Every time I have had to go to hospital over my mental health, I have walked. It’s kind of ironic that though I am extremely ill, I have been able and healthy enough to walk an hour and a half just so that I can get seen in A&E.
I always hesitate when I tell the receptionist that I have walked, I don’t even know why they ask. I worry that I will not be taken seriously because from a physical point of view, I have no need to be at the hospital. Is our illness defined by our inability to travel to hospital in any way other than a car?
It’s a strange experience to be suicidal and walking to a hospital, it seems the longer the walk is, the more unpredictable the journey is. I can’t explain the kind of emotion that goes through you, it’s a weird state to be in and not one I think I could start to put into words – maybe the fight response but without the desire?
The last time I walked to the hospital I was in a state of immediate crisis and risk to myself. I had every intention to end my life and yet I knew I had to get urgent medical attention, I didn’t want to live so why was I fighting? Clearly something inside of me wanted to hold on to a future.
I had to walk past cars and rivers and though the thought crossed my mind that I could end it, it was like my feet were on cruise control and I could not change the destination. I had no control over my movement or decisions.
I remember I stopped for doughnuts on the way, I felt that the only way I could manage the heavy walk in front of me was if I had a supply of sugar. It was like I was in a survival mode and preparing for the wild. Clearly part of me was fighting to live even if I could not feel it at that time, but I did consider that doughnuts wouldn’t be a bad last meal.
On the flip-side, I believe that night, I fell back into my binge eating disorder because it was a sure way to feel comforted, to try to remind myself that good things exist, even in sugary batter.
It’s exhausting and emotionally tedious to have to walk to a hospital when you are not actually dying. The thing is I have no choice, the stigma prevents me from calling an ambulance as I don’t want to be judged. I am also really cautious of using NHS services and wasting time, I don’t want to get in the way of someone who needs help more than me.
Ironically I can’t call a taxi in case I get kidnapped or murdered, I don’t want to die that way. I also can’t drive and even if I could, it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to drive in that state of mind. So walking is the only way I can get help as I would never call a friend or family for help. How would I tell them “Can you take me to the hospital because I want to kill myself” – I couldn’t do that. I don’t want to upset anyone or cause un-needed drama, really I still put myself as second best even when I am in a crisis, an emergency.
I suppose that is a common trait of those who are suicidal, we tend to fight our battles alone because we care too much about how our actions may affect others, like how I am only here so that I don’t put my little brother through another suicide in the family. Those with mental illness can be the most empathetic, in my experience at least.
It makes me consider if I am not the only one. It feels like the ultimate walk of shame, you barter with your choice and wonder if you are doing the right thing. You feel like every car and passer-by knows your intentions and judges you for it.
I think the fact that I can walk to the hospital, despite my own fears, is a symbol for the fact that I am walking to my recovery and I like that, it makes the struggle of the journey worth it.
I will always urge others to seek immediate medial help if you are in a crisis or wish to end your life. I know it is so much easier to just go it alone and wait for your life to be over. However, your life does not need to end because it’s hard right now, thing’s can change for the better. Support is out there and you deserve care as much as a person having a heart attack.