A COLLABORATIVE ZINE TO RAISE AWARENESS OF MENTAL HEALTH AND SUICIDE IN WOMEN
DESIGNING ISSUE 3 21. 12. 2017
WANT TO START A DOS GROUP IN YOUR AREA? CONTACT US!
Welcome to our third issue of Designing out Suicide Here is a quick-fire list of our goals and hopes! WE WISH TO: • provide platform for people to publish their work • reduce stigma • empower readers and contributors. • celebrate women.
I'm so excited to be awarded the honour of writing an introduction to this amazing zine.
We are people tucked up in bed unable to leave,
I want to take a minute to say how grateful I am to Lisa the creator of Designing Out Suicide for her constant work to help dispel the myths around mental health and suicide. What you do is valuable, holding space and creating a platform for people to express themselves and talk about these issues. Thank you for being you!
We are sat next to you at lunch time,
I am inspired by all the work going into destigmatising struggles with mental health but we still have a long way to go!
We are in your office, propped up, We are owning the stage, At the top of our game,
I beg you, please please don't be afraid to ask for help and please if you think someone is struggling don't be scared to ask because the answer might be difficult. There is support out there from charities and the community and you can find that together! Most people don't expect answers, they just need that question. That opportunity to speak and be heard. It's hard to sit in the dark with someone but sometimes it's all they need. Just listen, really listen, it can save lives.
• raise awareness of women suffering with suicidal thoughts and /or ideations or mental health problems, which could lead to suicide. Some items included in this issue are in response to a call for submissions to both Burn The Witch 2017 (with themes around persecutuion). There will be the 2nd annual Burn The Witch event in 2018, where we willl be celebrating women and giving persecution a kick up the bum!
We are zombies drained for days, We are public facing, We are crying in the club toilet, We are running our own businesses, We are homeless, We are addicted,an
Suicidal thoughts, suicide and self injury are more common than you think.
• encourage people to respond creatively to their experiences and ideas.
We are none of these. We are all warriors. The ways we move, look and respond are different but we have all been suicidal.
contributors ADA ARIEE
28 - 36 14 - 15, & 21
18 - 20
4 & 23
ALINE DURIAUD CHARLEY ALCOCK CHARLY CALPIN
8 - 13 22 2
GR ACE ESCOT T TEBBUT T .................................. 24 HILARY W. KERRY SOPHIA THREADGOULD 2
6 23 26 - 27, 31, 33 & 37
3 ZARA ................................................................... 40
'I have struggled with body dysmorphic disorder for approx 20 years' It's an illness whereby the sufferer thinks some aspect of their appearance is deformed, ugly or defective. I am plagued with obsessive thoughts & compulsive rituals. I get trapped in the mirror for hours applying make-up in an attempt to hide my flaws & imperfections. Itâ€™s exhausting; like having to paint a fine art masterpiece every time I want to leave the house. I have difficulty viewing myself objectively. My perception is warped; my vision magnified. It can be extremely debilitating & interferes with my ability to function on a daily basis. I am self-conscious, desperately trying to normalise my appearance so I will be accepted by others. I feel my blotchy, uneven, unhealthy complexion makes me look like a meth addict. It feels as if I am unclean, dirty, diseased, like parasites are crawling under my skin. And I don't always get chance to fix my hair or apply eyeliner / lipstick. Sometimes, I think doing so will draw 4
attention away from my complexion but other times, I think it's like putting perfume on a pig. I tell myself I am repulsive, gross, disgustingly unattractive, hideous, which is dreadfully harsh & cruel. And the fact my dermatillomania is focussed on my face seems a particularly destructive, sadistic form of self-harm because it is constantly exposed; at least you can cover up / hide your body. Out of frustration, I often feel like ripping my face off or wearing a mask. And after an episode, I am punished further by having to work twice as hard camouflaging the damage Iâ€™ve caused or being housebound waiting to heal. A vicious cycle. I often wonder what I could accomplish if the majority of my time & energy wasn't devoted to BDD. It's a life half-lived. I would probably still have difficulty with anxiety & depression because I am a sensitive soul but it would be such a weight lifted. ANONYMOUS
ILLUSTRATION BY DOS 5
COMFORT / DISCOMFORT BY HILARY W. I am comfortable with you, not really knowing. You, being unaware of my deep feelings. I am uncomfortable at the idea of never asking you for the proper help, that I require. Please look beyond my smiles and laughter and please be kind. ILLUSTRATION BY DOS
'I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder in early 2012' I have also struggled with eating disorders, domestic abuse, substance abuse, depression and other problems. Being diagnosed was in many ways a relief yet also just the beginning of an ongoing process of putting myself back together with the help of assorted mental health professionals and, sometimes (often), without enough support. Being "in recovery" is somewhat like starting over again or starting full stop. In 2012 I was 39 and due to the havoc caused by untreated, progressive symptoms of mental illness on my life I lost or threw away many opportunities. But one thread has remained clear and persistent throughout; I am a creative person and I need to be creative on a daily basis. I completed two fine art degrees in my twenties, wrote, made videos and sculptures, curated and showed my visual art in exhibitions. I put all that behind me for some years as what I saw as my failure to achieve success was too painful. Also, creatively expressing myself required tapping into my deeper emotions and for a while I couldn't stand them. I was just trying to survive.
