My Suicidal Life by Shellie Williams - Trigger Warning
My relationship with suicide stems right back to my childhood, although this wasn't discovered until my last bout of therapy back in 2014.
Before this realisation, my first attempt was in 1999. My mental health journey started when I gave birth to my daughter in September 1997, when I was diagnosed with postnatal depression. I remember opening up to my doctor when my daughter was four weeks old, telling him "I wanted to die, that I wasn't good enough for my children and that they'd be better off without me". You'd think he would of helped me from there, but he didn't. He told me to "stop being selfish and that I should be grateful to have such a beautiful baby daughter". He then ushered me out of his office and told me "to stop being silly and go home to my children".
Two weeks on I tried yet again to leave my abusive partner, which saw me calling the police to have him removed from the house. The police knew of the relationship I was in as they tried several times to get through to me to leave him. This time was different for them. They knew instantly I was suffering with PN depression, especially after me telling them "I wanted to die because it was my only way out to end my pain for good". They asked me if I'd spoken with my doctor about how I was feeling and I told them about my last visit. What happened next I'll never forget - the officer was in shock and angered. He picked up my landline phone and called the surgery, and demanded that he be put directly through to my doctor. The receptionist must have fobbed him off as he said, "I am not ending this call until you put me through to him as I have his patient here, in tears wanting to end her life". He was put through immediately and literally gave my doctor a piece of his mind for how he treated me. He then went on to tell my doctor, "I am sending Shellie straight to your surgery, and I'm demanding that you take her serious and treat her accordingly". The officer gave me a number to reach him on to give him an update, telling me that he's got my back and if I'm not helped that he'll personally go and speak with him directly. Fortunately the doctor did help me this time and put me on Prozac.
Fast forward to April 1999. Having no family and limited friends, I was struggling to deal with the aftermath that a person faces when they leave an abusive relationship. I didn't know at the time, but I was suffering with Complex PTSD, amongst other conditions and it was down to the lack of awareness of these conditions that almost killed me off. Anyway, here I was with two small children to look after while living in a time-loop. My childhood abuse as well as what my ex had done to me, was on replay. I couldn't stop the memories from playing in my mind. I tried again to talk to my doctor about it, but he just looked confused and told me that I need to forget about my childhood and move on.
This alone amplified what I thought about myself - crazy, fucked up and beyond help - this being the trigger behind my first suicide attempt. My thoughts were, "Doreen (my abusive mother) and he (my ex) has been right all along. I am crazy. I'm just one fucked up evil person and I should never have been born". How calm I was when I swallowed the 60+ paracetamols with a bottle of Vodka, still scares me. "I was finally going to be reunited with my late brother. My children I thought, are better off without someone like me as their mother, so why not. Plus, it'll stop the memories from playing for good. It's a win win". My neighbour was alerted by my seven year old son. Finding his mum unresponsive on the settee must have been hard for him, and I still feel guilty to this day about that. I woke up in hospital feeling crap. I spoke to a psychiatrist explaining what was going on in my head. I remember begging him to help me stop my bad memories from playing continuously, yet I was sent home with another prescription of antidepressants. I was relieved that I survived, but that was only because of my children. So from here I decided to try and be more strong for them.
For the next two and half years I struggled like hell. My suicidal thoughts was a constant but I managed to ignore them. Half or me wanted to end my mental & emotional hell and the other half wanted to succeed for my children. I wasn't bothered about living for me, as at this point I didn't matter. Why would I. Everyone was right, I was just a useless piece of crap that was unlovable. "If my own mother didn't love me, why would anyone else…?" "If no one can help me, maybe it's because I'm not worth helping…" "I can't cope with my head like this for life…" Was just some of the thoughts I lived with. Then in the month of October 2001, I had another blip. This time was different to my last attempt. It was like a switch, that instantly switched off. There was no prior warning or emotional struggle. I just wanted to die, so I bought a few boxes of paracetamol, wrote a note for my children who were at school and took all the tablets. I didn't fall unconscious like I did last time. Instead, I was throwing up for hours while crying that it didn't work. Upset at the fact that I was being forced to live. Feeling a failure prior to taking the tablets, I was feeling a bigger failure, "I can't even kill myself. I'm just useless, can't do anything right…" was what I was left thinking. I took myself to hospital and got treated for my overdose. For the next year my suicidal thoughts had lessened and I was feeling much more productive.
