share your story: surviving a suicide attempt
I think of suicide a lot.
At some point every day, death wanders into my mind as an option, an escape — somewhere I could go to leave the pain I’m feeling, something I could do to step out of the overwhelm, worry or fear I’m experiencing.
For most of my adult life, I can remember having phases of wanting to not be alive, sometimes intensely and other times the thoughts were just frustratingly there.
I didn’t want them, my mind just seemed to go there in moments of overwhelm or when I wasn’t distracted/focused on something else. In the quiet moments when my mind drifted, death would be there, inviting me.
Other times, the choice of thinking about suicide has felt more conscious. The desire to not be alive has felt more present, more part of my internal landscape in a way that I have felt scared of not having the thoughts or feelings there.
Recently I realized the thoughts of wanting to commit suicide, or the possibility of being able to end it, often act as a resource — knowledge that I have an escape from this pain I am experiencing — without which I feel naked, raw, exposed, and a different kind of vulnerable to how I feel when I’m feeling suicidal.
Experiencing these thoughts every day in some way leaves me feeling brave like a warrior. They are there, saying Hey, you can do this, but I choose not to. I choose to live.
So when the thoughts aren’t there as intensely, I feel weird, I feel different. Part of me needs that challenge, needs to know I’m constantly fighting to live.
But as soon as I write that, there is part of me that understands I don’t need to feel this or think these thoughts. It isn’t wrong that I’m experiencing this.
I’m not fucked up (no more than every other human anyway), but I don’t need to constantly be fighting, I don’t need to live in almost constant struggle.
I can know stability and peace within my system. Peace within the chaos that naturally comes from being human.
I have noticed how this is something I need to really learn — physically, emotionally and spiritually — that it is safe to live without chaos, both internally and externally.
Growing up with years of trauma, abuse and neglect, I feel left with a norm of chaos both inside and outside of me, but I am increasingly realizing, hearing and learning that it doesn’t need to be like that, like this.
I feel like I’m learning to trust and integrate this knowledge, but it is proving really fucking difficult and really fucking slow.
“If you put shame in a petri dish, it needs three ingredients to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in the petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.” ~ Brene Brown
In the US, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death. In England and Wales, approximately 120,00 attempts happen each year, with 5.5% of adults reported to have made a suicide attempt in their life.
I believe there are a lot of people missed by these statistics, especially when looking at self-harm and suicidal feelings.
These are much harder to record and catch for statistical purposes, but even if they are not recorded on official paper, they are still there, these people experiencing these things are still part of our community.
There is not much space to talk about suicide despite it being so present in our society. Not only are suicidal feelings stigmatized, but suicide attempts and life after an attempt rarely get a voice.
So, in February a friend and I launched Life After Suicide — a project gathering people’s stories of life after a suicide attempt and accounts of individuals experience of living with suicidal feelings and/or thoughts.
We will be creating zines with the submissions — available online and in print — with the hope of uniting survivors of suicide attempts and people experiencing suicidality by providing a space to connect and feel heard and validated, whilst opening up a much-needed dialogue in wider society.
I attempted suicide by overdosing in April 2012, almost exactly 4 years ago. Since then, I have written and drawn every day.
Both forms of expression have provided me with a connection to myself and others in ways I couldn’t have imagined, and during a time I have needed it most.
Often these forms of creativity — and my connection with nature — have been the only things I have felt able to turn to in moments of fear, overwhelm, or desperate grief… and often still are.
I shared my words and drawings on my blog, sent lengthy emails to fellow writer friends I had made within the online community, emailed cartoons each week to my therapist, wrote every day in my journal, and had both mediums published in online magazinesand projects.
The healing that has come from — and continues to come from — sharing my story and experiences of being a human in this wild world is invaluable and indescribable.
I feel seen, heard, and my experience is continually validated by people sharing their stories in response to mine, or people simply saying that my story brought comfort or understanding to an experience they have had or were having.
As well as being deeply healing, it has brought purpose and direction to a time in which I have felt, and still often feel, incredibly lost and helpless.
“The two most powerful words when we’re in struggle: me too.” ~ Brene Brown
Do you have a story to share about what life has been like after surviving a suicide attempt? Do you experience suicidal feelings and/or thoughts and would you like to share how it is to live through them?
We would be honored to have your story as part of the project.
There is no right or wrong way to tell your story, and the telling of it can never be perfect because perfect doesn’t exist — come as you are, with whatever you are feeling and have experienced, and that will always be enough.
We care about the content and your voice rather than the quality of what you submit. You don’t need to an artist or someone with lots of experience, you just need to be you.
We encourage people of oppressed identities to share their experience of survival in these intersections.
