky, so start simple. Name one thing you like about yourself: something you’re good at, a physical feature, are you kind or loyal or funny? If that’s too hard right now try naming one thing you’re grateful for: do you have a roof over your head, hot meals, friends? Even the simplest things count and I promise it gets easier with practise.

Relax!:

What relaxes you? You might find this tough, but take a bit of time to yourself and chill out. Have a bath, watch some TV, read a book; anything that takes your mind off your worries and takes care of you. Just think, you’d do it for someone else you love – love yourself for a change!

Live in the moment:

If the future freaks you out, which it definitely did for me, then focus on what’s happening right now. Rather than planning weeks or days in advance, wake up in the morning and decide what you want to do right now. It doesn’t matter if you’re not productive or if you spend all day in your jammies, the important thing is that you’re focusing on the small things and trying to enjoy them.

Remember what’s precious:

When I was at my lowest I was asked by a doctor what my ‘preventative methods’ were. If I’m honest, there weren’t any that worked right then, but I realised that those things were the most precious things to me. I have lots of little cousins, and I wanted to see them grow up without pain. One of them gave me a fossil, I carried it with me everywhere to remind me that he loved me and looked up to me – to remind me that he needed me in his life. So grab an object that reminds you of something important, and cling to it.

 

A couple of years ago I was living like this every day in order to survive to the next. You don’t have to think about surviving till you’re sixty, or even until next week, just focus on surviving until tomorrow and deal with the next day when it comes. I know everyone says it’ll get easier, but I can promise you that it does – because I’ve been in that place and I’ve survived.

Here’s some other really useful advice on surviving with suicidal feelings:

Advice from MIND

If you’re in a crisis and could do with a little more help please call someone. Asking for help doesn’t make you weak, we all need reinforcements now and then.

Samaritan

The Darkest Time.

The Darkest Time.

Two years ago I faced the most difficult time in my life. I’ve explained in another post the reason for my first attempt, what I didn’t mention is that I was desperate enough to take 6 overdoses in a year. I thought I’d never do it, despite a history of mental illness; my friend killed himself at a young age and I’d seen what it does to people and promised I’d never do that to those who care about me.

And yet I did. Nearly.

I reached a point where I thought I was a burden on my family and friends who were always having to keep an eye on me. To be honest though, there was a part of me that didn’t care; I just needed to get out. I looked into my future and saw only pain and suffering, I couldn’t see any hope; and I needed another option. So I took it, I opted for death instead.

Hopelessness engulfed me until it became a physical pain, I had to hold myself as though I was keeping all the pieces of me together. Anxiety got so bad I struggled to leave the house, and when I did I frequently had a pseudo fit which meant trips to the hospital or days in bed. On top of this I have a problem with my bladder which means I’m often in pain and afraid to go too far away from a toilet, which didn’t help with my anxiety about going out. I’d lost a relationship and had to leave university so I felt I’d failed too. The more I thought about it the more hopeless I became and it grew into a vicious cycle.

Suicide became to me a kind of hope. I hoped that I would be successful and wouldn’t have to deal with the pain any more. I hoped that I wouldn’t have to think about a future, which to me was a terrifying concept. I hoped I wouldn’t have to see any more doctors. I hoped I wouldn’t have to feel like a failure. I hoped everything would end. So when I took the pills I wasn’t upset. I was happy that everything was about to end. I’d researched how long the overdose would take to kill me, and knew that I’d probably experience a high from the tablets before which seemed like a good plan at the time. I wanted a comfortable death.

The first thing I remember after taking them was the Nausea. Followed by an uncomfortable high: the most memorable being the time I tried to scratch my face off after taking a lot of anti-depressants. I’ve drank nail varnish remover before and felt the liquid burning me inside.The problem with suicide is that we were designed to live, which can make it harder to die. The methods which are most likely to work are also the most painful, or take an incredibly long time to kill you. Luckily for me I was found every time, and although I wasn’t happy about it then, I am glad to be alive now. 

If you’re feeling suicidal I’m not going to tell you not to kill yourself, because if you’re feeling that way you wouldn’t listen to me. What I will say is that I am so incredibly pleased to have survived that I can’t even put it into words. I’ve been there and I understand how it feels to want to die, but in time I’ve found new hope and joy that I never thought I would find again in my life. There are other people who understand too, so if you really are determined to die why not at least give one of these people a chance? They might be able to help you like they’ve helped me!