Then I was introduced to art therapy in a day treatment programme, which I found very healing. I even started a dog accessories business in 2014 in honour of my first dog who passed away in 2013. That didn't work out but it led me back to making things, specifically jewellery, which I can create at home. My jewellery making has evolved into something that I hope will one day be a viable part or even full time business. I use recycled and repurposed jewellery, Perspex and vintage beads, old chains, buttons, anything interesting. Jewellery making focuses my mind and eases my emotional intensity. I often work on pieces in the evening as that is when I tend to ruminate the most. Allowing a new piece of jewellery to happen is a process that shows me how disparate sometimes random and humble elements can be transformed into something bigger than the sum of their parts. You could say that's a metaphor of hope for my life.
tools, therapy, creativity, my dog and ongoing self-care and recovery, it's easier to channel those emotions into my jewellery and other creative pursuits. I encourage anyone, particularly, if you experience mental health problems, to add creative activities of any kind to your recovery arsenal; it can make a real difference and help transform suffering into something healing. ALINE DURIAUD etsy.com/shop/chacharocksdesign
I want my jewellery to be unexpected, funny, bold and a bit gritty, yet elegant, and to make its wearers feel protected and strong. To have an emotional impact. I have taken a few jewellery courses and I have an online shop and active social media related to my jewellery. These activities also require focus, creativity and the ability to balance my time and energy. Living with BPD means that my emotions can become extremely intense, in a way that physically hurts. With the help of medication,
PHOTOS & JEWELLERY ALINE DURIAUD 10
PHOTOS & JEWELLERY ALINE DURIAUD 12
BLACK HOLE SERIES - 'ALONE' ART BY ARIEE
BLACK HOLE SERIES 'ALL IN THE MIND' ART BY ARIEE
COLD BLOODED: The story of an ignorant toad WORDS BY DANIELLE HILL ILLUSTRATION BY DOS
I was told by my mentor, whilst I was training to be a teacher, that depression is selfish and it shouldn't keep me from doing my job properly. That people who commit suicide take the easy way out and are cowards. She also said the reason I wasn't feeling good was probably down to the fact I dont regularly exercise, which
I do. She said my low self esteem was visible to children and wrote that on my assessment form. She once told me to "tone down" my feminist 'views' because she said feminism is for "lesbians and fat girls" and that she doesn't understand how I can like girls as well as boys. She's a narrow minded toad.
â€œFEMINISM IS FO R
A list of symptoms of mania in bipolar disorder, according to NHS Choices:
Happiness or Mania?
• feeling very happy, elated or overjoyed
• talking very quickly • feeling full of energy • feeling self-important • feeling full of great new ideas and having important plans • being easily distracted • being easily irritated or agitated • being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking • not feeling like sleeping • not eating • doing things that often have disastrous consequences – such as spending large sums of money on expensive and sometimes unaffordable items • making decisions or saying things that are out of character and that others see as being risky or harmful
I experienced an episode of acute psychosis where all of the above applied. When I came crashing back down to Earth, I was greeted with a lithium prescription and a diagnosis of bipolar. I wasn’t aware of either of these facts initially. I don’t know if I was told and I forgot or if I was told at a time when I didn’t have the capacity to understand. But somewhere along the way, the information got lost in the cracks. The NHS’ delivery was about as tactful as dumping someone by text: a copy of a letter addressed to my GP, referring to me throughout in third person, describing me as ‘well kempt and appropriately dressed’ and name-dropping bipolar II disorder. I felt powerless and confused and limited in my ability to challenge the doctors. Having been so wrong about the most unshakeable beliefs in the midst of the mania, my confidence was shaken. I shut up and took my pills. When the shock of the experience started to subside, I started asking questions. We think you had symptoms of mania even before the psychosis. Oh? Not sleeping, being very productive, erratic behaviour.
