*Self-harm / suicide*
Right. I feel about ready to start talking about the last week…. I had a breakdown last Friday. It’s related to things I’ve written about recently. I don’t fancy going back over it all. Let’s just say I gave the Wellbeing Centre something to read, and wasn’t given the opportunity to say necessary things as I did so. I didn’t get to explain that I was not requesting what I had originally asked for from them. Nothing needed saying or doing. Only acknowledgement it had been read if anything. I didn’t get to say I didn’t blame ‘X’ for any of it and I didn’t want him to blame himself. I didn’t get to say I had blocked emails from ‘Z’ because I was so triggered by her response. I didn’t get to say the most important bit … that I needed to feel I was in control of what happened next. I needed to be the one to decide if I continued at the group and the Centre. If that choice was taken from me and made for me, it would render me powerless. And powerlessness, alongside humiliation, is one of my most massive triggers. Always has been. It would also have shown they weren’t listening to me – as the group is not the problem…. my feelings for X are not the problem…. the problem was the handling of the situation and how it made me feel. If I was told the Centre was no longer the place for me it would be the worst thing in the world.
So I was not given the chance to explain what I was handing over to X. I had to just throw it in front of him, sit through the group massively triggered, and then leave, knowing that was it…. after I handed the writing over I wasn’t going to talk anymore, so I didn’t get that closure I needed, and didn’t get to explain anything. It left a whole load of uncertainty because I didn’t know what they’d make of it, and without the explanation I needed to quickly give, it was likely there would be misunderstandings on their side. X said he would read it after the groups and he’d email (text) me later. I wandered around town, considering how to end my life that day. I had my first breakdown of last week when I got home. I think I’ve written about this already.
I waited all week, dreading a response yet longing for one too. I thought he had forgotten. Or that he was avoiding dealing with me. I had sent a text on the Wednesday saying:
“Hi X. If you’ve read what I wrote, then I hope you can understand just how difficult it was for me to ask to have that final conversation at the end. I feared that rejection I got.
I understand you felt you couldn’t and I know you said I could talk to someone else but you guys were the only ones I trusted. I don’t want to talk to anyone else about this anymore. I only needed 5 mins to explain a couple of things associated with what I wrote. After nearly 3 weeks of sheer hell I just needed a minute to feel heard & to relieve the anxiety I felt, all alone for the longest fortnight of my life. It’s all I would’ve needed. Being denied that was like being denied what I asked from Z… it replicated the very thing I needed to tell you about. Z made me feel worthless… like a number… a burden. Yesterday confirmed that for me. And again I’m sorry I took up so much of your time and made you late that one time. I felt awful about it. Now I pay the price for that.
So yes, I’m extra triggered now and have to get through at least another week of feeling even worse than the last 3… knowing there will be no relief because I’m never opening up again. That was to be the last time. Once I handed the writing over that was it… no more talking. So I had no closure. Everything’s a giant mess. And I don’t know the way out of it anymore.
I waited for a response. I wasn’t even sure he received that text. I waited and waited, and on Friday at 16:59 I got a reply:
“Hi L, I understand it was difficult for you to ask for a conversation with us at the end of the group. I’m sorry you have felt rejected and not heard. As I said to you on Tuesday, we have been late for the second group on more than one occasion and you are not the reason for that so try not to feel responsible.
After reading your letters we appreciate this situation has triggered a lot of distressing feelings for you and we respect and support your decision not to talk to anyone connected to the Wellbeing Centre, about this anymore. It is sad to hear you feel stuck in your head and are feeling this badly about it all. Although we want to support people’s mental health recovery, we are unable to support your recovery in the way you have requested.
I would urge you to seek support from outside our service. Like you have suggested _______ is one possibility but there is also _____ that covers more general matters as well as bereavement. Another option would be to contact your GP and ask to be referred to the CMHT. I believe they may be better suited to support your recovery needs.
Kind regards ‘X’ ”
Can you imagine how that would feel? Not only was I being denied the help I needed (even though I wasn’t still asking for it – and he’d have known that if he’d given me a couple of minutes at the end of the group!!), but that last paragraph sounded very much like being abandoned by the whole service. Like being passed on to someone else as they couldn’t cope with me. The last sentence – ‘I believe they may be better suited to support your recovery needs’….. wouldn’t that make you think you’d been ditched? Especially if you were already in a heightened emotional state like I was.
