Let’s Talk About S..[uicide] Baby

I am what Instagram and online articles like to refer to as the “toxic” friend. I’m sure you’ve seen this on the cover of Cosmo before, How to eliminate toxic people from your life!”. There are few headlines that chill me to the bone and ignite my fear of abandonment more that this. I am terrified that if any of my limited group of friends were to scroll through that click bait that they would instantly realise that they indeed have that person in their life, and whaddyaknow?, it is yours truly! What isn’t given in those articles is the other point of view and in the light of so many high profile suicides of late, I would like to offer just that. I understand that suicide is an incredibly vulnerable subject and an exceptionally individual experience. So, keep in mind that this is solely my recount of living with long-term suicidal ideation and how this has impacted the way I view suicide as a form of death.

Moonlight Densetsu

I know that my suicidality annoys people. There, there, it’s okay, I’m aware. It’s not that people are inherently unkind or selfish, but generally speaking, humans are fixers. We see an issue, we want to fix it and move on. Done and dusted! So when confronted with a “problem” that seemingly has no quick fix or cure, it makes us increasingly uncomfortable and frustrated. As sufferers of suicidal ideation we already feel as though we are a burden on those around us, and being that we are largely quite sensitive individuals we can sense this frustration and blame ourselves. We in turn want to “fix” what is causing your frustration, but knowing (or simply assuming) that we are the cause, can mean that we hide away and isolate ourselves more as to not upset you. Sadly, this response furthers our loneliness and discontent, and pushes away what ultimately is the only remedy; love and a sense of belonging.

☆~Ella birak~☆Fostering an accepting community is key for a sense of wellbeing. Without it we are like the lost lamb of the herd; alone, disoriented and vulnerable to threat. This forces us to tap into our survival instincts, and being that humans are pack animals, this places a huge strain on one little lamby’s (or persons’) shoulders. In N.A. (narcotics anon.) the importance of community is held at the highest regard. The statement let us love you back to health,”, is heard time and again. A simple, but powerful statement (if a tad culty). At the same token, what walked most of us into that room was the crushing loneliness and sense of complete and utter overwhelm, that drove us to our addictions in the first place. I have said it before and I truly believe that loneliness and isolation is a killer. So, what the funk do we do? We can stay in bed, hidden under the blankets and surrounded by crumbs of old food and an empty bottle of vodka. Not a terrible option when you feel like nothing matters. Or… we can do our darndest to pull up our mouldy socks and slap on a fake-ass smile, in the hopes that maybe spending time with us isn’t completely unbearable and we will feel less painfully alone. However, this is exhausting. Just as it is for you to spend time with us when we feel like shite. I get it, it is intimidating to be around the angry, volatile gal. It’s boring and draining to hang out with the sad, mopey boy. And it is uncomfortable and at times even awkward or embarrassing, to be around the emotionally unstable cray bish (it’s cool, I can say that coz I’m 70% cray). It’s not ideal and we may not even be able to show our gratitude, but trust me, your friendship is appreciated.

awh

All death is difficult, but for some reason there is an added heaviness in our hearts when we hear about someone taking their own life. I am in two minds about this. I feel incredible sadness for the intensely agonising place someone must be in, in order to go against every single animal instinct that their body, mind and spirit has evolved to protect them from. But I, maybe unusually, feel immense joy for their current freedom. Let’s think on that for a moment. Literally since we were tiny little, single-celled amoeba bobbing about this mortal coil, we have been biologically programmed to survive and reproduce. Survive and reproduce. That’s our only job. So in order for a person to have the “desire” to take their own life and then follow through with that action, they must be in such an extreme state of distress, for a long enough period of time, to override their own chemical make up. That is not a small feat. The stages involved in musing about, planning, and then finally acting on a suicide attempt, are many and complex. There is the agonising about every layer of leaving loved ones, comparing the pain of staying with the freedom of nothingness, the fear of what actually going through with it might feel like or look like to those who find you, how people might perceive you and call you a coward who took the “easy way out” (seriously, don’t even get me started! It boils my blood when I hear that.), the list is endless. This is important to consider because it shows us that not only are we overriding our own animal instinct, but we must somehow override the voices of the external world and our own logical mind, not once, but at each and every stage, many times over, before any action would ever take place. This is a person in desperation.

Zippity doo dah

In my experience (and I’m sure many professionals will disagree), prior to finding the correct treatment, depression is a progressive disease. I found myself advancing to a new stage in my mind each time a major depressive spell, which lead into suicidal thinking, occurred. When I first started having suicidal thoughts as a teenager, I wouldn’t necessarily want to die, I just wished I didn’t exist anymore. I’d fantasize about getting hit by a truck and boom! Lights out! That sounded easy to me. Over time and over many years and extensive traumas, these thoughts evolved. As my internal pain became deeper and more incessant, my thoughts of suicide became more detailed and held more conviction. Right up until 18-months ago, when I was checked into a facility and asked point blank, how I would do “it” by the on-call physician. I looked at him with tired, sunken eyes and without a moments hesitation told him my game plan. I had been over it in my head a million times by this point and the only thing preventing me from acting it out was the last tiny glimmer of internal strength I had left. I had no fear of death or dying, and this still rings true today. In fact, I was looking forward to it. I think that’s when you know you’ve checked out. Of course, the bastard then went on to debunk my “genius” plan of self destruction and described to me in intimate detail how it both, wouldn’t work and would in fact make my, and my families’ lives much worse. Ughhhhhh, fine I won’t kill myself! Farrrrrrrck! So, in hindsight…cheers dude, you saved my life. Even if I did spend the next hour abusing you for ripping away what, at the time, seemed like my last hope for relief. Saaaarry! 

