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

 

My Current Experience Of Anorexia

This is a photo about amorexia, and shows the food that I will eat today.

I’ve had an eating disorder since I was diagnosed with anorexia the age of 17. Up until the age of 29 anorexia controlled my life and had a serious impact upon my mental health and well-being. Then slowly I started to increase my calories and have a healthy diet. Over a number of years I began to eat more and more and my anorexia turned into binge eating disorder.

For the past four years I have switched between binge eating disorder and anorexia, and each period of these illnesses lasts for many months. With binge eating disorder I feel completely out of control and full of shame and guilt for eating food.

My current experience of anorexia is completely different from that during my younger years. Right now I like my experience of anorexia (and I only speak of my own experience). I feel completely in control, my mental health has improved greatly. My suicidal thoughts have diminished and my anxiety is quite low, although I do still experience paranoid thinking and feelings and have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

My self-esteem improves with anorexia, I take more care of my appearance and my environment, and I am full of energy, my motivation is good, I buy new clothes which fit me and there are parts of my body which I like (such as my arms, shoulders and lower legs). It’s really quite nice to like parts of myself, and on the whole, to be enjoying life.

The downside is that my health is starting to deteriorate, my blood chemistry changing, my blood pressure has dropped, I have orthostatic hypotension, and the QT interval (part of the heartbeat) is beginning to elongate. This means that I could become an inpatient for the treatment of anorexia.

I’m working very closely with my psychiatric team, and we are following an anorexia nervosa harm reduction model. Increasing my calorific intake too quickly increases my anxiety and suicidal thoughts, so we are increasing my calories at a very slow rate. Every increase that my psychiatrist and I have agreed I have stuck to, which is very positive and am pleased that I am making progress. My progress is slow and it won’t be enough to keep me out of hospital, but it is progress. We are trying to keep me out hospital for as long as possible because I find hospital and overwhelmingly scary experience.

On a personal level I have no desire to either increase my calories or my weight, why would I when anorexia improves the quality of my life experience? The only motivator that I have to change is the desire to stay out of hospital and to reduce the length of time of a likely admission.

This is a photo about amorexia, and shows the food that I will eat today.
Todays total calories. Although this may appear to be a small amount of food, it is double that of what it was in May when my psychiatrist and I agreed to follow the harm reduction model.

My current experience of anorexia, which is a positive experience for me, is far different than it wasfor me in between the ages of 17 and 29, and I am aware that other people’s experience of anorexia is often very negative.

Recovery is possible from all eating disorders, and I am working with my psychiatric team and making use of support froman  eating disorders charity. Am I a positive role model for recovery from anorexia? On one hand my response to this is no because I’m enjoying my experience of anorexia and I am still losing weight. On the other hand I have to answer yes, because I am working with my psychiatric team and making use of third sector support. I have also stuck to every increase in calories which I’ve agreed with my psychiatrist, without backtracking at all, and I’ve stopped purging completely. Recovery in my mind is doing anything which increases quality of life. Following the harm reduction model has meant that I’m experiencing less muscular pain and increased ability to walk around, and be able to be fully engaged with my photography and study.

A larger town that is nearby to me has an outpatient day service for people with eating disorders which I have requested to attend. The difficulty is funding for a place. The day service is run and managed by different NHS trust than the one for the area where I live, and obtaining funding from my local NHS trust to attend an out of area service is time-consuming and frustrating.

For those of you who read this post, who also have an eating disorder would like to stress that recovery is possible, my recovery may not be the greatest example, the recovery can be difficult and slow process for many of us. Baby steps, one step at a time, but sticking with these steps and moving forwards is definitely progress which is achievable and sustainable.

If you have an eating disorder please try to talk to somebody you know and trust, and ask them to support you in attending your doctors.  There are many eating disorder services and charities throughout the world.

