What could have happened?

Five years ago in June, the weekend before my junior cert was due to start I had my first suicide attempt. It may have appeared sudden for my family and friends but for me it was something, which had been building up inside me for a number of years. I was feeling miserable, experiencing both physical and emotional pain at the time and I just couldn't cope any more, I couldn't see a future and all I wanted was some relief and at the time the only way I felt I could get the relief was from taking my own life.  

People say its selfish to take you're own life but I felt like a burden, I felt that taking my life would make things easier for my family, give them one less thing to deal with and I felt that they would be happier without me, most of my thoughts were based around how much easier their life would be without me.

Looking back now its clear that my first suicide attempt was the beginning of my journey with mental health issues, it was at this time that I was diagnosed officially with depression despite having suffered from feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and despair for years before hand. There were many more hard years, seeing two more suicide attempts/gestures, an addiction to self-harm, depression, anxiety and finally an admission to an inpatient facility at the age of 17 and while things improved significantly after my four month stay in hospital I was still on a very rocky road, struggling to control self-harm, taking medication and attending therapy weekly. After my transition from CAMHS, Child, and Adolescent Mental Health Services I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, which saw me attending therapy twice every week for 6 months as part of my treatment as well as remaining on medication to help with my mood.

Had I not panicked during my first suicide attempt at the age of 15, had it been successful I wouldn't be here writing this today, who knows where I would be, but I do know that my family would still be trying to pick up the pieces, trying to understand my decision to take my own life, blaming themselves, trying to figure out if they could have done more; if my first suicide attempt had been successful my family would have been destroyed. 

A friend of mine recently lost a family member through suicide, something that I have not experienced directly, but since the death of her brother and although she may not realize it has helped me more than she can imagine. Her honest accounts of the affect her brothers death has had on her has opened my eyes and made me realize that although I thought I was doing the right thing, and that taking my own life would have prevented further pain for my family, I was wrong. In her honest and inspiring Facebook posts, my friend talks about the reality of suicide, how much of an effect it can really have on a person, how we need to be open and talk about things, how we need to strive to tackle the sigma of mental health to prevent further deaths by suicide. 

Aisling wrote
  "Coming home on a Friday and saying hi to you in the graveyard isn't the same as going up to your room to see your cheeky face." 

My family would have never gotten to see my face again; rather they would have had to rely on memories and photos to keep me alive. They would never have the chance to huge or kiss me again, hold my hand or even do what brothers do best and fight with me again. They would have had to go to a graveyard to talk to me, to share stories, stories which they would wish I was apart of, stories they could tell with me rather than to me.

On her brothers 18th Birthday Aisling wrote 
"There were balloons in the house for all your other celebrations. Now they’ll be tied to the cross on your grave. (And when your proper headstone is there, it will read “17 years old”…and that itself is a tragedy.)
I never knew what to get you for a birthday present. This year I wish I could have back such a minor problem. (I’d buy you all the presents in the world just to have you back.)"

To celebrate a birthday my family would have had to gather around a graveyard, wishing me another happy birthday and wondering why I took my own life, and why I couldn't hang on just a little bit long to get help, wondering what they could have done differently. Staring at old birthday family photos wondering when things changed, wondering what was so horrible in my life that made me feel the way I did, that made me take my own life in the hope of seeking some peace. They would never get to see me grow up, blow out 16 candles, 17 candles, 18 candles but rather just remember seeing me blow out 15 candles. They would never get to struggle with buying presents, hoping to get me something, which I would love and cherish, rather a simple bunch of flowers would be placed on my grave.

On world suicide prevent day Aisling wrote
 "Suicide doesn't solve the problem...it just causes a whole lot more. Another grave and a lot of tears."

When I was 15 and first attempted to take my own life, suicide was the solution, it was the only thing I felt would help me but now I know this not to be the case, in fact it is the exact opposite. When I wanted to take my own life I wasn't thinking about birthdays or saying hi to my family, I wasn't thinking about the everyday things that would be different, the little things that my family would focus on in my absence but simply that by me not being here my family would be better off when in reality I now know that it would have just caused more pain and heartache for them. 

I wrote this post, fighting back the tears, trying to keep it together and focus on the fact that I am still here but I couldn’t keep it together knowing that pain and hurt I almost caused, knowing that my family’s lives would have changed has I been successful in my attempts. I couldn’t keep it together knowing that my dad would have had to visit a wife and a daughter at a graveyard, my brothers visiting a sister and a mother. It is only now, almost 6 years later that I can truly realize the impact my death would have cause my family. It is now 6 years later that I have can honestly, hand on heart say I am doing well and that it because of talking! Aisling's brave and honest posts about her life since her brothers death have helped keep me focused on staying health, looking after myself and talking when I need to!

