The wrong side of the tracks


You can tell when I am not very well because there is a sudden flurry of posts after weeks of sitting around twiddling my thumbs thinking that I have nothing to say. I’d even begun to think this blog was largely defunct, hell, that blogging as an art form is on its last legs now. It simply doesn’t create the buzz it did when I started writing five years ago.

But the more unwell I become the more I remember the purposes of this blog. It’s not here to campaign, to educate, to support those who are looking for ways to feel less alone; those have been the side benefits. Really it began as catharsis, therapy when I wasn’t being offered any formal psychological intervention. In the very early days of spring 2011 it was just about exploring what was happening to me as I came back under secondary services. It’s pretty depressing really that five years later I am still under the same services – in fact I make the same journey to see the same consultant in the same building every single time.

I first saw a psychiatrist when I was 20 and I am now coming up on 42. Throughout that period have fought against hospital admission and been successful, largely due to having “insight” and having a husband at home to look after me. It’s actually pretty shocking when I look back and consider that the first time a life partner was expected to care for me, my ex-husband was just 19 years (we got married young). I mean… seriously? Expecting a 19-year-old to ensure the safety of a suicidal person, with zero support? I look at our son, now nearly 19, and can’t imagine how services could have been so irresponsible.

So although I’ve often been asked if I think I need to be in hospital I’ve always been able to say something like, no, because Tom can take time off work, or no, because I can have friends drop in and check I’m OK. Especially as eventually I tend to give up my suicide plans in the face of relentless niceness from the Home Treatment Team. I did that earlier in the week and feel so very relieved. On Thursday we made a plan that Tom would come with me to HTT on Sunday and hand over any drugs that are somewhere hidden in the house – to remove from him the burden of keeping them hidden, and to remove from me the temptation to hunt for them.

Yesterday (Friday) morning I felt less awful and that we now had a good plan to keep me safe I might be OK. My mind seemed clearer, empty of awful thoughts, and I was looking forward to going to yoga after I saw HTT. Friday is a special kind of class called yin yoga, which involves getting into positions and holding them for up to five minutes. It’s the most relaxing way I know to be in discomfort (I’m aware how weird that sounds!) and it’s probably my favourite of all classes. In the end I didn’t really see HTT; I’d made it clear the day before that I would come at a specific time because I wasn’t prepared to skip yin but when they eventually came down it was after a 45 minute wait and I had to go to the studio.

OK, we’ll see you tomorrow, they said. But how are you feeling? Are you OK?

I feel fine, really. I don’t feel at risk at all. See you at 11am!

I got to class with a few minutes to spare and positioned my mat in my preferred place. For the next 70 minutes I gave the class my all – it least in terms of my body. I pushed myself to the “edge” or what the teacher calls “the goldilocks spot” – not so easy you don’t feel it, but not actually painful and likely to cause injury. I would say that 60% of the time I was focused on the teacher’s voice, on the relaxing music, on the thoughts of how hard the posture was and on trying to breathe through the tightness until the bell rang.

But the other 40% was running through suicide options I had perhaps forgotten to consider before. I thought about the people I wouldn’t have the chance to see again before I did it. Mostly this felt entirely dispassionate but at the end of the class when I was tucked up under a blanket with my legs resting on a bolster I began to cry. I tried to do it quietly and quickly wiped the tears from my face as we sat up to end the class.

I felt OK as I headed home. Not as awful as you might think after those thoughts. But the exposure to them had done some damage on a less conscious level I think, because when I arrived at my tube stop I didn’t just leave the station and walk to the bus stop. I let my legs carry me over the bridge and down to the other platforms, one for stopping services, one for where the fast trains just whizz through. Platforms I had no business to be standing on,

I stood there and watched the fast trains, but I fiddled with my phone and looked at my watch and tried to make it look like I was meeting someone from one of the stopping services. I took mental notes, trying to gauge how and when to jump, whether it was best to do it as soon as the “This train will not stop here” message came over the tannoy or when I saw the lights of the train approaching.

I felt very pulled. I felt very drawn.

In the end I thought, well, I have three options. 1) Call Tom and hope he can leave work early and come and get me. 2) Call HTT who will have to send the police. 3) Seek help from a member of station staff who would have to call the police. I felt like I had crossed a major line and that if Tom couldn’t get me I’d be in the realms of being under s136 and probably down the road of a formal assessment under the Mental Health Act. I really, really didn’t want that, but I was in more danger than I’d ever been on the wrong side of the tracks. (Tom later said it was a watershed moment.)

I texted Tom and thankfully he rang almost straight away. He talked me through leaving the station and we agreed a place to meet. I was so distressed I ended up buying a load of crap from the mini Tesco and stuffing my face in the street while a waited. Better fat than dead, right?