The worst part was that I received that perceived total abandonment at one minute to five on a Friday…. and then his phone would’ve gone off and it would be too late to contact anyone else regarding this. That’s what caused my breakdown. I felt entirely rejected and abandoned, and had no options left. The Centre closed at 5pm. I knew I had to cope over the weekend by myself – entirely by myself, because nobody in my family knows about this – I don’t want them to. So it was kind of like ‘It is sad to hear you feel stuck in your head and are feeling this badly about it all… but here you go, have some more to feel bad about, stuck in your head all weekend on your own!’ … it’s what made me feel I couldn’t survive the weekend. I couldn’t even survive that night.
I immediately harmed myself, quite badly. But I wasn’t in my body as I did it. I was watching. I was totally numb. I felt nothing. That was really scary, as I could so easily have continued and I’d have felt nothing. I did something that was actually quite risky and I wouldn’t normally have done, but at that point I didn’t care if I lived or died. That’s the truth. I wanted to die, but what I did wasn’t an active bid to do so. It was more an indifference. But mainly I wasn’t in control of myself anyway. So it just was what it was.
It didn’t make me feel any better. I texted X back, knowing his phone would be off, so he’d probably never get the texts anyway, as usually if you text while his phone is off he won’t get it when he turns it on next (which wouldn’t be until Tuesday just gone)… in my mind he probably knew that, so that’s why he left it to the last minute, so I wouldn’t respond. That’s my opinion. I said:
“Guess that’s that then. Should never have said a word. This is worse than ____ ( – the other place I went to). Sounded from what you said that I’m no longer welcome at the group / centre … I’m sorry for all this. I never wanted any of it. L”
And a bit later, added:
“And my recovery need was just to know I mattered and wasn’t an awful person. I guess the opposite is true. Human kindness and compassion was all I needed. I didn’t know that was asking too much. I won’t be asking for help elsewhere. This was it. I can’t go through this ever again. I’m done. Thank you for everything. Sorry it had to end this way. L”
At that moment I wanted to die. I thought I was going to. That was my goodbye. I don’t know if he even got those replies in the end. I regretted sending them once I was out of my ‘dissociation phase’… but part of me hopes he did get them, so he knows the pain I was in.
I did many things that night that I regret… some I don’t properly remember. One was potentially dangerous. I sat in the chaos and mess for three hours, afraid to move. Too overwhelmed to begin to clear things up. I didn’t know where to start. It took me that long before I got up, washed my face and cleaned / patched myself up.
During those three hours I phoned the Samaritans. Self-harm wasn’t helping. I knew diazepam wouldn’t calm me down either. I was trapped. I knew I had to phone them or I’d end my life one way or another. I spoke to a man there, which concerned me at first, given the topic that had triggered the whole thing, but he was really helpful. Talking to him, and talking to someone online who’s been a rock for me lately, helped me to see things in a different light. It brought the emotions down to a more manageable level. I did end up taking the diazepam after that, as my mind was obsessing over things and I was too emotionally delicate. I needed the noise to stop. All I did was tell my family that I wasn’t okay, but didn’t want to talk about it. It was just so they knew I was fragile.
I talked with the Samaritans about how hard it is in that moment to see beyond that moment. The possibility of things feeling better (or different, as he said it might – rather than ‘better’) in the morning or in a few days, was impossible for me to see. In that moment all there was, was that moment. The pain of it. The despair of it. I couldn’t imagine surviving the weekend. I couldn’t see me surviving that night. I can see why people do end up taking their lives… because in that moment there is nothing else – there is no chance for change. There is no feeling better in the morning. They’re caught up in that intense moment and if they don’t reach out and get another perspective, they can’t see beyond it. Had I not reached out to the Samaritans that night I would’ve been consumed by that moment too.
But the next morning not only did it feel different… it felt better. I had anger. Anger at X. It’s almost as if getting that text on the Friday evening broke the spell…. if he could do that to me, then maybe he wasn’t as special as I first thought. He kind of fell off the pedestal I’d put him on. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise. That’s not to say it’s a good thing. I won’t ever let them think they did right by me, by pushing me to that point I had to fight for myself. But that’s where I got to the next morning. I found fighting spirit in me. I thought ‘Hell no, I’m not going to let them destroy all the work I’ve done to recover as much as I have’. I wasn’t going to let them dictate my story. I wouldn’t let them win.
How it was left, I was unsure if I was even welcome at the group on Tuesday, but rather than avoid it, I decided I would be there, even if I wasn’t meant to. Even if it made X uncomfortable. I would not be forced out, without even being consulted on it. I seriously went there on Tuesday, full of anxiety at the prospect of being turned away and told I wasn’t welcome anymore. Because that’s how the text had made me feel on Friday.
