‘I laid in my hotel room bath, sunk my head underwater, closed my eyes. I wondered what life would be without me in it? I cried.’: Woman stresses importance of mental health awareness after abusive relationships, suicidal thoughts

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“I broke up with my then-boyfriend and my grandfather sadly passed away. The break up with my boyfriend was quite complicated. He had some issues himself with mental health. He had just been laid off from work and he had very few friends that he could talk to. Bearing all this in mind, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and thought that it was the right decision that we broke up.

As the weeks went by, we continued to live together which I realize now was the biggest mistake I ever made. When we lived together, he would sit on the sofa in full view on Tinder and online dating apps talking about the women he’d hooked up with the night before and what woman he was going to see next. It was really upsetting for me because at this time I still loved him, and I still thought there might be a chance that we would get back together.

When things like this happened, I would often confront him and say to him, ‘Why do you do this? Why do you say these things to me?’ It would always escalate into a big argument in fact in those few months that we lived together before I moved out our neighbors called the police twice to our house because of the noise disturbance. They were worried for my safety and they suspected domestic violence.

Courtesy Alicia Morton

Fortunately, enough for me it was just verbally abusive and mentally abusive, he did not hit me. He did sometimes get aggressive and throw things at the wall, break our belongings, cause damage to the property. This would normally happen when he got to his peak anger and just didn’t know what else to do. He would often just leave the house and go, not telling me where he was going, and he wouldn’t reply to my texts. Sometimes he would go for hours other times he disappeared for a day or two and I didn’t know where he was.

It left me feeling really lost, really hurt and confused. Of course, that had an impact on my mental health and physical health, at this time my hair started to fall out. I was getting bald patches on the side of my head and I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Alopecia. I’d also stopped having my periods and just kept dropping weight constantly, no matter what I was eating it was just going straight through me and I just couldn’t stomach it. I wasn’t sleeping very well. I’ve had constant anxiety, I even had to get off the tube a few times during this year as I came over with a racing heart and couldn’t cope being around people. It was really difficult.

As time went on, I moved out of the flat and into a friend’s house in a different town and a different county. It was somewhere completely new, somewhere I’ve never been before, never lived before and have no friends in. Gradually my health started to improve, my hair was still falling out, but my weight had gone back on just a bit. One thing that did happen was I became obsessed with exercise and dieting. I would go to the gym every single day sometimes even twice a day and you might think that’s good right, but really, I was punishing myself if I had a doughnut, a chocolate bar, something that I would consider a ‘bad food.’

I would punish myself and I would run 600 calories on a treadmill to make myself sweat and to burn it off. At this time, I had a really unhealthy relationship with food, my body and exercise it became something I used as a coping mechanism. I just threw myself into doing all these different activities to keep myself busy and also because I have little confidence in my body thanks to some of the things my ex-boyfriend said to me. I had been on a weight loss journey from 2012 and went from a size 18 weighing 16 stone (224 pounds) to a size 10 weighing between 10-11 stone (140-155 lbs.).

A few months down the line as we approached the end of 2014, we got back together. We spent a period of time dating again where I wanted him to prove to me that things were different, and it seemed that he did so we got back together. In Spring of 2017, we broke up again, but this time it was a bit easier for me to say goodbye because this time he cheated on me.

He lied to me and betrayed me, and it really did break my heart. What I found out about him was just awful and I hope that no other girl after me has to go through it with him. Not only had he cheated on me physically he’d also been holding online relationships with several women sending sext messages, pornographic videos and arranging to meet up. He claimed it was because he had little or no self-confidence and needed people to flirt with, but I actually found out after speaking to one of these women that he’d slept with them when we were together.

It broke my heart and I obviously couldn’t trust him. Things had been bad in the months before in an argument. He told me he wasn’t attracted to my body. He didn’t want to have sex with me, that I’d lost too much weight and he preferred a bit of meat on me. He said I was not the type of girl he’d ever marry and that really hurt me because at one time I honestly thought I was going to marry this guy. Maybe even have children. I guess I was delusional at this point.

So that happened and in the months that followed it, sadly my Nan fell ill. Now we didn’t expect it to be a fatal illness, something that would eventually end in her death. At the time I just thought she was sick. She had not been well. She needs to rest. I thought it might be to do with her existing heart condition but actually as the results revealed, she had cancer.

Courtesy Alicia Morton

It was a matter of days between them telling us that she had cancer and her dying. It all happened so quick and I still can’t believe to this day that she’s gone. That death hit me so hard, really hard and it was at a time that I had just come out of this relationship for the second time with my ex-boyfriend and I come out of it and a really dark place.