I questioned what counted as erratic. Quitting my job, rearranging my room and having casual sex, apparently. Consider the insensitivity of telling someone who's spent most of their adult life wanting to kill themselves that the brief period where they didn't wasn't being a bit happier, it was hypomania. Did anything make me want to die more? It felt like being consigned to a life of blackness. The inner recoil and exhaustion that drives me to suicidal planning is mostly propelled by a feeling that there's no hope for change. As if some people just aren't made for living, and so I'm resigned to die. Medical endorsement of my often held opinion that I don't have a will to live, I was born lacking that crucial gene. Quitting my job is a decision I agonised over for many months. It took longer even than the eleven months involved in uncoupling from my cohabiting partner. This 1950s definition of unpredictable seemed to expect me to bear the misery in favour of stability. Never make a change, have 2.4 children. Move to the suburbs, stick your head in an oven and die. 19
I should have been happy to sleep on a broken bed for another year, or two, or three. Mattresses are as hard to replace as relationships: I should have spent eleven months breaking up with it too. I should have left up the tattered maps that weren't mine to begin with, the relic of a colonial past I wanted to refresh. It was a bank holiday, I protested. I have a lot more time on my hands to spend on projects I never got round to before. I see chores through even when I am unhappy: my employers call it efficient, my landlord thinks it’s annoying. Unshackled from a relationship and with a brand new Casper mattress, I was hardly going to not have casual sex. I had just discovered dating apps and my new hair, erratically dyed, made me feel confident and new. The alienation that made attraction to strangers feel impossible, that had to be swallowed with the help of alcohol and suppression was gone. Sex was a less disconnecting experience; it was the antidepressants, I thought. What about the strangers I slept with on the lithium? Maybe that was just to prove a point, to be contrary.
Seven months have passed. Many weeks spent as an informed and persistent patient have led to my prescriptions of lithium and aripiprazole being rescinded. Despite the warnings of the risk of relapse, no symptoms of mania have reemerged for five months, and counting. The kernel of doubt remains in my mind, and perhaps it always will. I've been left unable to trust that a good time can be enjoyed without being interrogated. To repel the notion that I'm so broken that a sign of positivity must be illness. Or it could be that they were wrong, having little understanding of what is characteristic or healthy in me.
'TWO SIDES' ART BY ARIEE
WORDS BY ARI HAQUE
I wasn't allowed it. Any good experience, any sign of change, of promise, success labelled in one fell swoop as a symptom. ‘I thought you'd gone a bit mental these last few months.’ You weren't made for living, I knew something was wrong. Happiness isn’t for you. It's hypomania.
BEING 'TOO MUCH' WORDS BY CHARLEY ALCOCK
Being too much..... Saying too much (shut up) Too emotional Too deep (soz) Too wild Too spiritual (ending up being a secret witch)
EXPERIENCING STIGMA WORDS BY KERRY A lot stems from my background as either underclass or having been in care. Its assumed anyone from those backgrounds is going to struggle, being female especially. People are always surprised I've got where I've got. It can be well intentioned but I hear "you're one in a million" a lot! Which annoys me. Don't assume it's hard for poor people to achieve, otherwise you perpetuate that into society. Same goes for people in care. People tend to be surprised that I've been in care and on radio 4, for example. Those things tend to be juxtaposed in people's minds. Classism is rife, although hard to see.
YOU DIDN'T. ANONYMOUS "You didn't have an eating disorder or anything, you just went off food for a while." "It's not like you're a lesbian, you just happen to have a girlfriend." "He didn't force himself on you, you obviously fancied him."
Sometimes friends find it easier to tell you how things happened, rather than ask. They make up narratives they're comfortable with, because mental illness, sexuality and assault are too big and scary to think about.
THIS GIRL BEAT HIM WORDS BY GRACE ESCOTT TEBBUTT
When running in a cross country race, I was neck and neck with another runner, who happened to be a man. As we ran past his friends supporting him from the side line, they shouted 'Come on! You don't want to be beaten by A GIRL!!'.
Poor chap. I bet he wished his friends weren't such douches as this only spurred me on to overtake him and THIS GIRL BEAT HIM.
YO U DON
NT A 'T W
TO B E B E A TE
NB Y A GIRL!!'.
'THE WAITING IS THE BEST PART'
I’ve used photography as a way of coping with anxiety for a long time. I studied it in college and a little at university, but not enough to call myself a photographer. I feel comfortable with the unknown element of shooting on film. It’s something I find really relaxing, and most of all it gives me something to look forward to. I especially like loading film into a manual camera and all the clicking and snapping noises. When I take photos, I take unfamiliar spaces and interesting scenes and I consider the idea of freezing the moments (which is obviously what photography is!) But then I can find connectivity to them at a later date. For example, if I’ve travelled somewhere special, it’s unlikely that I’d be able to remember the small things like boulders on the beach, in future, or the certain way that a branch may cling onto to leaves. But
overall, the waiting is the best part. Waiting for a moment to strike me to want to take a photo and waiting for a film to get developed at the shop. It feels like something exciting and it is something for me to look forward to. It’s for me, so there is no reason for me to respond negatively or to over-think. Even if there’d been some kind of mistake with my film or there was a light-leak in the camera, or the film is old and crackly – I know I’m going to get a response to something I’ve experienced in the past, and I’m looking at a product of it in the future, and that means I’m still here.
