16 November 2018

LIFE AFTER A SUICIDE ATTEMPT - body damage, recovery and finally happiness


Today marks two years since I made the best failure of my life. Today marks two years since I attempted to take my own life. 

I want to first just give a trigger warning for this post. I’ll be talking about suicide so if anyone feels uncomfortable with the subject then I’d advise you read with caution. 

A year ago I published this post, talking about my suicide attempt, how it happened and how I was feeling at that time. I said I would follow it up the next week with what life is like after, but thinking and writing about it all can sometimes bring it back and be exhausting. It's taken me a while to get back into the mindset of wanting to write about it again and as the anniversary was coming up, I thought this would be an appropriate time. I’m at a very different place now to where I was just a year ago, let alone two. I want to share with you, whether you’re suffering from depression, know someone who is, or is simply interested in educating yourself on it, what it’s like post-suicide attempt and that life can, in fact, be so much more incredible.

This post may end up long so getting right into it, I’ll start the days and weeks following the attempt on the 16th of November 2016. On the 17th, my parents arrived at the hospital and after a few checks and talks with psych nurses and councillors, I was discharged and driven straight home to Cheltenham where I then stayed for three weeks. As soon as I arrived home I had to see a doctor at a local hospital to get signed off work. Something I've learnt from years of having depression is that, no matter how qualified, some people will just say the wrong thing despite meaning well. This doctor kept saying things like 'just try to cheer up love' and 'they obviously weren't right for you so just find someone else'. He genuinely didn't mean any harm, he was obviously just unsure of what to say when a 23-year-old girl was hysterically crying in front of him - which is fair enough I guess. I then had to get in touch with work which wasn’t exactly fun either - ‘Hi, so I’ve had to come home and get signed off work for three weeks because I was taken to the hospital because I tried to kill myself, cool, bye’.

Those next three weeks were horrific. Every single day, for 21 days I cried, slept, screamed, rocked, slept, was in physical pain, threw up, slept, struggled to breathe, talked to myself, had panic attacks and slept more. It was honestly like I was a character in a movie, but I just couldn't control it. Even thinking back to it now, I feel like it wasn’t me, like I was outside my body and there was something that had taken hold and I had no control over.  I wasn’t allowed to be left on my own in the house in case I tried again so I’d often have to go into uni with my mum. Sitting at either at her desk or in the cafe, I would watch whilst happy people walked past, desperately resenting them for feeling ok and wondering if I could ever feel like that again. I asked my mum to ensure none of her friends spoke to me from fear of my protective seal of silence being broken and the pain bursting through, setting me off all over again.

After the three weeks, I had calmed down enough to head back to Cornwall, carry on with my job and just about function as a human being. It wasn’t easy leaving my mum and the safety of my home, but sometimes you don’t have a choice when you need to earn money and try to recover. I had brilliant people around me in Cornwall, all who were understanding, caring and made me feel safe and loved. After a month or so, it was Christmas and I was able to return home for a few days. One key thing about this that is so important for people to understand, is how much social media can cover up and deceive people. We look at people’s Instagrams for example and marvel at how happy they look or how amazing their life is when, in reality, they could be struggling to even get out of bed in the morning. From their bed with unwashed bedding, moulding cups and plates around them and without having showered for a week, they can post a #throwbacktoamazingtimesinbali and you assume they must be fine. Whilst I was completely miserable after heading back to Cornwall, I posted on Instagram to try and keep up, posting pictures like the ones below. Changing the captions to what was actually in my head would have had a very different response I'm sure.