Even though I am no longer actively suicidal, I have noticed that spending so long in that place has fucked with my neural pathways a bit. I am very quick to jump to suicide as a “solution” to a comparatively minor problem. “Oh nooooiii I lost my slipper! I wish I was dead!”. Okay that may be a slight exaggeration, but the point is, it’s disproportionate. Thankfully, these spells only last a few days or weeks now, which may sound a lot, but compared to TWO BLOODY, MOTHER FEKKING YEARS (hem hem…excuse me, still working though some shtuff…), it’s doable. The other thing that has warped in me wee brain hole is that I find the idea of bringing a child into the world a really horrific concept, and not just because I hear you are meant to poop it out of your delicate lady pocket (that’s science bitches)! No, I’ve never really wanted kids, but that was more from a desire to be a 90’s-Ally McBeal-inspired, career gal. Now it is much more driven by the bone-chilling fear that any child born with my DNA is not only susceptible to cancer and chronic illness, but also holds the potential of developing several debilitating mental illnesses and being raised on a view that the world is a giant cesspool of darkness and suffering! Also Trump is president. So like… I dunno if it’s for moi. Additionally, I have the genuine concern that if I was to have a child, I cannot guarantee that I could survive if I fell into another long-term suicidal episode. It sounds ridiculous I’m sure. “How could you not stick around for your baby?”, “Just think of their smile and all your problems drift into oblivion!” blah blah, motherhood is a gift, blah blah. I remember my first heart break and my last and I don’t want to feel this ever again... it’s just too painful.But being suicidal is not just a deep sadness. It is an all-consuming rotting of your heart and ripping of your soul. It is the sense that you will never ever feel anything but despair, darkness and loneliness for the rest of your life. It is heavy and gnawing and you can feel it physically in the twisting of your gut, the aching of your heart and the heavy, dragging of your limbs. It is desperately trying to stay alive when every second your entire being is begging you to be put out of its misery. It is being on your death bed, without a plug to pull. No release is coming for you. Pure and simple, it is hell on earth. I survived it once. I made it. But, I can not and will not promise a tiny human that I could do that again.

I cannot imagine the hell my mother went through as we sat on my bed together and I wept uncontrollably and desperately begged her to let me die. Begged! I just wanted the permission to let go. Of course she was never going to say “sure kiddo!” and send me on my way. I don’t believe what lead me to this place is necessarily important, but essentially it was a combination of several mental health issues, chronic physical illness and a series of significant deaths and losses that occurred in a very short period of time. Basically, my brain imploded in on itself. I have this theory that a certain amount of trauma strengthens us, but that there is a tipping point at which it becomes too much and we start to buckle under the pressure. From that place, in my experience, it’s hard to rebuild from the rubble. Not impossible, but certainly much more difficult, and that’s where I live now. In a kind of limbo.

I have always said, I am an acquired taste. To quote Ramona Singer, who clearly needs no introduction (but just for the record is an O.G. from The Real Housewives of New York), “I’m an acquired taste. If you don’t like me, acquire some taste!Okay, she’s brash and entirely unlikeable, but she’s got a point. I acknowledge I am a difficult person to get close to, and some may argue, even more difficult to be close to. I don’t have a large group of friends, but the people that have chosen me and accepted me have proven to love me through seriously fucking ugly times. When in a deep depression, people inevitably fall away, and it will hurt like a mother fuck! People you thought would be there through thick and thin will disappear and never come back (I know. Fuck, it’s a real gut punch!). What I have learned is that some (many) people just can’t handle watching someone else suffer, and even more can’t stand the feeling of helplessness that comes with that. It fucking sucks major monkey balls! It really does. But hear this, it is not about you being a burden or a giant pain in the arse. It’s their own baggage burdening them. It’s horrible, especially when you are going through a period of suicidal feelings because you already feel completely alone. I feel you! because she's a sociopathBut if you can, look out for the people who are still on your team through those times. I have constantly been surprised by the people who have come out of the wood works to offer support, friendship, a drink of wine, or an ear to whine at, and from those have come some extremely significant friendships.

:p

Honestly (and unfortunately), this is a hindsight thing. In my experience it is practically impossible to see who is there for you while you are in the midst of it all, and that makes it really tough. It must be tough on the friends that are there too, because I’m sure they feel like they are doing as much as they can, but it’s just not penetrating. Soz y’all! My advice to loved ones would be to become really overt with your affections. Don’t send wishy washy texts like “let me know if you need me/anything.”, this is not helpful. We need so much we don’t even know what we need! Something more like, “OMG you showered today! I’m so proud of you!”, or “I’m picking you up in 10, you need an airing out.”. Don’t organise long outings, they are exhausting; coffee breaks and little walks are plenty. Bring some food like you would if someone was sick, coz um…they are! It’s so easy to forget that. Man, if I received the amount of casseroles I got when I had cancer, while I was terminal with depression, well hot damn!, I would’ve been so full of stewed meats I’d forget what ever made me blue in the first place! Bc I persist through space and time. When I cease to exist in time, I will cease to exist in space. But will I still occupy the space from a previous time or is it all just vapor? Is the moment real? Does anything really mean anything or is it all transitory en route to some greater end? Maybe time is just a chemical reaction and will last as long as the transformation requires. Maybe it's much more complex than that...Alternatively, if you are too busy or someone who struggles to physically engage in difficult situations, take a page one of my beautiful friends’ book and send a box of personalised goodies. A couple of my girlies got together and created a kind of gift box full of simple stuff like chocolates, coloured pencils, a colouring book, some letters of support and calming tea. It made me realise that I was important enough to somebody to have spent time thinking about. I remember feeling like, oh my god, I exist!”Which was bizarre, after feeling like I was less of a person and more of an empty, expansive void for the longest time.