I started college in September 2002 to do Counselling Courses, retake my GCSE'S, which led to doing my A-Levels in Performing Arts. As well, I applied for therapy via my new doctors. April 2003 my therapy started which lasted a year and this was the making of me. It was here that finally learned the concept of self-love. I finally mattered to me! I found understanding on why my mother couldn't love me - she didn't know how to love anyone. This helped me a lot which saw me not wanting to die and living life, not only for my children, but for me too. Being stronger I was able to manage my mind and internalise things as they 'were' and not as 'I thought they were'. This helped me through my college years which ended in 2005, and with the power I gained via therapy and my high levels of confidence, I applied for University - my childhood dream.
University life was difficult. Managing my mental health, being a single mum with little help from so called friends, was a challenge in itself. As I just started my 2nd year I was robbed while myself and my daughter was in bed. On top of this I was dealing with an issue that happened at the end of my first 1st year. My daughter was almost raped by a boy in her class. Due to the strain this incident put on me and my girl, I couldn't finish my 1st year, so I did the year again. So getting robbed was the icing on the cake. I just couldn't take no more pain. "Everything was my fault. I was a bad omen and everyone around me got hurt because of me. If I wasn't so selfish by going to University and instead concentrate on my daughter, maybe she wouldn't have got hurt. Maybe Doreen's is right, I'm a bad apple and everything I touch will ultimately die." I was so convinced my my thoughts that I decided to do the right thing by everyone and end it all. The same thing happened again. Instead of dying I was violently sick.
I admitted myself in hospital, but discharged myself after a few days. This time was different. I was so glad I didn't die. I couldn't understand why I did what I did. It was like there was another person within me who made the decision to die, because I actually wanted to live. As confused as I was, I was relieved. I went home and tried even harder to survive. Then in June 2009 I reported my mother for historic child abuse. After a three month investigation, as I was starting my 3rd year, the police closed the case due to insufficient evidence. I was heartbroken. The monster who went as far as torture her own mentally disabled son, was going to get away with it. "But it was my fault she got away with it. Maybe if I wasn't a coward as as child and told the truth to social workers/police when questioned about his injuries, then I could've stopped it and she would've got punished. If I wasn't so selfish back then in wanting to live and not die by her hands if I told the truth, then I could've saved my siblings from the abuse. It's all my fault…". This attempt on my life was different again. It wasn't a case of 'wanting' to die, but a case of 'I deserve to be dead!'. Never being believed throughout my life about my abusive mother was another factor. "Doreen's right, I'm worthless. I deserved to be abused as I'm evil and no one will ever believe me if I told the truth. I'm just a waste of space and it must be true if the police didn't believe me….".
I texted a friend telling her I was 'checking out', then went to the shop bought some over the counter tablets & alcohol, went home and set about finalising my affairs. Twenty minutes later the police was at my door. My friend called them as she was worried about me, but it didn't go well. Having a duty of care, the officer couldn't just walk away after me telling him I'm ok. He insisted that he come in and I rebelled. I told him, "it was my life and if I wanted to die, then that is my right!". He went onto to say, "people care about me - that he cared and he wants to help!". The last bit sealed my fate. "If the police really fucking cared about me then why didn't they believe me about my abuser! Why are you fucking here telling me what to do, it's obvious I don't matter!", I yelled. He wasn't impressed I was swearing and he went on to inform me that if I didn't stop swearing at him that he'll have to arrest me. "Are you fucking kidding me! I'm not swearing 'at you', it's how I talk. And you're gonna arrest me for it? What about arresting my abusive mother? No way! How the hell can the police do this? You're letting an abuser get away with what she did, yet your here invading my space, telling me what to do and you're gonna arrest me for using swear words when expressing my anger at you for demanding I let you in my home!", I screamed.