He left me with low self-esteem. I was lacking in confidence generally but especially in my body and I was living alone for the first time in my life since leaving home and going to university. I always lived with friends and even after that living with either a boyfriend or a friend. It was my first time living alone at a time when I needed somebody the most. My Nan was a difficult death to deal with, she was my best friend and I really mean that. She was like a second mother; she was the person that I told absolutely everything, and she never judged me. I’d call her if I was sad, I’d call her with good news, and I’d call her to ask for her advice. She was always there for me.

So, when she died, quite soon after the break up with my ex-boyfriend. It was very difficult to come to terms with. At this point I just wanted to give up but what I did instead was I busied myself to cope. I threw myself back into the gym. I was there constantly. I got back onto the calorie counting, filled my social calendar. I made sure I had no time to myself. No time to grieve, no time to cry, no time to wallow in self-pity. I didn’t want time to be alone, alone in my thoughts and really come to terms with what happened.

It was in the June that year that I went away to Turkey. I took myself on holiday for the first time ever all by myself and I went on a health and fitness Retreat. It was both the making and the breaking of me that holiday. I remember the first night when I got there, I laid in my hotel room in a bath. I filled it right up to the top literally so that I could almost move in the bath and the water would lap over the edges.

I lay down into the bath and sunk my head down under the water, closed my eyes and I laid there under the water holding my breath for a split moment. I thought I just wonder what life would be like without me in it? In that moment I just didn’t want to be here anymore. I thought shall I keep breathing or shall I just hold my breath? I didn’t really know or see a way out. I couldn’t see what the future was going to be, but I very quickly snapped out of that moment, pulled my head out of the water and I felt upset.

I cried. I cried myself to sleep that night because I didn’t know what I was going to do next. I didn’t know what life had in store for me but in fact that was the first time ever on that holiday that I realized I’m ok by myself and that I’ve got to be ok by myself because the only thing that’s certain is that I’m going to be with me for the rest of my life.

So that happened and it’s not the first time I’ve had suicidal thoughts or even tried to kill myself. Sadly, at the age of 18 I was also in a bad relationship, a bad relationship where on Valentine’s Day of that year 10 years ago was, I sat upstairs in the bedroom of my partner. We heard the front door go and he went downstairs. It was his friends. They let themselves in and I could hear them sitting on the sofa drinking, smoking and laughing. I presumed he’d gone downstairs to chuck them out when actually he had gone downstairs to join in. I was so disappointed, I was angry in fact, I remember being furious. I sat there and I cried, and I cried my eyes out because I really couldn’t believe what was happening.

This is just a brief moment in this relationship. There’s a lot of things that happened before it again involving trust issues and lies and things but what happened next, I did not expect to happen and I’m still amazed that it happened to this day. I sat there on the edge of the bed. I looked up as I saw a calendar that I’d made him for Christmas the year before, it had personal photos on it. It was a really nice memory, but I was just so angry, I ripped it down off of the wall. As I ripped it down, I held it in my hands. I pulled out the metal ring binder that holds together the calendar, unrolled the spirals flattened them with my fingers. I dragged that piece of metal through my left wrist as I was crying and shaking, I just watch the dark red blood pour out. My eyes dropped to the piece of metal and I literally said to myself in my head, ‘What have you just done?’ I ran to the bathroom put my wrist under the tap, grabbed some toilet paper and tried to stop it from bleeding. I was terrified and, in that moment, I had what I can only describe as an out-of-body experience. I don’t even remember doing that to myself it felt like.

I was a bird sitting on a branch watching myself do it. I felt like it was an out-of-body experience and it really made me think looking back on that situation. It made me think how people must feel at times when they’ve got suicidal thoughts or even when they commit suicide because actually sometimes the pain, the anger, the emotions can be so all consuming that you don’t feel like you’re in control of your own body or your own mind.

It was a really difficult time for me and even talking about it is hard because it reminds me of a time when I was very much in pain, but I’m glad to say that now things are much better. I do still have my bad days. Of course, we all do, and I really do believe that mental health is almost on a spectrum and some days we’re on a high and some days we’re on a low and I’m very much like that still now. But the thing that’s important here is the awareness. The more I know about it, the better I can recognize my own emotions and I can try to deal with them or recognize any triggers as they happen and that’s been really important for me.

So, I’m not perfect. I’ve still got a way to go. I’ve still got a lot to learn but I hope that sharing this story with you shows that I’ve been through it. I’m sure that others would have been through the same and if it helps to end the stigma and open up that conversation that that’s all I could wish for.”

Courtesy Alicia Morton

This story was written by Alicia Morton. Follow her on Instagram here. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free newsletter for our best stories.

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