I've extended my reach too far to good people. That was all wrong of me, to put them through my struggles BY ADA
I shouldn't extend this far, when I quickly followed by collapsing inward. I am not worth the pain. I am not deserving of their care, when I am in such a violent storm. I burn on raw emotions, and I have no internal strength. I am like a flame, that goes out quickly. Unfortunately, it is more complicated than. Suicide is tricky. I would like to sacrifice myself for someone I cared about. I would like to die fighting for a good cause. But more likely in this day in age, I would die alone, in a whimper. Life is too hard, the colors too bright for me, the shade of sadness, and beauty too overwhelming. And it's too much of a burden, to live this way, because it is so full of suffering.
I was the quickest in my gym class until 4th grade, when the guys finally got bigger muscles. I still tied that year though! I usually won everything. My confidence built up and I won other things too, cup-stacking, jump roping, climbing up a rope. It was all in good fun though, and I didn’t get condescending about it or anything I also was told time and time again that I was exceptional. Exceptional, because I thought out of the box, exceptional, because I was such a joy to teach. Exceptional because my grades were nearly perfect, and I tested as gifted repeatedly. I never was too full of myself though, and was always kind and compassionate to those around me.
It is my childhood that gave me grounding. I look back on it, even though its nearly faded into oblivion, after all my overdoses, and memory loss issues, etc. That this life was a part of my past, and never again would happiness come so easily to me. I do appreciate, however, that some people never had any good days and that I have had a very solid grounding. In middle school, I remember being very chatty with everyone around me, and always filled with compassion and kindness towards my classmates. I took people under my wing. Even people that everyone else thought was weird, eccentric, or just difficult to be around. I saw only their strengths and contributions. I read half the library in my free time. Books were wonderful. I am 23, and I have suffered more than a lifetime’s worth. I have extreme mood swings that run my life. I wish I were in charge in some shape or form, but like a pendulum in motion, I swing, and I don’t stop. What does it look like at rock bottom? Some people romanticize life, and say they see it through rose-colored glasses. I may have seen it in tetrachromic grey shades, or perhaps simply black and white. Either way it was an uglier place, in which there was little hope offered, and so much pain and suffering that it was unbearable to me. I don’t think that I can say I’ve ever really escaped some of what I inflicted on myself at a young age, in terms of self-hatred. I am was not only cold and bitter, but angry at what I disappointment I had turned into. I looked in the mirror, and saw ugliness. I was misshapen, malformed, and a monster. A book I read described the ascending levels of heaven, I suppose it is similar to Dante’s
Inferno, but there is more metaphors and creative license in the writing. The one thing that really stuck with me though is the main character, Grant, has ascended up. There are not really angels or gates, or shining temples, there is only a sense of sheer beauty. Everything is just a little brighter, softer, more elegant. But, Grant sees a downside to this beauty, and that is because he sees that he no longer fits into this world. He is like an ugly beggar on the streets, witnessing something he should never be seeing. He is an outcast, he is a loser, he does not belong. And that is exactly how I felt, silly as it might be, as I entered school on the first day of high school. Maybe it was my crushingly low self-esteem, maybe it were some neurochemical switch in my brain, but there I was, a dimwit, a loser, someone that grew up in a dump, and reeked of not belonging. I think that besides my looks, one of the main things that bothered me a lot was that I was wearing such ugly clothes. I don’t think that had ever mattered to me before, but it contributed to my social anxiety. I didn’t realize that there were probably people of all types in the school, but I thought that my clothing announced my hideousness to the world. Maybe this is an overstatement, but everyone has a miniscule world view in high school wherein they can’t see a bigger picture. I knew that I was the bad kind of weird. The kind of weird that people should stay to stay far, far away from. Soon, with this mentality my social skills plummeted, and I developed a ton of anxiety about speaking out loud. I don’t think weirdness is all that bad these days, in fact conformity is rather sad, in its own way. But, at the time it was sheer hell to be weird, at least in my mind.
