DESIGNING OUT SUICIDE A collaborative zine to raise awareness of mental health and suicide in women issue #2
Welcome to the 2nd edition of our annual collabortive mental health zine, Designing out Suicide. Our aim is to provide a platform for people to publish their work, reduce stigma and empower readers and contributors. Also we hope to raise awareness of women suffering with suicidal thoughts/ideations or mental health problems, which could lead to suicide. Thank you for reading DoS
Contributors Anonymous..................................... Sarah Abbott................................... Jade Blood....................................... Chloe Burns..................................... Alisia Casper.................................... Kat Chadwick................................... Jasmine Chatfield............................ Nova Cox......................................... Cathy Crabb..................................... Ruth Durkin..................................... Kelli Foley........................................ Lar Eade Green................................ Jackie Hagan.................................... It Snipped My Heart......................... Ellie Grace Last................................ Levy................................................. Grace Margo.................................... Ellen McNally................................... @rupazero....................................... Lisa O’Hara...................................... Tuesday Peckett .............................. Alex Storer....................................... Laura Thompson.............................. Vonroast..........................................
40 – 41, 56, 58 5 4 36 – 37 10 – 11 & 50 12 34 35 & 45 20 32 29 – 31, 38 – 39, 48 – 49 43 6 – 7, 52 – 55 52 18 – 19, 21, 24, 28, 51 8–9 22 14 – 17 13 17 25 – 27, 43 – 44, 46 – 47 33 59 23
‘I am not the floor
one in a series called ‘Dream Drawing’ by Jade Blood
‘I suppose drawing is a way of relaxing for me and always has been a good way of taking myself away from everyday life and allows me to reflect on stuff. I used to draw to ignore arguments, to keep out of the way and to have a good think. I work with children from the age of 3 up to 18 and It upsets me hugely to see the amount of pressure that young people are under already from their parents, peers and school. I like to provide a space where they can create stuff without an ‘outcome’ and encourage use of materials freely and learning through experimentation. Under our current government, creativity in schools is undermined and under funded. A good education should allow free thinking, reflection and exploration! Deadlines!!STRESS!! are all things that can do one (for an hour or so) when it’s time to do a bit of drawing or painting. My advice for reoccurring low mood is to tell the outside world to fuck off and do some drawing. It takes a bit of time to allow yourself the luxury of that time, but everyone deserves it!’ Jade Blood 4
â€˜Sittingâ€™ by Sarah Abbot 29 year old designer / illustrator / human being / human doing in Sheffield. www.sarah-abbott.co.uk 5
What We All Know In here? Everything’s broken: the activity cupboard’s broken; the kettle’s broken; this felt tip’s fucked! Just keep banging your head against the wall; we know that works. Come on in and have a nervous breakdown; it’s something to do. We wake up at 8, it’s like an Enid Blyton boarding school but the girls have all grown up. Every day at 9 and 12 and 5 for meals we have food, that taste like food and tomorrow for lunch it’s … food and we smoke our fingers to the bone and laughter breaks in two. Come on in - you might as well, it’s like a holiday from life, the view from the dayroom: men pacing and holding it in until they don’t, crazy women in crazy women coats, force-fed hope and tired of trying, we smoke.
By Jackie Hagan
The library is a Take A Break with the teeth filled in; that fence keeps the world out and every day at 9 and 12 and 5 the kitchen battles with itself and smoking is compulsory. Come on in, you’re just in time – Beryl’s kicking off and screaming all that stuff we all already know from the last time she kicked off, with more arms, legs, tears, the nurse’s face and blood and later she’ll come sedated into the dayroom, tail-tucked and shamed that we all know what we all know; what we all know anyway. Amy’s stealing everything with nothing to put it in and Paddy remembers back when he used to have opinions and a coat. Come on in, it’s like Enid Blyton boarding school. Instead of Matron we’ve got Elaine the nurse who’s overworked and going grey too early from empathy and no time to care, and Lucy, the young nurse, on who it’s just dawning that this system, it doesn’t work.
But once a week we have ward rounds! It’s all straighteners and bobbles and Beth think’s she’s got a chance to go home, and Erica’s dying to see her kids and we wait. and we wait. and we wait. Until! The Lord Our Saviour! (the psychiatrist) is ready to look at us in his peripheral vision with his surprising lack of interpersonal skills (considering he’s chosen to work with people and psyches.) You see, most psychiatrists need to learn one sentence: when someone tells you something horrific that’s happened to them (which they will because you ask them again and again) say this: “I’m really sorry that happened to you.”
About Jackie Hagan ‘Jackie Hagan is a cosmic scally who downs pints from her glittery false leg who believes in the power of theatre and comedy to make big changes in the world. She is currently touring award winning comedy-with-depth show ‘Some People Have Too Many Legs’ and working on a new piece ‘Jumble Souls’. She runs a not-for-profit organisation ‘Seymour Poets’ promoting the benefit of creative expression for marginalised people. www.jackiehagan.weebly.com ‘Jackie Hagan has been working with marginalised people for 10 years and has watched the effect of austerity, following the success of ‘Some People Have Too Many Legs’ (a solo show about jackie having her leg off and making it work to her advantage) she has been commissioned to make a project interviewing marginalised people about coping, mental health, services and hope. She will create a show using the audio of these real voices, puppetry, comedy, anger and light. She plans to break your heart to make it shine. She wants to know about your experiences, do get in touch, don’t worry about how you express yourself, jackie smells like a pastie and sometimes talks like one.’ Jaclynhagan@hotmail.com 7
By Levy 8
â€œI draw my mental monsters and imprison them in a plastic walletâ€? 9
The Envelope By Alisia Casper
I don’t think my turmoil
envelopes the world, Or that this darkness covers allOnly that it fills me and hurts my heart, Withers my hope, and takes away light. The act of making notes on experience sickens me, I find grief in the disgust I have for myselfBut cannot stop it. Making the words with the mouth, making the sounds echoSlumping into a dayunbelievable, I am horrifiedWho am I to feel such sadness? - I have no need to feel such sadness! I have no want to feel such sadness!
