A Little Help From My Friends

I consider myself lucky to have such amazingly supportive friends and family, because if I didn’t, I might not be writing this. I might have killed myself.

Three weeks ago I had what I thought was an epiphany, only no one else saw it as that and my husband and friends told me I wasn’t well. I didn’t believe them but I trust them all enough to know they wouldn’t lie to me, so that contradiction in itself was unsettling to my new found truth. But not enough to shake it unfortunately.

I realised while looking at Ava that she is going to die. All the worrying and upset and stress I’ve put myself through since she was born, partly as a result of normal parental anxiety and partly down to the post natal psychosis and possibly the Zoladex, it’s all pointless. She’s going to die one day anyway. All of us are. All of my children are going to die and their beautiful faces will cease to exist. I’ve given them life and sentenced them to death at the same time. Life is a pointless and futile struggle leading inexorably towards only death, and absolutely nothing we do, say, feel, achieve or attain matters because we will die and all those things will die with us. And what is the value of one human life when viewed in the perspective of the entire universe, since its creation and until its end? Nothing.

The next ‘logical’ step in my thinking was that suicide is the only true free will we have as humans. And therefore I should obviously kill myself.

I was convinced this was an epiphany and I had understood the meaning of life, taken the red pill and been unplugged from the matrix, and that the only other people who knew this truth had either already killed themselves or were about to. This resulted not in my death, as we can see, but in two weeks and two days on a psychiatric ward as a ‘voluntary’ admission. The word ‘voluntary’ is a bit confusing because I was told in no uncertain terms that if I refused to stay ‘voluntarily’ I’d be sectioned under the mental health act, and that would make life pretty hard for me. It was more of a gun to the head than an actual gun to the head (which incidentally is not always successful and some poor sod has to find that mess if you do succeed, plus guns are hard to come by in the UK, so I ruled that one out early on).

So later that same night I found myself sitting alone on the bed in my sparse ‘suite’ feeling imprisoned, lonely, terrified and very confused. Even the mental health professionals, who I’d only agreed to see because I was convinced they’d know I was as sane, lucid and logical as I felt, didn’t get it. No one did. But it felt so right…

This isn’t the first psychosis I’ve experienced since Ava was born, but this is the first one where I’ve had a casual disregard for my own life and it was worrying in its intensity. I’m now under psychiatric care until long after I’m well again, and have to take Aripiprozole – an antipsychotic medication – indefinitely. If it works, it’s not something I’d consider stopping anyway. Feeling the way I did three weeks ago is not something I’d like to experience again, and the Crisis Team will be coming out to me every day to make sure I don’t have a relapse. The silver lining to all this was a reminder of how absolutely fucking amazing my family and friends are. Nate did a Sterling Archer job of looking after Ava, Sami, Zaki and Holly (who mostly looks after herself fortunately), obviously stubbornly refusing outside offers of help. Holly managed to fit doing laundry around her college work. My mum did her best to deal with my mental health issues while feeding everyone. Nate, Holly, my mum and my friends demonstrated the very definition of stepping up by visiting me, bringing me supplies, giving me lifts to and from home, taking me out for walks, talking endlessly to me about why suicide isn’t the meaning of life, letting me know they were there for me with phone calls, texts and WhatsApp conversation, and bringing me books…

Since I’ve been home people have come round and cooked and washed up for me every day. My mum did all the washing and almost cancelled her holiday. I’ve barely been alone. If I’ve learnt anything from this experience it’s how loved and supported I am. When I look back now I can’t imagine why I thought killing myself was a good idea when I have this lot knocking about still alive and laughing both with me and at me. Special kudos has to go to Lesley, who took me to hospital on that first night and had to leave me there – I can only imagine how hard that must have been for her but I am so grateful she did it. And Andrea, who has taken my mental health by its neck, held it up against a wall, and told it in no uncertain terms that she’s there for me, unreservedly, day or night, and with any issue it wants to come up with next. I’ve been an invalid and she’s been my carer. The unconditional love that has been demonstrated to me by my family and friends has made life worth holding on to in the darkest hours, as has the thought of my crazy, beautiful, delightful children.

Unfortunately I’m not better yet, even though I’m much improved. They repeatedly made me aware when I was being discharged from hospital that I’m well enough to leave hospital, but recovery is a long, slow process. I’m pretty sure the pattern of psychotic events follows my four weekly Zoladex injections. Zoladex works by suppressing the pituitary gland and stopping it producing hormones. Oestrogen functions not only as the trigger for ovulation, but also as an aid for neurotransmitter activity in the brain. Simply, it helps your brain cells communicate with each other. If oestrogen levels are affected by something massive like childbirth, a hormone suppressant, or better still a combination of the the two, then mental health is a very likely casualty, but it’s staggering how much mental health impacts on physical health. As well as the obvious disturbances in things like heart rate and blood pressure, there’s a physical fatigue like no other that accompanies a mental health crisis. Since I got out of hospital I can barely even wash up. Sometimes I can do a bit, but other times I start to get stressed from the physical exertion, my body releases too much cortisol, my thoughts begin to cascade, and washing up a cereal bowl feels like running a marathon. And yet I can’t sleep.

I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty terrified of having my next Zoladex injection this Thursday…