So, instead of writing about the folly of my relationships this week, I thought I’d take some time to talk about World Suicide Prevention Day. I’m going to be honest here; up until last night I had no idea what this was. I had no idea how it was organised, nor for what real purpose it had been set up for. Were we all supposed to catch “jumpers”? Volunteer at your nearest Samaritans? Being the Google savvy individual I am I took initiative and decided to look this up. It became clearer to me this was a gateway to talk about depression. So what I want to do is tell you my story in a way I don’t think I’ve specifically written about before.
Depression, for me, has come and eased at various points in my life. I don’t say it’s gone because I know it’s still there. The little voice in my head that says I’m worthless, that I should go kill myself, is always in the back of my head. Sometimes, the good times, it’s really quiet. It’s like it’s been locked in a bank vault and thrown in a river. You know it’s still there, and you can still kind of hear it, but for me it is always present. When I’m at my lowest it’s like having someone screaming in my ear. Everyday, every waking moment, it’s doing its best to belittle me. Sometimes that voice manages to catch me in my life when I’m not only feeling low, but also experiencing complex interpersonal problems.
My first suicide attempt came about 2 months after my first long term girlfriend left me for another man. She was my first love, and it hit me hard, but I was coping. I’d also recently lost my Grandfather and my pet cat (it sounds silly, but it all makes sense in context).I’d started a new job not long after the break up, and for a time that helped me. I felt like I was in a real profession, working with kids with learning difficulties, and supporting them in their homes, or independently. Unfortunately my line manager was a bit of a bully. I was the new guy and so if he said jump I was supposed to ask how high. I got told to cover shifts. Not asked if I could, told to do it. I worked ridiculous hours, that were then becoming stressful because shifts would be changed at the last minute. I had jumped through hoops for weeks and was beginning to reach the end of my tether when an incident with a client had occurred. I was not at fault, but it seemed the blame was being pointed towards me because shit rolls downhill. I remember one day I was working with a guy who was living independently who wasn’t really very sociable with the staff. I spent about 24 hours alone, in the middle of no-where thinking about this job and the break up, and how it felt like my life was falling apart. Because it was my first full month working I also had very little money and couldn’t even afford a few drinks at the pub with a few friends to blow off some steam. Roughly within the same 48 hours of this happening I learned friends of mine who I was quite close with at the time had lost their baby. She was born several months prematurely and lived for about 24 hours. It was here I lost complete hope. Jobs are hard work to keep, but I probably would have ploughed on if it was only that. Break ups happen, and I probably would’ve been ok, if it was only that. A baby dying? Where’s the justice in that? How did my friends deserve that? All these things stacked together lead to me to overdose.
That was probably the most selfish act I’ve ever committed to. My friends needed me. My family needed me. But ultimately I didn’t care. I was done. I wanted out. I didn’t even write a suicide note. At first I thought it wasn’t working, but not long after it felt like I was falling asleep. There’s a good chance I probably would have died if it wasn’t for my mum walking in on me half an hour after I took the dose. I don’t remember being admitted to hospital, I only remember waking up about 36 hours later, strapped to an IV, semi dressed in the clothes I had been wearing that night, and feeling sicker than I’ve ever felt in my life. I was seen by a Community Psychiatric Nurse, who said I was fine to be discharged with no real referral to anything worthwhile. It took several months before a referral to a counselling group came through, by which point I felt I didn’t really need it, but I digress.
The most painful thing about surviving a suicide attempt is to see the looks on your friends and your family’s faces. I felt as if I had shamed them and shamed myself. Like a lot of suicide attempts it was shushed by the family. Yes, extended family had been told, but we never really spoke of it. That’s the stigma of suicide. That’s the stigma of depression. It’s all some dirty little secret that should be locked away. My dad has tried to speak to me about it over the years, but even though he is quite progressive in a lot of areas it still seems he’s locked in that mentality that depression is something that you should just overcome and “Get on with it!”
When I tried for a second time last year he wrote me a letter. I threw it away recently because I didn’t feel that the message was correct at all. It was an attempt by him to support me, but also a way to shame me into making myself feel better. I remember something about what I’m, “putting your mother through.” At the time it distressed me. I actually contemplated suicide for a third time. Fortunately my stash of medication had been removed, and I had deemed hanging as too difficult (I’d snap the rope, or my feet would touch the floor because of my height) and slashing my wrists as being another highly probable failure. In the end I had to resolve to move past it.
So last year, after having another major episode after having lost another job and struggling to pay bills and to make ends meet. After having survived a second suicide attempt I knew I needed hope in my life again. I needed to set myself goals. The image below is a list I created at the start of the year. I didn’t create it as New Years Resolutions, but as goals that I wanted to achieve over the year.
Out of 10 goals I set myself at the beginning of the year, I’ve achieved 8. None of these are small goals. All of these are life changing. I’m now living a life that is almost completely different to the one I was living last year! My life has improved, there are quantifiable results!
So what’s the story here? For me, it’s that life goes on. No matter how bad you feel about yourself, no matter how suicidal you feel, the truth is things can only get better. I’m going to use the metaphor of the wheel. I love the metaphor of the wheel. We are strapped to this wheel of life, it grinds you down into the dirt, but atleast you know you’re going be lifted into the sun in the future. No matter how bad life is right now you can change it, life can get better, so get the help you need when you so desperately need it.
Some useful links:
Phone (ROI): 1850 60 90 90
Phone (UK) 08457 90 90 90
Phone (U.S.A): 1-800-273-TALK