Some Consequences Of A Failed Suicide Attempt

A Photographic Documentary

Back in March I tried to end my life, although on this occasion I didn’t want to die. I have long term mental health problems, and one of my symptoms is suicidal ideation. When the thoughts became so bad that I was scared that I was going to act upon them, I asked for help. The support that I recieved was OK, but ultimately it wasn’t enough.

This wasn’t the first time that I had tried to commit suicide, but it was the first time that I hadn’t wanted to die whilst the intensity of suicidal thoughts built up. I’ve been in a coma before, my next of kin has, on previous occasions, been told to prepare for my death, that I would not make it through the night. However, this attempt to end my life has had some serious physical and mental consequences. I’ve added some suicide helplines at the foot of this post.

IMG_20190614_090027The ambulance took me to the Whittington. I was stabilised in A and E and then transfered to the critical care unit. The doctors informed my friends not to expect me to make it through the night.

rhdrMy photo’s of my time in the Whittington are limited, and from when I was well enough to be sent from the critical care unit to a general ward.

fznorI had no intention of creating a photo documentary at this point. I took the photos because I loved the views of London.

IMG_20190513_124829My overdose left me with pneumonia on my lung, which turned into a septic abscess. This needed to be removed so I was transfered to the Heart hospital.

The surgery which I needed to undergo was complicated. The abscess released the poison into my blood stream and this lead to a cardiac arrest. My heart stopped for three minutes, again it was believed that I wouldn’t pull through. My cousin took this photograph when I had begun to awaken out of the sedation.

qrfI needed to have a central line as part of the operation. Central lines enable the delivery of IV fluids during and after an operation. The catheter goes into the superior vena cava.

qrfTo perform a thoracotomy an incision needs to be made from underneath the arm pit, around the side of the body and under the breast. The surgeon can then access the lung.

qrfThe chest drain was painful and uncomfortable, but a necessity to drain fluids from the chest. I also required five pints of blood to replace what I had lost.

hdrplI don’t have the large veins in the arm that most people do. It’s so difficult to put a cannula into me because they need to go into tiny superficial veins. They also dislodge very quickly with me, so I needed them replacing often. There were occasions which cannulisation required an anaesthetist to use an ultrasound to find a vein.

qrfThe quality of care was incredible and I found the whole staffing team to be amazing, supportive and empathetic.

hdrplPost-op it took me over a week to get on my feet. Physically I was very weak, but having the chest drains and a urine pot from catheterisation meant that movement was limited anyway. Once they were removed I was filled with relief to be able to move.

qrf

Other injuries that I have as a result of my overdose are pressure ulcers. I developed four of these whilst I was unconscious in the time between trying to take my life and the police being called. I developed the one above whilst under sedation. I’ll write more about these below as well as show a couple of photos of the ulcers.

qrfI lived in this chair, it was my refuge and the beginning of my recovery. But the chair was also a place of vulnerability. Ward round was a necessary daily occurrence, but I also felt trapped and cornered with up to seven people surrounding me.

qrfLooking at this photo now I feel some fondness towards the bed. I slept in it at all hours throughout the day and night. I was so exhausted that during visits from family and friends I would still go to bed and sleep. I could only lay on my left hand side and I was scared of falling out of bed. It was difficult to get into a comfortable position because I didn’t have the strength to pull myself with just my left arm. I could use my right arm at the time.

I still struggle with exhaustion today. I’m having to really listen to what my body needs. Listening to my body is one of the many silver linings from my experience.

qrfWith five pressure ulcers I’m unable to take a shower. A sit down strip wash was all that I could, and can manage.

fznorMoving from one hospital to another and being on four different wards meant that my family and I gave up on trying to put clothes and belongings into drawers and the wardrobe.

qrfI hate feeling trapped, it scares me and leaves me panicky. I was unable to leave the ward for around two weeks post surgery. It was impossible because I was so unwell. But as I got my strength back I was aloud to go out for 20 minutes at a time. This helped to reduce my anxiety.

hdrplOnce I left hospital I was so weak as to be incapable of doing anything other than basic functioning. I had a friend stay with me for the first week, and then I want and stayed with my cousin. I’m still recovering, but I’m most grateful for P and L for making life easier. L’s art and craft room became my home during my recuperation.

