I was asked to write a blog on life after ‘surviving suicide’. Note I haven’t called it that because it is more of a failed attempted than a heroic term like survivor.
Let me also say how difficult it is to write about this topic and likely painful for my family to read as this brings up old memories. Regardless, it’s an ugly topic albeit one of those necessary evils to speak about where mental health is concerned. Talking about suicide shouldn’t freak people out, it should generate awareness or help someone having a dark day. Secondly, it should be noted that I am in no way qualified to present this as a theory, it is strictly my opinion based on experience.
Over the years, I’ve had my own battles with suicide attempts during my depressions, bipolar lows and even manic episodes. It has now been nine months since I have been attempt-free and it sure feels good. So, what’s it like? Initially there is the WOW factor (wow, I made it?!?) but let’s start with the hospital.
During one’s time in the hospital, and there are visits from a host of ER doctors and Psychiatrists. There would also normally be Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) or local mental health support worker that visits. This goes for any admission. But I highly recommend setting up a time to meet the CMHA worker outside of the hospital as they have a lot of insight into local support programs and can fill out applications for you. I even got set up with a diabolical nurse because of the amount of lithium I take and the uncontrollable weight gain. I would never have known this was available had I not met my caseworker while I was in the hospital.
Outside of the hospital, ensure that the patient adheres to the medications prescribed. Chances are these will have been changed while in the hospital. Medication changes always make us feel crappy both physically and mentally at first, but do tend to level off after a few weeks. Just stick it out. Do make sure the surroundings are comfortable.
Emotionally, the person is going to go through a number of feelings. I personally believe there are a few stages one goes through:
- Disappointment – the end result wasn’t expected
- Anger – mad at oneself for doing it
- Shame – feelings of humiliation for trying it
- Guilt – feel blame for putting family through this
- Acceptance – time to start healing process
Talking about it is important. Loved ones of the person should be supportive and not judgmental of the situation. NEVER cast blame or discuss it in a negative manner. Not talking about it will just continue the awkwardness going forward. It would help to see a therapist as well (on top of the Psychiatrist) to continue that conversation and get to the root of why this happened and help mitigate it going forward.
Lastly, find something to keep busy. I started knitting to ques after my nieghbour showed me how. It not only relaxed me, but kept my mind off all of it. I called them “recovery toques”. Other ideas to keep busy include:
- Painting / colouring
- Practicing mindfulness
- Listening to music
- Crosswords / Sudokus
It’s a long road to recovery but a second chance at life truly is the best thing that can happen!