Monday, 10 October 2016

World Mental Health Day: My overdose

Trigger Warning: Overdose/Suicide - please do not read if this may be a trigger for you.

It's World Mental Health Day today.

It's World Mental Health Day and two and a half years ago I was in hospital after taking an overdose.

My overdose is a subject that I have wanted to discuss for a while, but haven't quite been able to pluck up the courage to talk about it, as it still fills me with fear when I think about it. But 2 years on, it seems apt to discuss it on World Mental Health Day, where so many people will be sharing their stories across the globe, especially as I have come so far with my depression.

It was Father's Day on Sunday 15th June 2014. 9.45am, and I was stood outside Asda in the pouring rain waiting for it to open. I knew what I was going to do, and I wasn't scared. I just needed to get inside the supermarket - the waiting around was the worst part. I didn't want anyone to stop me.

10am - I walked in quickly, grabbed 2 packets of paracetamol (knowing that they wouldn't sell me any more), plus a big bottle of water, and went to the self-checkout, trying not to act suspicious. I must have looked 'typically' mentally ill: my hair hadn't been brushed, I had no make-up on, my clothes were disheveled, and I was just generally acting strangely. But nobody stopped me.

10.05am - I got into my car and drove towards home, but stopped in a lay-by in the country lanes. Here, sobbing and alone, I quickly swallowed 20 pills and washed them down with the water.

Straight away I regretted it. Straight away, I phoned my mum and told her what I had done. I was absolutely distraught and most upset over how my family would feel. I couldn't get my words out. All that was going around in my mind was what my mum and dad and sisters would do without me.

Dad was already out looking for me, as I hadn't replied to any texts about where I was, so he came and picked me up and took me straight to A&E, where my mum met us. He was amazing and the whole way there was reassuring me that I would be okay, that it wasn't my fault, that he forgave me. I couldn't get over the guilt that I had done this to my family, especially on Father's Day. I think I've blanked some of this time out in my head, as I just remember being so distraught but can't remember a lot of details.

In A&E we were seen to quickly as I couldn't calm myself down. We were taken to a side room where I was assessed, and this is where the vomiting started. I absolutely hate being sick, so this was probably the worst part for me. The crippling abdominal pains, the sweats, and the gagging. I was given some anti-sickness medication which helped a lot, but I couldn't get the sour taste of vomit out of my mouth.

Now this is really where the story of my blog began. I have mentioned before that a doctor told me to pull myself together, hence the name of my blog, and it was here, in A&E, when I was hysterical and in the most distress of my life, that it happened. The doctor found out that I was a medical student and told me to pull myself together, without knowing anything else about me.

My mum had a huge argument with her, and the doctor did apologise, but from then on I realised what sort of doctor I want to be. I want to be the doctor that gets to know their patient before jumping to conclusions. I want to be kind and understanding, and 100% judgement free. I want to be a doctor that knows how to talk to a patient with a mental health condition, and who is empathetic and helpful.

To end the story of my overdose, I was given the antidote to paracetamol (N-acetylcysteine) through a drip and kept in overnight, and my bloods were checked the next morning. I was given the all-clear physically, but was seen by the emergency mental health team and told to see my GP as soon as possible. I was back in university the next day and nobody knew about my incident for a long time, except a couple of staff who were very kind and understanding. I was so unwell at that time and thankfully I don't think I've ever been that bad since - I certainly haven't tried to hurt myself that badly again. I lost a lot of weight around that period, and the whole summer was a struggle for me. My anti-depressants were assessed and increased, and I started seeing a private counsellor, but I didn't really find a way out of the darkness for a long time after.

There were quite a lot of triggers for me on that day, but they are very personal and don't really need to be discussed here. The most important thing is that I was very mentally ill with my depression, and I couldn't see any other way out than dying. I didn't see the point in being around any longer, and I genuinely believed that everyone would be better off without me. This, I now realise, was all part of my depressive illness and low self-esteem, of which all of my negative thoughts fed into and strengthened.

I knew this would be a hard post to write, and I'm currently sitting here in tears. But it's almost a relief to finally tell people about how low I got. How awful I felt. And I hope it makes people think a little more about mental health and how it can affect people, as well as the people around them. I don't think many people around me noticed how much I was suffering at the time, which shows how important it is to be open to everyone's struggles and sensitive towards them, as you never know how someone is feeling.

I am very lucky that I have an amazing group of people around me - my family were incredible that day; even my sisters who are younger than me and probably found it fairly difficult to understand. But some people don't have that support network, and need to get help elsewhere. This is where charities such as Mind and Time to Change are so important, as well as raising awareness about mental health on days such as this one. Let's hope that we continue to make changes to support those with mental health problems quickly and efficiently.

It's World Mental Health Day and today I was officially told by my GP that I could stop taking my anti-depressants. It's World Mental Health Day and I have got better in leaps and bounds since this time last year. It's World Mental Health Day and I can finally, officially say that I have recovered from my depression. I am happy. And I can't express to you how incredible that feels.
You wake up every morning to fight the same demons that left you so tired the night before, and that, my love, is bravery.


  1. You should be so proud Hannah. I'm really happy for you and I know that you are aware of how blessed you are that you have got through this. What a journey! Sat on the train with tears streaming! I'd like to contribute to world mental health day today in some way, but I'm not sure how. Well done strong lady xxx

  2. Well done on finding a way to put this experience it to words, I can't even begin to think how hard it must be to write about. It saddens and shocks me that the doctor you saw could say something so insensitive. Sadly I still come across this kind of attitude in some doctors, but I'm willing to challenge even my consultants on these kind of issues. I'm glad you're in a better place mentally these days xxx

  3. You are so brave, not only to be where you are today, but also to post this. I also think your ambitions to be the kind of empathic doctor we all dream about are wonderful! x

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  4. You should be so proud of yourself Hannah. You are going to be the doctor that all of us with mental health problems want to see. Your blog is the reason I do found the courage to write about my own mental health and put it out there on the Internet for the world to see


  5. This is amazing Hannah, thank you for sharing. I loved the end quote too that really touched me. You'll make an amazing doctor xxx

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  6. So much respect for you Hannah - it is so lovely to see how far you've come. Thank you so much for sharing this xxxx

  7. I think you are such an inspiration and thank you for being so brave and sharing your story! Keep up the great work!! :) xx

  8. Thank you so much for writing this post. It has brought me to tears. I've even turned the tv off to read this slowly and carefully (I hardly ever do this).

    I'm so sorry you experienced this, while also being so proud of you being able to talk openly about your experience.

    Big hugs

  9. How powerful. I really appreciate this post xx

  10. Hey,
    Thanks for sharing such an amazing and informative post. Really enjoyed reading it . :)



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