I started hiding in strange places. For one I ate my lunch in a closet and then a bathroom, and then the roof. As long as there weren’t people around I could do what I liked. I was so distant from everyone and everything. It was subtle things, but I remember seeing someone sitting there grinning at me, and I thought they were laughing at me. They may have even been cruel to me, and were stabbing me repeatedly in their imagination. I deserved it. I was scum. I was a loser. I sang in my head parodies of songs I came up with with strange lyrics. And things got worse. If you return to the original metaphor that I started this section with, the one about entering a new level of heaven, I talked about their being angels. I think metaphorically I found an angel who I hoped would save me. I didn’t know anything about him, but he was pretty darn handsome, did Parkour, and I thought he was going to rescue me. Perhaps it is too much of a leap to follow this line of thinking. Why would I crush on someone, believe in someone I’ve never talked to in my life. Maybe it was because there was no one else to talk to and I was lonely. Maybe because I was so cruel to myself I was sick of thinking of just myself. Maybe I needed some contrast in a story with me as the antagonist. Maybe it was because of my imagination, which was rapidly spinning, spinning out of control. I started going further than crushing, I started fantasizing. His name was George. George and I were sitting together, George and I were kissing, George and I were together in my dreams, in my every waking moment, but of course exclusively in my head. Soon George and I lived in the suburbs in a fantasy land filled with magical creatures, and were pondering having children. Why did I keep digging this hole or myself? 1 simple reason: escapism. And so, in my head George and I married, but in real life George was beginning to notice my odd, eccentric 30
behavior around him and looked very irritated. I decided to take a step in a direction that was very bad, and this was to talk to himm. Things went poorly. I said “hi” to George, and he said: “I don’t care if you’ve got a crush on me, you creep, please stay away from me.” Oh goodness, he couldn’t mean it, he must think this is some kind of joke, after all we had a future, and I had finally found some reason to live on this planet. But suddenly everyone was laughing at my ignorance. The whole school knew. I just had a bad feeling, and I knew everyone was making fun of me, all at once. I fled the school and never showed my face to the people there again. I was referred to a psychiatrist who heard my story, said I was very psychotic and ill and said I needed inpatient immediately. I went to inpatient. All I wanted was someone to care about me, because I didn’t care 1 bit about myself. Well, unfortunately no1 really did. Psychiatrist after psychiatrist, they didn’t care, they thought I was insane. So insane in fact that I would kill myself swimming across a lake, believing I could make it to the other side that was miles away. Or I would die jumping off a building believing I could fly, and that heaven called to me. Then they thought that they could prove it to me, and they did. I believed them, and I knew I would never ever be okay. I would never grow out of this, I would never would I have friends, never would my life change, after all I had paranoid schizophrenia, or schizoaffective. Psychotic for sure. Some ask riddles I couldn’t answer succinctly. This undoubtedly proved I couldn’t think logically. I was clinically insane. I didn’t like the antipsychotics either. Some made me very shakey, some made me fat, some me sleep all the time. I told the nurse that I would stop taking them, she told me they would court order them. I went without taking drugs for 3 days and quickly gave in. 'BERLIN' SOPHIA THREADGOULD 31
As I transferred schools, my self-confidence got worse and worse. I was nearly selectively mute, and I was silent around most people. Every sentence I spoke came very painfully. It had to sound right, it had to sound “pure,” it had to be beautiful, and to flow off my tongue like music. And that didn’t make me friends either, even though I so desperately craved friendship. My parents, looking for a solution, put me into a private school, with class sizes of 7-15 hoping, hoping that I would somehow find myself. I didn’t. We went backpacking. I bit a chunk out of my skin. We went on cool fieldtrips, I used nail clippers to make pretty, bloody, tattoos on my skin. We went to San Francisco. I cut half my arm up. Then drug overdoses started. I tried this, and that, and Xanax. Xanax was fun. My memory gone, then I tried my anti-ds, nothing happened. Bad headache though. Antipsychotics? Eh, they didn’t do much either, got to keep trying, got to keep trying. Have to end the misery somehow. At one point I wrote a letter to myself, to future me. It said basically that I hated myself, I should die in a puddle of my own blood, and then proceeded to predict future events rather acutely: (“Things are going to get worse and worse for you, Ada”). One day, I did the impossible, and I graduated high school. I decided to head off to college. I picked a small school of around 200 people in the woods. The first week went well, in a strange spin of fate. I met not a wonderful person that I looked up to a lot. He was a genuinely open guy, who was super friendly. His name was John, and he was a pianist. He played beautifully, and practiced day in and day out, at least 10 hours a day. He took me out to walk around the school and told me stories about his days taking drugs. Days where he thought that he was playing a whole soccer field of people, and there was actually not a single person in the park. Days on meth, days on crack, good days, bad days. As John and I got closer to being friends, I began to 32
trust him. That is until 1 day I was 100% sure he was only going to take me out to beat me up. Why would he beat me up? I didn’t really understand. In fact I barely believed it, but I was still afraid. And then the panic attacks started. I was on lithium at the time, and it caused hyperthyroidism, which made me very anxious. I went to the doctor and he said: well we can just dissolve the whole thing, but you should probably be in solitary confinement for a while, because it might make someone sick. I could but I’d rather let the panic continue. Close calls and near hospitalizations, I finally came home after one horrible semester. I didn’t want to be home though, I hated my mom, and my dad. I decided I needed to go straight off to another school, basically I decided I needed to keep running in place, never really moving. Until one day I finally did move to WA, and that is where more trouble began. I found my voice at Evergreen. In fact, I think I found out I have a lot to share with the world. I came up with good questions. And I had lots of opinions. I had talents, interests, passions, things I cared about. And suddenly, with this confidence, came friends. I met Joanna in class. I liked her, she was cool and she smoked pot all the time. Then I made friends with another cute guy who also smoked pot the majority of the time. Wait, did everyone smoke pot the majority of the time?? It was Evergreen, after all. I took a class called “Drawing from the Sea.” I read the whole textbook in several days. We went on adventures, we went sailing, I started doing lots of research. I researched albatross. They are declining in numbers, dramatically. The climate is changing, and there is no denying it. It is so tragic, but there is still hope. I think I can change the world. I think that I can stop climate change, there is a critical message that needs to be delivered, and it must come from me.
