18 Aug 2015

Bin bags and Monsters.

** Disclaimer: Trigger warnings for mental health and suicide. I am not a medical/mental health professional. These are my own personal experiences and thoughts and should not be taken as gospel (great advice for anything that comes out of my mouth, tbh). **

Three weeks ago today it was my mum’s birthday. She was 51. She doesn’t look 51, not that it would matter if she did. But she doesn’t. Just as I don’t look like my mental health is so fragile that I nearly killed myself on my mum’s 51st birthday.

The night before, I’d argued with my boyfriend. I can’t remember what about. It doesn’t matter, it never matters. He said something, my brain took the words and morphed them into something new, something horrible, and the switch flicked to turn me into a monster. I shouted, I screamed, I said nasty things. 


Because it’s the same every time.

I went to bed early and cried until stupid o’clock.


Because it’s the same every time.

The next morning, I couldn’t get up for work. I couldn’t do anything. Something was different, I hadn’t felt *this* bad before. This time it wasn’t the same. I stared at my mum’s birthday card and didn’t care. I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t want to wash. I did though. I got dressed, I smeared my face in make-up, I brushed my hair. I looked the part, the part of a functioning human being. But I couldn’t see. Nothing was in focus and all I could hear was white noise, and my breathing. I was so disgustingly aware of my breathing. I hated it. It was exhausting, it was all encompassing. My breathing was smothering me.

I planned in detail how I was going to escape from work later and do something really, really stupid.

There’s something comforting about being at ‘rock bottom’. Everything stops. Everything is still. You’re there. You’ve fallen so far down that you’re unaware of any life carrying on around you and there is no more dragging down. You know when you’ve hit it.

But when I hit it, the floor wasn’t hard. There was a bounce. And that bounce was me. It was my personality, my being, banging on a window desperate to be let back in. It was a short burst of electricity, like I was being shocked back into life. They say mental illness shouldn’t be treated any differently than physical, and I can believe that now. I was gripping on, I was semi-conscious, I wasn’t really there anymore. 

In that bounce, the little trapped me who had been banging on glass somewhere deep within my brain said, ‘I need to see the doctor.’ It was the tiniest voice, but it was there and it came out and that’s where my mum took me, on her 51st birthday.

The receptionists all looked at me like I was a three year old who had fallen off her bike. They weren’t sure what was going to happen next and were being extra nice and mumsy, saying everything was going to be okay but knowing full well that I could have a meltdown at any moment. That’s also the thing about being at ‘rock bottom’. It’s all inside. It was inside my head. There was nothing on the outside but stammering, staggering, and empty eyes. The meltdown had happened, you just couldn’t see it.

And that’s the most dangerous thing.

I nearly laughed when the doctor asked if I was suicidal. It seemed so stupid. Of course I was. Why wouldn’t I be? Why on earth would I want to be here? Feeling like that seemed so normal. I want to die. I want everything to be gone.

I know now that I didn’t want to die. In that moment, I wanted everything to go away but I didn’t want to kill myself. When the doctor said she wanted me to be taken to the psychiatric ward at A&E immediately, I panicked. This isn’t what I wanted. Was I really that bad? It was another electric shock, it was me punching through the glass I was trapped behind and screaming, 'NO, I WANT TO BE HERE.'

I told her I wouldn’t do it. I promised her. She told me I was in a very bad way, and I said I was just exhausted. So she wrote out a prescription for antidepressants and I was to go back in two days. 

It’s been three weeks now and I still find it tough knowing I’m on medication to function. I’m feeling better, but that sense of embarrassment and weakness is still there. But my best friend, God love her soul, said something that I’m holding on to: 

'These tablets do not change who you are, they help you become yourself again.'

She’s right. Some people need medication to stop physical pain so they can function normally, and I need medication for the same reason. 

I’m not okay now, everything hasn’t just fixed itself. I don’t expect it to, I don’t expect to suddenly act like nothing happened and life will be beautiful from now on. But I feel in control. And that’s important. My illnesses have been caught in a bin bag and shoved in the corner of my brain. They’re still there, and they still break out sometimes (bin bags are notoriously flimsy, after all), but they’re contained. And these tablets are soldiers, they’re guards who patrol my brain and keep an eye out for any runaway thoughts or feelings. 

There is always hope. Always. When you’re in the darkest pit and feel there’s no way out, there is always banging against glass. Listen for it. That is you. You are there, you have just been trapped by little monsters. 

My mum is 51 and I am nearly 22, and very much still alive.


  1. Very brave and truthful writing. Thank you

  2. Well, this post couldn't have come at a better time.

    Earlier today, I had my own moment of being drowned out by the monsters. I was walking back from campus, having tried and failed to write more of my dissertation. Writing is something I am good at, or should be good at. Not being able to write anything at all feels like losing the ability to walk. I've rewritten this comment alone about three or four times trying to express what I mean.

    I'd managed to convince myself that I'd fucked everything up, that there was nothing I could do well, and I was better off curling into a ball and wearing my duvet like armour. It took me a while to realise that it was someone else mimicking my voice. It wasn't me saying it. It was something using parts of me. I could push back. I could walk again: left, right, left, right, live damn you LIVE, one foot at a time.

    Everyone's experience with mental health problems is different, but reading this, reading your account, it made me feel a little bit better. Someone else felt what I was feeling, that demons or monsters or a storm cloud had taken over and trying to push back. It might not be identical, but it's similar. It helps me push back a little bit more. Thank you for writing this, Louise.

  3. Well after all that, I hope your mum still looks under 51 and your boyfriend is prepared for the future. Stay strong, girl, stay strong. You enhance others lives with your writing; we need you on top form. Best.

  4. Louise, this was incredible to read. You are so brave and I am so glad you spoke out. I also hope one day you will beat your monsters once and for all. x

  5. Excellent blog and excellent way of describing the terribleness that is suicidal depression.

  6. Darling Lou, I've been here where you are. I was your age. I cried in bed. I cried walking to work. The white-noise silence in my head was deafening and the shame of everything in my head pouring out onto the floor for everyone to witness and pick through was gutting. I hope I never have to go back there. I hope that little you that's trapped keeps yelling and tapping on that window until you realise she's not going away and that you just have to keep on. Even when you're grey with exhaustion, you just have to keep going. It's worth it, I promise. xxx

  7. You've reminded me just how embarrassed I used to be when I was on anti-depressants around 20 years ago. The good thing about that? I'd forgotten.

    When I was in the middle of it I would *never* have believed that that would be something I would ever move on from - so much that I'd forget.

    Your friend is right. And that sounds like one bloody good friend to have.

    I used to describe getting through depression as like for years having had a drawer that sticks every time you try to open it. It makes even the simplest thing so hard and becomes so frustrating. You get so used to tugging, yanking, heaving it open. You stop using it. Then at some point, while you're away [i.e: getting well], it gets fixed and one day you'll go to use it expecting the same old fight ... and it slides open, and it takes you by surprise, and you stagger back, and you get to just use a drawer, just because.

    Wishing you well. Here's to finding yourself in an open drawer!