It is here though, such a dead weight. I think if my body were dead, then the weight would lift wouldn’t it? This is madness, screaming griefI will not harm those I love, I know - I have felt this way beforeand There was a large and beautiful space… before it became so cramped, So terrible, Again. I do not see the space; the opening up and the light- but I believe it is there.
By Alisia Casper facebook.com/AlisiaCasperMakes/
By Alisia Casper facebook.com/AlisiaCasperMakes/
A N X I E T Y I'm writing this with the intention of normalising anxiety and panic disorders, and to offer some advice on how to deal with uncomfortable circumstances. It's not necessary or even possible to feel totally OK in every situation. However, if like me you feel anxious a lot, here are some things that might help.
When you're feelling good, write some positive notes to yourself to read when you're feeling under pressure
Stay calm and offer assurance
Tell your friends and family how you feel so they can offer you support when you need it. Ask them to read around the subject as a lot of people don't understand anxiety disorders and how to help.
Talk kindly to them, don't say 'calm down', it's the worst! Let them work through the panic, it will help to know you are just there.
If you feel panicked, remember it's a passing phase and you will feel good again Look after yourself, see your GP if you need to. Try CBT. Don't be ashamed or embarrassed about it. Stop putting pressure on yourself to achieve too much. Stress makes everything feel worse Read a few books in the subject, then get outside in the fresh air. Take up a new hobby to spend time with people who understand and make you feel good. Don't let anxiety hold you back. 12
Offer to take your friend to a place they will feel more comfortable.
If they are really ill, offer to go to see their GP with them. Ask if there's anything you can do to help and if they have felt this way before, what has helped in the past. By Kat Chadwick
The Creatures They were delicate, intelligent little creatures. All of them being hunted. The group of creatures in question were five, all friends, moving through their little world learning new things, eating and enjoying themselves. The monster was always watching them, ready to pounce, but often just snuck through their house. He watched intently, every day and night. I say he hunted, but they found themselves safe and happy in that little world and he found it very hard to pierce that joyful, ignorant bubble. However one day the monster gathered itself up and zoned in on one of the creatures one evening as she was wandering through the forest looking for patterns that the leaves of the trees made in the low light of the falling sun. As she walked past this time, it pounced and managed to grab her. She screamed and fought for the monster to let go, but it was quite strong and she couldnâ€™t break free. The monster had a well in the forest and he dragged it over, placed her in the bucket, and dropped her straight in, down, down, down into the deepest depths where no living being could find happy thoughts. The creature had never felt so alone, so isolated, so far away from her friends in that deep dark well near the centre of the earth. She felt so 14
Ellen McNally firstname.lastname@example.org)
alone now that she started to cry. Bitter, sobbing tears that went on and on and filled the well until she felt that she would drown. This would surely be the end; the patterns of the falling sun on the leaves of the trees were far away, and fading, and soon she would see nothing. This was a very dark, lonely time. The tears went on and on till they reached her chin (those creatures are very small) and she thought again, this is it. But at the moment when they began to breach the tip of her nose she felt a sudden tension on the rope and she was pulled up, back to the fading patterns of the leaves of the trees, back to the surface of the earth. She gathered up her thoughts, looked around for the creature that had saved her. But to her despair there was only the monster, gazing deep into her eyes. She noticed in that second that his eyes had no room to let in light. They were made of the darkest material known to her, known to anyone. Darker even than the depths of the well. She looked at the monster and the monster looked at her, and it picked her up out of the bucket and placed her on the ground. The beautiful leafy ground, the surface of the earth. He then took the bucket filled with the creatureâ€™s tears and drank, drank until it was all gone.
