*content warning for mentions of a suicide attempt, please read with care*
I've posted in this group several times, but until now, I haven't shared my story. Today, I'd like to do so.
I landed in the ICU in January 2019 following a suicide attempt. I was initially partially paralyzed, unable to move my arms or legs, was expected to stop breathing (I gave consent to be put on a ventilator, and was in acute kidney failure, requiring emergency dialysis.
The cruel irony of my attempt and it's aftermath is that it was my unbearable PTSD symptoms that led me to try to end my life. I was so traumatized already, before the ICU – and my terrifying time there only further traumatized me. For me, the worst of my ICU trauma isn't about invasive procedures or interventions, but rather about the loss of control over my body and the things that were done to it to save my life.
I left the ICU in kidney failure, a dialysis catheter in my neck, and most devastatingly, unable to walk due to neuromuscular damage. I spent five months as a full time wheelchair user, and currently have progressed to using a walker.
I struggle with immense guilt over my responsibility for making my life so much harder and inviting in this additional trauma. I'm addition to this guilt, I struggle with frequent flashbacks and nightmares of my time in the ICU. Eight months out, these symptoms have improved, and I've been able to do EMDR (a type of trauma reprocessing therapy) to help reduce the flashbacks – but I still deal with them on a regular basis. Because of my neuromuscular damage, I find that it is a near-constant reminder of my ICU experience. Often it feels like I can't escape it.
My mental health has been greatly affected by this experience and my difficult recovery. I have bounced back from a lot of things in my life – yet I am having an extremely hard time bouncing back from this. I'm currently in intensive mental health treatment to try and cope with what has undoubtedly been the most challenging and discouraging year of my life.
I am so grateful for this group and for the support I've already received, and to know that I'm not alone in struggling to make sense of these experiences. Thank you for letting me share, and thank you for listening.