Monthly Archives: September 2017

Physical Consequences of Mental Illness

I don’t take care of myself, that’s not news. It’s been that way for a long time although I am aware it has gotten a lot worse over the last couple of years. Not caring about yourself and self harm pretty much go hand in hand so I guess you could say that I haven’t taken care of myself for 18 years. What’s happening now is something different though. When I started self harming, I wasn’t thinking about death, I was thinking about coping. That changed and it became about pure destruction rather than a way of dealing with things. I used to eat healthily, actually cooking rather then putting a ready meal in the oven, I thought about my alcohol intake, got some exercise, even venturing to the local pool for a swim at times and I saw my GP when I needed to. I used to think about the little things – shaving my legs, exfoliating, moisturising, painting my nails – not anymore. It’s not even about ignoring these things, I go out of my way to destroy my body in any way I can. I survive mostly on junk food, shovelling food into my mouth like there’s no tomorrow. I ignore physical symptoms because I am hoping whatever it may be will just kill me. I don’t take my anticoagulants, praying instead that a blood clot will finish me off especially with the elevated risk of it occurring even if I do take the tablets. Despite being fully aware that I need a stronger prescription for my contact lenses, I continue to wear the ones I have because doing anything else comes far too close to taking care of myself. I ignore letters from the GP saying I need to have a blood test because of the quetapine I take. I’ve ignored so many letters about getting a smear test that they recently wrote to me saying that I could out (or something along those lines).

So why am I writing this now? Because today as I was eating my lunch, I lost part of a tooth. Most people would’ve called the dentist. I’m not one of those people. The last dentist appointment I had was in January, made by my mother who also drove me there so I couldn’t back out. The dentist (who is absolutely lovely and who I’ve known since I was a child) wanted to do some treatment and put in a filling but I couldn’t bear the thought of it. Not just because I’ve been terrified of dentists since the experience of braces and orthodontists during my teenage years but because, again, it is a positive thing, something that re-inforces the idea that I am actually worth looking after. So I lied, I explained I take blood thinners and that my INR, (the level that measures the thickness of your blood) was too high, leading to the risk of excessive bleeding. She did what I knew she would and explained she couldn’t treat me that day. So I left, promising her I’d come back when my INR was stable again. That was 8 months ago.

What do I do know?