The creature, who was usually naturally curious, felt that all her curiosity had been drained but she still weakly watched as he polished off the last precious droplets. Now it didn’t seem vicious, only desperate and starved. She believed this was all it had wanted and would leave. And yes, he looked at her once more with those dark eyes, and crawled past her back into the well. The girl stood up, shaken and wobbly, her mind still hanging somewhere between the top of her head and the bottom of that deep dark well. However she took all the strength she could gather and made her way back home. She reached home surprisingly quickly, and though her journey to sleep was troubled, she managed to drift into a soft, peaceful nothingness. The little creature was fine for the next few days. She moved through the world, ate good food and laughed with her friends. As the hours went by she forgot all about the monster. She was walking down a street one day and she watched her shadow grow and grow in front of her. She thought this was strange, but it was too late when she realised the shade cast by the sun had doubled because the monster was creeping up behind her. She again struggled to break free from its grasp but the monster held firmly, calmly, showing no force, simply keeping her there. Again it
carried her to the well, dropped her down and waited for the tears. She was down there for so long that the monster seemed to take pity for a second. Up above, on the surface of the earth, it reached into a mound of dirt and pulled something out then passed it down for the creature to eat. It was thoughts – the monster was feeding her thoughts, maybe so as not to destabilise her completely. So she ate and down in that well she saw all the faces of everyone she’d ever known slowly drift away from her and distort until they became unrecognisable, inanimate objects. She cried and cried but beneath her tears there was a new feeling. It was apathy, but somehow a sad apathy, which was something the creatures usually didn’t feel as they had many opinions and thoughts and emotions. It was if she had been split into two and her physical self was crying, crying, crying, and her inner self was nothing, nothing, nothing. After what felt like a lifetime the monster pulled her back up, and drank the tears. She prepared herself to get up and go home again, but this time the monster was not content. The tears made it stronger, and after hours, maybe days, of staring at her, daring her to move, it dropped her with more force than before back into the deep dark well. And so the tears began again. 15
From now on this became a daily occurrence. She eventually told her friends, but she hadn’t wanted to trouble them. They comforted her and tried to fend off the monster when it returned every day but the daily dose of tears had made it too powerful for anyone to stop. And so the poor creature grew weaker and weaker with every passing day, and even when she was home she could not make herself happy and joyful like before because she was always just waiting for the monster to return. One night she was sitting there in the deep dark well. The tears came naturally now as she grew so hungry she ate the thoughts the monster was feeding to her. And she cried and cried. But then suddenly she remembered the patterns of the falling sun on the leaves of the trees, and she looked up. Something tiny sparked within that swaddled brain of hers and she began etching the patterns into the side of the well with a tiny rock. The tears began to fade and soon she wasn’t crying anymore, but she was still inside the well. Then, the rope gave a quick jerk and she was pulled up slightly, then more slightly, then she was at the top again. The monster looked furious, if something with only black for eyes can look furious, and threw her out of the bucket and drank what tears were there. She looked 16 at the monster and the monster
looked at her. This time, instead of putting her back in the well, the monster walked away. She knew this wasn’t over but she felt a little bit of hope as she looked up to see the last of the sun casting it’s happy pink hues over the endless sky. She knew it wasn’t the end, but she hoped. She felt low, and dark, and heavy Her friends made her food and laughed around her and made her feel busy, until the monster returned. Many more times it took her to the well and she continued to scratch the patterns into the sides of the well, but sometimes the sun went down and she couldn’t see the patterns of the leaves anymore and she had to give up. Despite this, she felt that each time she was getting closer to completing the little mural, the little message on the sides of the well near the centre of the earth. It was late evening. The creature had just been dropped into the well. She felt the tears well up in her eyes as the thoughts that now frequented her brain prepared to drown all of her thoughts. She was in here later than she ever had been before and she thought she’d never get out – the sun had gone completely, left her abandoned, and she couldn’t see the patterns that led up to the stars, and so she couldn’t etch them onto the side of the well.
illustration : L O’Hara
Yet this time, something new happened. Something new appeared. The moon, the humble, pale moon appeared under the belt of stars and it shone gently onto the trees. The patterns in the leaves on the trees shone down on her, delicate and sparkling in the quiet of the night. She saw them – she couldn’t believe she had never noticed them before. She etched and scratched and created something beautiful, those delicate patterns of the leaves of the trees stretching up to the stars now reached down to the furthest depths of the world, in that deep dark well near the centre of the earth. And no tears would come. The monster saw that he wouldn’t get any tears from the creature, and he pulled the rope and she stretched out all her fingers to touch the beautiful markings on what had become her prison walls as she ascended back up to the surface of the earth. She looked at the monster and the monster looked at her, its black eyes meeting her dry ones. This is when she realised that she had been so busy living in the sun that the moon was there also, constantly, and it only shone in the darkest of times to keep her safe. She watched the monster as he crawled slowly back into the well, and she hoped that he, too, would find something beautiful down there. And it never came back.
Words by Ellen McNally email@example.com)
In her own words By Ellie Grace Last
Mental health affects 1 in 4 people each year, and I’ve chosen to focus this particular project on depression. It's a project that's very close to my heart, having suffered with depression for over 6 years so I know only too well the emotions and struggles of living with depression. About 6 months ago a strolled into the doctors office and nearly knocked the doctor off their chair as I told her I finally felt safe enough to come off my antidepressants. I did, and I look back on that day as being one of the greatest achievements of my life.
Life can seriously suck sometimes, I'm sure we all know that, but when you're suddenly faced with a mental health disorder things can go from bad to worse. I remember when I was first diagnosed, I was embarrassed. Embarrassed? I cannot believe I even thought that feeling embarrassed was something I should feel. No way. You should NOT be embarrassed, it should be something we should be able to talk openly about and feel confident about getting the support and help we all deserve. I remember being told that I "don't look like the kind of person who
would have depression". I mean WOW! I didn't realise people with depression had a certain "look". I had quite a positive experience actually, I mean yes I hated my life, everything was completely and utterly the dark and wanted to disappear on many many MANY occasions, but I mean positive in the sense that I had a ridiculously supportive network of family and friends and I had some wonderful doctors and therapists. I realise this isn't the case for everyone but I know for most people we are lucky enough to have this support network. Which brings me to my project, when you look for images around the term ‘depression’ they really are just that – depressing. Which is fine if that’s what you’re trying to get across to people but I wanted to take a different approach. Depression is tough, I am not denying that at all, but it can actually end up being a wonderfully positive thing. It can make you stronger, more aware and generally a totally new and improved person.