I know I’ve been a bit playful with such a serious topic; I dunno, tears of a clown or some shit. But the issue of having an invisible illness has never been more clear to me than when I was suicidal. I previously used the world “terminal” and I chose that word purposefully, because I have first hand experience that suicide is not a choice. I could seriously rant about this, but I think it is really one of those things that if you haven’t experienced suicidal ideation, it is quite difficult to make sense of. Alternatively, if you have, you will unequivocally know that given the “choice” to feel any differently, of course you would. As previously mentioned, it is not in our genetic make-up to want to die. That indicates something is seriously wrong. In fact, the strength it takes to not commit suicide is actually ludicrous. Lu-da-cris! I have never pulled so much strength from such piddly little reserves in all my life. There is no doubt, I was dying. It was slow, and excruciating, and all I wanted was for it to be over. Grown up? Me? I suppose I have. Killing things, and almost killing myself, must have changed me some, after all.Today I work extremely hard on maintaining my mental health and building my resilience to, well…existence essentially. But for the most part my brain is still like a bowl of mashed potatoes, trying to be squashed back into its jacket and pretending to fit in. I am forever changed; I predominantly view the world with a thin film of shit smeared over the lens, and I live in a perpetual state of existential crisis, but the fact that I am no longer actively suicidal provides insurmountable relief. Zomg I am so fun! Yikes…

Fuck, who knew I had so much to say! Just a couple more things. You are doing so well!

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The reason I wanted to explore how much long-term depression, ruminating thoughts and overriding our survival instincts comes into being actively suicidal, is because of the push-back against important programs like 13 Reasons Why, which explores mental illness and suicidal subject matter. The comment that these programs might be glorifying suicide is honestly laughable to me. Anyone who is contemplating suicide does not watch a program and think, “Ya know what, I didn’t think of that! Great idea!”No, they have most likely been obsessing about it for years before any planning or attempt ever takes place. The most it could do is plant a seed for the ‘how’ of it all, but at the end of the day, someone who doesn’t want to die will be as inspired to commit suicide by a television program, as someone who does will be swayed not to, by watching I dunno…something fun, Full House.? Yes. Great modern example… :/ It’s just not going to have an influence. As much as it may seem like it at the time, suicide is not something that just happens on a whim.

Love the mixed media and surrealism. But there's a goo message behind this one

My final comment is on the remarks that have come out about the high profile suicides recently. I have read a lot of statements about how Robin Williams was such a fun, generous man, Kate Spade was such a bright and talented woman, and Anthony Bourdain was successful and inspiring. All of these comments may be true but it doesn’t mean they didn’t suffer from depression or mental illness. I think there is a misconception that if you have depression, that you are always sad. Just walking around, dragging your feet and moping constantly. It’s not true. You go through periods of depression that may or may not have triggers and sometimes you can cope with them, and other times you can’t. Personally, I am a pretty pessimistic person (if you hadn’t yet figured that out), but I am still fun, funny, interesting, totes adorbs, stunningly good looking (am I getting derailed? Soz), and can experience love and joy, just like anybody else. It may be harder and I certainly need medication and a team of doctors to keep my mash potato brains in place, but it is not that suicide comes out of no where and nobody saw it coming. It is that for whatever reason, on that particular day of their life, it got too hard to fight. It is not a choice, it is not a weakness, or a giving up. It is a death. red-lips-and-heart-candy -#ravishingredAnd personally it is a death I choose to celebrate, because here is somebody who was suffering a great deal, who has finally got the peace and freedom they couldn’t find in this limited physical realm.

People who are suicidal need your love now. While they are at the most unlovable, ugly, irritating versions of themselves. Once they are gone, we can and should celebrate these incredibly individual, sensitive and empathetic people, because they are finally, after a life of struggle, at peace. And I know I am a weirdo, but to me, that is a beautiful thing.

Então, esta é a minha vida. E eu quero que você saiba que, eu sou tanto feliz e triste. E eu ainda estou tentando descobrir como isso poderia ser

Suicide helpline Australia: https://www.lifeline.org.au/ or call 131114

CATT: I have personally used and can endorse the Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team. They were fabulous when I needed them the most. Call: 1300 721 927

 

The Cancer Chronicles Part 4: The Hospital

Below is an X-ray of what my spine looks like today, post spinal fusion. What you can see is the entire thoracic spine, fused together by titanium rods and screws. The contraption you see in the middle is the metal cage that was filled with powdered bone from one of my ribs, as a replacement for the vertebrae they removed. To the left of this metal contraption, on the left image, you can vaguely see an additional missing rib, which was removed as it was also infected by the cancer. The goal is that the rods will not move at all. I am just lucky that the thoracic area is the least mobile of the entire spine so it is not as noticeable as it would be in the lumbar or cervical areas. But, not gonna lie, it’s still a total buzz kill! 

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X-Ray of My Spinal Fusion

 

For context, please first catch up on Part 1 & Part 2 of ‘The Cancer Chronicles’ at the links provided. Or alternatively, pick up at Part 3 for a mini re-cap. 

