The Realness Of Suicide

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If you’ve ever attempted suicide you might notice that look of fear people have if you start talking about it.

There were 6,639 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland in 2015
— (Samaritans Suicide Statistic Report 2017)

At the age of twenty-three during a stay in the NHS’s Eastbourne Department of Psychiatry I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Years of self harm, impulsive and self destructive behaviour was summarised with this one label. I had been admitted to Eastbourne’s DOP for consuming four overdoses in seventy-two hours.

I spent roughly a month in Eastbourne’s Department of Psychiatry before being allowed to return home. I racked up a total of two weeks of ‘freedom’ before Psychiatrists agreed it was best I was admitted to Woodlands Acute Hospital for a further three weeks.

Between 1998 and 2012 there was a 39 per cent reduction in the number of beds, with a 7 per cent reduction between 2010/11 and 2013/14 alone.
— (The Commission on Acute Adult Psychiatric Care 2015)

Part of the diagnostic criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder is a presence of self harm and/or impulsive maladaptive coping mechanisms. BPD is the most commonly of diagnosed personality disorders, and many of those diagnosed are women. During my stay in Eastbourne DOP there were two other women I knew about that had also been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder.

For many years I self harmed, both through cutting myself and disordered eating, as well as a penchant for obliteration through drink and/or drugs. Particularly tumultuous periods peppered with overdoses and suicide attempts.

It’s estimated just over half of people with borderline personality disorder will make at least one suicide attempt.
— (NHS UK)

Many professionals now see me as some-what recovered. I am living with this personality disorder. I am compliant with medication, it has been three years since I last attempted suicide, I no longer self harm and my alcohol consumption would be considered in the normal range of the 25–34 age bracket. My relationships are wholesome and healthy. It is likely that my Psychiatrist is patting himself on the back on account of the fact he hasn’t had to see me in two years.

Many see the absence of self harm and grandiose gestures of misery a good thing, I am ‘well’, or even ‘recovered’. I am a good mentally ill person. That things can’t even be that ‘bad’, because I’m not inflicting wounds upon myself.

People with BPD are more likely to complete suicide than individuals with any other psychiatric disorders. Between 8 and 10 percent of people with BPD will complete suicide, which is more than 50 times the rate of suicide in the general population.
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A few years ago or so I levelled with myself that I would, more than likely, die by my own hand. It unnerves people when I say this. Do they need to keep a closer eye on me? Do they need to call my Mother? Do I have plans?

I don’t, but I can’t deny that occasionally when I prepare my medications to take I contemplate taking them all and being done with it.

Suicide is a back up plan. It’s a comfort blanket for when I don’t know if I’m going to make it through the day. When the fear of another day feeling rotten is more than the fear of dying.

A recent study showed that 85% of people who receive treatment don’t experience enough of the symptoms of BPD after 10 years to be given that diagnosis any more.
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Recovery looks different to everybody. Learning to live, which is a big part of recovery within Borderline Personality Disorder, is not, and will not be linear. Thoughts of suicide, although concerning to others, may always feature in my ‘recovery’.

As long as I’m not acting on these thoughts — maybe I am really doing ‘better’.