'THE WHALE' SOPHIA THREADGOULD 33
“The coral reefs are dying because the zooxanthellae are dying. This is because of ocean acidification, we must try and stop climate change. There are 2 ways of doing it.” You could pass on hope for a new way of living that doesn’t destroy the planet. Hope for change, and for living peacefully. And then there is the negative way of looking at it, which I liked to call “WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE.” If we continue the way we do, the sea levels will rise, mass extinction of the many species on the planet will continue, and catastrophic events such as huge storms will come our way.” I couldn’t stop thinking about this stuff, it was devouring me. I kept talking in class this way, and people stopped listening. It was all too much. The teacher kept hinting at me subtly to let other people talk. But I had to keep talking or something terrible would happen to the albatross. At last a climax to the events. The end of the semester my anxiety was starting to literally kill me, and I was full of myself to such an extent that it didn’t seem humanly possible. I got my report card back, which is actually a written evaluation at Evergreen, as opposed to a grade. It said mostly positive things, but it didn’t state clearly enough that I was brilliant. I told the teacher that, she gave me a weird look, and I headed off to my apartment to go neglect sleeping, eating and cleaning. I didn’t have class then, I had some time though. I went to a party and did molly. I had quit abilify several months before. I remember a blur of a night, in which I climbed up trees, with superhuman strength, and sat in a drum circle with the others, as a flame thrower, fire whisperer sat nearby performing artful dances. There was even a guy who took me home to his place, and I woke up the next day in a relationship with him!!! My hillbilly boyfriend named Bill was ok. He would take me to go camping, and then we woke up next to a trashcan, or someone’s back lawn. It wasn’t really “in the woods”, though I was. I 34
was deep in the woods, lost and I couldn’t find myself. Bill gave me books to read, at least he wasn’t a total dimwit. The book called “The Secret” I devoured in a single reading, though I did write sticky notes over every page, that basically proclaimed, this is the most idiotic thing I’ve ever read in my life. I never allowed him to have sex with me and I avoided all physical aspects of the relationship. Whenever he "went there" I did something drastic and he learned his lesson. I feared intimacy. I started putting together art work. It was strange, and eclectic, collections of objects I found on the beach, and one piece of work, which was a little puppet stage, in which I placed myself at the center of a theater. As if by some premonition that I was just acting, and that none of this was really who I was. But the anxiety, and the fervor to keep going ate away at me. I had to share my realizations with everyone. I started to make a lot of posts on social media. I shared stories, quotes, art, and more. Some of it was just random, some probably somewhat interesting, but by and large it was all symbolic to me. I found a group of “friends” online that were all of the personality type INFP. I started putting up videos of myself. It was all fun, but I was spiraling up from earth and the ground. I wish I could have known, and some part of me did. I knew I had to get to a psychiatric hospital soon, or bad things would happen. However, psychiatric hospitals had been horrible places in my past, and I was so fearful of them. I decided I would have someone look after me. Someone I trusted, who would make sure I didn’t go full out insane. Perhaps random internet person would work. The guy lived in WA, and he was 40 years old. I don’t know what the hell he thought he was doing, but he thought I was gorgeous, and wanted a relationship. Little did he know, I’d never had sex in my life, and had no interest in him, other than some sort of weird guardian relationship.
My point in moving in with him? To keep me from going manic and well to stop me from overdosing. Little did I know I was making a HUGE mistake. It didn’t go as planned. My internet escapades, for one, got more and more extreme. I thought that I was smarter than any of my old friends from middle school that were still on my social media. The fact of the matter as, they were smarter, and better than I was. Kelsey, a girl from middle school had admitted she had an extremely high IQ, and was going to Stanford currently, and was getting all A’s, whilst thinking about cool projects such as how to spread altruism throughout the world in noble ways. I demonstrated to all my friends that I was psychotic, manic, and delusional, that I could say anything I wanted to whoever I wanted to, even degrading, cruel pieces of junk. I sent out a lot of this, and lost all my friends. At the 40 year olds house things weren’t going peachy either. He had told me in confidence that he thought his wife was murdering cats, which I promptly told his kids. They left the house to get away from me in fear. One time I overdosed and called the police. I thought I was going to die, but I’d barely had anything to overdose on, save a bunch of vitamin D and various supplements. But well, the police came over to the house, pulled out a gun I'm not sure why. I made a stupid move, in which I stood in front of the gun, and to block them from shooting Louis. Fortunately, no shots were fired. Had they been, I would have died, tragically, standing in front of a random internet stranger who was barely stable himself. Not my idea of a worthy death. The police assessed the situation, saw that Louis’s house was a hoarder’s house, and that it wasn’t safe for his children, for various other reasons. Louis and I were tasked with cleaning all the junk. I was very protective of Louis at the time. It was unjustified, because he was clearly not helping me whatsoever. But that didn’t come out until later.