It can create much stronger friendships, it can filter out the bad from the wonderful; it can even create new friendships! I wanted to do something aesthetically pleasing to represent these positive sides to depression. So I’ve taken a feeling or emotion one might have when suffering with depression and used the medium of photography, hair and makeup to represent these. HUGE huge huge thank you's go out to the lovely lovely ladies who modelled. Jenn and Nat from Jenn Edwards Hair and Makeup for all their incredible help and, I think you'll admit, amazing skills which I would be
lost without. T from Campbell's Flowers for her imagination and tremendously creative mind to create THAT afro and Grace from Wildwood for her beautifully creative help with the butterflies. See Ellie’s photography throughout this zine pages 21, 24, 28, 50 – 51
Recommended links: Ellie Grace Photography: elliegracephotography.co.uk
Nat and Jen: jennedwards.com T from Campbells flowers: campbellsflowers.co.uk Wildwood Paper: gracelouisetaylor.co.uk 19
Untitled By Cathy Crabb
Whatever you do don't think about trees but if you do happen to think about trees think about elephants. Tiny elephants in a photo mosiac that when you stand back looks like a tree. But don't think about trees.
About Cathy Crabb: â€˜I am a writer with three children and I live in Oldham 20
Photography by Ellie Grace Last 21
By Grace Designing Out Suicide Collage & Doodle Session 2016
Photography by Ellie Grace Last
In her own words TRIGGER WARNING: THIS POST DISCUSSES SUICIDE AND SELF-HARM Razors pain you; Rivers are damp; Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp. Guns aren’t lawful; Nooses give; Gas smells awful; You might as well live. - Resume by Dorothy Parker 1926 Suicide and self-harm are the taboo words of Mental Illness; the general public often see such acts as attention seeking and so they are sometimes not taken seriously for what they really represent. Medical professionals often brush self-harming and suicide attempts under the carpet; you get patched up and told to talk to someone, but if you choose not to then they just let you leave like it’s no big deal. But as soon as a celebrity commits suicide then the world is up in arms about how terrible depression is and how those who suffer from it should speak up so they can be helped. It’s no secret that there’s a stigma around mental health problems; everyone knows about it but no one’s supposed to talk about. I, however, challenge that by wearing my problems on my sleeve. I have a personality disorder, I suffer from depression, every day is a fucking struggle just to keep moving
By Tuesday Peckett
forward but I am trying my hardest to build myself back up. Some days I fail but I’m not ashamed to admit it to the world because this shit is hard and if you’ve never been through it, it’s very difficult to comprehend but I want to help people understand both the disease and how to help those that suffer. My mum chastises me constantly for my public sharing of my problems; she thinks I lack dignity by being so transparent. Dignity is defined as, “calm, serious, and controlled behaviour that makes people respect you.” Anothing to be ashamed of, and I refuse to be embarrassed by it. So many people suffer in silence because society makes it seem shameful, and by suffering alone they often turn to self-harm and suicide as their only comfort. My mum believes I should act like everything’s fine and not let anyone see how broken I really am. The only times I hide my mental health issues is around strangers, at work and around my family; they have no clue how bad things are right now. I used to self-harm in my early twenties; mostly when I’d been drinking and usually using broken glass that mostly just scratched through the surface, causing some pain and a little bit of blood. 25
My reasons for doing it were because I wanted an external representation of my internal agony; I wanted people to see how bad it is. I admit this is attention seeking behaviour but not in the way of doing it because I just want general attention; it was a desperate cry for help. I moved on from selfharming to more self-sabotaging behaviour in order to punish myself for being a terrible person. However, as I am trying to not self-sabotage (and still sometimes failing not to, even when I’m aware that I’m doing it), my selfharming urges have come back. On Sunday night I cut deeper than ever before to the point of having to go to A&E to make sure I didn’t need stitches; luckily steri-strips were enough to hold the dermis back together. I’m not ashamed that I did it, nor will I hide it (except from my family) because it was something that at the time I felt the need to do. It’s often described by people as ‘doing something silly,’ which maybe it is but I was so distraught at the time that it calmed me and put me on to an even keel, even if it was only temporary. Self-harming is also my alternative 26
for acting on the urges that cloud my mind a lot of the time at the moment; I can’t stop thinking about ending my own life. I’ve gone so far as researching different ways, trying to work out how I could prevent my family from being the ones that find, dividing up my possessions and drafting the letters I would leave behind. Obviously I haven’t gone through with any of my plans but that doesn’t mean I haven’t spent a long time thinking about them. Suicide is always branded selfish because it just moves the pain on to the people that love you; loved ones often end up blaming themselves because they either couldn’t save you or weren’t even aware that you needed saving. People often can’t understand how those that attempt or commit suicide can be so egocentric but in reality, when things get so bad that you feel like that is your only way out other people just don’t factor into it. The amount of pain I am currently experiencing is so overwhelming that I feel like it’s smothering me and that I’ll never get out from under it. This is my life; I will forever be plagued with self-hatred, an inability to connect to others, failing in maintaining relationships and trapped in my own isolation.