The intersections of identity and mental health are rarely acknowledged, yet identity inevitably affects the way the world treats us and thus, the way we see ourselves.
Any medium of submission is welcome — drawing, writing (fictional, non-fiction, poetry), video, photography, etc. — and it can be published anonymously or under a pseudonym if preferred.
We are gathering submissions for our first publication now, with the deadline being 8th May. However, please submit after that too, because there will be more than one zine and a continuous flow of pieces online.
I don’t believe suicide needs to be silenced, and doing so only deepens the shame and self-judgment that can exist around it. So we invite you to speak up and speak out, and be part of this dialogue.
Let’s reach for compassion and understanding around suicide. You could also send an email to chat more or to send us a submission.
Your voice counts and your story matters.
Previously published on Rebelle Society.
How i saved my own life
In April 2012, I overdosed.
The option of suicide was something I’d kept as a resource for a long time before that. It was an option I could go to in unbearable moments of overwhelm, isolation, stress, pain, helplessness, and the feeling of being incredibly lost.
It soothed because it brought me somewhere I could go — it brought me the option of escape.
Despite having this option sit in the corner — or forefront — of my mind for years, I never thought I’d actually do it.
Then I did it.
Since the attempt, I have a big-ass line down the middle of my life, splitting it into two stages: the before I overdosedstage and the after I overdosed stage.
The aftermath quickly landed me face-first on a journey of self-dedication and healing.
This journey has involved the following:
1. Falling apart: a lot, and in ways I never did before.
2. Taking heaps of time out: I’m still doing this.
3. Channeling my energy and efforts solely into myself: this went against my grain completely, so it’s taken a long time to trust and learn that it’s safe to be selfish (and I still sometimes doubt it).
4. Cutting ties with my family: this continues to be fucking weird and a situation in which I never thought I’d find myself, but it is undeniably one of the main reasons I began healing.
5. Navigating through the chaotic trauma that’s stuck with me since the attempt: this has been confusing and heartbreakingly haunting, but slowly it’s settling.
6. Resting like a motherfucker: I still wonder when the need for this is going to diminish, or shift from being so extensive, but I hope it happens soon.
I often long for a blurry and chubby line through my life, spreading over a couple of years (rather than a few short moments), to get me to this place of healing. Instead, the defined and dark line is the one I’ve got. I know I would have always got here eventually, but I can’t imagine ever getting to this point, slowly.
Slow and gentle was not something I knew how to do back then. And it’s something I’m only just learning how to do, now.
I needed a bang. I needed a wake-up call that things could be, would be, and had to be, different. Lying in a hospital bed, having just tried to kill myself, with the nurses setting up a private phone-line to cater for all the love flooding in for me from friends, showed me that I deserved to know a different way of being in the world.
The moment I overdosed, my inner critic published a new theory in my mind’s library — a theory telling me that the life I lived before I overdosed, was wrong. A rebirth undeniably happened that day I attempted suicide, but so did a fuck-load of trauma.
To know that I landed myself in a place of doing something so destructive, that then ended up being so traumatic, and turned me and my life completely upside down, has made this critic’s theory easily appear true.
All of who I’d been, and all the decisions I’d made throughout my life, took me to a place of attempting suicide, so they must have all been wrong, right?
The way I was living was heartbreakingly painful, lonely, and self-destructive, but it wasn’t wrong.
A friend and a therapist have both suggested that the overdose would probably have happened at some point, sometime, anyway. I fucking hated this theory at first, and sometimes still do. If it’s true, I’m not left with anything to fix.
If it wasn’t anyone’s fault that I overdosed, and it wasn’t mine either, then who do I blame?
To say it was just life feels indescribably lame.
I want to yell and scream and point my finger at someone. I want to give them shit. I want to ask them what happened, why it happened, yell at them because they let it happen, and scream at them because they fucked up and let me down.
I so desperately have wanted — and have tried — to make that person, myself. I have spent the last 23 months endeavoring to convince myself that it was my fault. That way, I have something to work with and something to go on.
I can ensure it doesn’t happen again.
By heading down this route, I’m treading on old, self-critical, ground. It’s felt familiar and comforting to allow my critic to beat the shit out of my already very wounded self-trust, self-belief, and self-confidence. But it’s felt really fucking painful.
I still have a resistance towards the idea that my suicide attempt would’ve happened regardless of where I took myself, what I did, or how hard I tried.
But I also have a voice of compassion that’s begun to grow stronger, lately — a voice that reassures me my suicide attempt was a culmination of all that had happened in my life. It was a result of the extensive trauma and abuse I had experienced and responsibility I’d had, in my youth and early adulthood.