Suicide doesn’t solve the problem and yes when your in the moment it seems like it does, trust me I know, but the one thing which is import to remember from reading this post is that it doesn’t sole the problem and things can and will get better. 6 years after my first suicide attempt I’m still here, thriving, in my final year of college, a qualified coach, a scout leader, an accomplished blogger, out of weekly therapy for almost 6 months and free self-harm for almost 10 months! I never thought I would be here to celebrate my 21st birthday but I was! I made it and so can you! Talking can make the world of difference!!

A bump in the road

We are now somewhere between week 6 and week 8 of my recovery from corrective double jaw surgery. It has been a rough couple of weeks to say the least. Monday the 2nd of November saw me having a great post surgery appointment with my surgeon, everything looking great and virtually no pain.

A week later I began experiencing immense pain and generally feeling unwell. A call was made and straight away the surgeon had me in to see him the next day. By the time I met my surgeon I had been experiencing the pain coupled with extreme tenderness for 4, days as wells as being exhausted, nauseous and generally feeling quiet miserable.  My surgeon suspected I had an infection, this would have been the second one since surgery and began me on antibiotics, my third set since surgery and organised for me to x-rays at the orthodontist before returning to him a week later. It was also here that he prepared me for the worst; the possibility of having to have another surgery to remove a mental plate, which he was concerned, may have been infected if there had been no improvement. Rest and hope was all I could do because I really did not fancy getting another operation!

The pain persisted despite finishing a course of antibiotics and I began to fear the possibility of having another surgery might soon become a reality, but I guess I was lucky when a rash developed along the right side of my face as this meant no infection and no more surgery! The x-rays taken the morning of my 21st birthday (exciting, right?) also confirmed there was no infection. Good news I wouldn’t be getting more surgery but bad news that what was thought to be an infection is in fact shingles! We were told that I probably got the shingles as a result of the physical stress my body endured as a result of the surgery! So now, I’m currently on anti-virals and sporting a lovey rash on my face!

My rash which since taking this anti-vitals and using a
 prescribed cream seems to be improving quiet a bit

The past two weeks have been pretty miserable, I’ve just been took exhausted to do anything most of the time, I’m in constant pain and have been struggling with my appetite. Its been rough but mentally I’m doing pretty well and I’m somewhat surprised at that, usually when I’m not well physically I can get quiet down but not this time, but I have been taking things one day at a time trying not to get ahead of myself! With shingles now I’ve been out of athletics and college for the last week as well as noting being in work this weekend. Next week is looking much the same with scouts being a no go area also on Monday night! Hopefully I will being to be more like myself by Friday as I’m due to be heading to Wexford for the weekend to complete my final stage in my scout leader training! After the pain and the rash the worst part of shingles is not being able to be as active as I would like, I feel good and want to be doing things but I’m just not physically up to it, which is a bit annoying.

In other more positive news despite the shingles the feeling in my lower lip is slowing beginning to come back. I have been experiencing a lot of tingling in my lip and when I bite together my while lip tingles for a few seconds. I still have a long way to go in getting all my feeling back but right now, these little steps are big victories for me!

I have spent so long just starring at my x-ray.
Its strange knowing I have six metal plates in my mouth! Can you spot all six?

1 month post op

This day exactly one month ago I underwent my corrective double jaw surgery and now I finally have a correct bite! things have gone so fast, at the beginning of September I wasn't getting my surgery until next year and then at the end of September it was just weeks away and now I am one month post surgery! Things have happened so fast I don't think I have actually processed it all!

I have finally began to get back into a routine, last week saw me making an appearance at athletics in a coaching capacity, I'm still not allowed to do any throwing or running, I am allowed go for walks, start swimming and using a bike but very gently, nothing too strenuous is allowed. I made it back volunteering at the Friday night youth cafe in Lucan and yesterday I went back to scouts. having some sort of a routine in place really does make the difference when you're recovering from surgery and hopefully this weekend I will be back to work once I get my letter stating I'm fit for work and I will be back in college tomorrow!

Things have been going great! Swelling is pretty much all gone, some little swelling in my cheeks, I notice it more than others. Pain is minimal, some pain has been on my right side at night but nothing major. Throughout the day I get little bits of pain but no need for pain killers which is great. Numbness is still there, no change at all but again I'm not concerned with that, in time I should get all my feeling back. 