Similarly to the previous post I wrote, there are other people involved in this that I won’t mention or expand too much on as I don’t think it’s right to play the blame game (especially as everything now has been resolved and forgiven). So for a particular reason that I won’t mention, I couldn’t bring myself to stay in Cheltenham during the time back at home, so for a few days I went to my uncle's house. Two of those days were Christmas Eve and Christmas day which I spent without my parents (they had to stay home due to an unwell family member which I agreed was 100% necessary and that I was fine with). Despite being my choice, this in itself was enough to knock me back a few pegs and the suicide thoughts crept back. I didn’t act upon them and had no intention to in someone else’s home, but it didn’t stop them from consuming my mind. To add to all of that, on the evening of Christmas Eve I started to feel really physically unwell with stomach pains, throwing up blood and hot and cold flushes. At this point, I hadn’t told the family I was staying with about the overdose so they had no idea why this could be happening. I told my Grandma what had happened and how I was feeling (she lives with my uncle and I was with her when I started to feel unwell) and suggested we called 111 to see if it was serious. Fast forward a few hours, an ambulance is at the house and checking me over, informing me that I’d had a stomach bleed. This had happened due to the excess amount of pills I had taken during the suicide attempt, damaging my stomach and therefore causing a bleed. The paramedics said it had only just made me feel like this as everyone has a different amount of time they can cope with blood in their stomach (it’s not possible for blood to be digested) before the body rejects it (however that may be, in my case by throwing it up). As you can imagine, spending my Christmas Eve in bed whilst being poked and prodded by paramedics and being reminded constantly by the voice in my head ‘you’re suffering even more because you did this to yourself’ didn’t exactly make for the most festive and jolly evening.

After that, Christmas was had and not massively enjoyed (trying to be happy so you don’t ruin other people’s time is hard), my parents came to my uncle’s for a few days which made me feel a little better, I returned to Cheltenham and then to Cornwall, spending new years eve with work friends, and finally arriving at January 1st 2017 where something just switched. As clich√© as it is, there’s something about fresh starts like Mondays, new jobs, new countries or in this case a new year that really sets me straight. On that day, I decided enough was enough. This was the new beginning that would start me off in the right direction, to sort out this depression once and for all. I was sick of dreading huge chunks of the year because I knew the winter blues would hit me hard. I was tired of trying my hardest to remember what it felt like to be genuinely happy. And I was so done with feeling like my happiness depended on others and my default to a lacking of that was to end my life. Of course, I still felt down but now I was on a mission to change how I felt rather than allowing it to consume me.

I didn’t get any help through counselling or therapy (and to this day am yet to see a professional about my depression). There are a few key things that I found helped me - the obvious being friends and family, trying to avoid certain people’s social media and of course throwing away the broken razor I used to use to cut myself was a good start. My main way, however, was less obvious. Being incredibly interested in psychology, how and why our minds work and the science of it all, I started to research about depression and suicidal thoughts. I looked at why they occur, what can cause them, what actual changes in our brain happen when we are like this. It really helped me to not only feel better as though it wasn’t actually me feeling like this, it was just something not quite aligned in my head, but also how I could essentially trick myself into recovering. I couldn’t afford therapy so took it upon myself to help myself. I’m literally living proof you can recover from wanting to kill yourself just through education.

Another after-effect of the attempt and in particular, sharing it on my blog so all my friends and family finally knew, was that you realise how many people you would upset despite thinking no one cares. I received messages from so many people, it made me realise that one person's existence doesn’t just affect a small handful of people directly around them. I received messages from family, friends, my Mum’s friends, ex-boyfriends, work colleagues, old friends (although one of these I feel was more of a way to clear their conscience rather than actually caring about how I was doing), people online that I’d never even met, people I’d met in passing once at uni or work, and more. If you’re feeling low and think no one cares about you, you’d honestly be surprised at how many people would feel hugely saddened by the loss of you.

https://www.instagram.com/alexmaceachern/
2017

The year following my attempt was the best year I had ever had. It’s hard to tell people ‘it will get better’ and they actually believe you or listen because I was there and I 100% know that you can't even fathom the idea of ever feeling better. But I am telling you, it does and it will. In 2017 I worked as a lecturer at the university I attended, I worked freelance in marketing and photography, I had an amazing, adventure-filled summer, I moved back to Cheltenham and absolutely loved being home, I started working at a new shop that I loved, I was back in touch with the best friend I had lost and I went the whole winter not on the maximum dose of antidepressants like I’d needed to every year for the past five years.