10 Preposterous Reasons for Calling in Sick to Work -- Pretending to have a bad head cold sounds so boring compared to these sick day excuses!After the nightmare of waking up prematurely post surgery with the breathing tube still down my throat, things slowly started to improve over the next several days. By day three I was moved into my own room and out of the madness that was the intensive care unit (ICU). I was finally relieved of the plastic drainage tube that had been wedged between my fractured ribs and partially deflated lung, allowing my breath to deepen from the bird-like sips of air I was previously taking in. Although still painful to breathe, this meant I no longer felt like I was suffocating. Praise baby Jesus! My nurses regularly encouraged me to cough, as to avoid a build up of fluid in my lungs, but the idea of that level of pressure against my bruised and wounded ribs was chilling. So, being the brat that I am, I would just look at them with you-gotta-be-shitting-me eyes, before letting out a pitifully weak, fake cough. This would usually be enough to be left alone for another day or so, before my acting chops would once again be put to the test.

Clover's room should get progressively messier.At this stage I was still “nil by mouth”, meaning I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything for 5-days’ post surgery. The eating wasn’t a problem, I was so out of it on medication and bloated beyond recognition that I wouldn’t feel like eating for weeks (Disclaimer: However effective, I do not indorse this as a healthy form of weight loss… unless of course muscle-wasting-chic is your thang). However, the lack of water was torturous. I wasn’t even allowed ice chips. On a really special day my concerningly pregnant nurse would lean over me and dab a water-soaked cotton bud onto my dry, cracked lips (the same lips she would occasionally slather a thick layer of my favourite lip balm on, to help them heal. The smell of which now makes me dry heave). I was pathetically grateful and lapped up those cool, droplets of water like heroin! Which incidentally, I was allowed, in the form of morphine. What a world! I began begging the nurses to give me even a tiny sip of water but it was futile. I remember finally being allowed some ice chips to suck on. I must have looked so hopelessly ecstatic because the nurse looked at me and let out a slightly sorry grin as she handed me the tiny cup of frozen heaven. I would place a single chip at a time in my mouth, savouring each morsel. One by one I would let them melt on my tongue, enjoying the cold liquid for a moment before letting it drizzle down my throat with utter satisfaction. Momentary sweet relief.

♥barf farm cult♥I don’t know how to describe the pain that could even provide a glimpse of the all consuming, relentlessness of it. It was pain like I have never known before or since, and hope to never experience again. It was pain that made you pray for death just for the relief. But it would be the unexpected losses, which I had zero control over, that would end up testing my already fragile mental strength to the absolute limit. I recall the actual decision making process that I went through just to be okay with giving over any and all remaining dignity, as well as trying to override my basic human instincts and needs. I knew that if I let my desperation or pride get the better of me in any way, I’d be ruined. I would not make it. So you just don’t let your mind go there. You can’t. You must accept the pain of being split in two, because you are already on as much medication as is therapeutically possible. You gratefully accept that fact that your pee drains into a catheter, because you are unable to even roll to one side on your own, let alone stand and walk to the toilet 3 feet away. And you must find a way to let go of any sense of ego, as you will now be whore-bathed daily by nurses you’ve just met (who, for some cruel reason, all happen to look like Victoria Secret models. Is that a perk of private health?). There is no ideal way to prepare for a challenge of this magnitude. I was just thrust in and started to pray (for the first time in my previously self-absorbed life) to everyone and anyone I could think of, that I would have the mental stamina to survive. I'm sorrySitting with intense uncomfortably and allowing things (everything) to happen to and for me, is a lesson I wish I could have carried out of that hospital, into my real life. Because if you don’t give up, what you find you are capable of is nothing short of superhuman. It’s completely fucked! But it’s astounding. It’s like you are forced to access this tiny corner of yourself that despite everything, still has the ability to find a little glimmer of calm, even though everything else in you wants to scream, cry and die. Let me be really clear. I am not special. I did not access this place out of strength, tenacity or positivity (lol). Quite the opposite actually. I found it because I literally had no other option. All the overt reactions that I desperately wanted to pursue, had been stripped from me. Calmness, found me, out of necessity. It was pure survival instinct.

haleyincarnate

I found being washed difficult. Not because I’m overflowing with dignity, in fact, I could probably do with a healthy helping of shame! No, more so because my body was so unrecognisable that I felt obligated to apologise and justify myself. Here’s something you don’t learn watching Grey’s Anatomy; it turns out when your body goes through such extreme physical trauma, it sort of ‘freaks out’ and all the fluid moves toward the surface as a protective mechanism. Don’t ask me the science behind it, but it’s essentially full-body swelling. Not dissimilar to when you sprain your ankle and it explodes into a cankle…only, everywhere. I found this quite confronting; and not only due to the exceptional uncomfortability of having my skin stretched to capacity like a human water balloon, or because my hands looked like someone blew up a pair of rubber gloves. Disappointingly, I was ashamed of my size (I can hear the eye rolls from here, trust me, I feel you!). Let’s attempt to make some sense of this utter head-fuckery, shall we? First of all, I am but a girl raised in an image-focussed world, which from the moment I first blinked was constantly reminding me that skinny and youthful is the only way to be worthy in this world (of what exactly? A man? Success? Existence? This part was never made clear to us women. It is seemingly unimportant as long as we resemble a Hadid or Kardashian).  Additionally, I had gone into surgery very thin, too thin in hindsight. As the “good” little, recovering anorexic that I was; I obsessively followed the all-organic, sugar-free, gluten-free, protein-free, joy-free, real-life-free, “cancer-healing” lifestyle (AKA mentally toxic diet) that had been suggested to me at Camp Cancer (not it’s real name)! So, when I woke up looking moon-faced and 6-months pregnant, it was (yet another) shock I was not anticipating. How’s that for a mind fuck?

