Nicola’s Story

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My mental health began to decline following the birth of my daughter in 2007 and the downward spiral quickly accelerated following the birth of my twin daughters in 2009. My partner worked away Monday to Friday and I began to feel incredibly isolated from normal life. Sleep deprived, depressed, and unwell; I started to hallucinate. When I was fifteen, I found a dead woman in a river. She was called Helen and she had taken her own life. I will never forget the smell! Both Helen and the associated smell were now alive and well in my house. We used to pass each other on the stairs and she often sat next to me on the sofa. Over time, Helen began to suggest I ended my life and find happiness. Acutely aware that Helen was not actually real and just something I needed to control, I soldiered on. It was just another added pressure.

Prior to having children, I was incredibly career driven and thoroughly enjoyed my role. I desperately missed working and the interaction with colleagues. As the months went by, my already broken relationship started to deteriorate further. I felt I needed to stop whining because I was at home all day, therefore I did not need a break.  Socialising with friends became a thing of the past and life became an ongoing battle. I became preoccupied with my death and I hoped and prayed that I would just pass away in my sleep. Flooded with disappointment every time I woke up, I continued to keep going, carrying the increasing pressure to die.

I returned to work in 2012 and initially, my mental health started to improve until my physical health began to let me down. I was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome following an accident I had years earlier. Further tests revealed I had central nerve damage which resulted in burning pain and numbness. Painkillers and anti-depressants were prescribed, and I continued to get on with it. Helen reappeared, suggesting the only way out was death! My resolve began to disintegrate, and I began to focus on the end.

Following a visit to the GP, I was referred to the CRISIS team and a Psychologist. Over the course of the following year, after seeking help from the GP, I made several visits to the CRISIS team.  I met with a Psychiatrist who diagnosed P.T.S.D and I was referred to another Psychologist. Self-harm became a coping mechanism but after a while this failed to give me any satisfaction and I lost the fight to stay alive. I was beaten.

Whilst diving erratically down country lanes, I consumed over 50 paracetamol and made several attempts to drive into trees. I started to feel extremely ill so I drove to a pub carpark in the middle of nowhere and waited to die. No-one would question a car left overnight. The pain became horrendous and I began to sob. It was approaching midnight and my phone began to ring non-stop. Despite the pain, I started to feel drowsy and I slumped over the steering wheel. A member of staff from the pub came over to the car and called an ambulance.

I was discharged from hospital three days later after an assessment from the CRISIS team, where I promised I would not do it again. Friends and family commented on my stupidity; did I not realise how others would have felt had I died? Some said I was very lucky, and others just cried and told me how they were feeling. Whilst this was taking place, I decided that I would take 108 paracetamol next time.

An outside agency provided me with contact details for MaaD. I was sceptical but decided to email them. Following an exchange of emails, I met with Chris in a café. We had a long, open chat and exchanged stories. I was amazed I was not the only one who felt the way I did. It was not like the conversations I had with mental health professionals and I did not feel judged. When I walked out of the café, I felt a little more positive and, for the first time, I felt understood. As I continued to meet with both Chris and Rachel, my outlook on life gradually began to change. I still have bad days, but I  focus on getting by hour by hour and day by day. Over time, I met others who had felt the way I did and survived. For the first time in a long time, positivity has begun to feature in my life!!