This year now is similar in terms of happiness and getting back to the life I wanted. Admittedly I did have my first depressed few days in a year and a half which was rough as I’d forgotten what it felt like. Something this year I found to really help when I felt low was writing poetry. It sounds so sickly and hipster but getting the thoughts out of your head and onto paper made the most incredible difference. I figured that these thoughts were here and needed to exist somewhere, so instead of keeping them in my head where they constantly hurt me, I could write them down and put them away in a draw. Still existing but not upsetting me.

https://www.instagram.com/alexmaceachern/
2018

Another skill I learnt from getting to the lowest point in my life is that, because I never ever want to be there again, I am able to make rash, quick decisions to ensure I don’t start to sink into the hole again. Within those three days of feeling down this year, I decided to quit my job, look online for work abroad, signed on to an au pair website, was bombarded within the first day with messages and work offers, and had my first job booked in Italy the following week. Sometimes as scary as it is, you have to just say 'fuck it', quit your job and go into the unknown of what could turn out to be the best decision you make. I now live between Cheltenham where I work as a freelance photographer and videographer and the rest of the world where I travel to different countries to look after children. So far this year I’ve travelled to Portugal twice, Italy, Cyprus, Mallorca twice, Ibiza, Spain and Monaco, so I’d say my resolution this year of travelling more has been successful! I’ve also learnt how to make myself happy without relying on others (i.e. men) and have properly started to get over my ex (lol, only taken me about three years).

Naturally, I still have down days and I can’t pretend that they don’t terrify me. One of my biggest fears is to go back to that dark place, but having been there, done that and got the scars, I now know that there’s very little that could push me back and that I can never feel as bad as I did then. Each year since has been the best of my life and I'm working on it continuing that way. Please remember, if you’re feeling the same, it really, honestly, truly can be the same for you. Just keep holding on, you’ll have a moment like my 1st of January. 


Below I have put some links to places within the UK and ROI where you can go for help whether you’re someone with depression and suicidal thoughts or if you’re someone concerned about another person’s mental health. For other countries, search online for 'mental health help' followed by your country.

 LINKS

  • Samaritans (call 116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you're feeling, or if you're worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org (UK) or jo@samaritans.ie (ROI).
  • Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won't show up on your phone bill.
  • PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
  • Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn't have a helpline but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information.
  • Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts.
  • Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.

7 October 2018

DEPRESSION, QUITTING MY JOB & SUNSETS ON A YACHT


It’s been 202 days. In that time, I have felt ecstatic happiness and suicidal-thought-filled sadness and all that is in between. 202 days ago I was in my bedroom at my parents house, exhausted, depressed, lacking any kind of motivation. As I write this now, I am sat on the back of a yacht watching a plane fly through a pink and orange sunset sky over the faint buzz of Ibiza night life starting up, whilst the adorable baby I am looking after is sound asleep downstairs. Funny how things can change, huh.

From the date of my last published post, I had started to feel a little better with my regular days working in retail and a little bit of photography work, all just about keeping my bank balanced. I had a small amount of guaranteed money, working with wonderful people in a shop I adored, as well as having a little creative outlet and spare cash through odd photography jobs. I started to feel settled and comfortable with how life was going. “Yes I was still single and still in debt and living back at home, but this nice routine makes that ok” I thought.

After paying off what was left of my debt and saving up a little travel money, I decided it was time to book my first solo trip. I knew for a while that I wanted to do a little bit of travelling alone but wanted to make sure I wasn’t too far out of my comfort zone for my first experience. I booked a week away to Portugal in April, in a lovely hotel and a lovely location and it was all just that, lovely. The week wasn’t necessarily spectacular or life changing itself but it meant I had got over the first hurdle of travelling alone.


Two days later, I was depressed again. Something about coming out of that settled life for just a week reminded me of what I really wanted to spend my time doing. Travelling. I didn’t want to be the person who works away for months on end to only go away for a week a year. I want to travel, see a different country every month, to get an idea of what’s actually in the world. Settled, nice, routine, balanced, comfortable. These are not words I want my life described as and I was not going to let myself become trapped.

