Is Suicide a Choice? A Survivor’s Perspective

First of all: yes, of course it is a choice. BUT…and this is an important but…a non-suicidal person pointing this out to someone in acute crisis tends to come laden with judgement, whether implicit or explicit, intended or not. It often is: “Well, it’s your choice, so just decide” “It’s your choice, so why are… Continue reading Is Suicide a Choice? A Survivor’s Perspective

Help with Emotions

Emotions are tricky little buggers. They really are.

And for some of us they feel down right impossible to cope with, understand, recognise and even simply to have. I struggle in many ways with emotions…others’ but mainly my own. I also give myself a hard time about that fact and expect myself to ‘do better’ or ‘feel the right thing’. Knowing this, and knowing that I’m facing a particularly turbulent time*, last week the crisis team manager had me do an exercise where I stood in the middle of a room surrounded by different sized pieces of paper and alotted emotions to those pieces of paper according to how much I was feeling them at the time. We then went through several different scenarios and changed the emotions around accordingly. This was to show me that even if I was being hard on myself and expecting to feel the ‘right’ emotions (e.g. happy or relieved that the placement is definite rather than scared or anxious) or feeling that I would feel one emotion forever, in fact recent history shows that emotions fluctuate massively in their presence or size and that I can feel many things at once without invalidating anything else that’s going on.

I found the exercise incredibly helpful (although it felt quite painful at the time) and today decided to recreate it in a portable and reusable form. I already have benefited from this – working out what is actually going on inside me rather than just a broad ‘overwhelmed’- and thought it’s a concept worth sharing in case anyone else wants to give something similar a go in any of its forms.

So here is a concept borne of the crisis team manager’s work with me:

This is in my visual journal but could be on a standalone piece of card or inside a diary or something similar, with very basic boxes drawn on the page, and colour-coded emotions cut out in card and blue-tacked to the appropriate box at that moment in time.

Let me know if you’ve used something similar or gave this a go!

*in the latter stages of preparing for a long-term specialist hospital placement, hours away from home/family/care team, in a locked and mainly unknown environment, after my last placement collapsed for financial reasons with just 28 days notice and after not fulfilling their promises/purpose

What I Woke Up To This Morning

What I woke up to this morning, snuck up by the staff while I slept:
“Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take the step.”

The Day My Family Said Goodbye

***TRIGGER WARNING: DISCUSSION OF SUICIDE, NEAR DEATH, BEREAVEMENT*** Yesterday, my family were told to prepare themselves for my death and were called in to Resus to say their goodbyes. This was at my own hand. We’ve had many close calls –  a stint in intensive care, 3 lots of CPR+adrenaline,  5+ admissions to high dependency… Continue reading The Day My Family Said Goodbye

The Monster and Me

***TRIGGER WARNING: Suicidal Ideation and Self Harm*** I wrote this the night before a very close call with death, to try to help explain to those helping me what I feel and experience – why I had to sacrifice my life.  “I’m terrified at the moment that any sort of hope or progress is going… Continue reading The Monster and Me

How Does This All Work?

WARNING: DISCUSSION OF THE THOUGHT PROCESSES SURROUNDING SELF HARM AND SUICIDAL IDEATION – PLEASE TAKE CARE READING ON IF YOU MIGHT BE TRIGGERED OR UPSET BY THIS As I start typing this, it’s 2am, and I’ve only just finished a 3 hour conversation with the person working the ‘waking night’ shift at my placement, who… Continue reading How Does This All Work?