I am now in a very difficult position. Home Treatment Team can’t see me at home for privacy and logistical reasons, but they are one of my main sources of support. The other is yoga. HTT requires a 20 minute tube journey in between buses. Yoga requires a 45 minute tube journey. Both tube lines involve passing though that station. I feel safe at home, but then I am cut off from support.

In the evening I rang HTT and got a nurse I know fairly well. I knelt on the kitchen floor and sobbed down the phone describing everything that’d happened. “Charlotte, you know that if you’re standing by the train tracks trying to pick your moment, you need to come in. I have a bed [on the unit where I see HTT] right now as it happens, but I can’t guarantee it will be there tomorrow.” I said I’d talk it over with Tom, although I knew would be against admission; he’s worked on too many wards to be positive about them.

But I am really struggling to keep myself safe. I am thinking about or reading about different methods, making shopping lists, doing reconnaissance, trying to think what I need to do put my financial and funeral arrangements… It’s really, really exhausting. It’s like having a part time job that you find yourself bringing home with you.

If Tom weren’t here I’d have no choice other than to be in hospital right now. Now, as I said to the HTT nurse, is time to let go of pride. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve avoided hospital. It’s not relevant to the now. Tom’s going to drive me to HTT today and tomorrow and will be around the rest of the time. But what happens on Monday?





About purplepersuasion

40 something service user, activist, writer and mother living with bipolar disorder. Proud winner of the Mark Hanson Prize for Digital Media at the Mind Media Awards #VMGMindAwards
This entry was posted in Bipolar, Crisis care, Mental health, Mood disorder, NHS services, Suicidal thought, Suicide, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to The wrong side of the tracks

  1. Chris says:

    Have you heard of a charity called Maytree? Maybe google them to see if they could help?

    • I know it well from conferences and training events. I don’t think however that they take people who are in other forms of crisis (say rapid cycling or psychosis) in addition to the suicidal thoughts.

  2. Nadine says:

    Dear Charlotte, we need you to be alive and keep going, and getting through this time. Your blog is amazing, the honesty of it is very valuable. If the hospital think you should come in, you should heed their advice and let yourself be looked after for a while. At least you would feel safe, that is what they are there for. Take care.

  3. Pop Tarts & Pink Hair says:

    It must be truly awful, feeling like you have detailed so painfully in this post. I’m glad that you have Tom and Yoga. I have my own Tom and find that pilates/ yoga is very helpful for my whirring mind…except the end of a yoga class. Where you are left with your own mind and no distraction.

    I hope that writing has helped you to work out the situation a bit, or to help you to realise that huge journey taken only in a short space of your life.

    You’re insightful, strong and supported but mental health services see that as a reason to relax (and man, don’t I know it!). They forget that being strong during mental health crisis takes such a toll. Xx

  4. Helen says:

    Dear Charlotte, your blog is brilliant, and so helpful. I was only diagnosed a few months ago, so being able to read valuable information from someone who really knows how it is, has made a huge difference to me.
    If you need to be admitted, then seriously consider it, if you go as an informal patient, that would be better than the other option. And you’d be safe, Tom would know you are safe, and you’d get more intensive help, I hope. Take care.

    • Ahhh thanks, Helen. Yes, in the end tis is what I have done – go in as informal, rather than bu compelled to go in by other means, and it relly is much more OK that I thought it would be x

  5. Leslie says:

    Charlotte, I just found your blog and I hope that you are safe. I’ve been hospitalized twice (I live in the US) and honestly there was a relief in it that was unexpected. When all responsibility has been lifted from your shoulders, you are free to really consider what your mind is doing. There is no pressure to get something accomplished. And, the most valuable part, to me, is that you come face to face with others in the same boat as you.

    Do everything you have to do to be safe. Praying/Wishing for peace and strength for you and Tom.

    • Hi Leslie, so far I have also been feeling that intense relief. That is starting to wear off and my symptoms are return a bit but yes, I am safe even if the places I go in my mind are dangerous.

  6. jen says:

    I dont pretent to know what you are going through. I just wanted to say that although I completely resisted, denying any need or potential benefit at the time, I went into hospital 3 times in the last 4 years or so (voluntarily).

    I had that suicidal drive it sounds like you are describing – or obsession and compulsion maybe better descriptions. It was like I had to do it despite what I knew rationally. Total conflict. Occupying my thoughts every second even when working or with friends. See methods and if there were options in absolutely everything, reading every spare moment.
    I did not think I needed hospital. I certainly did not want it. Part of that sounds like the “sneaky” you.

    Looking back I think I def did. Of course I cant know how I would have been had I not gone.

    I remember how much I was scaring myself, how completely crazed erratic I was.

    I am writing because it stikes me, I dont think of the being scared of the loss of freedom, dignity, stigma, exposure – they will see how bad my behaviour/ thoughts are.

    I am glad I went to hospital – everytime.

    What had I to lose, so much to lose not going. I was beyond desperate, rope around my neck several times. Knew I couldnt go on like this. Was only escalating and scaring people more.