“It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t anything you did wrong. It would have happened anyway.”
My younger self was just doing what she knew. She was doing what she’d witnessed her mother do over and over again, and she was doing what she’d kept as an option, for the longest time. An option I now know I don’t ever need to use.
On the day I did the most destructive thing I have ever done, I also did the most empowering: I made the phone call that brought my body, help.
On the day I actively chose to die, I actively chose to live.
I saved my own life.
Below is a series I wrote for elephant journal in spring 2014, on living life after a suicide attempt.
MY INTERNAL WARDROBE
What to expect during the aftermath of a suicide attempt is not talked about enough, in my opinion.
Over the last 23 months—as I’ve been stepping out the other side of my attempt—I’ve spent so much time on Google, searching for some sort of step-by-step account of what to expect along this journey. I’ve wanted someone to tell me how to do this, and how to make this shit a little easier.
The feelings that have followed my attempt are the things I’ve most wanted advice on, and guidance with. They feel so clear, vivid and recognisable, beneath the messiness of this process—it’s taken a long while to be able to say that, but they’ve become more and more familiar and noticeable to me, as the months have gone on.
“They must be feelings that everyone who attempts suicide feels, at some point, some time, just perhaps in a different order or time-frame to when I feel mine.” I often tell myself.
Perhaps not, but self-talking this way reassures me and brings me hope that I’m not alone in this process.
My feelings have been an outfit I’ve been getting to know, wear, put together (consciously or subconsciously), and find a comfortable size in, over this time. What they’ve looked like has always looked a little different—sequins, holes, rips, stains, badges—but generally, the same feelings have been the theme of my internal wardrobe.
Shame, guilt, hatred (for myself), anger, sorrow and heartbreak, fear, relief and gratitude, have become my clothes.
Shame—the winter coat
The thick coat of shame has been the reason I’ve spent so many hours tucked inside my bedroom or sitting on a bench beside a tree, sweating beneath the heavy leather and faux-fur lining. Avoiding calls and resisting the desire to invite friends to hang-out, is generally always because of this sneaky motherfucker. It’ll dress me with itself regardless of whether it’s summer or winter outside, or whether I’m even going outside.
Shame is the only feeling that takes me back to a place of wondering whether I should be in the world (but never to the extent in which I felt this when I overdosed). I can easily slip into feeling pretty fucking convinced that I don’t deserve to be here, because of what I did and where I now find myself. Thankfully, though, there’s a gentleness, a warmth, and an openness within my heart that pipes up and says, “You do”, in these moments.
Sometimes self-talk undresses me, but generally, the only way to rid myself of the coats weight and toxicity, is to connect—to talk and share and reality check. A while ago I asked a friend, “How are you still friends with me, after what I did?” Her reply brought me out of a months worth of coat-wearing.
The connection doesn’t have to be about what happened. Any kind of connection—person, animal, shrub—reminds me of love and hope, and removes the coat.
When I think about what I did—what my friends went through because of it, and what I put myself and my body through—my forehead wrinkles, my stomach twists, and guilt smothers my legs with lead trousers.
I can’t move.
My guilt feels too big to even type, let alone speak about fully. I fear its presence. I fear my critic’s theories of selfishness—the fact that I thought “I had the right to do something like that…”—in case they’re true.
Soothing self-talk slightly lightens the guilt, as does reading stories from others who have attempted, online—I realise it’s not just me in the world that has done this, tried this. But even within this, there’s guilt around the judgement I feel when reading these stories—judgements that they did something like that, a disbelief that I did it, too.
These weigh about 15 stone. I used to slip them on, and tread through me, whenever the internal call came. Hate was the sole, disgust the shoelaces. Hatred for what I did and disgust that I now fall under the bracket of a suicide attempt survivor.
Now I can witness, distract myself, and realise the sound these shoes make, isn’t the only sound I need to listen to—listening to the ever-growing love, respect, and compassion, I have for myself soothes the hate.
As does connection and a reminder that I’m still loved, regardless of my attempt.
My anger has felt like a sparkly, superwoman vest, that I can rip my shame-coat open, and find. I’ve felt fear around how huge it’s seemed, and how fierce it’s seemed. I’ve struggled to trust it and trust myself with it.
There’s been anger around the fact I even got to a place of wanting to, and thinking I needed to, overdose. Anger that I felt so alone, and couldn’t see the love I had around me.
I feel livid with the responsibility, trauma and abuse I experienced in my youth and early adulthood, and the wondering whether an overdose would never have happened had this not been part of my story. I feel a sickening anger that it’s what I witnessed my mum do so often, and a wondering whether that’s what made me have it as an option.
