I Remember It All Too Well

“Stalked your insta, ngl [you] seem really happy and got your life together [sic]” is the first message I saw when I woke up in a hospital room. I couldn’t help but chuckle at just how ridiculously wrong that stranger was. You see, almost 24 hours before I received that message, I was standing on the edge of a train platform, inconsolably crying down the phone to a Samaritans operator and determined to take my own life.

The weekend before my suicide attempt, I recall having a bit of an emotional episode on a crowded train to London. “Am I a bad person?” I whispered to my mum down the phone, trying to contain the abundance of tears threatening to spill behind big, f*ck off sunglasses.

photo by emily chow.

Opening up about mental health struggles can be incredibly nerve-wracking. You see, despite what the smiling content I post and the persona emanating from this blog may suggest, I wrestle daily with quite a negative perception of my appearance and who I am. For example, I do not think I am pretty, worthy of happiness, capable of being loved etc. And while I tend to play my worries and insecurities off in a comedic, self-deprecating way, I am in a constant state of worry about what people think of me and whether they like me.

Just stating on such a public platform that I did try and take my own life creates a whole world of implications and invites strangers who stumble upon it to immediately make a judgement about me, as does any of the content I post on both here and any other form of social media. However, unlike the other posts on my socials, this one details what many would argue is a negative side of me. It’s not the laughing, strutting around Holland Park, on work trips by the sea abroad, reading books in bed and jet-setter Samantha Kilford that my recent stints on social media may lead people to believe. Everything on social media is perfectly curated and cultivated, filtered, and in some other people’s cases, photoshopped, within an inch of its life. The reality is that the past few weeks have been full of tears, drunk evenings getting melancholy to Cigarettes After Sex, LANY and The 1975 tunes and trying to piece myself together in order to pack for the work trip I’m about to head off on.

I questioned whether I even wanted to share the events that had taken place. Frankly, because I was scared. When you spend years building a persona that oozes contentment as a big FU to the people from your past who made your life a living hell, it can be terrifying to admit that your life is actually the opposite and you’re still struggling. However, I am also frightened about how it changes the way people view me and everything I’ve worked on over the past few years.

Dating in general is an experience, but when you live with severely stigmatised mental health conditions – in my case, anxiety, depression and BPD – dating becomes a whole different challenge. And unless a Tinder date does some preliminary stalking and stumbles upon the blog, then meeting new people with a view to romance introduces a whole new set of complications. When do you tell them? Should you even tell them? How will this shape their perception of me, will they think differently of me?

There’s a lot of self-doubt because the last thing you want when you really like a person is for them to find out about your flaws and then recoil in disgust. I panic, I get scared, I get clingy, sad, needy – the list could go on! I’m a lot to deal with – I know that. Therefore, it takes a monumental amount of trust for me to let someone into my life and go into depth about my “emotional baggage” per say. As for someone like me who feels things intensely, it almost seems better to not get too close because then you have nothing to lose.

The worst is when someone you had started to care about uses your mental illness against you, which is what happened to me fairly recently. Not only was I left holding the remnants of, I guess, a somewhat broken heart, but I was also made to believe that me and mental illness alone were the sole cause of this person deciding to ‘opt out’ of being around me. Despite knowing that it wasn’t entirely my fault and that this person had their fair share of wrongs that had caused the upset, in the aftermath, I was in this weird limbo of feeling like both the victim and the perpetrator. It hurts to have someone who you were consciously aware had their own wrongdoings, but you cared about anyway place all the blame single-handedly on you and your mental illness — and it can be unbearable.

Suicidal ideation and self-worth is something I’ve struggled with since my early teens. After enduring a childhood and adolescence peppered with quite severe bullying, I can still vividly recall school lunchtimes spent sobbing in the loos and feigning stomach aches to ditch. Since then, I’ve definitely had a warped sense of self where I truly believe that I am a) not good enough and b) a pest to everyone who knows me. I already place a lot of blame on myself for any minor or major inconvenience or upset in life and I’ve spent upwards of three months really trying to work to change these deep-seated ideas of myself, hence why it was so heartbreaking to have these negative thoughts almost ‘confirmed’, in a way, by this other person.

