Thursday, February 23, 2012

Young, stupid and full of paracetamol #dosomethingyummy

Her name was Alice.  She was 22.  She'd done all the right things.  Studied hard, done well in her exams and got a 'great' job.   Bought into the big dream that was sold to young girls in the 1980s: study hard and you'll live happily ever after.  So why was she in despair?  Why did everything seem so hopeless?  Looking back from the perspective of her late 40s it all seemed rather pathetic and stupid, but at the time she was very young, very immature and completely overwhelmed.  

The dream was just that.  A dream.   

The great job turned out to involve little more than adding numbers, faxing and photocopying.

The thoughts of 40 more years doing the same thing were terrifying.  Then other little things went wrong.  Alice had been wearing contact lenses for a couple of years, they had transformed her life.  Not only could she see clearly at last, but there was a huge improvement in her confidence, no more stupid bullies.  But then one night her eyes started itching.  And then they began ooozing.

Her 23rd birthday was a week away and the future looked bleak.

So she went upstairs with a bottle of vodka and a jumbo sized bottle of paracetamol.

About an hour later she had second thoughts and started to feel a bit stupid.  She rang the Samaritans.  She wasn't even sure why.  On the other end of the phone someone asked what she'd taken, and said 'hang on'.  Time stretched infinitely until that person came back and told Alice that the dose she had taken was not lethal (wrong).  Alice hung up.

The next day she had a dreadful hangover, but that was all.  Two days later she still felt ill.  So she went to the GP and just happened to mention the events of Saturday night.  She doesn't remember what the GP said but she will never forget the way his face changed as he listened to her story.

Hospital.  Alice had gone through the Looking Glass alright.  And shattered it.

The ward was full of people who had attempted suicide.  Some had been here before.  Some were regulars.  

Alice was in shock.  She wasn't really sure why she was there.  Even when the hospital doctor gently explained, it took a while to realise that he was actually telling her that she had taken a fatal dose of paracetamol, and because she hadn't sought help earlier it was too late to flush out her system.  She would live or she would die.  There was nothing anyone could do but watch and wait.

It didn't seem real.  It couldn't be.  She spent her days chatting to the other patients and trying to cheer them up.  

And the days went by and nothing happened.  Alice was one of the lucky ones.  She got better, she survived, and she never forgot that she'd been given a second chance.  She got out.  In time for her birthday party on Saturday... 

Some names and details have been changed.

This post, on the theme of survival, is part of a linky over at  Typecast, and has been written in support of CLIC Sargent, the children's cancer charity. For the last six years mums have been raising money by taking part in Yummy Mummy Week which will take place this year from 10th - 18th March 2012.

26 comments:

  1. So glad there was a happy ending to this story. Absolutely terrifying but, ultimately, a relief. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. I had no idea an overdose of Paracetamol takes so long to affect the body - you'd think if you woke up next morning you'd survived. Good to know this.

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  3. Wow, that is a mirracle I think, glad she survived ;) @Kahanka

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  4. I too am relieved to hear this has a happy ending. As someone who has been there I can't help but ponder just how 'innocent' paracetamol look.

    I really enjoyed reading this and found it rather uplifting x

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  5. What a time of fear that must have been. Also glad to hear there was a happy outcome. It's desperately sad how many people get to that point, make the mistake but who don't really want it to end...
    beautifully written as always x

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  6. @mothersalwaysright - I like happy endings best :)

    @Midlife Single Mum - Most people don't and I think that is one of main reasons why people die or suffer permanent liver damage after overdosing on it

    @Mirka Moore - She was lucky alright

    @Mammasaurus - Am delighted that you found it uplifting x

    @Steph - Thank you once again x

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  7. But did it turn her around? Because to attempt something like that must be driven from some kind of despair that needed attention. I do hope her life has been happy. I worry for my own daughter and her future sometimes because she is the kind of person who cannot find strength in herself when things don't go her way. She is still a child and can still learn, but I can't stand the though of her despairing so much...

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  8. i hope this was the turning point for Alice. x

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  9. @Actually Mummy - I think parent/children relations are completely different from those days when children just wouldn't tell their parents about their worries - things are a lot more open now and I bet your daughter would tell you about anything that worried her xx

    @Paula Maher - it was x

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  10. I popped over to say thanks for the comment on my ghostwritermummy guest post but was blown away by this. So powerful and poignant -an amazing story beautifully told. X

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  11. Wow, what a story! Glad it had a happy ending :)

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  12. Thanks for this post - I know very well how easy it is to get to that place

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  13. So pleased for the happy ending and her getting the wake up call she needed x

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  14. Can't believe the Samaratains gave her the wrong info, everyone knows you need to have your stomach pumped after just a few. So glad it turned out ok.
    Thanks for writing it

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  15. @lyndylou - me too :)

    @Mummy Whisperer - I'm both glad and sorry that you could relate to it xx

    @Missing Sleep - sometimes good CAN come out of really bad things

    @Suburbia - I'm not sure that everyone does know about the dangers of paracetamol even now, and this happened twenty years ago..

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  16. I was 13 when I took many many of those horrid pills ... thank god I too survived.

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  17. @The Real Supermum - I'm glad you got through it x

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  18. @northernmum - Aww, that's not like you x

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  19. Life is a journey and sometimes the road can take some dark and scary turns but when it does and if we survive it then it always comes into the light again.

    Glad to be a survivor and be on this amazing journey with other amazing survivors. xx

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  20. @Helen - You've brought it all back ((hugs)) xx

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  21. Amazing story and really well written and I'm glad that it *was* the turning point for Alice.

    Thanks for joining in with all the #dosomethingyummy prompt

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  22. @Nickie - Thanks so much for reading and commenting: I'm only sorry I didn't have time to contribute to the other #dosomethingyummy prompts, but this one was very close to home and the story just tumbled out x

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  23. Thankyou so much for being part of #dosomethingyummy and for sharing this story - it's the kind of thing that could really help someone.

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  24. @Nicola Cooper-Abbs - you're very welcome and thanks for visiting and commenting.

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