I’ve felt, and continue to feel, rage and shock around the way Western Medicine dealt with my attempt.
I’ve felt anger that noone stopped me, and that I didn’t stop myself.
I’m learning to find this vest in a size that I feel comfortable with. The more I let it be here, the more empowered, healthy I feel. My anger is a fire that makes me realise I, 100%, want to be here.
My fear has felt like I’ve been trying to wear a silk scarf, wrapped around my neck in gale-force winds—it’s flown around my face, blinding and shocking me in the gusts. It’s left reality and the truth seemingly impossible to find, or see.
Trauma has stormed my system—a wild scarf, flying above my head—from all that I experienced before, during, and after my attempt. My scarf’s felt knotted with worry and a haunting fear that the overdose might happen again, and a concern about being ‘too much’ in my healing process—I often halt my need to talk and share about it, due to this.
There’s been the what-if’s, patterned deeply into my fear:
What if I’d waited longer to call the ambulance?
What if I hadn’t made the call, and I’d been found?
What if my body hadn’t performed a miracle (the words of the nurses) and healed so quickly, without needing to switch my liver for another one?
What if my therapist hadn’t been there to sit with me, during the early stages of waking up?
What if my friends hadn’t have been so incredibly, mind-blowingly, supportive?
What if I’d called for help before I decided to overdose?
What if it had worked—what if I’d not lived through it?
These fears are beginning to soften with time—instead of my scarf seemingly stripping me of my sanity, I can now wrap myself in it to bring comfort and reassurance that those what-ifs never happened, and never will.
Heartbreak and sorrow—the belt
The heartbreak of what I experienced and what I wanted to experience, is like a lead belt around my waist. The sorrow for my younger self weights 100 tonnes, when I realise I tried to kill myself.
I could throw up, or sob for 100 years.
She wanted to die—she couldn’t see any other way out. She thought she couldn’t, and shouldn’t, be here, on the Earth. She didn’t know/couldn’t feel, that there were people to catch her, help her, support her, bring her hope. She didn’t know how to connect with the part I have within myself, that can offer these things, too.
There are no other words, only tears and disbelief.
Relief and gratitude—naked
Over the last 23 months, I’ve had so many waves of realising:
I almost died.
Each time these waves hit, I feel a sudden nakedness. All my clothes have fallen off—I’m exposed and I’m here. I lose my breath, catch it again, and breathe deep into my belly,overwhelmed with relief and gratitude that I made the call that saved my life.
Each time, I’ve longed to reach out, find someone, and tell them. I’ve wanted to shout it from the rooftops—the world needs to know: I’m alive! I survived!
I’m still trying this outfit on, and sometimes refuse to acknowledge that I’m actually wearing it and am having the feelings, but when I do look myself in my mirror, I find I’m not quite so over-sized or in-too-tight. I’m increasingly realising that within these feelings, lies a beautiful healing, and a deep connection with—and understanding of—myself that’s so unique to this process.
I sometimes gently revisit the event and find an understanding of why it happened. I’ve begun to cultivate forgiveness for myself that it did, and I’m discovering a trust and genuine belief that it’ll never happen again.
I’m learning to love myself with whatever I’m wearing, and whatever I’m not.
And I’m also slowly taking hold of the fact that I don’t need to figure it all out.
my life after
I’ve got a big Before and After in my life, now.
Before I overdosed, and after I overdosed.
Last night I was chatting with a friend about memories of stuff we did three years ago, and it felt so, so, surreal. Whenever I find myself in moments like this—reminiscing about memories from my life before I overdosed—it always does.
I have to remind myself that I’m talking about me—my life—because it almost always feels like someone else’s. It feels like I’m telling stories about the life of someone I was close to, someone who’s life I knew intimately but didn’t actually live myself. It rarely feels like I’m talking about my own life, or me.
And in a way, these memories did happen to a different person—the person I am after my overdose, is so different to the person I was before, so no wonder these memories feel hard to connect to.
What happened completely changed my life—it knocked it upside down, flipped it inside out, and left me shoeless and butt-naked trying to navigate my way along a path I had no fucking idea how to walk down yet. Two years on, I still feel like I’m learning to walk it. I probably always will be, I just doubt anything will be quite as intense, full-on, confusing, and damn-right fucking hideous, as the life that hit right after I overdosed.
Fuck, it was hard.
I don’t think any words can do it justice yet, because the fact that I’ve actually come through the other side, and am able to talk of it as something that happened—rather than something that’s happening—is the thing that leaves me wanting to write and write, and talk and share.
This shift alone, deserves a celebration.
My heart bursts open with warmth and admiration for myself, andthe nakedness of relief and gratitude overwhelms me whenever I realise this that I’m now able to talk about it in this way.