But I turned up and everything seemed normal. It was as if nothing had happened at all. I kept quite quiet in the group. And then when it was my chance to talk I mentioned I had a breakdown on the Friday. I didn’t say what had led to it. I didn’t give anything away to anyone, but X would’ve known what I was referring to. It was hard talking about it. It’s not like I took joy in doing it, but I figured I needed to get it out there, to explain how I feel. I talked about how much I learned from the experience. I spoke positively about moving forward, putting all this behind me and starting from here. Anyone who knows me would know it is most definitely not behind me. I just said that to be able to feel more comfortable there and to be a people pleaser. I talked about giving myself the things others won’t give me – so liking myself, valuing myself, being proud of myself etc. – screw those who don’t feel that way, I’ll do it myself. That was a subtle dig obviously… I know that even if I do those things it’s not enough. Only I seem to understand what it was I needed and most importantly WHY. But I’m done explaining it to people now. They clearly don’t want to help me, so I’ll pretend to help myself. My ability to do these things for myself actually hinged on getting that validation from X. But never mind.
Now I will do what I said I would in my letter. I’ll pretend I’m better than I am. I’ll go there and act normal, talk about boring stuff, smile, keep people happy. It was nice to be able to go there and act normal. It kind of gave me my power back a little bit. I did what I will always do at the end now. Swiftly got out of there. Won’t be talking to them anymore. Limited interaction. They know everything now. It’s their fault for not listening.
I had asked to speak to someone after the group, so I did that, and I talked about the three things that happened, that if done differently would’ve saved me from a breakdown… starting with Z – if she had just been honest to start with and told me what I asked for was not possible, however…. then I would’ve known. The way she dealt with it seemed rushed, like I was being fobbed off and not being listened to… then she was off, and so was the group for a fortnight. So I had two weeks of resentment building, thinking people were ignoring what I was saying. So I wrote what I did…. the second point was that if I had been given two minutes to explain it as I handed it to X, then I would never have received the text on the Friday from him, because he would’ve known I wasn’t making a request, nothing needed doing, he wouldn’t understood the manner and tone of what I wrote, and he’d have known how I’d feel about having the decision made for me that I couldn’t attend anymore. He’d have known I’d be sensitive to that feeling of abandonment and powerlessness. And the third point was that if X hadn’t left it until the final minute of the working week to send that message, then I’d have had options that didn’t include suicide.
If he had done it at exactly the same time but on the Thursday, that’d be different. It would’ve allowed me to have my breakdown on the Thursday (which might not have been so bad, as I’d have not felt so trapped without options!), and then on the Friday I could’ve got in touch with someone else from the Wellbeing Centre to confirm the situation, ask if I was even welcome there still, and to talk about it all if necessary. The same could be said if I’d been contacted Friday morning…. I could’ve done something about it. It was the fact I had to wait until at least Monday to do anything at all. That’s what nearly killed me. I hope that’s fed back to him so he understands the impact that would have on someone like me.
So I let my feelings be known about the handling of the situation. For once it would be nice to hear ‘We cocked up, we’re sorry…. how can we fix this with you?’ But pigs might fly. Nobody takes responsibility anymore. It’s a shame, as that’s the story of my life, socially too.
It turns out I am welcome there… it’s just unfortunate that message didn’t shine through from X last Friday. One thing I talked to this other person about is that the IAPT service left me unhealed, therefore I feared this happening again. And it did. And now they want to leave it unhealed too. So I said I know it WILL happen again, because it’s unhealed and always will be. So I talked about how difficult it is that I’d been denied healing at the last place and now here. I can’t go through it a third time. I won’t survive that. I can barely survive this. I don’t think anyone understands how distressing and intense it is to develop these feelings in this setting. And the handling of it is so important. But because few people talk about these feelings, little is known about it or how to handle it. As I keep finding out. Apparently people aren’t usually as open and honest about it as I’ve been. Trouble is it makes me feel abnormal because they handle it wrong. So I know I must be the only one they’ve faced. I wish they could’ve helped this time. I trusted them to. Now I will leave with open wounds. And will have to avoid mental health services in the future, because I know this will happen again, thanks to the Wellbeing Centre denying me a very simple nod of the head, which could’ve prevented all of this and a future of pain for me. That’s what bugs me. It was so simple. That one little gesture could’ve fixed my whole life. Now it’ll never be fixed.