.I think a lot of us have this idea that overcoming something as supposedly life-altering as cancer or a serious illness, guarantees us personal evolution and growth. Well, turns out…it ain’t that simple kids! *insert chain of expletives here* I was in a hospital with brilliant nurses who I was required to trust with everything from feeding me, to wiping my butt and here I was, worrying that they thought I was fat! Even in my morphine-fuelled paranoia I could step outside myself and see how insanely ridiculous that was, but fuck me, old habits die hard. Was I concerned about the foot-long scar that was now lining my back? Nurp. The fact that I would essentially be bed bound for the next 6-months? Hmm, not so much. I worried that my carers were gathering around the water cooler, talking about the HUGE bitch in room 305, as if they had nothing better to do! *Face palm*

On that incredibly discouraging note, I do want to add that 6 years on, the care-factor for how my body is perceived by others has decreased immensely. I am unsure however, if that is the trauma finally settling in and doing some helpful work, or if it just comes with age and experience. Like anything, it’s likely a mixture of many factors. This showed me that managing my expectations would serve me well. As yet, I have not mastered this fundamental skill, but hey, knowing is half the battle right? ….Right..? I was so disappointed in myself for giving a flying shit about my body swelling up like the elephant man, instead of directing all my energy into my healing. This was anxiety that was completely unnecessary and unhelpful. Photo of a Skinny White Girl by Jay Littman Proposed billboard-based art project in Los Angeles, CA meant to challenge beauty standards and other accepted values in contempory culture.The reason it upsets me so much is that I have seen it before in loved ones who have had terminal cancers. They are dying and yet further their suffering by devastating themselves over the weight gained from their steroids and other medications. It is truly heartbreaking and, in all honestly, I don’t know what we can do about it. How about diversifying the way in which women are portrayed in media, destroying all social media platforms (or why not the internet all together!), and taking down the patriarchy once and for all! Might be a good jumping off point? Who’s with me! … Yeah, this could take a while… 

Image result for he split robin's arrow in twain gifAs I was lying in my hospital bed stressing that I looked like a shiny, overgrown baby, my nurses were more concerned about how to turn, wash and moisturise me. I had to be rotated and marinated, like a pig on a spit, a couple of times a day as to avoid bed sores and help blood circulation, as I couldn’t move on my own. The problem was that my spine was in twain and still far to vulnerable to risk twisting it in any way. Therefore, it would take 3-4 nurses to perform said spit-roast… I mean turn. There would be someone on each shoulder, at least one person on my legs and hips and on a lucky day, I would even get someone to man my head. This was all just to roll me onto my side for a maximum of 20 seconds so they could scrub me down, lather me up with moisturiser, and quickly lie me back down. Look, I love attention more than Mariah loves a high note, but I did not look forward to these turns. I couldn’t breathe on my side as the pressure of the bed against my rib was too much for my weakened lungs to push against. I would have to time my breath right before they rolled me and hope I would have enough air in my lungs to last the distance. I only remember one time I was left on my side for too long and I started to splutter for air. I was just starting to pass out as the team of nurses returned me onto my back.

Amy Winehouse and her Father Mitch Winehouse the Thursday before her death. The last time they were ever together. Rest in Peace Amy. Gone but never forgotten.

For the most part, my nurses were wonderful with me; kind, gentle and sensitive in delicate situations. One was even so sweet while wiping my ass that I cried and wrote her a thank-you note! She was truly an angel and definitely in the right job. The doctors were different however. Obviously extremely talented and proficient in their fields, but often lacking patience and compassion to the same degree. I had a really horrible experience in ICU when the nurses designated to my bedside were unable to access a vein to insert one of my cannulas. My poor little veins were like dried up worms left in the sun too long, as I was so completely dehydrated. The nurses had tried numerous times in each of my elbows and just as I overheard them talking about shoving it in between my toes, in an ohmage to Amy Winehouse, a doctor came over in a huff. We were clearly wasting his precious time. I was high as a fucking kite and only 24-hours out of surgery at this stage, but even I could tell this guy was being a jack-ass! He was acting as if it was my fault for not having plumb, juicy veins and the nurses’ incompetence for not being able to access them. In his anger for being called down to perform such a ‘menial’ task he started stabbing at my wrist with the thick needle. This is the tattooed, pinup, badass that lives in my head. She makes this exact gesture with more frequency and vigor than I care to admit.I don’t know how many times he tried before he decided this was getting cruel and he went to get some numbing cream so he could continue his massacre. However, I do know that 6 years on, I still have 5 small scars on my left wrist from this incident. Just for comparisons sake, I had dozens of cannulas in each elbow and wrist over the course of the 2 weeks I was in hospital and hundreds of blood tests taken in the same elbow over my 2 years of treatment. Despite that, I do not have one single scar in any other area, other than where this c*nt-monkey butchered me. Again, I couldn’t cry, scream or tell him to go “eat a bag of dicks!” as much as I would have loved to, as this would only increase my discomfort. But there was no preventing the silent tears that were rolling down my cheeks. The nurses’ felt my pain and comforted me gently but they had no power in this situation, and neither did I. He probably thought I wouldn’t remember how he treated me because of the state I was in, but this was one of the most traumatic parts of the whole procedure and there was absolutely no need for it to be. I felt like an annoying, irrelevant, pin cushion.

