With gratitude, I’m not writing about Jessie’s suicide, but her suicide attempt. What a thing to be grateful for! Our world is not like most…
Late last Friday afternoon Jessie came staggering out of her room slurring ‘mum’, then collapsed on the dining room floor. She’d taken an overdose of her Seroquel tablets, intending to die. I’m so thankful her innate instinct of survival is still there, and she came out when she did.
The 000 operator stayed on the phone with me until paramedics pulled up downstairs. I was a mess and trying to keep Jessie awake. Time was crawling and it was just agonising waiting for the buzz of the intercom. All I can say next is thank f*** for our amazingly awesome human beings that are paramedics!!! We got two who I can’t thank enough for the care and compassion they treated Jessie with.
By the time we got to the hospital she was only responding to pain. Her blood pressure was extremely low, her heart racing and heartbeat irregular. She was very angry and combative in her times of semi-lucidity, and refused the charcoal drink the doctor wanted her to take. I’ve seen that aggression before when a friend of mine came around after a drug overdose many years ago. It must be a very primal reaction when the mind is disoriented upon waking.
I was assured that she would be okay as dying from a Seroquel overdose is extremely rare. However they needed to watch her closely as the medication’s lifeline ran its course, so she was moved to the Intensive Care Unit. She was on a drip and her vitals needed monitoring as she may have needed a tube to breath and her heartbeat was so unstable.
When we got to ICU the nurse had to do another ECG, which took numerous goes. Putting on all the sticky pads then attaching the clips connecting the machine proved to be a problem. Jessie wasn’t with it at all but was fighting being touched. After telling her a few times that it was me and she was safe, she wasn’t being hurt, she settled down and the nurse could get a reading.
From there she went into the peak effect of the overdose and I found it all a bit much. The nurse gave me their number and said to call anytime, and I came home, assured she would be taken care of.
From my diary:
“I rang around 1:30am and she is waking more often and is really teary. But still non-cooperative by the sounds.
She has pulled through the ‘sleepiest’ part of the overdose. It was awful. Her eyes were half open, she felt cold and clammy and was non-responsive, all of which frightened me. I found it incredibly distressing seeing her like that, and hope I never do again.
I’m so mixed up. I’m angry with her, I’m upset, I’m numb and don’t know how to move forward at this point in time. I feel like I can’t move anywhere – I’m just sitting still. And I need to. I need stillness and silence…”
The next morning I went in and Jessie was still very sleepy. She couldn’t talk properly which was frustrating her, and had no muscle strength or coordination. Her attitude when ‘awake’ matched the head nurse’s who’d been there all night – crappy. I’m going to research it, but I just keep thinking it was a subconscious fight or flight reflex – the body’s only way of defence and self protection in that state. That reflex left once Jessie was more aware of what was happening around her, so it will be interesting to get some answers.
Later that afternoon she’d improved enough and was moved away from the nurses station to a room with a view. After dinner she sat there enjoying non-existent tadpoles in a non-existent fish tank. Dinner itself – agonising for me to watch and I’m sure I offered to help way too many times. Luckily she agreed to a serviette tucked into the top of her gown, because that’s where half of dinner and most of dessert ended up! Her muscle control and coordination still wasn’t great, proving to be particularly fun with her spoon and jelly. But, Jessie being Jessie, insisted on feeding herself, saying ‘now I know how old people feel.” (She’d been doing work placement for her course at an aged care facility.)
By Sunday afternoon she was well enough to be unhooked from the machinery and was moved to the Psychiatric Emergency Care Centre (PECC) attached to ER. She ended up being there until Thursday night as the hospital psychiatric team and the CYMHS team were butting heads as to what should be done for Jessie. Her own psychiatrist from CYMHS had wanted to send her home on Tuesday morning, unmedicated, and not having been seen by a mental health professional!! Jessie was still suicidal and saying that she just needed to find another way next time. I cannot understand the psychiatrist’s thinking and I don’t even want to hear it to be honest. We need a new psychiatrist for Jessie…
Jessie’s been asking for help and a medication review for months and months now, and hasn’t been heard. And she was telling everyone she wanted help now. The hospital was listening and were advocating for Jessie to be admitted into the first available adolescent mental health unit, which is where she is now.
She’s settled in well, thankful to be out of the PECC ward where she’d become bored and irritable. The first thing she said to me was that she was accepted immediately by the other teens, so that was a big thing for her. She’s said they’re all really supportive of each other through their tough times, and I’m sure staff see the best and the worst of most of the kids they see in there.
Hopefully with this stay they’ll be able to reassess Jessie’s diagnosis, change it if need be as she was only 9 when she was first diagnosed. Jessie feels that she needs medication to help her with her mood, so I hope they can also start trialling meds to find what works.
‘Hope’. There’s a lot riding on that little word. There’s no certainty, so it’s all I have and it’s stretched pretty thin at the moment. I’m sludging through deep mud and can only bear to think a day or two into the future. Thinking of things I’m grateful for helps me to not lose sight of hope all together, and friends and family give me many reasons to show gratitude.
The important thing for now is that Jessie is safe, and getting the help she needs. The rest will play out as it will.