When I first met Gareth he had a lot of deep scars all up both arms and since he's taken numerous overdoses. I've sat in A&E for hours alone whilst he's slept getting angrier and angrier. I don't go anymore. Its been some time since Gareth Od'd but the last few times he's had one instruction: Ask them if you are going to die ring me and tell me. Fortunately most times he takes tablets that do no harm. On occasion though he will take paracetomol based tablets and I have to go with him because its very dangerous. Waiting 4 hours until he can have his bloods taken to see if any damage is done is excruciating. Wondering if this is the last night you will spend with him is terrifying. Asking the A&E nurse if he's going to die and hearing her reply, "we don't know" is numbing.
Gareth used to tell me he was going to die before he was 30 and I used to believe him. We're both 35 this year so he was wrong but he still plays with fire. I know Gareth isn't the only one. He has a friend in his 70s with a similar pattern and he knows people like himself who have been in the mental health system for years who repeatedly self harm by both cutting and overdosing. They, like Gareth, are in pain and don't know how to deal with it, how to express it or cope with it. It overwhelms him and he doesn't feel he has the ability to overcome it.
I try to make him see that regardless of how he feels it is still a CHOICE - his choice. Noone puts those tablets down his throat and he has plenty of reasons not to. Im not saying it's an easy choice, if i were in his shoes I've no idea if I would still be here, but nevertheless he has a split second choice whether or not to put those tablets in his mouth and swallow.
Gareth's made the choice not to take tablets for over a year now and for that I'm extremely proud of him. There's many other reasons I'm proud of Gareth which I will share over time but for now every time he tells me he wants to self harm instead of doing it I will continue saying, "Well done!"