Asking for help/accepting help is not something that I do. I’m a hermit, I live alone and I do everything for myself. Being so unwell has meant that I’ve had to ask for help from P and from L. The thing is that my belief is that it’s not acceptable to impose myself upon others. However, I’ve found out that people want to help and that they are pleased that I have let them in. I have a lot to learn about human relationships.

hdrplThe right hand side of my body was so tender following surgery. In order to open my chest the surgeon had to cut through skin and muscle. Although it hasn’t hurt it has felt very uncomfortable. The only relief from the discomfort has been cuddling a pillow. It’s bliss when the discomfort goes away.

hdrplThe team at the Heart hospital wanted me to have plastic surgery to debrided the dead skin, and then a skin graft to replace it. I felt so traumatised that I decided that I couldn’t go through with it. The trauma which I experienced was related to having surgery and then cardiac arrest. I’ve felt terrified of having another procedure.

rhdrThe same has been true about this ulcer on my heel. I couldn’t allow them to cut the skin away. The thought of it has brought me to tears. However, this week has been a turning point. I agreed that plastics could debrided the skin by using tweezers to turn the edges back, and then a scalpel to remove the dead skin. I’ve also had the dead skin removed from my arm this week in the same way. The healing process will last for many months, but it will be quicker now that the dead skin has been removed.

fznorI am grateful to be alive, but at the same time I’m frustrated at the amount of medical appointments I have. To assess and dress my injuries I see plastics at the Royal Free, podiatry at St Pancras, and three visits per week to my doctors surgery to have the dressings changed by a nurse.

qrfRecovery also means getting back into normal living. I have been able to finish the third embroidered photo for my final Foundations in Photography assignment. This is the start of the fourth photo. I use a black and white photo, taped onto a self portrait, in order to prick the holes into the self portrait. It’s a slow process, but it’s mindfulness and rest. I look forward to the embroidery. It’s such a rewarding process.

fznorI haven’t felt able to get out with my camera, I’ve been exhausted. But while I’ve been out I have been making potography with my Huawei Mate 20 Pro. I love how this guy is so loving towards the pigeons.

I had no intention of documenting my time in hospital, nor my recovery. However, a friend suggested that I document the progress of the wound on my arm, and I then figured I could piece together a photo documentary of my experiences.

Attempting to end my life was as an experience of intense suicidal thoughts. I didn’t want to die on this occasion, and I’m very grateful to be alive. Many people attempt suicide and sadly, a lot of people succeed and die. Help is available and we do not need to be alone with our thoughts or experiences.

If you are feeling suicidal then know that it is OK to ask for help. You can speak with one of your trusted friends or your Gp, or call a suicide helpline.

Grassroots is a charity in the UK that has a focus on preventing suicide. They have a Men’s Suicide Prevention Campaign which encourages men to talk with their mates about mental health and suicide, “This campaign focuses on encouraging male friends to look out for each other. The aim is to foster open and direct conversations about any concerns, including thoughts of suicide and mental health issues.”

Suicide Charities and Telephone Lines.

UK

The Samaritans Call 116123

CALM 0800 58 58 58

The Listening Space (London)  020 3906 7676

Papyrus (young people) 0800 068 4141

USA

National suicide and crisis hotlines

India

AASRA 91 22 2754 6669

Australia

Lifeline Australia 13 11 14

 

31 Replies to “Some Consequences Of A Failed Suicide Attempt”

  1. You are brave and strong, a beautiful soul. Thank you for sharing your journey, Richard. Sending prayers and healing to you, every day, for a swift recovery and return to strength and health. I’m so glad you are here with us. The world is a much better place with you in it.
    ♥.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh man. I hope it wasn’t too harsh. I’m glad it helped. There’s another one I heard yesterday too from a friend on KindSpring (same place I got Rajni’s quote), about a really challenging interaction. She sent this prayer to the person and I wanted to save it. I’ll find it and post. brb ♥.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Actually *nudges you aside* I claim blame. You can’t have it! I was unclear. I know better than to start off a new paragraph with a pronoun. You couldn’t know “it’ referred to “the experience you had.” It was reasonable of you to think “it” referred to the very thing we were there to begin with — Gems 5.82. *nods*

        I win!

