April 29th 2015. I remember that day like it was yesterday. April 29th 2015 is the date of my first suicide attempt and hospitalization due to mental illness. I was 14. I went to school like it was a normal day. I went to all my lessons. And then I collapsed. Next thing I know, I’m in the back of an ambulance with the sirens blaring. They guessed what had happened even though I had no history of mental illness – they found the pill packet in my bag. Personally I think it’s quite sad how in a world that is full of stigma surrounding mental illness, people can still make a fairly accurate guess about what’s happened from one clue.
For me, the one thing that really stands out about that day is how I was treated in the hospital. The nurses whispered around me about my situation and the doctors asked if it was a cry for help. Let me please tell you now that a suicide attempt or any form of self harm, no matter how ‘minor’ (physically), is NOT a cry for help. We are hurting. As a nation we are hurting. But we are too ashamed to talk about it. Our brain is the one organ that is not allowed to be unwell, why? If someone had an asthma attack they wouldn’t be asked if it was a cry for help so why would someone with a mental illness? The brain is just another organ.
After being transferred to the pediatric unit at my hospital I was told that I was not to make any contact with the other patients in case it was contagious. In a place of safety and knowledge I was told that my mental illness was contagious. Let me just tell you now people, that is a complete MYTH.
Cutting a very long story short, I was discharged from hospital due to a bed shortage. They’d fixed me physically and so there was no longer room for me. 2 weeks later I was sectioned. I am thankfully in a much better place today although my battle continues and probably will for the rest of my life. I will never be the same again.
When mental illness strikes close to home you turn to your GPs and doctors to help you through but sometimes they too are blinded by the stigma. Please talk about your struggles, it may reduce the stigma for the next person who walks through the doors.