It can be easy to be a bit defensive about our own mental illnesses. It’s not something we asked for, but I do openly acknowledge the impact it can have on others when I do get very emotional or anxious. Yet, it can be excruciatingly soul destroying when it is used against you and you’re made to feel like a burden or a bad person who cannot be loved because of it.

WEARING: BERSHKA GINGHAM PINAFORE DRESS £15.99 [SIZE XS], GREEN CONTRAST LEATHER SAFARI JACKET [FROM LIKE 5 YEARS AGO – NO LONGER AVAILABLE] , PLATFORM HIGH HEEL ANKLE BOOTS £49.99/£29.99 [SIZE 2], J BY JASPER CONRAN BROWN ‘ROME’ CROSS BODY BAG £34.40, ACE AND TATE BYRON SUNGLASSES IN MIDNIGHT £148 [W/ PRESCRIPTION]

 

Later, someone mentioned to me that this was a form of ‘gaslighting‘. Me and my mental health struggles were being treated as a scapegoat for this person’s inability to be honest. And by proxy, my mental health was being used an excuse rather than being seen as real emotional disorders that affect me most days of my life. I had opened up rather candidly about my past issues and traumas to this person and for it then to be thrown back in my face, blamed for having “scared them off” whilst simultaneously signalling that I realistically meant nothing to them made me feel not just a little manipulated and used, but it made me feel plain foolish. He was using any tactic to turn my emotions against me and create this narrative where I was an unstable psychotic individual which is something those diagnosed with mental illness will know is a dangerous thing to do. Also, professionals have deemed that my emotional responses were perfectly normal given past life traumas and my sensitive predisposition so joke’s on you, mate!

After talking it through with friends, I realise how naïve newly single me had been. The warning signs about this person’s lack of stability in life and the evidence that they tended to use and discard girls like toys were all there and I powered on through anyway because, well, silly Sam had started to catch feelings. But, you can’t blame me when I ended up spending two and a half weeks with said person abroad on a rather reckless, wine-fueled fourth date – more on that on the blog later!

It was a lot all at once. I have no shame in saying I did kind of fall for this person given the rather intense circumstances we created for ourselves by suddenly jetting off on a grand tour of the world. I think, after the last relationship I was in where I was physically abused, I was desperate to seek the validation I needed in someone else. I bought into a starry-eyed ideal of this person because I so gravely wanted to believe someone could find a shred of worth in me, that someone could really like me and alas, it was earth shattering when it turned out that it was supposedly all my fault that nobody could ever like me because of who I was and the anxieties I have.

He won’t see this because let’s be real, there’s not nearly enough white Instagram model blondes shaking their tits and butts on this blog to sustain his interest and he’s already lied about reading it once before to sound impressive, but for those who do for some reason give a toss about me and my blog (I’ll never understand why), I thought it best to just acknowledge that this is largely why I’ll be a bit ‘off’ so to speak on social media. Also, I’ve already had a few concerned family members from the Philippines already question ‘Why Sam is losing weight? Why is Sam so thin in the photos?’ so now you know. Two major romantic upsets in a five month time frame made me drop like two dress sizes which is great, but I swear I am eating! Heartbreak is lowkey the best weight loss plan next to tapeworm – absolutely 100% do not quote me on that.

It has completely destroyed any semblance of self I had, putting me in a new low where I can’t even stomach looking at myself in the mirror because all I feel is hatred for my reflection as they have managed to convince me that I am the bad person who ruins everything due to my inability to have ‘normal’ emotions. There was a gentler way to end it without making a villain of me and my mental illness, but unfortunately, as I’ve come to see, he clearly had no qualms with pushing an already emotional person over the edge.

photo by emily chow.