Two weeks later and I’d handed in my notice at work, pondered on how I’d go about travelling whilst earning money based on my previous experience, singed up to an au pair website having worked a lot with children, and after chatting for a few days with a family, had a flight booked to Italy at the end of May. Sometimes you need to grab your life by the balls, rip it and jumble it up, and sew it back how you actually want it. And yes, it can be scary because what if it doesn’t work? What if you mess up something you had that was alright and got you by? Well then you grab it, you rip it, you mix it and you sew it again and again until you find your answer.

Since then, I’ve visited Italy, Cyprus, Mallorca twice, Spain and Portugal again with Monaco and Russia booked next. Some holidays, some from au pair work, but all exactly what I needed. I still do my photography work in between times when at home in the UK and have time to myself and friends. I’m still single (although I’ve started to long for a partner quite a bit recently) and am still in debt. I miss my Mum and family when I’m away, I don’t make much money and I getting a little tired of living out of a hand luggage size suitcase. But I am happy. And that is more or less the only thing that matters.

14 March 2018

I’M A TERRIBLE BLOGGER WITH A REALLY NICE RUG


At the start of the year I told myself I wanted to post on here once a week, every Sunday. Realistically that’s not that hard. It’s only spending a two or three hours out of the 168 hours we get in one week so it should be totally doable, right? Well it’s now been over a month since I last posted, so apparently not.

My issue is that I don’t want to post about mundane things like I used to just to get a post up for the sake of it. I want to write about things that matter, things that are of interest and things that will help people. The only problem is that, when you’re not in a good state yourself, it’s really hard to try and help others when all your energy is going into replying to just three emails a week and trudging downstairs to make your 6th coffee of the day.

Over the last two or three weeks I’ve really struggled with sleeping, taking hours to get to sleep and once I’ve finally drifted, waking up with unbelievable night sweats and am simultaneously freezing cold and soaking in sweat. It’s really fab. For someone who really needs her sleep, this has meant everyday I’ve felt like the walking dead, not focussing on anything important, eating crap because I can’t be assed to go to the shop and cook proper food, getting behind on work, emails, blogging and messages, and just feel like a huge poo emoji.


Despite it being a bit of an inconvenience, this is all fine if you’re someone who doesn’t work, doesn’t have jobs to complete, doesn’t have deadlines to meet, and basically has fuck all to do. But as I’m sure 90% of the population will agree, this is not me. In terms of blogging, I’d much rather not but I don’t mind taking a little break if needed, but when there are other people relying on you to publish content, that’s when it gets a bit more difficult and the pressure builds.

I’ll be totally honest with you now. I was sent a few bits from JD Williams in return for a post of some sort on my blog. I'm not a massive fan of those post that have been written purely about gifted products or with nothing else of real value, so I wanted to try and find a different route I could go down other than ‘I really like this cushion because it’s pretty’, or ‘how did I ever survive without this rug in my life’. This is for two reasons. A) it’s complete bullshit - of course I like the items, I picked them out and I like my own taste. Duh. And B) I guarantee you all couldn’t care less as to whether the new cushion has completed my life. You (and completely understandably) want pretty pictures accompanied by writing with value and meaning. And whilst I’m sure this post isn’t going to necessarily help anyone else, it’s meant that I can explain to you all why I’ve been away, it’s helps me as I now don’t have to keep thinking that there’s that post I need to write but I’m not in the right headspace to think of a different take on talking about homeware, and the company doesn’t have to keep emailing asking where the post is (sorry guys, please don't hate me!).

So whilst it’s been a little bit of a different post, I’m going to take it straight back to the main reason of me posting this and pretty much contradict myself - back to the homeware items. Rather than me rambling on anymore, I’ll just let you enjoy a few snaps of the gorgeous bedding set, rug and shade I got and see a little update of how my room is coming along.

 
---------------------------------------------------------
ITEMS PHOTOGRAPHED
Teal cushion*, JD Williams
Teal throw*, JD Williams
Rug*, JD Williams
Light shade*, JD Williams
---------------------------------------------------------

11 February 2018

WHY I LOVE BEING SINGLE AND YOU SHOULD TOO


This valentine’s, the day of love, relationships, sickly sweet messages and teddies stuffed within an inch of their lives, I’m going to be chatting about being single. And more importantly why I personally love it and how you can to if you should desire that.