Finally after a whole month I began my soft food diet this week! After the first few days between the surgery, the pain, being in hospital and just in general being uncomfortable the hardest part of this whole things has not been eating. I love food and while I can be fussy at times I will eat almost anything that is put in front of me so not having solid food for a whole month was pretty hard. Soup was what I stuck to, the idea of blending meat and other solid foods made me feel sick! I was prepared before surgery though with homemade vegetable soup made and frozen awaiting my long and tedious month of liquid food. So far my soft food diet has consisted of potatoes, pasta, tuna, scrambled eggs, porridge and of course some chocolate buttons!Im trying some minced meat for dinner today!  Im not really sure what I was expecting when I started my soft food diet but I didn't expect it to be as hard as it is to chew. My gums are numb and when I bite my teeth together I can't really feel my teeth so chewing is difficult, not impossible but it takes time. even opening and closing my mouth to chew feels weird. One thing that is causing pain when I open and close my mouth is the inside of my cheeks keep getting caught between my braces so its like I'm biting my cheeks but hopefully in a few days that will settle down. I can't open my mouth as wide as I was able to before surgery but with more movement I will get there, slowly but surely.

Mentally I am great! Before surgery many people told me I had to mind myself and expect many bad days, that I could have difficulty getting used to the change in my face and overall during the recovery it could be very difficult and to expect low mood. I was pretty prepared I have to say, supports were in place and I was ready to deal with the bad days as they came. The bad days did come but not as many as I had expected with the worst being my second night in hospital as it finally hit me that i had finally got my surgery, all those emotions mixed with the pain, being uncomfortable and of course the pain medication I was crying my eyes out before I knew it. There were some self- harm urges that night and day also, not out of sadness or angry but because I had so many different emotions I just wanted them out, a bit of relief and I felt the only way to get it was through harming but thankfully I didn't and that was because the nurses in the hospital were amazing  and made time to sit with me and talk through things, if it wasn't for the conversations I had with some of the nurses I would have ended up harming.

Over the past week or so I have really began to start feeling like myself again and whats even better is that I feel happy! I have even been finding myself looking forward to things, social events that I would have usually avoided I want to go to, dinner in a restaurant was nothing something I ever loved but were heading out for a family birthday dinner and I am actually excited about going. Little things like when I look in the mirror I am not greeted with disgust but rather delight. I love smiling and looking at my teeth before my teeth were something I hated! My underbite was a huge part of my life and it will always be apart of my life but it wasn't until now that I really realised how much it controlled me, or rather how much I let it control me. This operation done more than just corrected a physical issue, it allowed me to feel confident, when I walk down the street now I don't feel like everybody is looking at my underbite, when I look in the mirror I like what I see, when I smile I actually feel good about myself and I am no longer scared to show off my teeth. This operation has done more for me mentally than I thought it ever could have! 

The difference from my pre-surgery smile 

 to my now post-surgery smile is amazing! 
1 Month Post-Surgery

Three weeks post-op

Today marks three weeks since my corrective double jaw surgery and to be honest I’m starting to get very fed up being at home all the time! I do get out and about for walks and stuff but I miss my routine, I miss my Monday night scouts and my athletics and I even miss going to work on the weekends! I am at the stage where come next week I would like to be getting back into some sort of a routine, I know I’m due to be out of activities for six weeks but next week it will have been a month and I don’t think going to a lecture or two will kill me.  I want to begin to ease my way back into things, starting with college and the youth café I volunteer in followed by athletics, coaching not training because that is off the cards for another little while as is the gym! And finally get myself back into scouts and work, those both being things that will happen at week six as both involve children and children can be unpredicatable and I don’t fancy getting a whack to the face with a ball or a head even!

Things have been going good. Most of my stitches seem to have dissolved by now which is great. I finished my second course of antibiotics and after a few days of finishing them the pain in my right side settled quiet a bit, it has began to creep its way back in at night time but I was reassured by the orthodontist last week that it is normal. The physical changes, the bruising and the swelling, have slowed considerably. I’m still slightly bruised under my chin and my cheeks are still slightly swollen, I notice it more than anybody else but with time that will go. I would however like it to be sooner rather than later but I just have to be patient. No improvement with the numbness but again the orthodontist reassured me last week that it is normal, it will take six months for me to get the feeling back and it can take even longer, with that in mind I’m less anxious about it coming back.