Missing Loved Ones’ Lives

I hate being poorly.  I hate not being there for the people I love.  I hate not being the one people feel they can turn to for support any more (even though they really can still).  I hate missing weddings and birthdays and celebrations.  I hate not hearing the news first hand, both good and… Continue reading Missing Loved Ones’ Lives

Awareness Without Provision…Still

Unfortunately my post from last year’s Suicide Awareness Day/Week is still sadly pertinent. Source: Awareness Without Provision  “This week is suicide prevention week and there’s a lot of discussion and debate about the support appropriate for those in suicidal crisis – how to prevent one killing oneself and, better, how to prevent reaching such a… Continue reading Awareness Without Provision…Still

Being a Non-Thing

In therapy today we discussed what my psychotherapist called my “perplexing” notion of what effect my death would have as well as the disproportionate and unusually fast jump that my head makes from me upsetting someone or having any kind of negative impact on any other human to the solution being my death. We came… Continue reading Being a Non-Thing

A Befuddling Day

Trigger warning: discussion of suicide.  I was supposed to die today. My plans were firm, my reasoning was definite in my head, I’d found ways to say goodbye without actually saying the words. I was meant to be dead.  Then, in a frenzy, I had a phonecall from the crisis team manager who didn’t have… Continue reading A Befuddling Day

What a Month of My Art Therapy Looks Like

Art therapy for me is a valuable and unique way of experiencing and expressing my thoughts, feelings and emotions – and sometimes a rare chance to just be a bit playful or make something a bit pretty, depending on what is going on for me at the time. I’ve been lucky enough to receive a month’s worth of sessions (once or twice weekly, depending on bank holidays and the therapist’s leave) which come to an end on Monday so I thought now was a good opportunity to reflect upon what I’ve created over the past month.

From the start of this batch of sessions, the Art Psychotherapist, who has worked with me before, decided that a great project for me would be for me to try to test out creating very large, free, uncontrolled pieces where possible as I tend to let perfectionism and anxiety hold me back into creating very small and controlled pieces rather than letting my time in art therapy tap into the more raw emotions. We’ve both been pleased with the results of this project and the difference we have noticed in me whilst I create these pieces. It has been freeing and a completely new experience for me.

So, what have I done? Below is a taster. Most of these are created on A2 or A1 paper, mainly using paint (whether that me using standard brushes, rollers, sponges, fingers, or even squirting straight from the bottle), but sometimes using pens or pastels or a mix of media. Some of it is much more a reflection of my internal state whilst others were more about trying to be a bit playful and have some fun. I hope this gives some insight into what Art Therapy can look like.

12/05/2017

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Self-destruction in clay form

15/05/2017

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Emotional pain exploding from the head, tarnishing the world
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Just flowers!
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My internal world

19/05/2017

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Mess, confusion, confliction – walled in by pain and darkness
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The mess and confusion of my internal world
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Playing with painting with my fingers on a very large scale
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A session’s work

22/5/2017

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The monster in my head
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Hand for scale of the monster in my head

02/06/2017

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My internal world: pain, fear, overwhelming thoughts & emotions, and torment – spreading and tarnishing the world around me

12/06/2017

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Playing to make a pretty mess
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Close up of a pretty mess
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Close up of a pretty mess
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Close up of a pretty mess
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My world: cold darkness externally enshrouding internal explosions
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Pretty, though…

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The suicide monster with a tiny me in its grips

I’d really recommend anyone who has the opportunity gives art therapy a go; it is nothing to do with ‘Art’ or ‘talent’ or ‘ability’ but about connecting to and expressing your thoughts/feelings/emotions or being a bit playful at times when that feels impossible. I hadn’t done any kind of art since the start of secondary school (and even then that was begrudgingly) when I first tried art therapy, and believe me I was beyond sceptical, but look at all that is has sparked in me since…!

How the Suicide Monster Takes Over 

My suicide monster is sneaky. It convinces me that my immense toxicity impacts everyone around me to such an extent that I HAVE to kill myself or face the guilt and sheer ‘wrongness’ of continuing to inflict myself on the world. It creates a cold, calculating, detached haze in order to stop the sadness or fear the teeny bit of me left might feel in case that selfishly stops me acting for the greater good of everyone. 

A Humbled Thank You

I was humbled and blessed to be notified today that I have been featured in a wonderful blog post discussing the online mental health community. The whole post is well worth a read and can be found here: http://theanxietytracker.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/five-blogs-of-thanks-5th-anniversary-of_12.html?m=1 An exerpt that I’m featured in follows: “Leaders in the field This list of Twitterites range from… Continue reading A Humbled Thank You