‘Roller grrrl’ by L. O’Hara
I’m not living right now; I’m the walking dead, disconnected from anything and everything, and it’s fucking exhausting just to keep moving. I don’t want to live like this anymore. I’ve never been keen on being alive; I don’t particularly feel like I have anything to live for. I used to keep going for my sisters because I always worried that they were too young to lose their sister in such a way and that they’d never be able to understand it, and I didn’t want to put my parents in the position of having to explain it to them. However, their adults now so they have the capacity to understand and accept it. For the past four years it has been my ex that I’ve stayed alive for but he’s not mine anymore and I am not his. I don’t have a job I love or any forms of passion to keep me going. I keep persevering at this life but I can’t work out why.
About Tuesday Peckett: ‘Tuesday, age 30 3/4, from Sheffield. Aka Riva Styx in the roller derby community. I’m a Family Intervention Worker for Children & Family Services in my professional life. I have Borderline Personality Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder with a dash of Body Dysmorphia, and I want to help rid the stigma of mental illness’
By Tuesday Peckett
Photography by Ellie Grace Last
Photography by Kelli Foley
Photography by Kelli Foley â€˜Through the use of analogue photography and the methodology of image making, I aim to use ideas behind space, texture and sequence to communicate and visually express a journey of conflicting ideals, pathways and emotions.â€™ 30
Photography by Kelli Foley
Superficial Cuts By Ruth Durkin
Razor Sharp Yet smooth it slithers Onions, carrots, steak Flesh Glide it through And bright it glistens The deeper it goes The better it feels Just once not enough Repeated, I slice Worktop as forearm Display what I chop Red streaks down the arm Cry tears from beneath The vision of blood A reminder of life Today I choose not To end it at once Jumpstarting emotions
Is all that I crave Yet well-meaning man Takes me to that bleak place With neon strip lighting And chemical smells A wetwipe, a plaster A psycho-exam You’re fine, go back home Keep taking Mirtaz* These cuts superficial Suicide not intent Our time you have wasted Your knives you must wash By R.E.D. *Mirtaz is an abbreviation of the antidepressant, Mirtazapine
About Ruth Durkin ‘‘Ruth works full time for a charity and is working on a portfolio of mental health-related writing. She has been diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder and BPD. She has just started a mental health blog entitled Just look at the birds and the trees: thebirdsandthetrees.net
Ruth has previously been published under her maiden name with Choosing to be by Ruth Kilner in Our Encounters with Suicide by Eds Alec Grant, Judith Haire, Francis Biley & Brendan Stone.
‘Corridoor of Poor Souls’ by Alex Storer www.thelightdream.net
This Sweat Is Not Real By Jasmine Chatfield I eat only in the darkness My skin ever-slick with sweat just showered My sheet-less mattress more skin than fabric I do not know if it is dark or light outside Something heavy atop my skull presses, presses the entire plate the radiator screeches and burbles I do not know what it is leaking Though they say natural light would be good for me I do not see any of it for a week at least There are tufts of hair and toenails everywhere
About Jasmine Chatfield @jazzchatfield â€˜Jasmine Chatfield is a poet and writer based in Manchester where she co-hosts experimental cabaret night FLIM NITE. With Stirred, a feminist collective, she co-runs a monthly spoken word event and makes zines as Stirred Press.â€™ 34
By Nova Cox Designing Out Suicide & Free Hand - Collage & Doodle Session 2016 35
Travel Warning 1.
i’m going to cuba with my dad. i’m in junior high. in the car a couple weeks ago i said “mom do you know the feeling where everything feels like a dream” and she said no, chloe, i don’t think that’s a real thing. because my mom is Normal. we’re going to cuba because my dad is helping a friend set up an art exhibit. i don’t know a lot about cuba, and on the way to the airport my parents get in an argument. it’s about our neighbour and it doesn’t get solved before we get on the plane. it’s either very late or very early and when my parents fight it feels like the world is ending. my dad sleeps on the plane. we get to cuba and it’s bright: there are lizards on the leaves: we go to a resort with two pools as well as the ocean. nothing feels real. (i don’t tell my dad this). it feels like a huge dream, the biggest dream ever. my head feels swimmy. i don’t eat a lot, and at the resort there’s a performance group practicing for a show of the french musical notre dâme de paris, which we’re studying in my grade 9 french class, which makes it feel even more like a dream where everything means everything else. we drive across cuba in a rented car, down roads that aren’t actually finished yet and past signs we can’t read. i spend a lot of time on this trip picturing what will happen if my dad and i die, smashed on the highway,
By Chloe Burns lost somewhere we can’t find on the map. no one knows who we are here, and how will they tell our family far away in canada. it’s a dream it’s a dream it’s a dream. i get sunstroke, there’s a cockroach in our bathroom and i feel like i’m dying.
when i turn 16 my mom takes me on a trip. i choose new york because it’s the obvious choice, because i can see broadway shows and go to the strand. because, i mean, it’s New York. two months before we go i’m at my sister’s dance recital and i an gun-shot struck with a picture of me and my mom forced down an alley by a group of mismatched men with ragged laughs. i stop breathing, i feel faint. it’s dark in the auditorium, we’re on a sloping balcony, on the stage the smallest kids i’ve ever seen tap dance carefully. a month before we go i reread my favourite books that take place in new york, including the weetzie bat series where weetzie says new york makes her “nerves feel like a charm bracelet of plastic skeletons jangling on a chain”. in new york my mom spills boiling water on her neck on our first night. for the rest of the trip she wears a strip of gauze taped & polysporined on her clavicle; we don’t take very many pictures of ourselves. because of doubly undiagnosed combination of anemia and anxiety i feel sick almost all the time, sitting down a lot, tired and nauseous. the building go up and up and up and i’m trapped at the bottom.