    I look back and am actually a bit proud i endured feeling that bad.

    Hope you are too.

    For me, hospital was very scary, frustrating, boring, shaming, lonely. And loads more. But was not as bad as before I went to hospital when I was so out of control. And it felt safe, totally time out from ‘real world outside’, felt looked after by the nurses, felt supported by fellow patients, made several friends I still have.

    I would do it again and I would push for it earlier (i know that is said with my ‘being well’ idealist view of me being on top of my illness!).

    Hospital was the scariest thing I have ever done. Apart from feeling compelled to kill myself.

    I really appreciate your blogs.

    Take care of yourself.

    • Thanks so much for that. I have now been here a week and it’s SOOOOOOO much less scary that I thought and yes, I have already made some wonderful friends. It’s boring but I expected that!

  7. jen says:

    Thinking of you. People love u. You are without doubt such a good egg.
    Hope u doing ok.

  8. Elizabeth Cave says:

    Dear, dear Charlotte

    I’m just back from an email free week away.

    I’m upholding you as fast and hard as I can.

    Much love – no reply needed, of course.


    On 6 February 2016 at 12:58, purplepersuasion wrote:

    > purplepersuasion posted: “***TRIGGER WARNING SUICIDE*** You can tell when > I am not very well because there is a sudden flurry of posts after weeks of > sitting around twiddling my thumbs thinking that I have nothing to say. I’d > even begun to think this blog was largely defunct, hel” >

  9. Sending supportive thoughts from Edinburgh

  10. I thought about the people I wouldn’t have the chance to see again before I did it. Mostly this felt entirely dispassionate but at the end of the class when I was tucked up under a blanket with my legs resting on a bolster I began to cry.

    The last time I was planning suicide, I happened to be at an event where I saw someone I don’t see super often but she’s always very friendly and usually gives me a hug. I followed her like a lost puppy dog, hoping for that hug – part of me just wanting it to be a goodbye hug and part of me hoping she’d realize something was wrong – and I left in tears when the end of the event came and she’d never hugged me.

  11. LucyG says:

    I have left it a little while to write anything because I really didn’t know what to say to help you best. All I know is that you are a very special person who is valued so much by all of us bipolar sufferers and without you life would be unimaginable. Your blog is truly awesome and the way you go about explaining various matters to bring them to our attention is invaluable. Please look after yourself and perhaps a little time in hospital in not such a bad idea. However I have avoided it so far and I am approaching 60 years old and have had bipolar since I was 9 years old. My family have always stepped in to avoid me being sectioned. However they are difficult times and my family bare the awful scars of the times when I have been at my very worst and the amount of times I contacted my husband threatening him that I was about to throw myself in front of the next fast train passing through our station. Thankfully he managed to talk me out of it.
    So dear Charlotte please take good care of yourself and focus on all that is good in your life. You really are an inspiration and important person and we don’t want you to Give up on yourself and life. Lots of hugs and genuine positive vibes.

  12. Ann says:

    I hope things are getting better.

  13. Rachel Luby says:


  14. James says:

    Hello Again

    First, two caveats: Please regard any theorising from me as little more than a drop in the ocean,(and), please don’t get overstimulated / overwhelmed by inputs from me and no doubt, countless others when you are preparing to be discharged.

    Clearly, ‘suicidal ideation’ played a significant part in your hospitalisation. (I’m just wondering if calling it ‘suicidal ideation’ actually helps by giving it a neat label and putting it in a box….)

    At the shallow end (if I should say that, and maybe I shouldn’t) you have been plagued with intrusive thoughts about suicide, especially with underground trains. There’s a popular book, ‘Break Free From OCD’ – by Challacombe et al;, it’s black, white and green and is widely available. Quite a bit of it is about intrusive thoughts. I am certain that you don’t actually need to be diagnosable with OCD to be able to benefit from the book, at least in some way.

    At the deep end then, I have wondered if you have sometimes entertained more considered, and (to you) justifiable reasons for contemplating suicide, and that they are deeply personal, so you tend not to write about them. If so, maybe there is a professional that you can share them with (if and when you are ready), if you suffer as a result of bottling them up? I guess that a lot of listeners can’t handle stuff like that very well – it requires perhaps a certain degree of detachment and open mindedness.

    I entertained some particularly dark and unpleasant thoughts at a time (decades ago) when I was actually getting over my depression (they didn’t actually have any criminal content; at least, not in this society). These dark thoughts actually pleased, or better said, relieved me (and weren’t linked to any suicidal ideation, which I had indeed experienced sometime earlier), and they were in fact a component in my recovery. I wouldn’t easily reveal them today because I honestly believe that some people would think less of me for having ever entertained such thoughts, and it is even possible that some would be hurt by reading them; although they are rather impersonal -(any way, I don’t have any particular personal need to reveal them).

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