My parents realized that the situation was spiraling out of control, and Louis himself was becoming worried that his children weren’t coming home from his evil ex’s house (their mother’s house). So, then my dad came to pick me up. But by this point my mind was a bit out there. I thought that my mom was a manipulative person, who wanted to control my every move. That was the epitome of evil, and that I wasn’t special to her. I was special, I had to be. That she had caused all the trouble I had experienced as a high schooler. I couldn’t go back to the low self esteem. I couldn’t go back to reality. But after a long night, of me hitchhiking across WA, just before I was nearly taken away, kidnapped, and probably raped, by a random truck driver who had come to my aid on the side of the highway. I got out of his car and ran once he arrived at very shady looking store. I called the cops and begged them to taxi me home. They laughed, until they realized I was serious, and then they took me to Olympia. I told the police at Evergreen some of the story. They told me I needed to go home. I went home. A few days later, and in the middle of a catastrophic flood, Louis called the police. I had told him I was going to kill myself. WAIT didn’t I already tell him that? I thought I had months ago, it turned out I hadn’t used those words. So, I got a mild shocker, as I went to my room and found the police waiting for me poised with weapons... I got put in a cop car, and handcuffed. I was driven to a psych ward. A nice nurse listened to my ranting about the magic of dreams, told me I was bipolar, and I ended up at a VERY bad mental hospital. Things began to slow down for me. I was put on thorazine and Seroquel. Suddenly I started realizing stuff. None of this was me. Not one bit of it had been. I stopped accepting calls from home, from my psychiatrist, who I trusted, and from Louis.
I was sedated, and I was entering a deep depression. One that would take years to recover from. There were lots of things wrong with that hospital I noticed. For one, most of the patients received huge shots of medicine that lasted them the whole month. Also, if they didn’t obey, they got put in solitary confinement, tied up, gagged. I thought to myself dramatically, I was going to die here. I told one nurse he needed to get the heck out of here, because he was the only kind person in the whole place. He said he was just trying to help, and got defensive. Everyone else proceeded with cruelty and inhumanity towards us. I was dizzy and started fainting the Seroquel dose was so high. I couldn’t get out of bed for days on end. I was also in the process of being brainwashed. They told me that if I didn’t take my drugs, I would rot in a mental ward like this one, until the end of my days. It was stated over and over, and I gradually accepted it for the truth. Everyone was frightened of the nurses. They were volatile and quick to anger. The patients in contrast, were so sedated, I barely thought they could put up a fight sometimes, though some still did. I took benzoes 5Xs a day, just to numb the pain. Thorazine, lithium (high doses), serequel (extremely high doses), benzoes, something to stop the tremor, something to stop the dizziness. So I just stopped thinking, and let the waves of it all come crashing down on me. My mania subsided quickly, and they let me out within a few weeks. Others in there weren’t so lucky, as they went down the drain, into state hospitals, whose stays could be as long as 6 months.
by a random guy in the woods, who proclaimed: “I would shoot everyone at that goddamned school if I could.” I lost my virginity to him. I told a medical doctor, and she said quite simply, well you also have an STD now, but don’t worry it’s just chlamydia- as long as I wasn’t pregnant!!! I tried sex again a few times more with random guys, and it was all the same. Painful, confusing, and shameful. I jumped off a roof. I thought about Kelsey again. In my dreams she was strangling me. She despised me, and thought I should be dead. I agreed. I jumped off the roof, but it was only 3 stories. It was idiotic. My back hurt a lot tho, I cried and cried, and then stopped crying. I deserved the pain it. I was prescribed pain pills. I didn’t take them. I just sat there crying. There was only one solution at the time, and that was to kept punishing myself. I thought about more elaborate plans, and I came up the idea of ECT. THAT would be the ultimate punishment, I thought to myself. I read books, researched, and tried to propose it to everyone i could. My mom bought it. My psychiatrist did not. I went to CU boulder in the meantime. I was still depressed most of the time. Now and then I’d see hope in strange places. I feel like myself again, but I don't even remember who I was, so it's started a whole bunch of self-discovery, and positive changes My recovery has been a few months, and still I feel things are going to spiral out of control again. Will this rollercoaster never end? Thank you for reading. BY ADA
I stayed on the lithium for a while, then gradually quit the others. I still didn’t wake up though. I was too numb. I could never be happy, happiness was a joke that resulted in mania. I decided to go to Evergreen again, I was raped
'BOULDERS' SOPHIA THREADGOULD
HOT CAKE: back in the kitchen... WORDS BY L.W. ILLUSTRATION BY DOS
One bright sunny day, back when I lived in London, I tracked down my ultimate dream guitar pedal: the Hot Cake. On Gumtree for a fraction of its usual price, I hastily arranged to pick it up from the seller that afternoon outside Highgate station. Feeling proud of this achievement, off I skipped after work, excited about my bargain find.