United Kingdom

BEAT

Men Get Eating Disorders Too

United States

NEDA

Canada

NEDIC

India

The Minds Foundation

Australia

NEDC

 

One Is Too Many And A Thousand Never Enough

A layered photo which combines several different photos of food. This is a sociology photo which is about binge eating disorder, which is an eating disorder.
(Please click on the photo for a full size image) Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder and serious mental illness. It can have major psychological consequences and cause serious health complications. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If you think that you, or someone you care about may have an eating disorder then please seek help from your doctor. There are many eating disorder charities throughout the world. In the UK please see BEAT eating disorders or Men get eating disorders too for advice and support. Help is available and recovery is possible.

 

Binge Eating Disorder

This is a photo about binge eating disorder, an eating disorder and serious mental illness. It is a socoology photo and is in the category of sociology photos.
(please click on the photo for a full size image) Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder and serious mental illness. It can have major psychological consequences and cause serious health complications. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If you think that you, or someone you care about may have an eating disorder then please seek help from your doctor. There are many eating disorder charities throughout the world. In the UK please see BEAT eating disorders or Men get eating disorders too for advice and support. Help is available and recovery is possible.

Binge Eating Disorder

This is a photo about binge eating disorder, an eating disorder and serious mental illness. It is a socoology photo and is in the category of sociology photos.
(please click on the photo for a full size image) Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder and serious mental illness. It can have major psychological consequences and cause serious health complications. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If you think that you, or someone you care about may have an eating disorder then please seek help from your doctor. There are many eating disorder charities throughout the world. In the UK please see BEAT eating disorders or Men get eating disorders too for advice and support. Help is available and recovery is possible

 

Binge Eating Disorder

This is a photo about binge eating disorder, an eating disorder and serious mental illness. It is a socoology photo and is in the category of sociology photos.
(Click on photo for a full size image) Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder and serious mental illness. It can have major psychological consequences and cause serious health complications. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If you think that you, or someone you care about may have an eating disorder then please seek help from your doctor. There are many eating disorder charities throughout the world. In the UK please see BEAT eating disorders or Men get eating disorders too for advice and support. Help is available and recovery is possible.

Binge Eating Disorder

This is a photo about binge eating disorder, an eating disorder and serious mental illness. It is a socoology photo and is in the category of sociology photos.
This is a photo about binge eating disorder, an eating disorder and serious mental illness. It is a socoology photo and is in the category of sociology photos.
(Click on photo for a full size image) Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder and serious mental illness. It can have major psychological consequences and cause serious health complications. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If you think that you, or someone you care about may have an eating disorder then please seek help from your doctor. There are many eating disorder charities throughout the world. In the UK please see BEAT eating disorders or Men get eating disorders too for advice and support. Help is available and recovery is possible.

Binge Eating Disorder

This is a photo about binge eating disorder, an eating disorder and serious mental illness. It is a socoology photo and is in the category of sociology photos.
(please click on the photo for a full size image) Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder and serious mental illness. It can have major psychological consequences and cause serious health complications. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If you think that you, or someone you care about may have an eating disorder then please seek help from your doctor. There are many eating disorder charities throughout the world. In the UK please see BEAT eating disorders for advice and support. Help is available and recovery is possible.

Bulimia

 

This is a photo about bulimia, an eating disorder and serious mental illness. It is a sociology photo and is in the category of sociology photos.
(please click on the photo for a full size image) Bulimia is an eating disorder and a serious mental illness. In between 10 and 20% of people with bulimia will die from this illness. It depletes electrolytes and this can induce a heart attack or organ failure. If you think that you, or someone you care about may have an eating disorder then please seek help from your doctor. There are many eating disorder charities throughout the world. In the UK please see BEAT eating disorders for advice and support. Help is available and recovery is possible.

Bulimia

This is a photo about bulimia, an eating disorder and serious mental illness. It is a sociology photo and is in the category of sociology photos.
(please click on the photo for a full size image) Bulimia is an eating disorder and a serious mental illness. In between 10 and 20% of people with bulimia will die from this illness. It depletes electrolytes and this can induce a heart attack or organ failure. If you think that you, or someone you care about may have an eating disorder then please seek help from your doctor. There are many eating disorder charities throughout the world. In the UK please see BEAT eating disorders for advice and support. Help is available and recovery is possible.