Now, if you know me reasonably well you’ll know that I love love. I love being in love, having someone to love and being loved back just as much. I can’t deny that it’s a wonderful feeling and lord knows I’ve done some stupid ass things for love, but what I don’t understand is why there is so much stress put on finding love. There is the whole notion that females are pressured much more into finding someone to marry just so they can have a family and be ‘complete’, whereas males are encouraged to achieve so much more (cue Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s quote featured in Beyonce’s ‘Flawless’). But I’m not here today to relate this subject to feminism or how men and women act or are teated differently with regards to being single. I just want to talk about how single life isn’t actually the terrible demon it’s made out to be (especially around February the 14th where you’re seen as sad and pathetic if you don’t have a bae to share it with).

We all know about the history of marriage and how it was more of a social duty as opposed to something done purely for love. Whether it was to protect a bloodline, exchange wealth or grant property rights, for centuries couples have wed for many a reason other than love. Even now in some countries, women are married off in exchange for some kind of payment. Although most couples in western countries are now marrying for love, it’s still common for people to settle despite not being 100% sure about or happy with their partner (supposedly 42% of marriages now end in divorce, so what does that tell ya?). Of course, biologically we are essentially just made to reproduce so the need to find someone makes sense with regards to churning out as many bubas as you can, but actually staying with one person goes against what is supposedly natural. If anything, it would make more sense to just sleep around and not settle down, but having multiple sex partners, especially if you’re female, is seen as such a shameful thing (to which I say ‘fuck that, do you you boo’).

"It takes a strong person to remain single in a world that is accustomed to setting with anything just to say that they have something”.

Anyway, you didn’t come here for a history lesson or to have stats thrown at you. I just wanted to remind you that you don’t need to have someone for the sake of having someone.  Why does it seem like the only thing in the world that we ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO DO is find love? And why is it that if you don’t find love then there’s definitely something wrong with you and not that you actually just enjoy your own company or time with friends and family more than with someone who doesn’t help you be a better version of yourself? So again, I say FUCK THAT. If you took love and relationships out of the equation, it gives you so much more time and effort to focus on other incredible things you can achieve!
What I’m trying to say is that, despite what many songs claim, the world does not revolve around love. In the wise words of Michel de Montaigne, a philosopher with a lovely moustache and a rather grand ruff that I discovered on a dodgy quote website, ‘the greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself’ and once you belong to yourself you can choose to let someone else in and share the wonder that is you, or alternatively can stay belonging to yourself, not answering to anyone and making decisions that always puts number one first. I’m in no way saying that no one should find love and that if you’re in a relationship that you need to get out before you become part of the 42%-divorce-rate-gang. If you’re happy then I’m happy for you. This post is just focussed at those who are single at the moment and are thinking of it as the worst thing in the world. You don’t tell yourself you’re a pathetic human who is failing at life for not having that particular jumper you want, so why put yourself down for not having that particular partner? People say ‘oh you’re so wonderful, I can’t believe you don’t have a boy/girlfriend’, but they wouldn’t say ‘oh you’re so wonderful, I can’t believe you don’t own a house’. Two different goals, but you’ve simply been conditioned to think that one thing is more important than another. Why not brush off what everyone else believes and decide for yourself what is the most important thing for you to grow and become the best person you can be? If you still believe that finding love is than, then I encourage that. But if, like me, you’re in the mind set that factors like health and work are what is going to be most productive for you at this time, then focus on that.
In the meantime I’ve made a little playlist of my favourite ‘fuck yeah I’m single’ songs that I highly encourage you to strip down into your underwear and dance in front of the mirror to. Trust me, you’ll feel absolutely fucking fabulous.