        I hope it’s a good day for both of us. *hugs* ♥.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Found it. “I thought she could be going through her own challenges, who knows why she is so unhappy…and thought to myself ‘may she be happy, may she be well, may she be in peace’ and repeated it a few times.”
        https://www.kindspring.org/my/feed/index.php?sid=177645

        She’s cool, really kind. I mean, I don’t even know her real name. That’s the nature of Kindspring it’s all anonymous posts about kindness, inspiration. I’ve been there for five years and don’t know most people’s names but it’s irrelevant. We’re soulkin and I love them

        Anyway – I thought that poem was really helpful. But honestly, the thought of someone being unkind to you makes me want to throw rotten fruit. ♥.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This explains your absence from the OCA. I am pleased you were unsuccesful but very sorry to see how much pain you’ve been in and how hurt your body has been. Your blog shows the reality of suicide. When people imagine it, they probably don’t think of the trauma their body will go through. Someone I know killed himself years ago and I could never quite get over the sense of extreme violence. I hope yo​u are getting high-quality emotional support, the sort that you feel is right for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sorry to hear of your friends death Sarah Jane. Suicide is a tragedy.

      I appreciate your comments. My Photography is about being real about myself. It hasn’t been the easiest thing to write about, but I felt that I needed too.

      Like

  3. A brave step to tell more of the story Richard. All those hospital appointments must be exhausting for you but I’m pleased to hear that you decided to go ahead and have the dead skin removed so that new skin can grow.

    I think it’s a good idea to use your phone camera rather than your camera at present. It produces excellent images. that’s a touching photograph of the man with the pigeons.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was lovely to see. I was on the bus heading into the city centre. The bus stopped so I watched him for a while.

      Thanks for the encouragement for my photography. I bought the phone for its camera, and I’m glad that I have it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Richard, I’m glad you decided to share your photos. They bring your experience to vivid life. Your body is in a very weakened state. Please, let those around you continue to help you until you feel more strength returning. The ulcers look so concerning and that they would be drawing a lot of energy from you to heal. Are you eating well? I hope so as your body needs that food to repair itself. I’m glad you have help and your spirits are good.

    Like

    1. My food is good at the moment. It’s another silver lining to an awful experience. I feel more able to follow my intuition with food. I get cravings and thoughts about what to eat. Also, if I feel like I need to eat more than what my eating disorder mind wants me too, then I eat it.

      My energy is 2 steps forwards to steps back. It changes day to day. I’ve rested really well today.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is such an important topic Richard as so many (especially young men) feel suicide is their only option. Over the years I have know a few people who have made successful attempts & the devastation they leave behind is truly tragic. I admire your courage in sharing these images and in your determination to recover using your photography to aid this. Your body will take time to heal so take each day slowly, take care.

    Like

    1. It was the right thing to do, for myself and for others. Maybe this is something that I can explore further when I study for the degree.

      As well as discussing things from the male perspective as more men do succeed in taking their lives than women, we mustn’t forget women. It may be true that women are more open with their friends when it comes to discussing their emotions and stresses, more women than men attempt suicide.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s been a slow return to normal service. But I’m getting there. My final assignment is a long process as well. I’m embroidering on top of self portraits to explore the emotions of, and hidden qualities of my anorexia. I’m embroidering animal spirits to represent the hidden qualities. Each photo takes around 30 hours, and I try and do an hour a day. So not many posts around that. How are you?

      Liked by 1 person

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