Oh, and one other thing…. the world is a better place with you in it!

NHS – numbers for in a crisis

Samaritans

 

 

The Aftermath.

The Aftermath.

Suicide is often seen as an ‘easy way out’, but it doesn’t always turn out that way.

Obviously, I survived and faced the aftermath of a suicide attempt. The best way of describing it, other than the self-evidence of it being difficult is to describe it as weird.

The first thing to accept is that you’re still here. You’ll see people you never thought you’d see again. You do things you never thought you’d do again. You eat food you thought you’d eaten your last of. It’s bittersweet, because at this point you’ve already caused pain and you’ll have to forgive yourself for that. At the same time, the pain or anger on peoples’ faces is actually love – they’re scared and relieved because they thought they’d lost you!

From my personal experience I’d suggest doing your very best to avoid reaching this point.The easiest way to do this is by admitting how you feel to someone: either a close friend or family member, or a doctor if this is easier for you. Take everything a minute at a time and focus on keeping yourself safe. If you need help with this take a look at this advice from MIND.

Just in case you can’t do this, it’s too late or you’re supporting someone in the aftermath I’ll give you a bit of information about what happened to me once I woke up.

Once you’re physically fit, you’ll have to wait to see a mental health specialist from the hospital. They’ll ask various questions such as whether you regret what you did and whether you’re likely to try again, their reaction will depend on your answers. (I wouldn’t recommend lying, they called me out on it every time.)

When I was discharged I was referred to the mental health team who later assessed me as an outpatient who monitored me and gave me treatment for my Personality Disorder. I also saw the Crisis Team for a week afterwards. They came to my house every day to check I had my medication and to see how I was doing. They will tell someone if they think you’re unsafe at home. I was also given a crisis number for use if I reached the stage where I might try to end my life again. There are other organisations that offer this help if you don’t have this number and most operate 24 hours a day. It’s worth noting a couple of these if you think there’s even a possibility of you needing them at some point:

Samaritans

Recommended by MIND

There was a time when I wasn’t discharged, instead I waited in hospital until I could be admitted into a Psychiatric Ward for my own safety. These are a last resort, I was admitted voluntarily as I didn’t believe I could keep myself safe and only stayed in for a week. If you are sectioned this will be a different process: there’s more information here.

Psychiatric wards are not the Insane Asylums of times gone by and if there is no other option it’s probably best that you have a short stay in them. There’s more information about my time in the ward in The Aftermath – Inside.

 

The Aftermath – Inside.

The Aftermath – Inside.

Psychiatric wards have a pretty bad reputation, but they’re no longer the horror settings from Victorian novels. I was voluntarily admitted to a Psychiatric ward after a suicide attempt two years ago.

Contrary to the common misconception, I was not locked away for a long time with no control over my life: I was released after only a week, and was allowed out on leave once they deemed me well enough to cope with them. I wanted to provide a bit of information for those who may be considering how best to keep them self or their loved one safe.

Being admitted is a little scary. You walk into a building of strangers, but the doctors and nurses are normally friendly and are there to help. When I first arrived I had a meeting with my keyworker who introduced herself and helped me to settle in. She took a walk with me whenever she was on shift, I know a guy whose keyworker used to bring in board games to play with him.

The ward I was put into was very modern and clean, I had my own room with a key where I could escape if I wanted to be alone. I wore my own clothes and my friends and family brought in books and puzzles to keep me occupied while I was there. There was a main lounge with a television and surprisingly comfortable seating. A dining room and kitchen where we could help ourselves to tea, coffee, biscuits and oddly – custard. They offered activities such as going to the onsite gym, playing pool and even baking.

While it wasn’t exactly fun, and was far from a holiday; it was a place where I didn’t have to worry about anything or constantly fight for survival. So if you are admitted, are considering it, or have a loved one who is facing admission; I want to encourage you. It’s not as bad as you may think.

If you’re worried about keeping yourself safe please talk to someone.

Recommended by MIND

Samaritans

Advice on keeping yourself safe