But I also feel so afraid that this ground I’m now standing on, rather than the quick-sand I seemingly inhabited for so long, isn’t real or will disappear if I say one word about it. I feel scared that it’s not mine to keep, and that my psyche is just playing pretend with this newfound edge of stability, understanding, and self-compassion, in relation to my attempt.
I forget the change that the overdose brought, a lot.
I so often feel swamped with hate, shame, worry, fear, frustration, and anger, about where I find myself and my life now, and the future I’m seemingly going to lead when I’m looking at it through the eyes of my critic, that to try and cultivate gratitude, feel joy, or celebrate how different I am and how different my life is, feels like a punch in the stomach.
In so many ways, my life has sucked, and been so fucking hard, since the overdose—in so many ways, it couldn’t be further from where I thought it would be, and I couldn’t be further from where I thought I would be.
But, I’m also doing everything I’ve needed and deserved to do, for fucking ages—to rest, let-it-all-out, get support, learn to parent myself in ways I was never parented, and to begin to cultivate self-compassion, self-forgiveness, self-acceptance, self-love…
And, ultimately, to begin to heal.
My overdose brought me this—an entirely different life to the one I knew before.
There have been elements of external change—I’m getting to know my style more intimately, and am allowing it to speak out. But it’s been the insides that’ve been changing the most—my internal goings on, the way I live my life, the way I know what I want and need, the way I see my future, and the way I see myself.
The way I know myself now, is miles ahead of how I knew myself three years ago, or even just two.
I know exactly what I want, and exactly what I need.
I know the things or people that nourish me, and I refuse to do anything different, unless I’m the one choosing it—choosing to do the option that doesn’t nourish, or choosing to do the thing I don’t need to do, out of a seeming need to self-destruct. But the fact I can make this choice between nourishment and destruct, is huge—and things are never as extreme as they used to be.
I can hear my instinct louder than ever before, and I listen.
She’s always been there, I just didn’t know how—or that it was safe—to listen, before. I now feel so grateful for the way she guides me, and the way I’m continuing to deepen and listen.
I listen to my body as she speaks, too, to ensure I feel safe, and comfortable or confident with my decision. My relationship with her is continuing to grow—the trust, respect, and love.
I can see exactly how I want my life to be, and I feel determined to go and get it. This tends to be the knowing that leaves me feeling fucked-off and full of sorrow and grief, about my present—the life I want to lead isn’t the one I’m leading yet.
My present often feels like it’s getting in the way of this beautiful future I see myself having, and know I can have—and want to have. But if I put my glasses of self-love and compassion on, I see that what I’m doing now is actually laying the foundations for this life to come. It just feels fucking messy.
This intimacy I now have with myself still often feels strange, and I can easily forget that I didn’t have it before my overdose. But any moment I realise where I am now, within myself, compared to where I used to be, I feel like I’ve won the lottery.
As I continue to grow, so does the intimacy and knowledge of myself.
What happened has changed me forever.
It’s been, by far, the most significant event of my life, and one I definitely didn’t plan.
I’d planned it in my mind, many, many times before—I dreamt of it, idealised about it, longed for it as an escape from the almost unbearable reality—but when I was planning, I was planning for a Before and an End.
Instead of an End, I got an After—-something I didn’t expect, but something I’m so fucking grateful that I did get.
When I lay in the back of the ambulance, having just made the call that saved my life and brought me help, I remember so clearly feeling—beneath the foggy haze, the pain, the terror, and the confusion of what was happening around me—a flood of dread wash through my body.
Dread that I now was going to have to face the life that would follow what I just did.
But somehow, in that moment, my decision—and my desire—to live, was stronger than this feeling of dread. Despite a longing for the ground to just swallow me up and for me to hide forever, I sat there in the back of the ambulance, terrified, but cradled by my courage, knowing that was the decision I needed to make.
These last two years have been heartbreakingly hard, painfully isolating, and so fucking weird, but they’ve also been something I’ve gotten to do, and come out the other side saying I did—I got to live, and I’m so glad I did.
I’m now getting to shape the life for myself that I want to live, and the relationship with myself that I want to have—that feels like the ultimate act of self-love, and the greatest gift I can now give to myself, after making the decision to be here.
I didn’t get to know an End.
If anything, I got to know a beginning.
waking up from a dream
In the spring of 2012, I did something I never thought I would actually do.
Suicide was something I had kept as an option, for a very long time—it was something I’d idealised and dreamt about in moments of overwhelming pain, isolation, responsibility, and stress. Having it there as an option, brought a different kind of agonising pain, sorrow, and heartbreak, but this was the comfort and the release—it was somewhere my mind could go for an escape from a seemingly unbearable reality.