[pinterest:.@ninaaxna]Unfortunately, this was not my only disturbing interaction with a doctor. This is tough for me to write, even as the over-sharer that I am. As even for me, it is hard to make sense of. After about one week in hospital, still in an extremely delicate condition, my primary surgeon came in to check-up on me and deliver some news. For context, I had only re-learned how to sit up at day 5 and attempted standing for the first time, around day 6 or 7. This is important, because had I been physically able, I would have flown across the room and beat the living shit out of his scalp-happy ass; Negan from The Walking Dead style. Trust and believe! But, I digress. He entered my room, where mum was sitting by my bedside. He had this strange, nervous grin on his face as he told me the medical team had been analysing the area of my spine they had just removed. I could tell he was dancing around telling me something important, but as he had essentially just saved my life, I was trying to be polite and attentive. I can not recall his exact words, because as he spoke my head filled up with so much burning rage that all I could hear was a high-pitched squeal and the pounding of my own heartbeat between my ears. But the general gist was this…

another sugar coated bullshitHe stood wringing his hands and standing with his back to the wall, as far away from me as he could physically get. Even as a 23-year-old, weak, immobile girl; I still must have looked fucking terrifying. Good. He stammered anxiously over his words as he told me that the vertebrae they had removed no longer contained the tumour they had cut me open to retrieve. I stared silently at him, oscillating between blind rage and complete heartbreak. My face must have been displaying this, because I’ve never seen a fully grown, highly accomplished man, so petrified in my life. There I was, lying in front of him in agony so severe that I am in and out of consciousness and he has just told me that I am and was, tumour free all along. What the actual dick? I felt like I was going to be sick. I fell into shock and although I didn’t feel in my body anymore, I heard myself ask all to politely, “So…why did you do the surgery?”, to which he nervously chuckled and replied, “I thought you’d ask that.”. DID YOU? Did you think I’d ask that?! My, your powers of deduction astound me sir! Fucking ass hat.

https://flic.kr/p/jf9omn | 7415 |  I Facebook page IIn reality, I have to give the nerd a break, but it’s tough man. He went on to explain that the treatment had been so successful in converting my jelly-like tumour into bone, that it had calcified it entirely. This was a good thing and what we had hoped the chemo would do, but it had exceeded expectations in its efficacy. I think it was assumed it would calcify the outer layer of the tumour but not the entirety. Therefore, they were shocked upon opening it up to find only more calcified bone. He further explained that had the tumour been somewhere less dangerous, such as a toe for example, he would have considered taking me off the chemo and testing whether or not the tumour reverted back to its previous, jelly-like state (which was the suspected outcome) or whether it safely remained as new bone. However, due to the proximity of my tumour to my spinal cord and the risk of paralysation, this was not a chance my medical team were willing to take. I understand this and could even make sense of it at the time, despite my anger and confusion. But in all honestly, I think I would have been happier just not knowing. I could have lived in blissful ignorance for the rest of my life…or at least wait until I have full use of my limbs again! The timing wasn’t ideal…

NellyRodiLabThis whole experience, both in the short and long-term, has taken so much of my health, happiness and life. Therefore, it’s almost impossible not to wonder what could have been. Maybe the tumour comes back and I end up having the surgery, leaving me in the same position I am in now… but maybe it doesn’t, and my life could have been so immeasurably different. Better. I know it isn’t that simple, and getting locked on ‘what ifs’ is a dangerous place to live, but when I look at my life before and after the surgery, I can’t help but think, what if we had just tried. Now, 6 years on and I am unable to work from living with sever chronic pain and trauma-induced fibromyalgia (me and Gaga alike!), my mental health is under constant strain, and my weeks are broken down into which day I see certain medical specialists. I desperately crave a life that isn’t dictated by how I feel when I wake up in the morning. It has been a long time. Way too long. And unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be something you get used to. Not for me anyway. I do not seem to be gaining acceptance of my condition or strength with time. In truth, I feel as though I’m eroding. I am tired; a to the bone, heavy hearted, just fucking exhausted, kind of tired.

So, from the bottom of my old, shrivelled heart, thank you for reading. This little blog gives me purpose and helps me clarify and confront parts of my life that I have been running from and burying for a very long time. I never really expected anyone to read, but you are, and it’s truely humbling. Whether you are simply reading, commenting on my writing or offering an insight into how you have been able to relate to my stories, it is all deeply encouraging. Every one of you who takes an interest in my writing contributes to my life in an extremely profound way. Once again, thank you. 

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Life on the Borderline: living with BPD