the christmas after i’ve graduated my parents announce we’re all going to mexico. immediately, i am not excited, and guilty for not being excited. i start having visions, vivid and entirely a-propos of nothing, of myself in a huge white mexico hotel room: a huge white mexico bathtub where my wrists bloom red red red. for some reason that my brain’s made up, it feels easier to give up in mexico. (note: these images are so pervasive that a full year later, a year after the trip, when i’ve already been on anti-depressants for five months, i go to ikea with my mom and my sister and we pass a huge white bathtub in a facsimile bathroom and i am suddenly, violently, dizzyingly depressed). in mexico everything feels like a dream dream dream. i miss my person so much i cry in the small room with internet, where i’ve waited in line for forty minutes to send them a facebook message saying: i don’t have wifi and i miss you. i stand on the balcony right outside the room, trying to calculate what time it is back home, trying not to cry because i know i’ll cry in the ugly, empty way that means i’m depressed and that my parents and siblings haven’t seen yet. the scary way. i don’t drink very much, even though it’s an all-inclusive. i cry over small things. i walk very quickly through the open hallways where moths flit and spasm next to open lightbulbs.
in cuba my dad & i swim in the ocean and he pulls me in when the undertow starts to grip me. he lets me eat mostly ice cream and fruit. we stay in a tiny bed & breakfast with a little lady who makes us breakfast every day; pretty jams on toast and bowls of fruit. i write bad poems. i marvel at the weirdness of christmas trees and hanging icicles in 30 degree winter. we walk down the street to a marketplace that’s like something out of a fairy tale, booths selling hand carvings and stones and seashells. // in new york my mom and i go to the met and i write a poem. we spend a whole morning in the strand. we see beautiful musicals, i see james earl jones live. i buy pretzels and hot dogs and go to mcdonalds in times square, and the two-floor disney store. we stay in a tiny room and take melatonin and sleep well and go on the ferry past the statue of liberty. // in mexico, my sister & i run through a rainstorm. we see a family of baby coaties and go to a nature theme park where i sleep for two hours in a hammock garden. i write bad poems and reread the waves. i listen to a lot of lana del rey. we visit ancient pyramids and i join the french tour group, i wear a huge sunhat, we go to a pasta buffet every night. there are four pools plus the ocean. iguanas and a gang of cats that roam the resort pathways and colourful birds. // looking back: so many beautiful things.
About Chloe Burns: ‘Chloe Burns is an English major at the University of Alberta. Her writing has most recently appeared in baldhip magazine, text lit mag, and The Chappess Zine. Follow her on twitter (https://twitter.com/chloedotrae) or on Medium (https://firstname.lastname@example.org).’
Photography by Kelli Foley
Photography by Kelli Foley
‘Tic, Tic, Tic, Tic, Tic’ by Lar Eade Green www.facebook.com/thepodcoventry
Trapped Under a Glass The symptoms of BPD are fairly rough all by themselves; however, the illness is often comorbid (co-occurring) with a number of different mental illnesses; the most common of which is depression. Around 83% of BPD sufferers suffer from major depressive disorder in conjunction with their already often debilitating symptoms. Depression is synonymous with sadness, despite the fact that so many people point out that the disease is not merely feeling a little blue. Yes, sadness can be an emotion you feel but it’s usually in relation to something bigger than that. It is often an unrelenting sensation of pure despair, loneliness and isolation. Suffering from depression is a very desolate disease because even though there are millions of others suffering, every person’s experience is very different and when you are within its thrall it feels almost impossible to get out of it. And it feels like you will never feel anything but this agony ever again. The sun will never shine, you will never laugh, you will never feel love, the world will stop turning, and you will be forgotten about in your self-pitying bubble. Depression can materialise as feelings of
By Tuesday Peckett
abandonment, worthlessness, self-hatred, fatigue/lethargy, lack of motivation, under/over-eating, apathy (even for your favourite things), inability to concentrate, insomnia, anger, crying, numbness etc. If it was just sadness it might be easier to handle. Many people have tried to explain what depression feels like; Winston Churchill called it his black dog, Sylvia Plath compared it to being under a ball jar, Elizabeth Wurtzel described it as being pursued by a black wave, many people have referred to it as being under a black cloud. For me, Plath’s comparison to a bell jar is probably the one I relate most to when trying to express what it feels like to feel like this. However, I think the feeling is much more complex than that as it seems to ebb and flow. Being depressed, to me, feels like I am underneath an upside down glass; much like when you trap a spider under one. I can see the world around me but I can’t truly engage with it or experience it. When I am at my worst (like now), the glass has thickened to that of a jar which muffles the sound of people trying to talk to me. 43
Not only that but the glass is not free floating; I have to push it around to be able to move so the thicker the glass, the heavier it is. That slows down my movements and tires me out extremely easily making the idea of going anywhere and doing anything almost deplorable. Even when I am surrounded by other people that glass is still there; I cannot interest properly with them and I can’t always here what they are saying; I really have to concentrate to be able to engage. Luckily, some people shout loud enough so I can hear them and for a short time the width of the glass is forgotten, but it never goes away. When I am feeling almost normal and much less depressed the glass is still there, albeit thinner and easier to move around. Nonetheless, it is still a barrier to the world around me and I have never truly felt connected to it. When I was with my ex, at one point that glass got to the point where it was super thin when I was around him, but it was still there. I could never throw it off enough to get out or to let him in with me. He stood on the other side of that glass trying his 44