Despite this longing for it to happen, I don’t think I ever thought that a suicide attempt would actually be part of my story.
The fact it’s been nearly two years since I attempted, feels almost too surreal to type.
For a big chunk of the last month, I’ve literally felt like I’ve been waking up from both a dream, and a nightmare.
I still do.
This whole time, during the aftermath, I’ve been stepping in and out of a dark and messy cloud, continuously. This cloud’s been full of shame, grief, pain, loss, guilt, heartbreak, trauma, and haunting memories. Each dump of this cloud’s contents—on my head or throughout my body—has taken one of these feelings, to a new level of intensity.
Each dump has always brought insights, but I’ve constantly felt swamped, and in too deep.
It’s only been the last month that I’ve felt like I’ve actually been stepping out into a slightly lighter, less dark, heavy, and haunting, cloud. A cloud where my eyes feel more able to open and see all that’s around me—see reality.
It feels fucking peculiar, though.
I’ve found myself—and am continuing to find myself—in a reality that I’m not so sure I like. In fact, I know a big part of me absolutely hates it.
The bonus of living beneath the dark and heavy cloud, and spending so much time haunted by the past, is that I wasn’t really able to fully see the present. That kind of life was agonisingly difficult and painful, disorientating and confusing, but it was also distracting.
As I’ve started to have this experience of ‘waking up’, I’ve been feeling pissed that I haven’t been in a place to fully look at the present—at my life—until now. I have compassion and understanding, and feel such a relief, that I’m allowing my wounding and need to recover, be here.
But with this, I feel so much anger about where I find myself, physically and emotionally, too.
I feel so angry about the fact that I am still healing.
What the fuck happened to me? What the fuck happened to my life? How the fuck did I find myself here? How the fuck have I been thinking it’s okay to be like this?
These questions spiral inside me daily, and have done so much over the last two years. Their weight just feels stronger, now, because I’m starting to see life outside my overdose-box.
Bringing myself back to the utterly beautiful rebirth that happened as a result of my overdose, has been what’s kept these doubting voices at bay—the ones that question what I did and where I find myself now. But lately, as things have begun to settle and not feel as dramatic, and as I’ve begun to wake up to my present, I’ve often worried that the theory of my rebirth, has just been a sugar coated candy, balancing on the end of a sharp and pointy stick.
I worry that it’s just been something I’ve been saying to convince myself that the overdose was okay.
In these moments of worry, I only have to stop myself and think back to my life before my attempt—I quickly realise that things are so, so, different.
The overdose wasn’t okay, but the rebirth that happened as a result, was undoubtedly real.
I feel shame about the fact I’m only just beginning to feel able to be part of—and like I want to feel part of—’real life’, and a deep sense of self-criticism that the distance I am now starting to feel towards the overdose, is only just happening—two years is fucking ages, right?
I should’ve woken up, recovered, and stepped out from beneath this dark and heavy cloud by now, surely?
In my heart, I know that this isn’t true—that this is trauma. And from my experience, trauma is a tricky bitch. I know, really, that two years is such a short amount of time, considering the impact the event had on me physically, emotionally, and logistically.
The magnitude of my overdose as a life-event, along with the trauma I experienced during and after it, still feels hard to fully comprehend.
What happened, completely changed my life—it completely changed me.
The overdose still visits me randomly throughout my day. I’ll suddenly get insights, or realise something about the event, that I hadn’t before. I see an aspect of it, from a different angle to where I’ve stood before. I stand back and take the eye of someone else who was close to me during that time.
I have memories flood back to me—some that I’ve remembered before, others that are new. For a long time, these memories haunted and terrorised me. All I could do was run and hide, and ensure I felt safe.
A flashback now brings utter beauty, alongside the fear—I’m able to offer myself compassion and a cuddle, in moments I remember things I really don’t want to remember.
I hold myself and say to the wounded, frightened, part of me:
“Fuck, that must have been so hard. You’re so brave, and so amazing. You’re safe now. I love you. I’ve got you. I’m here… It won’t happen again.”
I feel almost constantly confused, at the moment.
I keep expecting someone to hand me a cup of coffee and a biscuit, and tell me these last two years were a dream—I can wake up now, and the life I want to lead, can begin. But I know they won’t, and I know I probably wouldn’t want them to, either.
On this journey of waking up, I’m trying to learn to hand myself, my own cups of coffee and biscuits, in the form of nuggets of life that nourish and inspire me, and bring me hope for my future.
Depending on whether or not my self-evaluating glasses have the ‘I-had-a-rebirth’ lenses in, my life can so easily feel like it’s falling apart—that I’m falling apart.