The other day my favourite human sent me, what was for him, a really simple, throw-away text message. We were texting back and forth for hours, as we do, while simultaneously bingeing on some trashy Bravo T.V. goodness (#lifegoals). Lisa Rinna -I made a comment about the most recent idiotic/impulsive decision I had made and after thorough personal analysis (hours of obsessive torment), I concluded it was probably driven by the total lack of emotional regulation that comes from my, oh! so convincing and always ‘interesting’; borderline personality disorder (BPD). If only blaming all my troubles on mental illness stood up in a court of law… ho hum! It is unfortunate, but the only mental illness I am still worried about being stigmatised for is BPD. So naturally, I must write about it. I have been told that many doctors refuse to treat it as they see it as a hopeless case. I’ve been marked as an ‘un-dateable’, being told “I can deal with the bipolar but NOT BPD!”.  And honestly… I get it. The perception of the condition is that of a selfish, manipulative, highly sensitive, suffocatingly needy, soul-sucking-dementor and quite frankly, that image isn’t entirely wrong (except in my case I tend to feed on the human heart, as opposed to souls. Just a personal preference). It doesn’t matter how I dress up or rationalise my volatile outbursts or ‘irrational’ behaviours (but by golly I’ll try!); like how they stem from issues of abandonment rooted in childhood, or how I can justify the fact that my ‘positive’ emotions are just as strong as the ones that make me act out. Meaning my capacity for love is so great that Romeo and Juliette would pale by comparison! It’s irrelevant, because at the end of the day, I am erratic and unpredictable and that makes people uncomfortable. To 8F4F915C-A13E-4920-94C9-87C80080BB78quote Rhianna, I can go from “zero to sixty in 3.5” and it freaks people the fuck out! I prefer to think of myself as an acquired taste, like foie gras or that fish that will poison you to death if you eat the wrong piece…but mostly it just means I am seen as rather off-putting, dangerous and unnecessarily over-the-top. So, when my bestie casually text me saying “Your BPD is my favourite thing about you.”, the kid got me shook! I don’t think I had ever felt so completely accepted by anyone in my entire life. Okay, I’ll level with you, there’s no denying he is a total fucking weirdo himself, but hey, all the best people are…

You're My Favourite Mistake (Blue) Limited Edition Print, Rebecca Maso – CultureLabel

I’m an open book. If you’ve read any of my blogs you know that I ain’t holding back, but when it comes to my relationships with people, I won’t lie, it’s difficult. I’m difficult. I have many acquaintances and very few close friends. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a riot for a night out! Take me to a party and I will own that shit! Jokes are on fire, I’m looking tight, charm-factor is turnt up, I know how to use words like turnt and lit. For a night of debauchery and fun, I’m your girl! But, as the trail of ex-boyfriends I’ve left behind will attest to, I’m hard work long-term. “Exhausting” is a word I’ve heard a lot. In fact, this isn’t easy to write, as the majority of my brain glitches stem from my intense fear of abandonment. There is the rational fear that reading this could potentially push the few people I hold dear away and prevent me from becoming closer to others. But as someone who knows what it feels like to carry the burden of BPD, I think it’s important to be assured that we are not alone and we are loveable. There are other weirdos out there just like you, who will understand you and see your ‘flaws’ as your greatest superpowers! On a completely unrelated note: PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME! I LOVE YOU! I’LL LOVE YOU TO DEATH!

Love me | neon

If you’re unfamiliar with BPD, a quick google search is sure to scare your thong right off (if I haven’t done that already). But unless you are a truly extreme case, it tends to blend so fluidly into our personalities that we are often simply seen as sorta kooky, dramatic and highly sensitive. The creative type, if you will. As the child of a very charismatic drama teacher and an aspiring thespian in my own right, this worked in my favour a lot of the time. maconmesmileIn primary school my music teacher labelled me “the girl of a thousand faces!”, because I was a different person everyday. Nowadays, I’m pretty sure there is medication for that… However, as much as I could hide my constant need for validation and acceptance as a desire for the performing arts and stage, I couldn’t hide the fact I was still a little odd-ball. Being a sensitive child who showed vulnerability and reacted to said bullying, oh man, I was Christmas, New Years and Hanukah all in one convenient package for a kid with a chip on his or her shoulder! It was like I wore a florescent sign on my head that constantly flashed “if poked, will cry!” and boy did they poke this bear.

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As a kid I was told I was too sensitive, a “drama queen”, or an attention-seeker on a daily basis, both by other children and teachers. I incessantly heard that others felt they were “walking on eggshells around me”. That’s always been a comment that has bothered me. As a kid with limited processing resources (shit, as an adult with limited resources!), all I heard was “your reaction to this event is over-the-top and therefore wrong”. This is a really scary feeling as a child because all we have to process the world is what we are taught and what we feel. But, no one is really taught feelings (or if they are, I missed that class). So there I was, already upset about said ‘event’ (lets say someone threw an orange rind at my head and I felt picked on), but then I start to cry or yell at the perpetrator and I’m told to “get over it” because it’s just an orange rind and I’m “overreacting”. But wait, now I’m confused because to me this reaction feels totally justified!? So now I am doubly upset because not only was I upset about feeling targeted but I’ve just been told that my feelings are wrong. Only now I can’t let it show that I’m upset or stand up for myself, because I’ve just learned that those feelings are invalid. So I end up suppressing my humiliation and confusion until it is no longer possible and it blows up in the next persons face who does or says something slightly off colour to me, causing the cycle to continue. She was not fragile like a flower; she was fragile like a bomb.As a child it is frustrating. As an adult it feels like gas-lighting. But as a bonifide mental person it causes either and implosion or explosion of emotions as I attempt to figure out how to react. What is a “normal” response to this? What is justified? Will I end up gas-lighting myself and allow myself to be walked over for fear of a disproportionate reaction? Oops, decisions times up, BLAM!!! This process essentially repeated itself for the next 20 years to varying degrees of intensity, until I became the all-too cliché substance-abusing, in-and-out of psych wards, unemployed, pushing-30 and perpetually-single (but still highly attractive in that Angelina-Jolie-in-Girl-Interrupted-type-way), gal you see before you! C’mon fellas! Put a baby in me!