First smile without elastics!!
Eating, oh how I miss solid food! Last week at the orthodontist I was shown how to out my elastics on and off, which is great because this means when it comes to eating and brushing my teeth I am allowed to do it without elastics! Now that I can take off my elastics to eat I can open my mouth a bit more, allowing me to eat a bit more. Soups are still my main food but now I can add bread, once its dipped into the soup and in small enough pieces I can get it into my mouth and swallow it without chewing! That new addition to my soup has been amazing, I’m now fuller for longer. Yogurts are now much easier to eat, I am using a baby spoon because that’s the best way to get it into my mouth but now that I can open my mouth the majority of the yogurt actually makes it into my mouth. When I meet with my surgeon on Monday, all still going well I will be able to begin my soft food diet, I cant wait to eat some pasta and scrambled eggs!

Mentally I am doing ok, I had a bad day yesterday I was in a lot of pain, very tired and my mood just wasn’t as good as it has been over the past few weeks. Today it’s a lot better, having little plans of things to do during the days seems to help keep me in good form even if those plans are to do college assignments. Overall things are good, I’m ready to begin to get back into some sort of a routine and I am even more ready to begin eating a soft diet. I’m still super happy with the results from the surgery and I have to keep looking at my teeth to make sure there still in the right position!

Three weeks post surgery 

Blog Awards Ireland

On Thursday I had my first social event since my corrective double jaw surgery and I have to say this event both met and went beyond my expectations! What was this event you might ask well it was the 2015 Blog Awards Ireland hosted by Ashville Media Group. I have been apart of the blog awards since 2011 when it was formally know as the Irish Blog Awards and since then my blog has been a finalist each year with me attend 4 of the last 5 awards. Now over the past five years there has been changes to the organisers and each year the awards have grown and improved and this year was no exception. I was a bit hesitant when I found out that the awards were being hosted by a company worried that the personal touch might be lost and indeed part of the personal aspect was lost in my opinion with the winners not being given as much time as before to accept the awards but besides that everything else met my expectations. When I heard the food was "street style" was was confused about how that would work during the event but it work extremely well, with a little market type thing with food vendors outside the main building although there was no soup on offer- I should have brought my own! This whole liquid diet thing is harder to deal with than expected! Also when I heard the theme was burlesque I wasn't too impressed as burlesque/cabaret  had been done previously but I was blown away but now only the performers but the lengths Ashville Media Group went to to ensure if truly felt like it was the 1920's, it was fantastic! But what I liked most was the division within the categories with an award going to personal bloggers as well as company bloggers as well as the age for the Best Youth Blog being up to the age of 24 keeping with the fact that in Ireland a young person is described as anybody up to the age of 24.

The night ran pretty smoothly, the entertainment was fantastic, the crow was amazing and the hosts did a good job at keeping us laughing! There were some pretty great blogs in the finals, some I knew from previously years while others were new to be this year, now I have a lot more blogs to get reading! I actually wasn't due to attend until very last minute when I received news from one of the hosts informing me that I had been out on the guest list. So now having found out I was on the guest list it was time to find something to wear, now I'm usually someone who enjoys my comfort, tracksuit bottoms all the way but for this I went jeans and a shirt and within five minutes of arriving at the awards I learned I was very, very underdressed! I went along with my brother and sister-in-law as Amy was also a finalist in the Best Lifestyle category, check out her blog Make-up and Beauty by Amy, sure even just seeing Shane and Amy I knew I was underdressed! (Thank you Amy for the photos)

Shane and Amy dressed to impress!
Amy and myself, very underdressed I am!

Soon the awards began with performances, introductions and a very interesting presentation from the hosts, Darragh and Claire and before I knew it, it was time for the Best Youth Blog to be presented. Now I have to say I wasn't expecting to come home with an award but a phone call a couple of days earlier from someone at the blog awards HQ telling me to have a representative there if I was not attending did make me somewhat suspicious. Anyway the two runner ups were announced, me not being one of them I wasn't too disappointed, at the beginning of these awards I felt my chances were slim as my blog over the past year or so has be lacking in content and I haven't been updating as often as I should. So as you can imagine when the name of my blog was called out I was shocked but also delighted, knowing that my blog is good enough to be recognised nationally, that is a feeling I cannot describe and never in my wildest reams did I ever imagine my blog being worthy of awards when I began it five years ago as a little transition year project. I really can't thank people enough for reading my blog and helping me get to the final of this blog awards once again! It means a lot to me that people read my blog but my blog also means a lot to me, its a space where I can be me, be honest and be real!

Day 14- Two weeks post-op

It's hard to believe it has only been two weeks since my corrective double jaw surgery, it feels like it happened months ago! I was hoping that my two week update would be as positive as my first week update but I’m afraid its not.

