I can’t go on. I’m overdosing

I try to hurt myself, I ingest household products, anything to stop the pain of being abused as a child

Topics: Since You Asked, Suicide, Drugs, self-harm, addiction, Sexual abuse,

I can't go on. I'm overdosing (Credit: Zach Trenholm/Salon)

Dear Cary,  

When I was growing up I was abused. I feel like hurting myself badly, which many times I acted on … when I went to hospital a couple of months ago a nurse told me I should go hang myself, not in the hospital … it had a big effect and a psychiatrist too said the same thing in a separate incident. It feels like my life is over for good this time like there’s nothing to live for.  I had seen someone kissing today. For people it might seem normal but for me it hurt, it was like a knife in the chest. I wanted to hit my mum.

How much longer can I have, with these feelings rocking inside me?  I can hardly look people in the eye and I rarely make I contact with people. My life is spinning out of control and there’s nothing I can do about it. I overdose regularly and soon I shall start taking magic mushrooms. I’m addicted to any tablet that comes my way and from there I shall move on to drugs.

Usually I take paracetamols [aka acetaminophen, Tylenol, Panadol, Thomapyrin, etc.--ed.] as a way of coping. Also I take aspirin to cope but a lot more than the recommended dose.

I’ve been holding on for quite some time but I can’t  now.

I need to eat household products just to balance myself out so why don’t my feelings stop?   

Can’t Hold On  

Dear Can’t Hold On,

You’ve got to hold on. You have to.

I am writing to you and to all others who feel that things are out of control and that the only ways to cope are to ingest substances, self-mutilate, or strike out at others.

You have to hold on.

What you feel now will change. You will come out of this. Meanwhile it is important not to do anything that will cause your death.  Overdose with paracetamol, or acetaminophen, is, “by far, the most common cause of acute liver failure in both the United States and the United Kingdom.”

Death by such an overdose would be a slow and painful affair. It would be messy and ugly. It would not be pretty and glamorous.

If you have already taken too many paracetamols, go to the emergency room of your nearest hospital now.

Otherwise, since it sounds like you are in the U.K., contact the Samaritans, either through their website or by phone.



Ask for help. Talk it through. Find solutions. Stay alive.

What you are going through will pass. You have to hang on through this. You have to tough it out. I know you have gotten a raw deal. I know you have been abused. It is painful and nobody knows how much pain it caused except you. It is an existential pain. It is not simple. But you have to survive through this because it will get better.

You may want to do many things so that you can be whole. You may have a sex change, or you may want to find your own practice that allows you to integrate pain and power into your life. That is OK. Those are routes you can take that will not destroy your body. Those may be routes to wholeness for you.

But do not destroy your body. Then there is no hope.

If you have ever had any dreams of doing anything, keep those dreams in your mind. Think of those dreams. Remember those dreams. Remember the things you have wanted to do. Remember the times when you have felt good. Visualize times you have been happy. Just sit and be there.  You can be happy again like you were before all this happened to you. That person you were before you were damaged is still there. You can contact that person you were, that young and innocent child. That young and innocent child you once were is ready to come back.

You are scared and uncomfortable. That is OK. You can be scared and uncomfortable and tough it out. Please understand: What your head is telling you is wrong. Your head was damaged by the abuse. Do not believe what your head is telling you. You cannot solve this on your own. But if you survive and get help, you can be fine.

So get somewhere safe where you can stay while this passes. That means stay away from websites that encourage you to overdose and mutilate yourself. You are too fragile for those things. You need to be around strong people who know what you have been through and can help you.

Sit in a waiting room until help comes. Tough it out. It will pass.

It gets better. You don’t have to die.

A friend of mine called just yesterday to say a friend of his died from alcohol and drugs. His friend didn’t really mean to die. He was just doing things to numb the pain. But that’s what happens. Then you lose your chance to do whatever it is that’s going to make you happy.

So this is a time to be careful and conserve your life. Whatever emotional pain you are feeling, it may seem intolerable but it is not. You can bear it. It will pass. You can survive. We are animals, all of us. We will do anything to survive. We can survive this and much more.

So find some place where you can be safe. Find someone you can trust, a doctor or teacher or therapist.

There is hope. What you feel now will change.

You can get through this. You will see. Trust me. You will see.

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