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Basically, this very basic example taught me that I ‘lifed’ wrong. That I was wrong. It meant that for the rest of my life I would never feel like I “fit in” which would flip/flop me between feelings of grandeur, like I was the fucking Queen of England…but like, a young, hot version! Or, I would feel like a worthless, hopeless, useless piece of hideous, gutter trash. I was never just, simply fine. To this day I still struggle with this. It has gotten better, but it will always be work because I will always be work. There will never be a time I am not in some form of therapy and working on myself. If that day comes I better be Ghandi-meditating-in-a-cave-in-the-Himalayas-level tranquil because the only other option would be that I would have given up and the reality of that is far to real for many people living with BPD (and other mental illness).

Wallpaper PSYCHO | Galaxy Gran PrimeI recently learned that 70% of people with BPD will attempt suicide at least once in their lifetime and 10% will be successful. What the actual fuck?! I know cancer patients that have better odds than that! The stats for bipolar are similar and if you have more than one mental illness the percentage significantly jumps up again. I believe suicide is such an issue, not only because the condition itself can make average, daily encounters unbearable but also due to misdiagnosis. Most people are diagnosed in their 20’s, meaning they have had at least two decades of deeply rooting in poor coping mechanisms and habits before they can even attempt to heal, which itself is a slow and arduous (some will argue impossible) task. Doctors and Psycho’s alike have usually labelled us with a number of other disorders throughout our youth, like anxiety to explain our intense neediness, depression to understand our insatiable loneliness, and/or bipolar to make sense of our rapidly fluctuating and unregulated mood swings. No wonder all my ex’s individually came up with the descriptor “rollercoaster” for me! And there I thought it was because I was such a fun ride! *wink* Heyyyowwww!

im lost please dont find me

Personally, I have experienced suicidal ideation for months and years at a time. If you haven’t, I am unbelievably relieved for you and if you have, from the bottom of my heart I’m sorry and I am here for you (I mean that, hit me up if you feel alone). It is nothing short of torture. I recently saw one of my doctors and she was so pleased to see how well I was doing because less than 2-months ago I was done. Out! I was about to call the loony bin to check me right back in and give me a vegetive-state-enducing lobotomy! I have worked really hard on myself in that time but even I am surprised by the progress this time around. Today, I can honestly say I feel better than I have in years, both mentally and in regards to the chronic pain and fatigue conditions I live with (which have a cyclic effect on my mental health too). However, I know how quickly things can change. I know how quickly I can be triggered into a reaction that could take me right back to square one.
pinterest: @astheticprints✌︎☾I’m not going to tackle the debate about whether or not suicide is selfish or justified. Not today anyway. I have very alternative views on suicide (and selfishness too actually) and I think I’ve opened enough room for debate in this blog already! Nevertheless, I will say this. Two years ago my mum came into my room after hearing me whaling in agony. These screams were guttural, coming from the deepest pit of my stomach. I have never felt so much pain in my life. The 9-hour, full spinal resection I endured a few years earlier would have been a relief. No word of a lie. This whaling was not a once off. This was every. single. day. for an entire year and I had well and truly surpassed my breaking point. The thread I had been holding on by was long gone. I had lost (to death or perceived abandonment) so many people in such a short amount of time and I was completely and utterly heartbroken. Maybe it’s because of my wavering mental health that I felt it so intensely, I’ll never know, but I have been through cancer, the spinal surgery, addiction recovery/relapse, anorexia, rape, chronic pain and so much mental health bullshit I should have my very own Dr. Phil on speed dial; but heartbreak is the most excruciatingly painful experience I have ever been through.

 ✨ "yσυ dσи'т нαvє тσ รαy 'i lσvє yσυ' тσ รαy i lσvє yσυ." ✨Mum sat quietly at the end of my bed as I looked up at her from behind red, puffy eyes, exhausted from tears, and I begged her to let me die. I was calm now. I explained it all; how it would benefit the family and free me, how I was in such excruciating pain. How I could physically feel my heart tearing apart and my stomach sickly squirming and clenching without a second of respite. How deeply angry I was and how I felt it was cruel to keep me alive when I was in such all consuming agony. Honestly, if I had been a cancer patient I would have been on life support. I was terminal. I can’t imagine what it felt like as a mother to watch the child you brought into the world suffer in that way and be ungrateful for ‘the gift of life’.
Let it be known that my mum is one strong-ass Queen to be mother flipping reckoned with!

First Dance.In her desperation she said the one thing that she knew would work when nothing else would, when not even a mothers’ love was enough, you will destroy your brother.”. What was left of my heart dropped to the floor because I knew she was right. We’d just lost our dad. My brother and I had been best friends our entire lives.
One would not survive without the other. As much as she wanted to, mum wasn’t able to fix my pain but she provided, what mums do best, a little guilt trip (omg JK! Not the time? :/ ), that lasted just long enough to keep me alive and those few words have helped me many times since. I won’t lie, I still fall into extreme depression at times but the decision is made now and there is no going back. I will never commit suicide. As bad as I may get, I will drag myself kicking and screaming to therapists and psycho’s, psych-wards and hospitals. I will allow myself to stay in bed for days and weeks at a time and exist solely on cereal and peanut butter if that is the only way I can work on my number one priority, survival. I will do whatever it takes to continue to find the tiniest little spark of hope inside that has helped me remember myself in the past and launch it into a blazing fire, because I have no other choice. I only have my mum and my bro left and let’s face it, they would be completely lost without me (or at least really fucking bored!)! I may be a nutcase, but I’m sure as hell fun! 

You're interesting

 

*Loss – Referring to loss through both death and relationship breakdowns. To a person with BPD both are perceived as abandonment.

Suicidality in Borderline Personality Disorder – This is a really simple and clear article I found about suicide ideation in BPD for anyone who wants to learn more.

Suicide Helpline – Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14