For about the past week I have been dealing with a lot of pain on my right side particularly at the site of surgery on my lower jaw. Having met with my surgeon last Friday he prescribed another course of antibiotics, as he was concerned there could be a slight infection due to the pain I have been experiencing, much to my dismay the pain in my right side is only worsening. It’s nothing I am very concerned about; I mean it’s only two weeks since the surgery so it is more than likely as a result of you now my jaw being broken! But nevertheless it is something, which I am monitoring and keeping a close eye on, should it continue to worsen over the next couple of days I phone call to the surgeon, might be in store.

Swelling has improved a lot since the day of surgery but the improvement has since become very slow, well I am struggling to notice it going down. The numbness is something which I had hoped would have improved a bit by now but it hasn’t, I think I had great expectations because I was doing so well during my first week of recovery. My bottom lip, part of my chin, under my left eye around my cheek and the left side of my nose is still numb. Despite it still being very numb at night time I tend to notice somewhat of a pinching sensation around my chin and lower lip, like little moments of sharp pain so that seems to be a good sign that it is improving but it will take time. My patience is beginning to ware thin a bit and if the feeling is going to come back I would like it sooner rather than later, that’s something I need to work on, just letting it happen and stop being so impatient.  The bruising, which was just under my chin, has got considerably better and is almost completely gone!

Brusing at day 7

Brusing at day 14

My stitches are not causing the pain they once were, they are still there and have not yet dissolved but they are causing next to no pain, which is good. When brushing my teeth and if I catch off it the wrong was then there’s pain and has been some bleeding but nothing major and according to both the surgeon and the orthodontist things seem to be healing well, I am however extremely tender on my right side but other than that there is no major issues at the incision sites.

Brushing my teeth is becoming easier. My lovely 0-2 years pink toothbrush is doing a good job at helping to keep my teeth clean, compared to the first week it is much easier and less painful to brush my back teeth. Brushing the back of my teeth is near impossible as I cannot get my mouth open enough to fit the tooth brush in, it’s a struggle but with the tepee brushes I can get some cleaning done. The mouthwash is great, I prefer that to rinsing my mouth with warm salt water but it has to be done.

The liquid diet is becoming more and more frustrating each day especially since I keep getting offered food or asked questions about how I eat! I’m sticking with soup to be honest, the thoughts alone of blending meat make me feel sick. The food cravings are the hardest part of it all; I don’t mind missing out of sweet stuff but would kill for a roast chicken dinner. I’m back with my surgeon in two weeks and then all going well I will be able to start on a soft food diet, the likes of pasta, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes etc. I am very excited about that and the next two weeks would want to fly by!

Mentally I’m doing pretty good, I’ve had a few bad days, just letting them happen rather than fighting them seems to be working in my favour. A combination of a lack of sleep last night and pain has led to today being a pretty bad day with me just feeling miserable overall, a bit fed up and ready to be back doing things. Although one thing I have noticed within myself is the desire to actually get out and socialise, I’m not a very social person and nightclubs really wouldn’t be my thing but since my surgery I have actually wanted to meet up and go out with my friends, go for a meal, maybe to the pub for a few drinks (non-alcoholic for me!) but within myself I feel more confident and I actually want to start showing that confidence.

I’m taking it a bit easier this week, I have been up and about a lot over the last two weeks and part of me feels I have been doing too much so for this week I’m going to rest a bit more, save up some energy and then maybe all going well at my orthodontist appointment next week I’m hoping to maybe pop my head into a lecture or two next week, begin the slowly easing my way back into my activities. Right now this week I’m focusing on taking things easy, getting good nights sleep and waking up feeling refreshed rather than tired.

Yesterday was my first trip to the orthodontist since my surgery and also my first ever trip to the orthodontist without an underbite, it was super exciting. Throughout my time with the orthodontist I have had two different orthodontists, now I’m on my third and with that comes different dental nurses both of which were delighted to see me yesterday looking so well. It was great to see them, to know that they are able to notice a difference in my face, to see what they think of the transformation and just to get their support once again. Within the past month I have seen new surgeons, new orthodontist, new nurses and there has been a lot of change so for the friendly faces from the orthodontist office to keep checking in with me is some much needed comfort through this rough time and for that I am grateful.

Overall things are good, they could be better but time is needed and I’m sure soon enough I will be back to myself, but for now I am delighted with how things are going and the results from the surgery continue to impress and surprise me.

Day 14 Post-Op

I actually love looking at my teeth :)
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