“Even though I’ve been diagnosed with stuff, I don’t believe it… It depends what mood I’m in and what day it is. Yesterday, I fully agreed that there is everything wrong with me, but then today… I’m just a bit depressed.” – ‘Jeff’, 3rd August 2017.
This is the opening observation of a woman, named ‘Jeff’ , during an impromptu interview about her mental health. The following is the second part of the interview. There are (potentially) upsetting events mentioned in the interview. And there is one extremely brave lady on display. You can read the first part of the interview here).
Jeff: That’s all I can tell you about self-harming really. It did involve a lot of hospital trips though. There were times I didn’t go to the hospital, but I probably should have. Some of the cuts have healed badly, so they look a lot worse than they probably would have done if they would have been glued or stitched up.
Benjamin Hamilton: They don’t use glue, do they?
J: Yeah, I’ve had glue before. Nothing to do with self-harm, I just happened to be a very clumsy child!
BH: So, every now and again, you’ll relapse and go back to self-harming?
J: Well, kind of. I’d go for a long time without it happening [self-harming], but then I would just go through a massive meltdown. When I had meltdowns, it [self-harming] would be ten times worse, because there would be a massive build up, then I’d just go into a massive rage and seriously injure myself. But, when I was harming frequently, I wouldn’t have any majorly bad episodes, because it was so frequent.
It’s very difficult to work out timings. I think it was going on for a long time without me even realising, before I decided to get help.
BH: How long did it take you to get help?
J: If I say about year 10, or year 11, I would have been about 15. There were bouts of being better and then getting worse. I’d been working at my first job for a couple of years, and started getting better once I had counselling. I’d been in and out of the doctors for a while, but the way they process it always scared me off.
BH: How so?
J: Well, because I was under the age of 18, I was referred to CAMHS [Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services). I didn’t what my mum to find out, so I always asked the receptionist to address letters to me and not her. I got home one day and the letter had been addressed to my mum. There was a drama that day, but I managed to get away without much discussion. They’d [GPs] always refer me somewhere, but I would always hate it, so I’d take a break and then go back to the doctors again.
When I first dealt with CAHMS, they referred me to somewhere called ‘The Market Place’. I had three counselling sessions there, but I didn’t like it at that time, so I didn’t go again. But, a couple of years after starting work, I went back – I knew they did counselling, so I was put on the waiting list again. There is an interview session so the they [the counsellor] can build up a profile. The waiting list was quite long, but I got a phone call the day after my first interview.
I happened to be on my break at work. They said they offered a service to get ‘crisis counselling’, for four weeks, whilst you’re waiting for the proper sessions. Coincidentally, the therapist I spoke to initially, was the same person who was assigned to me after the four week wait. I saw her for a year and a half.
In between, I kept going to the GP and they kept prescribing me stuff [medication]. I always fought against it, because I didn’t think everything would go away just by taking some magic pill for the rest of my life. This is when my overdosing got worse. The first week of taking anti-depressants is always the worst, so I just took all the pills instead of the prescription.
I took a little break from counselling, but then went back a few months later. I’m on another break now, but start again; on Tuesday, actually.
I’ve forgot what the original question was! (Laughs)
BH: That doesn’t matter! (Laughs)
J: It’s difficult to pinpoint when I started getting help. I did try to get help from different places, but it’s all a bit hazy.
BH: That was the original question!
J: I’m better off now than I was. It’s all circumstantial. As time has past, I’ve grown up. My jobs have changed, my friends have changed. I really struggle at the minute because there is nothing consistent in my life. No structure. Some things are getting better, others are getting worse. So, it just ends up a big shitey mess.
I go through weeks when I convince myself everything is great, but then it will all come crashing down. As I’ve got older, I’ve become aware of the consequences of self-harming. So, it’s only when I lash out that it gets bad.
BH: I recently read a blog about the stigma around pills. I never felt stigma from the outside world. The reason I held off medicating [my anxiety, depression and OCD] was because I thought it would alter my personality in some way. I would lose ‘me’. I’m glad I’ve started taking them though. I’m just like the Ben I was before, but a 2.0 version.
J: Mega Ben.
BH: (Laughs) Yes, I suppose! The question is, why have you decided against medication?
J: I keep convincing myself I’m not depressed. It’s everything that’s around me that’s making me depressed. The way that I’m reacting to what is happening is the self-harm. If I do start taking tablets, it’s not dealing with the issues that are around me. It’s just making me feel slightly happier about them.
Although; I could start taking tablets. It could just be me causing the issues in my life. They’re problematic, but they’d be problematic for anyone. I’m not dealing with issues as well as I could be if I just accepted the fact I could use medication for a little bit. I just hate dealing with things by taking magic pills.
Due to past habits of overdosing, it makes me scared that I could just take them all one day…
Don’t suffer in silence.