Riding the rollercoaster
Things recently have taken a bit of a downturn. I’m not surprised really, it would have been more shocking if the buoyant, good feelings had stuck around. I know that life is just like that - filled with ups and downs - but having EUPD makes the cycle so much more rapid and intense than for most people. That’s something I have just had to get used to though I guess; this is normal for me.
On Tuesday I had a really bad day and just couldn’t function at all. Literally the only thing of any productive value that I managed to do was have a shower, and it took me until 6pm to accomplish that. Having said what I did above, it has been a long time since I have felt that low and struggled so much with an inability to do anything worthwhile. If I’m honest, I think the return to my psychiatric hospital last week has had more of a negative impact than I realised at first. That’s not to say that the positives don’t still outweigh the negatives, they do, but the physical and mental return to somewhere where so much happened for me was tough.
[TW sui] I have been struggling for a while with flashbacks to the night I attempted to take my life on the ward i.e. the incident itself - but it’s not like I’m reliving it as if it were happening to me, I’m there, floating over myself, watching it all unfurl. This seems odd because at the time I was unconscious so the concept of having any memories from those minutes is very strange. I don’t know how I really feel about souls or suchlike leaving the body at the point of death but I have a vivid memory of being able to see myself on the night it happened and the flashbacks take me back to that point. It’s not a barrel of laughs as you can imagine. I think, over time, it has dawned on me how close to no longer being here I was back then. Being brought back from the brink is quite a lot to get your head around and truly only now, almost two years on, am I able to comprehend the scale of what I did. If it hadn’t been for the staff who checked on me ahead of schedule, the on-call hospital doctor and all of the staff from other wards who rushed to my ‘medical emergency’, the only way I would have left that place would have been in the back of a private ambulance. It was bad enough that I ended up in intensive care and although hindsight is a wonderful thing, I have now realised the impact a suicide attempt and in fact a suicide, can have.
I don’t mean to say that now I have had the realisation I have undergone some huge change in my thought processes and that I’ll now never feel suicidal again. I can’t make that guarantee whilst my emotions remain so heightened and overwhelming as they are. However, it has made me think - a lot - and acting on suicidal thoughts is very different from having them.
Going back to where I so nearly lost my life was difficult, but that’s not the only issue I had there. I was frequently restrained and forcibly medicated in what were quite often traumatic and vicious episodes. I fully admit that I brought on these consequences myself, being as unwell and intent on my actions as I was, I did come across as being very aggressive. Nevertheless, the experiences were no less traumatic because of this and again, revisiting where they all happened and where I was so often emotionally overwhelmed, has really stirred things up in my mind. I did make the decision not to return to the ward where I was a patient when I went back to deliver my course but it seems now that just being in the same building has provoked a lot of memories that haven’t been processed yet. I can’t help but think that the combination of all these memories and flashbacks etc is what led to my downturn.
On reflection, I am definitely still pleased that I went back to the hospital and delivered the staff training but I have been reminded of my own vulnerabilities as a result of doing so. I would like to think that now I have been back once, doing so again wouldn’t be as provocative but I have been made aware that I need to keep taking care of me amid all this mental health campaigning.
One good thing that has come of the downturn though is it has provided me with an opportunity to take some time out and look after myself for a bit. I think that is a skill I might be needing more in the coming weeks as I start my EMDR work on Wednesday. Also, it has shown me that although my highs don’t last forever, nor do my lows. The last few days have been very tough but today I am feeling less down and more positive. The rollercoaster world of EUPD is just that but each time I go round the track, I am learning more skills to manage with the ups and downs and quite frankly, I am now just pleased that I’m still riding it at all.