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World Suicide Prevention Day: Cat shares story, encourages others to seek help

World Suicide Prevention Day: Cat shares story, encourages others to seek help

9 September 2022

While suicide can be a hard topic to talk about this World Suicide Prevention Day selectability is encouraging those with lived experience to speak up and share their story to reduce stigma and encourage others to seek help.

selectability employee Cat – who is a suicide attempt survivor and has a lived experience of mental illness is one of many people who have been gifted a second chance and now help others by sharing their story.

This is her story…

“My mental health journey started when I was a kid, I was a very anxious kid and back then you just thought these were the feelings you had.”

Cat noticed a significant change in her mental health when at High School, and it was during this time that she started to self-harm – something she would do on and off for two years.

“I have very supportive parents…but they didn’t know I was doing it for quite a long time. When you are going through something like that you tend to become pretty good at hiding it,” explained Cat.

While today there are lots of opinions around self-harm and why people do it, Cat says for her she used it as a relief, “an actual physical relief of the emotional pain.”

When Cat’s parents made the discovery that she had been self-harming they were able to help her link in with a psychologist.

“I saw a psychologist on and off throughout High School, and the self-harm stopped when I was 16.”

After High School finished another significant shift happened and Cat was left wondering where she fit in, “I didn’t really know, I had lost friends and was in and out of a High School relationship.”

“At the time I wasn’t seeing a psychologist, I was probably drinking too much, doing illicit drugs, making very poor decisions and surrounding myself with people that were not my people.”

At 21 Cat experienced what she describes as a break down, which saw her struggling to leave the house.

“I would leave, go to the psychologies and then back home, it got to the point though where I wasn’t even doing that.

“Towards that critical time, my self-care went completely out the window. I was so tired from having anxiety and depression, but my mind literally could not switch off. I didn’t have the energy to do anything, so I would end up lying in bed unable to sleep.”

Throughout this period of time Cat recalls starting to have suicidal thoughts. At the time she was trying different medications, she had become quite thin and leaving the house had become more difficult.

“I could see the pressure it was putting on my parents’ relationship and the stress it was causing my family. For me in that moment I felt like suicide was the only answer,” said Cat.

“I remember calling my mum before it happened and asking her to take me to the Hospital, I was fully aware of what was happening.

“We went to the Hospital, but for whatever reason I was not seen. We ended up sitting in the waiting room for approximately 8 hours. When we eventually saw a nurse, she told us that I probably wouldn’t get to see the mental health team for a couple of hours.

“The decision was made to go home, the Hospital felt I was safe because I had my mum there with me. When we got back home mum called the 1300 NURSE number and they told her to take me straight back to the Hospital. So, we went again and waited another 4 hours before I was seen by a doctor.

“Again, the clinical decision was that I was safe enough to go home…it was then that I attempted to take my life,” said Cat.

For Cat the time directly after the attempt is still a blur, she doesn’t remember being in Hospital the next thing she remembers is being transferred to Acute and then being discharged.

“I remember getting discharged and then the next day we saw my GP who made a referral to an inpatient psychiatric clinic in Brisbane,” at the time there was no private clinic in Townsville.

“I was there for a number of months, it’s quite intense when you are in a facility like that – it’s very confronting,” said Cat.

It was during her stay in this Clinic that Cat was diagnosed with Chronic Depression, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

After being discharged from the private clinic, for the next few years it was the same cycle until one day Cat remembers waking up and thinking “this is not the life” she wanted to live.

“I felt like that was the first time I trusted myself.

“When you are going through mental ill health you have very little trust in yourself and when you have been in and out of psychiatric care you have very little trust of the system.

“I left an unhealthy relationship and spent a period of time in the Townsville Private Clinic, which was completely necessary and the best thing I ever did.”

While in the Townsville Private Clinic Cat – who at this point had trialed six medications – started seeing a psychiatrist, who suggested that they do a DNA test.

“We did a DNA test, and it came back with certain medications we could try, we tried one and it’s the same one I have be on for the last 5 years,” said Cat.

“You know if you had diabetes or a heart condition you would take a tablet, so I take a tablet for my anxiety and depression. But it’s not the only thing I do – I also exercise and eat healthy foods.

“This has become my base and I continue to work with the team (my psychologist and GP) to figure out what works for me…and I’m still figuring it out.

“I spent a lot of time in my early-20s and mid-20s trying to fight this and fight wanting to change who I was. It’s been a really long journey and it will continue to be, but I am putting in the work.

“The thing I have come to terms with now is that this is something that isn’t going to go away. I am going to continue to live with it and lots of people are going to continue to live with it but its about making the best of who you are,” said Cat.

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Acknowledgement Acknowledgement Acknowledgement Acknowledgement

selectability acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which we provide services and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge those with lived experience and those who support and partner with us to improve mental wellbeing and prevent suicide across regional Queensland.

Reconciliation Action Plan | Reflect