The inevitable happened. He cautioned me for using foul language in public, which really angered me but what could I do. I was taken to hospital for an assessment and given an appointment to see a psychiatrist for the following week. It was only when I calmed down while in the hospital that I saw the wood for the trees. The officer saw how adamant I was about ending it all and needed an excuse to get me to hospital. If he had walked away after me telling him I was ok, I wouldn't be here writing my story. What I didn't realise while I was ranting, was that the many boxes of tablets and bottles of vodka I bought from the shop was in plain view. The officers was that kind to me that they stayed with me for the hours I was in hospital. I was feeling embarrassed by how I reacted and so I apologised to them all, as well as thanking them for saving me from myself. They totally understood and encouraged me to stay strong, and wished me well with my degree.
January 6th 2010 was my second appointment with a psychiatrist. The first appointment after the incident with the police didn't go well. I explained yet again how my head worked and after must research on mental health conditions, and knowing how my mind worked, I saw myself as Bipolar. I then went on to ask him if I could be put on Quetiapine. He berated me for self diagnosing myself. His words was, "Shellie. Your degree is in Media & Performance and mine is in Psychiatry. So I won't tell you how to make films and I'd appreciate if you wouldn't tell me how to do my job!". He diagnosed me as having Borderline Personality Disorder and gave me tablets that messed my head up further. I told my local GP how I was treated and he made a complaint on my behalf. My next appointment in the January left me terrified. Thinking I was seeing the same psychiatrist, I knew I had a battle on my hands to get the right treatment and diagnosis, or I'd up ending my life for good. I had no fight in me though. So I had to create a character for me to be while facing him, writing a monologue with everything that needed to be said. But to my surprise my complaint had an affect. I was greeted by a much younger psychiatrist who put me at ease straight away. I won the battle and was given the medication I previously asked for. Finally! Having been in the system since 1997, I was finally on the right medication. That night I slept proper for the first time in my life. It took many months to be able to function on them, but when they settled, my life so I thought, would get better.
I finished my degree and ended up moving in the January of 2011. I was thankful I failed in my attempts to kill myself, happy to be alive! Here I was in a new home, living in a better area, surrounded by the right people. I finally found a job, so I was able to make plans for my future. But again, my happiness was short lived. In February 2012 a close online friend was murdered by her partner. Then in late March a good friend of mine lost his life to alcoholism. Yes you've guessed it, I was back to square one with my dark thoughts. Having lost so many people in my life, it was losing these two friends that convinced me I was the problem. "That I was a bad omen. That I was unlovable just like past abusers said. It was all true because why else did everyone I love end up dying. I jinx them which resulted in their deaths". My mental health went from bad to worse which saw me leave my job and apply for state benefits. But I needed my new doctor to sign me off as sick, which they begrudgingly did. After two months my doctor refused me sick notes, telling me I was making myself depressed. I recall telling him that, "I didn't want to live anymore and that by dying I'll stop everyone I love from dying". He told me I was being stupid and by thinking like that I was making myself more sick.
I left his office and as I walked outside from the surgery I came close to walking out in front of a bus. I was in floods of tears and couldn't see a way out. But instead, I managed to resist the urge and went straight home. Months later in the September I received news that an old school friend went missing. The same friend who talked me out from killing myself many times. Turned out, after being missing for a month he was found hanged in the woods. That was it, game over! I switched off from reality and went into a deep slumber until August 2013. My only memory in that space of time was 9th April 2013 - my very last suicide attempt. It was like I was possessed; had no control over my actions. I just ate a load of tablets with no thoughts. Call it being on autopilot. I was rushed to hospital and again, stomach pumped, see a psychiatrist and was discharged.
Mid August of the same year, 'I woke up'. I had no memories of the many months that had past, only the day I tried to kill myself. I knew what I had to do, so I changed my doctors and applied for another round of therapy & bereavement counselling. Receiving help for the losses I'd endured brought out so much anger. It was here that I finally admitted how angry I was at my friend for killing himself. "How could he do that? Why? How selfish of him to take his life when he was the one who stopped me from killing myself? What a fucking hypocrite, how fucking selfish!". I started therapy in the new year of 2014 and it was here that my life was ultimately saved.