 
 
---------------------------------------------------------
OUTFIT
hat*, lotd
belt, primark
boots, new look

PHOTOGRAPHY
---------------------------------------------------------

28 January 2018

LIFE LESSONS - LOVE LIFE, HEALTH & MOVING HOME


For me, 2017 was one of the most important years of my life. I learnt how to fall in love with myself, rediscover happiness and realise how powerful and important solitude is. I may go further into those individual things a little more at a later date, but I wanted to share four of the smaller things I learnt that led me to those final outcomes.
ONE
SELF CARE DOESN’T HAVE TO TAKE HOURS

‘Self-care’ is a phrase that’s getting thrown about a lot at the moment but it seems to me as something that’s unfortunately not fully appreciated for what it can do. Although it can be something as simple as a face mask, it’s not just a case of smearing some strange product all over your face for 10 minutes and you’re instantly in a better mood. It’s about taking a moment out from the over thinking, over stressing and over worrying that occurs daily. It really doesn’t have to take hours either. Just a quick 10 minutes break spent relaxing, meditating and clearing your head will honestly do wonders for you. Last year, I often scheduled in a time for me to just stop as otherwise I would force myself to keep going until it was bad for me. A quick and easy option I’d suggest trying is something like a facial steamer as it takes only 6 minutes, allows you to zone out and meditate whilst the treatment is taking place, and leaves you feeling pampered and refreshed.
TWO
GOING BACKWARDS SOMETIMES MEANS GOING FORWARDS

Moving back into your parent’s home is seen as such an embarrassing thing as, once you’ve left home, gone to uni and lived on your own for a few years, why wouldn’t it seem like you’re going backwards? Well, I'mma tell you why. I moved back in with my parents last year and it’s one of the best things I’ve done to propel my life forwards. You can read more about it in a post I wrote here, but for a quick overview it has meant I see my best friend, my Mum, every single day; I don’t have to pay for bills or an extortionate amount of rent allowing me to pay off debt so much quicker and save for future adventures; I live each day with he security and freedom of knowing I have a base but am not tied down to anything at all; and possibly the most important of them all - I HAVE A FUR BABY AGAIN!
THREE
LOOK AFTER YOUR BODY AND IT WILL LOOK AFTER YOU

Unlike many others I know, my body and mind has an incredibly low tolerance for being treated badly through diet and exercise (or lack of). For example in my first year of uni, I ate so badly and moved about such a little that I put on two stone in a matter of months and come Easter, I had to leave uni and defer as my body was in such a mess, I wasn’t able to do normal activities like go to lectures or spend less than 30 minutes on the loo if you know what I’m sayin’.
I started using Gousto last year and it was incredible for teaching me to cook, learning about what foods I do and don’t like, and discovering how easy it is to eat healthily even with a busy schedule. I also worked out pretty consistently all year (I would go a few weeks sometimes doing absolutely nothing but that only made me remember why I started). Making little healthy changes really doesn’t have to take a long time either. After the gym the other day I made these pancakes which took only 10 minutes and on days I don’t do a full on work out, I just do a few sit ups, press ups, squats and runs up and down the stairs which again only takes about 10 minutes. Something is better than nothing and you always have time for a little something.
FOUR
LOVE IS NOT THE BE ALL AND END ALL

If you know me well enough, you’ll know my love life has been a bit of a rollercoaster to say the least but the main thing I learnt last year is the importance of being on my own. For my whole adult life, I’ve been with someone, whether it’s in a full blown relationship or just seeing someone. I realised that I rely heavily on justification from other people and I just wasn’t cool with that anymore. I decided to stay clear of any potential loves for a while, or at least until I feel completely full by myself. As my friends and I say, ‘you need to learn to be a whole ice cream sundae by yourself, yes someone can eventually be a cherry on top, but that’s just a nice extra that isn’t actually needed’ (side note - I absolutely hate glac√© cherries so kinda love this analogy even more because of that). I definitely have more to talk about on this subject as solitude is something I’ve become really passionate about so that’s another post coming in the future!

---------------------------------------------------------
OUTFIT
hat, old
trousers, gifted from India
boots, vintage
earrings*, lotd

PHOTOGRAPHY
DISCLAIMER
 This is a post in collboration with Panasonic
---------------------------------------------------------

Followers