The thing that’s troubled me since discussing this with that other person afterwards, is I was given the sense that it was actually X who didn’t want to help me in the way I’d asked. I’d always assumed it was his supervisor (Z). It’s tough now, thinking he is the one holding me back from my recovery. Changes my view of him. But also throws up lots of questions and theories about why it is. Could it be he’s uncomfortable with his emotions? Could it be he fears me or is disgusted by me, and can’t fathom forcing words out that could heal me, because they’re such lies? Could it be he has some sort of feelings towards me too, and worries that by helping me in the way I’d asked, it would make them stronger? It feels big-headed to suggest that last one, but it’s something I’ve not really considered before. Maybe it’s not as fully one-sided as I’ve always stated. Doesn’t mean he feels the same for me, or that anything could happen. I’m a realist here. But everyone’s human. He could feel something. It may not be about me being a risk to them, but him being a risk to me… It could be to stop him falling for me and risking his own job. That’s what I mean – it’s so open, the possibilities for why it wasn’t granted. It makes my mind go haywire. It could be the one I believe most – that he wants me to suffer… he thinks he knows best and that denying me it, will help me more. In which case f*** him / them. Had that at the IAPT place, them making me push myself instead of helping me how I asked. All it did was damage my trust in them and stopped me asking for help. Or the other possibility is that he’s just like all the guys I’ve known in my life, and likes the ego-stroke – I had mentioned that being allowed the closure might stop me from longing for someone as long as I usually do in the absence of closure. It might help me move on. Maybe he doesn’t want me to move on. Maybe he wants to know that I still want him and can’t get over him….
Do you see how this one little decision to deny me the healing I needed, has thrown every possible explanation into the air and confused the hell out of me? Denying me what I needed to hear drags me in two very different directions – one where he couldn’t confirm the things I needed to believe, because the opposite is actually the truth, and the other one where he can’t confirm them because he has feelings too… him reassuring me of the things I asked for would’ve settled the question for good. It would have firmly told me he feels nothing for me, but he still values me as a person. It’s what I needed. The denial of that tells me he either doesn’t value me as a person or he does feel something, if he can’t say those words on a professional level. If I had been allowed what I asked for, or even a quarter of what I asked for, none of this would’ve happened and everything would be right in the world again. I know it. No matter what anyone says, it would’ve been enough for me.
I do honestly believe that everything I needed to hear but was denied, is now untrue. That the opposite is felt instead. I do feel inferior in the group. I feel uncomfortable. At times I felt that X was saying things broadly to the group, but as a means of saying some of the things I’d needed to hear… almost like making up for not doing it…. but I don’t know. It missed the point anyway. I accept my fate now, that I am a number in mental health services, and they don’t care that I feel that way. Because it’s a fact. To them it’s a fact. The person I spoke to at the end also said that he thinks the things I asked for are all true anyway. That didn’t help because did he mean he thinks they’re true from his perspective? Just like Z said things… or did he mean that he thinks X would agree too? That wasn’t clear. And the point is if X doesn’t think those things it doesn’t matter what anyone else tells me. They just don’t get that.
I’ve told them I need to turn this around because I won’t seek help elsewhere in the future. It’s fine them saying the CMHT are more suited to my needs, but that would mean I have to find someone I feel this way about in the CMHT and pray to God they will help me in the way these previous two places refused to. I wouldn’t hold my breath. The mental health team would probably reject me anyway. So I’m not being passed on just to avoid them dealing with me. The point is, going to another service to discuss how I feel about X, makes no sense. I know what it is I need. It was very simple to do. They refused to do it. There could have been a way they could’ve done it that would’ve satisfied us both. They just didn’t want to. No amount of talking about him to someone else will deliver what I asked for. And their withholding of what I asked for is cruel. It was very basic, yet left me feeling I was asking too much. That I was too demanding. Imagine what that does to the self-worth…
I’m not okay with the Wellbeing Centre. I’m not okay with Z. I’m not okay with X even. Yes I still have feelings for him. But they’re not all love and light now. But I won’t let them / him beat me. I will make them face me every week, reminded of how they let me down… how they destroyed my recovery…. I won’t leave. That would be too easy for them.
This will always hurt. I don’t know how I can cope with it to be honest. I feel so angry. I feel frustrated, resentful, paranoid, untrusting, trapped, humiliated, worthless, ignored, silenced and very, very hurt. But my options are to push on through it all, or to die. So I will fight for as long as I can. I won’t be a bother to them. I will be pleasant. I will put on a mask. I may even accidentally make them feel like they’ve helped me, that I’ve turned a corner and feel better…. but they haven’t, I haven’t and I don’t. It’s all a lie. I’m just a stubborn bitch who doesn’t give up. My heart will close now, for good. I will make others feel comfortable. That’s my aim. And I will stuff down everything I feel. If this affects me badly further down the road, so be it… they could’ve prevented it. And they will always know that.