Pushed to The Brink

When I wrote about my bipolar disorder, anxiety and PTSD, I thought it was the hardest thing I did. But now I realise that what I’m writing about today is the hardest thing I have ever done. The only reason this has taken me so long is the same reason why I kept quiet about my illness in the first place: opinions of others, judgment from others. Others who apparently don’t matter, but somehow still serve as a barrier between us and the world. 

I need to change that. If I have been called brave before for coming out with my illness, I need to stick up for myself now when I talk about my addiction and my several suicide attempts. Yes, I had an addiction, and yes, I have attempted suicide in the past.

My addiction is — rather, was — sleeping pills. The first time I tried a sleeping pill was after my mother passed away. I was unable to eat, sleep or go through the day like a normal person. I was more than just exhausted, I felt half dead. I took a sleeping pill from my grandmother’s medicine cabinet, and after days of being in a limbo, I finally slept. But then I woke up and everything was the same. My mother was gone, my life was in shambles. I was in great need of an escape, so I took a second pill. When the effect was gone I took a third, then a fourth. 

That was the start of my addiction. The world was better through those dazed eyes. It felt good to be numb. Little did I know that I was already in a depression. I didn’t even know such a disease existed, much like everyone else. It became one pill when I woke up, another when the effect was gone, then another. This wasn’t just about help sleeping anymore. This was to feel better while awake, to go through the day surrounded by a personal benumbed bubble where nothing could affect me anymore. 

I didn’t feel anything completely — no grief, no pain, no anger. I felt nothing, and that was better than feeling everything, because I’d not be able to function if I felt everything. I had responsibilities weighing on me now that I couldn’t compromise just because I couldn’t keep up. Anti-anxiety medication was my help, and it did help me keep up. 

And before I knew it, I raised the doses to two at a time, then three, then more just to feel better and go through the day. I didn’t feel sleepy anymore, or tired. The medicine helped me tune out my problems, tune out what others were going on about around me. It helped me cope with the ridiculous questions coming my way, and the unsolicited advice. I was okay. 

Then one day, after few months living like this, I had a breakdown. Like I said, I was already depressed, but I didn’t know what was happening to me then. One fine morning I started crying and I couldn’t stop. I didn’t know why I was crying because it had been months that I had shut myself up. I could clearly hear in my head that the only way to feel better anymore was to end it all, go to sleep once and for all. There was no other thought in my head, no other concern or choice. There was no point in living like this, I was a burden to my father and I needed to end my pain. 

That was the first time I overdosed on sleeping pills. I don’t know much of what happened next but I thought I was dead. Or I wished I was. That was my first thought when I woke up a day or two later in the hospital and all I felt was regret. The guilt of being alive. That was only the first time. The rest of the times followed in quick succession. I was somehow saved every time by my father and brother, and I hated it; hated being alive. 

I know by this time you’ve already made up your minds about me. That all of this I did for myself, selfishly, not thinking even once about my father and brother. For the world that doesn’t grasp the depth of what goes on in the mind of someone who attempts suicide, it is an extremely selfish and cowardly act. But from the perspective of someone who knows what it’s like to be pushed over the edge, so much pain so that it feels like ending everything is the only choice you have, it takes a great deal of bravery to decide to end your own life. You’re finally on that brink where no one can save you. The pain is overwhelming.

My suicide attempts stopped when I started therapy and bipolar disorder medication, but my addiction didn’t stop for a very long time. I still needed anti-anxiety medication to get through the day, even though it didn’t work much like a sleeping pill anymore. But it feels good to say that I’ve left my addiction, it’s been more than two years. I decided to leave it one day, and with the help of good support system around me, I managed to leave it all by myself. Withdrawal was hard, it always is, but that didn’t stop me from getting clean. And it feels better to finally get it all off my chest. 

I know how difficult it is to understand an invisible disease, suicide, mental health or addiction, but next time you come across someone going through any of it, try to understand what they must be going through first.

Read more of Tannika’s writing at her Hope is Good page, and read her other posts for IBPF here

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