the buyer, he introduced himself. “Are you buying this for your boyfriend?” he asked, quizzically. “No, it’s for me,” I explained. He seemed puzzled and a bit suspicious. “What are you going to use it for?” “Well, playing gigs, writing songs… the usual.” He shrugged, took my cash and headed off. But his question has always played on my mind – what else would I be using it for?
I got there early and stood at our agreed meeting spot, awkwardly smiling at strangers. Eventually, a middle aged man came over and stood next to me for a while. I tried to catch his eye but he ignored me, staring off into the distance, until my phone buzzed and realising I was
So mister Gumtree man, I can only guess what answer you were expecting, but over the years I’ve narrowed it down to these possibilities:
• Converting it to an elaborate pencil sharpener, to aid my time spent doodling hearts and flowers • Having searched far and wide for the perfect shade of dirty beige with a hint of rust, I needed this prime example to take to my wedding dress maker • A paperweight for holding down papers that my tiny lady fingers don’t have the strength to • Taking it to a man who can use its parts to fix my various electrical cosmetic goods • A balancing block to put on my head, to help me to perfect my posture and allow me to graduate finishing school • A conversation starter to carry around with me, to attract a future husband • I thought it was going to be a hot cake.
EADM AL R D R PE
Y A MUIT G
an, “I me the y u b I’ll ..” pedal.
I MY’M ON WA Y!
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO USE IT hold FOR? ing down papers
WELL...PLAYING GIGS, WRITING SONGS... THE USUAL?
A paperweight for that my tiny lady fingers don’t have the strenght to
A balancing block help me to perfect me to graduate fin Over the years i’ve narrowed it down to these possibilites...
an ing it into Convertte pencil e ra elabo er to aid my timOver the years i’ve sharpenoodling hearts narrowed it down to these possibilites... spent d ers and flow
lding down papers A paperweight for ho s don’t have the ger fin y that my tiny lad rfect r the pe hint strenght to a arched fo
e with e Having se dirty beig m shade ofI needed this priwedding of rust, to take to my exampleaker. dress m 39
ZARA: 'THE CLERK' WORDS BY ZARA (DEFINITELY NOT 'A CLERK'...) In a previous job (25 years ago) I was a medical audit assistant and had spent 3 months building relationships by phone with Drs I would be working with on a new audit process. We had a launch conference where I would meet them all which was chaired by an Ortho Surgeon who would be the "face" of the new scheme whilst my colleague and I did all the work. He introduced me as Zara, the clerk (not my name or title) and completely undermined me to the whole onference I had organised. He couldn't understand the hostility he got when we got back to the office until my colleague explained it to him. He was due to jet off to his holiday home the next day, so wanted to clear the air before he left. He did this by stuffing a tenner under my keyboard on his way out of the door and saying cheerfully "go buy yourself a pair of tights or something deary". Needless to say I moved on pretty quickly......
A WELL-TIMED POKE IN THE EYE WORDS BY FELICITY JACKSON ILLUSTRATION BY DOS
I recently bumped into an old acquaintance. A male, forty-two year old, childless acquaintance. The subject of procreation came up during our conversation and I casually mentioned that I didn't want kids, to which he replied, 'Oh, you'll change your mind.' 42
What's that you say, childless man? I'll change my mind, will I? Ha! The only thing I might change my mind about is whether or not to lavish you with a well-timed poke in the eye. Anyway old lad, at forty-two your biological clock is well and truly ticking. Off you pop, go and get your sen sprogged up
THE ONLY THING I MIGHT CHANGE MY MIND ABOUT IS WHETHER OR NOT TO LAVISH YOU WITH A WELL-TIMED POKE IN THE EYE! 43
/DESIGNINGOUTSUICIDE @DESIGNINGOUT 44
REDUCE STIGMA, EMPOWER READERS AND CONTRIBUTORS AND TO RAISE AWARENES / WHEN: ANNUALLY / WHERE: SHEFFIELD
WHO: ANYONE / WHAT: A COLLABORATIVE ZINE PLATFORM FOR PEOPLE TO PUBLISH WORK
WHY: SUICIDE IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST KILLERS IN THE UK