But if anything, me and my life are falling together.
It just feels kinda messy.
i can't predict the future
I have an inner-psychic.
She can tell the future, flawlessly.
She has endless predications, worst-case scenarios, and convincing stories about what’s going to happen to me and my future.
Her seemingly high-levels of efficiency haunt me hourly.
Every time she hits the ‘predict’ button on her computer, I fill with terror, lose my breath, feel flooded with hopelessness and fear, and my mind spins-out. Her predictions involve various subjects and traumas of my life—my suicide attempt being one of them.
My inner psychic has been letting me know how my overdose—and the trauma surrounding it—will happen again, and has been warning me that it’s about to, almost non-stop the last two years. It’s been exhausting, incredibly confusing but believable, and has impacted almost every decision I’ve made.
However, a couple of weeks ago, I had just stepped into a session with her, when a voice stepped in stronger than ever before, saying:
“It won’t happen again—it can’t. There’s no way it could. You’re safe. You’re okay.”
My mind and body had started their spiral into doom, panic, and blinding anxiety, but immediately, they pulled back, and things settled. There was a stillness within me.
The familiar fear no longer had a hold.
I felt calm.
This moment felt profound, because—until that point—the voice suggesting that the overdose won’t happen again, or that perhaps my inner psychic isn’t all that, has only felt like a faint whisper, drifting loosely above my head. It hasn’t been a voice I could hold hands with and feel held by, let alone believe.
But in this moment, I genuinely believed what this voice had to say.
I believed and knew with my whole body that what this voice said, was true: the overdose won’t happen again, and there’s literally no way it could.
After spending the last almost-two years crippled with such a deep and believable fear that it will and it could, and doing everything I can to prevent it from doing so, this moment felt profound. I felt a deep sense of relief, freedom, self-trust, and confidence, for the first time in ages. The possibility of not reading into my every move, felt like it could—for the first time—be mine.
Since then, it has begun to be.
I’m starting to really respect this part of me—my inner parent—and trust what she has to say is true.
The more I believe her, the more she’s here to reassure and hold me, in moments of panic.
Since my attempt, I have an internal alarm system that goes off in moments of perceived danger or threat, all based on the trauma that happened around when I overdosed: moments in which my inner-psychic is predicting the future; times when memories are triggered; moments where flashbacks show up for no apparent reason.
The alarm takes me swiftly from the present, dramatically into the past—the overdose seemingly happened five minutes ago, is happening now, or is about to happen any second.
It’s snuck in and woken me whilst I’ve been sleeping, resting, or doing, so much over the last two years.
At various points, it was almost constant—now, it’s not so much.
There’s ground beneath my feet that I can stand on whilst my body remembers whatever she’s remembering. And now the voice of my inner parent is increasingly able to take the reigns when my inner-psychic is blasting me with predictions.
My inner-psychic might be bad-ass, but she can’t tell the future, and neither can any other parts of me—no matter how hard I try, or how hard I want to.
That’s terrifying and frustrating, but I’m gradually beginning to find moments of comfort in it—I can’t predict the future, so it means I can only be with what I have now.
And right now, despite whatever anxiety is racing in my mind:
Two years ago, today, I overdosed.
The fact this anniversary is here again is nuts.
The fact I can even write about it is even more nuts.
And the fact it is today is off-the-scale nuts.
Last year I was flooded with a whirlwind of trauma, haunting memories, and bodily sensations, that created an almost unbearable hurricane inside of me. The event was seemingly happening, or going to happen again, and all I could do was hold on.
This year, it’s different.
I think time has played a part in it, too—with another year having passed, things have softened even more.
With what is here, there’s a distance and a peace around it. An acceptance of the fear and anxiety that’s churning inside of me. A freedom within the fear, rather than only a freedom when I’m not feeling it.
There’s a freedom to look the fear in the face and say, “I see you, but I’m not listening to you”. Or, I tell it to fuck off. Or, I gently but firmly, tell myself all the ways in which what the fear is saying, isn’t true—could no way be true, or happen, or simply that this fear (no matter how convincing) has no better ability of telling the future than I do.
I tell myself all the ways in which it’s okay: I’m okay.
I self-talk my way out the other side of the crippling anxiety, trying to convince me that what happened two years ago, is about to happen again.
I self-talk my way through the forest that lies inside of me, in relation to the event.
There are the dark patches of trees where shadow and emptiness lies. The pockets of darkness in which my wounding and my sorrow is all I can seemingly see. No words, only tears, can bring me any release. I long to avoid or hide from these deep and dark spots, but every time I do, they only get bigger, more widespread, and burrow seemingly deeper. I fear them taking hold and me losing myself and my sanity, completely. I fear them ridding my ability to connect with the tall, strong, and stable, trees that also lie within me.