Firstly, I finally was diagnosed with the correct disorder - Dissociative Identity Disorder (formally known as MPD). In the system for 17 years and it took a therapist to properly diagnose me. After much understanding of the disorder, I realised it was certain 'alters' that pushed me to try and kill myself. My overall struggle with suicide was down to my original personality who encountered the abuse as a child and my persecutor alter who manipulated my host to kill the system. I never knew how much power understanding had. Realising why I had so many Mental Health ailments, my life finally made sense and I was able to control my suicidal urges; healing my 'alters' meant we were in less emotional pain. But it was when I delved into my childhood when I realised I've been on a mission to kill myself from an early age. Looking back at the times I put myself forward to take beatings for my disabled brother and how I provoked my abuser by not crying or flinching when she beat the hell out of me, meaning she beat me harder - to the point that she almost killed me, my therapist ask me, "Why? Why, when knowing she could kill you, why did you push your abuser to that point? What was I/the system thinking in them moments?.
I didn't have the answer, all I knew back then was that I didn't want to give her the satisfaction of hurting me, as that's what she got off on. So instead of being at her mercy, I thought, "fuck it, she ain't winning!". But my therapist knew there was more to it, and after a few sessions the truth became apparent. I actually wanted my abuser to kill me. To be more exact, my protective alter wanted our abuser to kill us. Full of self loathing because of the fact she hated herself for not stopping the abuse. For protecting our abuser by keeping the abuse as a secret, she felt she was to blame for everything. It was her fault. She was nothing but a coward. Knowing Michelle (original personality) was very religious and against suicide because it was a sin, her only way to end our misery was to die by someone else's hands. Plus she thought, if our abuser did kill us then the police would finally realise the truth and our abuser would go to prison for our murder. Ultimately saving our siblings lives and ending my disabled brothers torture once and for all. If it wasn't for our late older brother who intervened when we were close to death, she would've got her wish too.
My protector to this day wishes my brother didn't save us. It would've saved her fighting on the 'front line' for all these years, but as for me, Shellie, I'm glad he did. We might have lived a life of pain, but life itself is a gift. It's a blessing, one that shouldn't be taken for granted. Michelle still has her dark thoughts and a few times since my therapy ended back in 2016, she has wanted to 'check-out', but that's only because she misses Michael, our late brother. You see he was more than a brother. He was our angel who was taken too soon, and with her having depression and not able to get over his passing & God's betrayal by taking her brother from her, it's only natural that she feels that way. So when I'm alerted of her pain, instead of giving in to her urge, I counsel her. I wrap her up in all the things that she loves, in the hope to distract her from her thoughts. Whether that be going for long walks, watch her favourite shows/movies, long conversations with those she gets on with - anything to stop her from killing our system off. Don't get me wrong, it's a difficult task. She can be very persuasive and I've been close a few times to giving into her. But as you can see, I'm still here - we're still here, fighting daily to make our life count.
To make what happened to my friend who killed himself, make his death count, so that he didn't die in vain. Just being on the other side of suicide and witnessing how it affects people when you lose someone to suicide is my deterrent. So when Michelle is feeling that low to the point of having the urge to end it all, I remind her of how Damian's passing affecting us and his family and friends. I ask her if that's what she really wants, to cause the same pain and confusion for those we love. And her answer is simple - no. And so she listens to my reasoning and lets me help her ease her pain. As for my persecutor alter, she's locked up and muted, has been she I discovered her existence. She has escaped her prison a few times. The last time was this February. We was hurt badly by someone close and she tried to capitalise on how Michelle was feeling by encouraging her to end it. Fortunately, with learning about her in therapy, I was able to intervene and put her back in her prison. I did try healing her in therapy but she is beyond help, just like our mother.
So to those who are reading my words and who are experiencing the darkness, please don't give up. No matter how many doors are shut in your face, never stop fighting.
You are important. You matter. And most of all, you are not alone. If I can find the light within me after everything you've read, then you can too. You have the power within you, so dig deep and you will prevail!