life

30 Things To Do Instead Of Dying

Unorthodox coping strategies, distraction techniques and self-harm prevention methods that I have utilised when I’ve wanted to end my life but decided to stay alive:

1. Instead of punching somebody, scrub the shit out of your oven

2. Sign every petition on change.org

3. Give yourself a tattoo

4. Grab a cactus with all your might. Spend the following hour(s) tweezing the spikes out of your hand: it’s less of a pain, more of a major irritation. You will not be able to think about anything else, trust me

5. Reminisce on celebrity interactions, like when you touched George R. R. Martin’s beard in the lift, or when Tyra Banks approached you on a street in Barcelona and said, like Regina George, “You’re really pretty,” and you turned bright red and ran away, or the other night with that SAS guy off the telly with the laugh that didn’t reach his eyes, and wonder why these humans are rich and you are poor

6. Meditate by a motorway

7. Edit the Bible. Modernise it. Swap the names of the gospels, add topical references, update the 10 commandments. “Thou shalt not manspread on the Tube,” “Thou shalt get that bread,” “Thou shalt not be attracted to Ted Bundy,” etc.

8. Steal your neighbour’s cat: would kidnapping a cat be called catnapping? take a catnap. take some catnip. whatever, just… cat

9. Go to Poundland, pick up any random item, ask a member of staff how much it costs, be surprised when they tell you it’s a quid, repeat, repeat, repeat, until you are asked to leave

10. Tell young homeless girls that you were them once, that it doesn’t have to be forever, that it can get better

11. Go to a graveyard. Challenge yourself to find the oldest birth date and the oldest death date, and marvel at the curious causes of death that were engraved on Victorian headstones

12. Flirt with an old man, make his day

13. Get on a bus at the start of its route and stay on it until the end

14. Organise your carrier bag collection into 5p, 10p, 20p and £1 bags

15. Fall asleep in the bath: wake up choking on cold soapy water: your body won’t let you die right now so don’t even bother trying

16. TTT: tramadol, tequila and tomato soup

17. Dislocate your fingers

18. Throw your phone into the Thames. Throw your whole handbag into the Thames. Fuck it, throw your clothes and shoes into the Thames, JUST NOT YOURSELF

19. Start a fire

20. Find someone equally helpless and drag them to the nearest pub

21. Go to an AA meeting: shit coffee, free biscuits, great stories

22. Cut your hair (a bit of it, most of it, all of it, just chop chop chop (your hair instead of your arms))

23. Bet on a horse. You have to stay alive to see what happens, to see if you win. When the horse loses or dies, you’ll have a new thing to be angry or sad about

24. Pop your finger bones back into place (so satisfying)

25. Write a list naming everything and everyone you are afraid of, then eat it

26. Indulge in primal scream therapy on Hampstead Heath

27. Plant mysterious and/or sinister notes in library books

28. Revel in the fact that you are not a psychopath (yay you!)

29. Bake a cake

30. Eat it too


This post is in aid of Mental Health Awareness Week (UK)

I DO NOT recommend acting on the advice above (apart from perhaps baking and eating cake): the above points are just some things that I’ve done during severe mental health crises instead of self-harming or attempting suicide.

This is post was inspired by the coping strategies that the NHS recommend to me when I’m in crisis, techniques that (while they do help lots of people and thank god for that) unfortunately do not work for me. If one more health professional teaches me “how to count to 10” or tells me to “hold an ice cube” or “scream into a pillow” or “go for a run” or “do yoga” or “snap an elastic band on your wrist” I will snap. So this post is a response to the (ineffective and patronising) advice that mentally stable people give to unstable people when all they can feel is rage and sadness and hopelessness, and all they can think about is destroying themselves. Because sometimes breathing exercises just ain’t gonna cut it.

If you are struggling with your mental health or have any thoughts about ending your life, please seek help: from a doctor, health professional, family member, colleague, teacher, friend or even a stranger. If in crisis, call the emergency number.

Do not feel afraid or ashamed to ask for help. You are worth helping and you are worthy of life. If you know somebody who is battling mental health issues, reach out to them. Lending a sympathetic ear, giving somebody a hug or sending a simple text message could save someone’s life.

Let’s all be kinder to one another. Let’s be honest, patient, supportive. Let’s be good, good people, good human beings.

Mental illness costs lives. Kindness costs nothing. ♥

Click here for a list of International Suicide Hotlines.

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life, prosetry

Quarantine

weather

It is hot in London. A twenty degree heatwave and Londoners have gone mental. Hyde Park is awash with walkers, roller-skaters, cyclists, footballers, sun worshippers, book readers, dogs eating ice cream. The other parks too: Regents, Green, St.James, Richmond, Clapham (Common). Rammed with people who will be red-faced tomorrow.

My social media feed, starved of usual as I have no friends, is gluttonous today. My phone buzzes. Requests to: “hit the park”, “crack open the Pimms”, and “play some frisbee”. Only on London-hot days do my acquaintances deny their proletariat roots and drink fucking Pimms. They will return to work on Monday and compare blistered foreheads with their colleagues, complaining how the sun was “too hot”.

I ignore my phone, knowing I will be spending the day in the hospital.

Walking through the entrance I am struck by how empty it is on a Sunday. No volunteers on reception, no sign of anyone playing doctors and nurses. The coffee shop has its shutters down and the cafeteria has only one hot option. What patients are around seem to be the nucleus of a mini-obesity epidemic. Not one of these rotund people are able to move without structural support, or a lumbering waddle. The National Health Service in this country is under as much strain as that guy’s walking stick. I move up two floors using the stairs, feeling the burn.

Inside the Children’s Ward my daughter is stick thin, a skeletal contrast to the flesh on show downstairs. She smiles as she sees me, pushing the last few wispy strands of her hair behind her ear. It seems silly and futile given how bald she has become, but she likes what remains and refuses to cut it short. I kiss her and she wrinkles her nose, telling me I smell of bananas, which is weird as I don’t like bananas.

There was a chance she could have gone home today, just a few hours of freedom, before returning that evening to continue her medical cocktail. Time out is not much, but it is an oasis of happiness for a little girl who has spent the last seven days quarantined.

That hope is snatched away by a frugal Government. It is Sunday and funds cannot stretch, it seems, to more than a single Doctor covering the entire fucking hospital. They take blood at 06:00 to check if she can leave for the afternoon, they return at 18:00 to say it is now too late to sign her release. I have never been good at stifling my sarcasm in the face of stupidity, and fail once more with my reply to the Doctor.

We wait in the room. First she sits on her bed, then on her chair, then back to her bed, already planning ahead to go back to her chair later– there is a dearth of options. Together we do sticker books, read stories, squidge Playdoh, dress dollies, watch television. Between distractions, she stares wistful out of the window, with more sadness in her eyes than a four year old should ever experience. She asks, “Is it hot outside Dad?” And I reply, “Too hot, cupcake, you wouldn’t enjoy it much.” She laughs and wrinkles her nose, knowing I am lying, but accepting because she has no choice. So she goes back to staring out of the window at the trees, the car park, and the crew-less ambulances abandoned outside A&E. I pick glitter from beneath my nails while she shuffles to her chair.

I am not complaining that I have spent a day indoors and not in the sun. There is nowhere I would rather be than at my daughter’s side, but my preference is not in a hospital, watching her suffer the side effect of treatment.

I hope every one of you reading this had a better weekend than I, and if you didn’t, I am so sympathetic.

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