hardest to lift it or to smash it with his bare hands but it was having none of it. That glass still stands between us even now as we try to develop into a friendship; I want nothing more than to let him in completely, to throw away this glass that is suffocating me, but I can’t do it. I don’t know how. It does scare me that I’ll never feel completely connect to the world or to another person. The world doesn’t feel real to me because I can’t see it clearly through the thick glass that refracts all the light that hits it. I am alone in here, hoping that one day I will break free. People keep throwing tools at me that I can use to get out but I don’t know how to use them, and right now the glass is too thick for me to get to them. Everything is just out of my reach. I am still trying though, mostly for a lack of anything else to do. I’m trying to socialise more; making an effort to organise to spend time with different people. And I am trying to get back into exercising too. Hopefully these things will slowly start to make that glass get thinner again. By Tuesday Peckett
By Nova Cox Collage & Doodle Session 2016
The Drugs DO Work Over the Bank Holiday weekend I did something really stupid. Allow
I am currently taking three types of medication; one for my skin as I suffer residual acne breakouts following an acne riddled adolescence, one to reduce to stomach acid as the doctor thinks that the cough I have had for seven weeks is a result of aspirating refluxed acid, and my crazy pills (aka anti-depressants). On the first morning of a five day trip to London I discovered that I’d forgotten one of them; my crazy pills Duloxetine is an SNRI which means that it increases the concentration of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain by inhibiting reuptake of the chemicals. It has a halflife of 12 hours which means the body clears it pretty quickly so my dosage takes about 36 hours to leave my body. And that is when the withdrawal symptoms kicked in over the weekend. My first indication that withdrawal was kicking in was nausea and my skull feeling too tight making my head feel heavy. Over four days these sensations came and 46
By Tuesday Peckett
went along with a feeling that my brain was sloshing around so that I could almost feel it moving when I moved my head, causing dizziness. I also experienced what are known as ‘brain zaps;’ to me this occurs as a flash of crackling white noise that is so intense that I can almost feel it flash through my brain like an electric shock. And those are just the physical side effects; now for the mental ones. Irritability usually comes first due to being so uncomfortable all the time; this leads to withdrawn sullenness. I felt completely disconnected from the world around me; I wasn’t living my life, it was just happening around me. Feeling like this makes enjoyment very difficult as nothing feels like you’re actually experiencing. Nothing feels quite real; I felt so far away from everything and it’s an isolating feeling. I felt sad most of the time, sometimes for no reason at all, sometimes for dwelling on the past and sometimes for issues I created in my head. I felt anxiety about ruining the week and about how I had been looking forward to this trip for months and was so excitable before withdrawal started that I was disappointed.
This is the most selfish response I have when i am experiencing disconnection to the level of disassociation and anxious guilt. BPD brings with it an obsession with perfection which in my case represents as this almost fixation on what the perfect life should be. This fixation, or wont of a better term, includes the big things like house, pets, cars, wedding etc. as well as smaller things. My most current examples of those smaller things are how celebrating my 30th should feel and how the weekend should have gone. Leading up to my 30th I was obsessed over how it should feel special but I couldn’t actually come up with how to make that feeling happening. I had a lovely day with my family climbing high ropes, drinking Prosecco and going for a meal, although I missed seeing my SO (my ex and I have now been seeing each other again since for 3 months – I think it’s going well). I looked forward to spending a long weekend watching horror films and enjoying my SO’s company. Due to being disconnected and feeling anxious that I was ruining our time together by being so distant, I didn’t enjoy watching the films as much as I had expected because of waning concentration and I was withdrawn into myself and therefore my SO. These outlooks left to me feeling disappointed by
the weekend because I felt like we hadn’t done anything special for my birthday and I confessed this. What a horrible, ungrateful thing to think and say out loud. My SO paid for out tickets and apartment for the trip as well as all the food (which was a LOT) while we were there and buying me a few gifts. How spoiled and lucky am I? And yet I felt disappointed which is appalling and I regret not only feeling it but admitting to it. However, I can’t change what has been done; I can only apologise and use it to help me improve my awareness of, and how I manage myself in, these situations in the future. This weekend showed me that my medication is making a difference and that the dose I am on is working for me. My parents have been against me taking medication since the time in my early twenties when I was on four different types that left me in a zombie like state that was still severely depressed and detached. When I returned home after my break-up in April, I mentioned my meds in front of my dad who spat, “You need to get yourself off those things,” No dad, I really, really don’t 47
Photography by Kelli Foley
Photography by Kelli Foley
Photography by Ellie Grace Last
by It Snipped My Heart
'I'm Nova aka It Snipped My Heart. I like to draw, doodle, stitch, snip and stick as an escape from and expression of the busy tangle in my head.' itsnippedmyheart.wordpress.com
Yellow By Jackie Hagan
There are vases in Wilko’s for 50p so she buys them all, no patience for paper to stop them from breaking too much world to be had. She has been panic-hiding all Winter from drab mistakes no one remembers denying herself cottage pie and the comfort of the kettle but the clocks went forward last night, time for a different kind of hiding one that shouts “Looks at me! I’m not ashamed anymore! How could I be? I’m wearing yellow!” This kind of coping feels better, higher in the throat, taller, smilier, yellower. Like that country that has days that never turn to night. She is infatutated (as is the tradition) with treehouses and a boy who looks like he is in a sanitorium with TB in the olden days (this is her type). 53
She has inserted herself into his life, pretended to like Leonard Cohen and listening, her first objective was to see inside his flat, (dissapointing like boys are) the next was the kiss and the cumming and today she just wants him to love her. “Just be yourself, relax, if it’s meant to happen it will” she has never thought, instead she fluster-buys 20 bunches of daffodills. Decorates each vase with a pertinant quote from the films he says he likes on Facebook. Buys 6 bottles of food colouring, glitter, and pom poms (he has not said he likes these on facebook but she is on a roll) and fills his flat (white walls, grey sofa, clean lines) with ‘love tokens’. She surveys her creation, heart panting, throat thrumming knows she has done good. “Couldn’t be yellower!”