I sometimes run, and sometimes it feels like I run a lot, but when I look closely, I never run as much as I used to.
Lately, I’ve been building up my ability to connect with these tall, strong and stable trees, no matter how deep into my forest they’ve seemingly strayed or how madly I’ve seemingly run around in circles, beforehand.
Once I tap into my toolkit and find myself again, I stand tall and stand stable inside my anxious wanderings. I can bend down and meet the dark patches, nose-to-nose, with a friendly compassionate warmth and understanding. I can sit beside the deep dark voids, and only venture in, in little stages, when I feel strong enough.
I allow myself to lose myself because I trust I can find myself again.
I can meet the grief that is with me, too.
The grief is the mossy undergrowth between my toes that’s cold and damp, and seemingly foreign, but as soon as I step on it, I know I’ve come home. The release this grief brings, is the release that the forest fire of rage and agony burning inside me, needs.
But it hurts, and I feel afraid.
The discomfort the moss leaves beneath my feet easily feels like the last place I want to be—the pain is too much to bare, and the last place I want to take my weary and tired body. So I run, desperate for a way out without feeling the grief and pain. Eventually—after heading in anxiety-ridden circles, running head first into trees and shrubs, and getting stuck in the same internal fear-spiral—I always find my way back to the moss, to the grief. I always end up face-first in a bucket full of tears, and I am always so glad I have.
It’s the release that my body wanted, the clarity my mind needed.
Over the last year or so, my time stood on this moss—with my grief—has left me sobbing and crumbling for hours. Lately though, my grief has come in short, intense, bursts—five minutes, max. ten. Catching me and bringing me to my knees, but finishing almost as suddenly as they began.
Inside I feel tight and constricted, like ivy is wrapped around my internal trees. I long to burst open and to feel free, to feel the full release I need, but there’s a safety hatch that’s tightly on, at the moment, keeping me safe from letting go of too much.
I fear I’m not ‘releasing enough’, or ‘working on this enough’ or allowing myself to ‘feel enough’, but these fears stem from the shit my critic is throwing around—my critic is the shifty little forest troll, that lives beneath a stone and only pops out to throw some shit around.
He rarely sleeps.
Amongst this forest is the scattered debris lying along the floor—the thick and toxic debris of trauma. The shit that seemingly strips me of my ability to self-love and nurture, or simply just makes it so much harder to find. It’s an internal dialogue and a determination to self-destruct, make life hard for myself. I try to figure it all out, because I fear letting go and being gentle, but all I need to do when this debris takes over, is move.
Get into my body. Get out of my head.
“This is trauma”, has become my mantra.
The part of my forest that I feel most grateful for today, are the patches of light and joy that stream in through the trees: the utter joy and celebration, and relief, that I am alive.
I am here.
And not only am I alive, but I am beginning to truly thrive.
My insides are glowing with love for myself in a way they never did, before. My ability to parent myself is blossoming and blooming as each day goes forth.
Two years ago, today, on the day I tried to take my own life, I pretty quickly decided I wanted it back. I made the decision to be here, and it doesn’t get much cooler than that.
Today is the day I decided to step into the being I knew I always deserved to be, but couldn’t find beneath my wounding. Now it’s here—this new me, together with my wounding—on a journey of healing and blossoming.
The journey’s been (and is) messy, fucking confusing, so incredibly isolating, and excruciatingly painful, but it’s been a journey that has so been worth living. And the journey I was so desperately needing.
Seeing this anniversary come, and seeing the pain it’s brought with it, fills me with dread and fear for the few days ahead, but it also fills me with pride. To watch myself be able to sit with my pain and survive through it, through the days, in the way I am now doing, is so far from where I was a year ago.
I’m not as haunted by this event as I used to be, and that, to me, feels as though I’ve won the internal lottery.
Finally, there’s a freedom within me that I used to find so, so, difficult to see, know, or trust, would one day be what I would feel. And now it is! Now this freedom that people used to tell me would, and could, happen, is something I now not only see, but it’s something I also feel in my body and my mind, too.
There’s the need to sunbathe and soak up the warmth when I reach these areas within my forest. The nakedness and openness of the relief and gratitude. The sense of freedom and self-love.
I want to climb to the top of the sun-glistened tree that stands next to the sun-filled clearing inside of me, and tell the world that I’m free—the trauma is no longer haunting me. I want to tell them I’m alive, I’m here, I survived.
I want to tell them that today is my birthday—my re-birthday—and I am so, so, glad it is.