Also, I’ll be posting about the holiday (sue me!) and I didn’t want to have to consistently fend off questions about who the other person in the photos is as I have had to do with potential dates, so now you know! Never go on holidays with Tinder boys who act like they like you, they’re just in it for the sex and strawberry daiquiris and then they’ll blame you for not being able to keep it in their pants. You heard it here first, ladies!

Please never let anyone gaslight you into believing you’re a horrible person who cannot be loved. I know, pot, kettle, given everything that’s happened and my current self-loathing situation. Yet, in my intense low, it’s a sentence that I needed to hear not just from an anonymous suicide line operator, not from the police who came to fetch me from the station and reinforced that I wasn’t as evil and disgusting as this person had made me feel, not just from family and subsequent hospital staff, but from someone else who had been through this troubling period of self-hatred and doubt and was working on getting stronger.

Look, I bash Wales a ton, but I cannot fault the emergency services who helped look after me in the days following my attempt. I’m still wrestling with all the negative perceptions about myself that person placed in my head, but I survived, in part, because of them even if I am still a little sore, bruised, broken and disorientated a lot of the time.

I know the experience of calling the Samaritans can be daunting and it can vary depending on which operator you get assigned to. I’d read so many negative stories before I called, but the lady I spoke to was so lovely that I cannot help tearing up just thinking about the compassion and kindness she showed me and the same goes for everyone else I came into contact with after my attempt. The support is there. I know what it’s like to be silenced by your GP, where they just hand you a prescription for any old antidepressant and tell you – and I quote – “to get on with it”. Like I said, those with mental health issues can already feel quite lost and confused and I know I often downplayed my emotions when talking to healthcare professionals because it’s not essentially a physical condition you can see so it can’t be as bad, right? It is, and it’s incredibly unfortunate that it often takes extreme situations, e.g. when your life is in peril, for you to finally be taken seriously and see the right people.

After I was led back to safety, a sense of shame washed over me. There were all these people; the lady from the Samaritans, the police who reassured my shocked mother that I was “a sweet girl”, one of the GPs that had been treating “intelligent” me since I was a child and a woman from the crisis team who, over the phone, said that I sounded exactly like the “clever” and “lovely” girl the nurse had said I was. All these people had seen a glimmer of something positive in me, even during my lowest of moments, and I just remember feeling so stupid and so ashamed that I had let what that person had said get to me purely because I cared about his opinion and took it as gospel to confirm my own self-doubts. When, really, there was a world of individuals who had only encountered me for a mere few seconds who didn’t brand me as this awful, out-of-control person like he did. They helped me see very quickly that he was quite simply very toxic and while I can’t change his attitude towards me or his perceptions of me, I had to understand that I wasn’t an entirely bad or crazy human.

And to anyone else who finds themselves randomly scrolling through my social media whether it be Twitter or Instagram (shameless plug, I know), know that none of what anyone posts is really real. The recent stories of me looking happy and enjoying the sun harbour behind them endless hours of crying, mental health meetings and not eating. Literally, minutes after Emily and I wrapped the shoot featured in this post, we grabbed espresso martinis, had a good gossip and I cried my heart out to her about how heartbroken I was over this person until 1am in a London Maccies so please go show Emily some love on the gram and get her to shoot you because she had to put up with me ugly crying for HOURS and also because she is the sweetest soul and will leave you feeling like a queen. Those smiles and shots of me laughing were courtesy of Emily being the most hilarious and lovely photographer/human being I have ever met, but through all of it, I was actually in intense emotional turmoil, had sobbed seconds before on the train and continued to sob hours after. I was just lucky to have her there to vent to and to confirm that I wasn’t who this person had convinced me I was. Also, she made me look pretty damn decent for someone who was crumbling inside, if I do say so myself.

That concludes my TED talk on why guys are the worst and social media is a lie. I’ll be sipping champagne and screaming Taylor Swift lyrics with some gal pals on a rooftop if anyone needs me ✌️

If you’re in the UK, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 to talk to someone 24/7. The NHS also has a list of other specialised helplines and their details. An international list of helplines for those outside of the United Kingdom can be found here.

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