As she closes his door behind her, posts the key through the letterbox (as is the regime) and takes a step away she realises she might not have done good. (Shit.)
Could pretend it wasn’t her. No. “The pom poms are a dead giveaway” she thinks often.
She deflates at the bus stop, traces his name with the tip of her tongue on the roof of her mouth to keep calm. Tries to make friends with the bus driver, the mum with the pram, constructs the perfect text endlessly in her head, gulps hard. He gets home from work at 6.
At home she alphabetisies the kitchen cupboards makes sure all her shoes are facing forward, makes it smell of lemon, doesn’t eat. “He’s already out of my league! He’s sanitorium and wit, sanity and metaphor, he eats tarragon! If I put a foot out of place he won’t love me, I’m Fray Bentos pies, I’m nothing, I’m pom pom!” At 6.47pm he texts her ‘Wow’. ‘Wow, good, or wow bad’ she replies at 7.11pm. ‘Wow - yellow’.
By Jackie Hagan
collage and doodle session: anon.
THANK YOU From DoS
Thank you to everyone who has helped making this zine. If you’ve followed us on Facebook, or helped raise money, or you’ve just talked about us to a friend who might benefit, you’ve helped, massively. In the last issue we listed the people, organisations, and individuals who had helped get DoS off the ground. Due to the way the zine has gained ground this year, we’d be at the risk of running out of space. 2016 has been pretty surreal and horrible so far, it’s comforting that we can still pull together to get things done. Thanks - hopefully you know who you are, and that I think you’re Abbasolutely bloody lovely. So I say, thank you for the music, the song’s I’m singing. Thanks for all the joy they’re bringing. Who can live without it? I ask in all honesty – what would life be, without a song or a dance, what are we? So I say thank you for the music, for giving it to mee. Cheers. Lisa O'Hanrahahanrahan
Intro by DoS, the rest by Laura Thompson I wanted to talk about our fundraiser – the very inspiring and beautiful person Laura Thompson. Laura ran half a marathon in the Sheffield Round run recently, and raised an enormous £250 to help us print this zine. I have never been so touched or speechless at someones raw power and kindness.
collage and d
I’m getting to know that it’s not just this single act of kindness that we love her for, but for countless. It seems the more I talk about her the more others seem to know her and know how much of a wonderful being she is!
Like a lot of our contributors, Laura was a little conflicted with idea of the creative side of the zine – but hopefully, people will follow Laura’s lead and take to something that works for them. She has inspired us to trust in own methods of self help, and to persevere with courageous and positive actions. Love this girl! Here is what Laura wrote for us – 'I have battled with mental health problems for eight years, and for the first three years I had no what was happening to me. In that time, I’ve gone from a victim in denial to an ashamed failure, a survivor, back down again and now I finally feel I can talk freely about my experiences. I have tried medication and meditation, green tea, positive list-making and everything in between. But one thing I have learnt is that we can do everything in our power to prevent the wave coming over us again, and sometimes it still breaks through. We just have to ride it. (I say ‘just’ like it’s an easy feat.) There are always people suffering, everywhere we go, and the best thing we can do is provide as much support as possible. I think one of the best ways of doing this is to support grass-roots projects which can help people at a local level, projects we can get involved with ourselves and create a network of people who have been
through, or are tackling, similar experiences My newest trial in the prevention of depression and anxiety is running. I’ve been running a couple times a week for six months now, and whether it’s actually working or not, it’s helping me to keep a routine. When I’m angry or anxious, I can go and it feels like I’m running away. I can sometimes shake the feeling out of my body by pushing it so hard I can’t feel anything other than the adrenalin and exhaustion. Other days, when I’m feeling positive it helps me to feel free, less locked down by brick walls and responsibilities. I’ve met dozens of people who have found a similar relief in running too. So when I signed up to my first race this June, I found out about Designing out Suicide and thought it was the perfect project to fundraise for. It felt so much more meaningful for me to raise money for a small mental health project which works out of its own pocket, runs workshops and creates a zine with no support, just with the help of the community it benefits. I think that’s pretty incredible. Without a look in from government funds or charity grants, DoS could receive a considerable amount to help them continue the project and help more people like me.' – Laura Thompson.
Based in Sheffield, DoS often run workshops to coinside with the call for submissions which happen around March and April. Please get in touch if you would to start a DoS group in your area. For more information, weâ€™d love to hear from you. email@example.com @designingout /designingoutsuicide designingoutsuicide.com
Welcome to the 2nd edition of our annual collaborative mental health zine, Designing out Suicide. Our aim is to provide a platform for pe...