3 Things That Happen After a Suicide Attempt We Don't Talk About
With all the recent media attention in the UK on the beautiful, witty and outgoing TV presenter Caroline Flack who took her own life a few weeks back, I could not help but become obsessed with every article and every photo. There is not much I hold in common with Caroline apart from being around the same age and also having tried to end my own life. But I did not die after my attempt, unlike Caroline.
Nine years ago, I had lost my then-boyfriend to suicide and was left struggling to deal with the guilt and pain of grief. On top of this, insomnia struck and turned night into day. I was placed on a year-long waiting list to speak to a grief counselor and my doctor tried me on three different antidepressants over the course of the months.
Friends started to disappear as they could not cope with the grieving version of me. The pain of grief tore through my body and every day I longed for sleep to come so I could escape into the nothingness.
Many, months after his death, I attended my then-friend’s bachelorette party. Trying to resemble the “old” me, I slipped on the fancy dress outfits, the makeup and high heels. That night was a blur, and I ended up insulting one of my friends and came home crying. The next morning the shame, guilt and hopelessness sank all over me and pulled me under.
In a sudden moment of clarity, I knew what I had to do.
Lying in that ambulance with my mother beside me and my breathing shallowing should have been my wake-up moment. It wasn’t and there was a long road to recovery.
But after you attempt suicide, you can never undo it. It changes things.
1. It changes relationships
My mother raised my brother and I on her own for the most part. My father left when I was 7 and my brother was still in my mothers’ belly. We were as close as could be. We stuck together because we only had each other. I hurt them both beyond belief by my disregard for my life and the impact to theirs. They still supported me, but they were angry and extremely disappointed. I used to be the father figure and by trying to end my own life, I was demoted to the baby. I had lost my place in the hierarchy.
2. You may never fully regain people’s trust.
Many, months after my attempt, I had to go to a doctor’s appointment. I went, and I got held up at the pharmacy. My phone was on silent and by the time I checked it, I had 72 missed calls from my mum, my brother and a friend. They assumed I was away trying to take my life … again. The trust was gone. Any pills or harmful objects in my home were kept under strict lock and key for the next year and I had to check in at regular intervals. It takes years and years to rebuild any resemblance of trust that was there before.
3. People look at you differently.
A very close friend had a baby shortly after my attempt. I loved visiting with them, but I noticed that she would ask some of my friends to babysit her baby and not ask me. People who knew what had happened looked at me with pity. The girl who could not handle death or grief. The girl who went to the edge and nearly never came back.
Trying to take your own life is never worth it. The hard, cold truth is nothing will ever be the same again. You will live with the scars and those close to you will. You will revert to a new normal, a new version of you. And that’s OK.
Original photo by author