Emotional pain is not something that should be hidden away and never spoken about. There is truth in your pain, there is growth in your pain, but only if it’s first brought out into the open- Steve Aitchison
Suicide. A taboo subject. One with much stigma. One which many find extremely hard to discuss. And tragically, one which many ONLY discuss when it’s too late. Having lived with regular suicidal thoughts for a few years now, I wanted to dedicate today’s post to share my experiences and hopefully encourage more people to speak out themselves!
With 2 hospital admissions and countless periods of crisis in just the last 12 months, I’d be lying if I said that life hasn’t been challenging. Extremely challenging.
Mental health problems have been a big part of my life since about the age of 11, however, these dark, intense and hugely suffocating suicidal thoughts are rather more new. While severe anxiety plagued my high school experience from beginning to end, it was not until I left college- in December 2016- that I hit rock bottom.
The severe and crippling anxiety I had endured during high school came bubbling to the surface and the issues that had long been unnoticed had finally been picked up on. Panic attacks I was experiencing on a daily basis made it almost impossible to attend college and having made the decision to leave, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. A sense of relief but also incredible fear and indecisiveness around how I could make myself better. How I could be the person I wanted to be. How I could achieve my potential. Simply how I could turn my life around!
Following that diagnosis in late 2016, my life just fell further downhill and ground to a halt. My identity had been lost, I no longer had any routine, focus or purpose and I was spending almost all my time in my bedroom at home drowning in my thoughts. Duvet over my head. Burying my head in the sand. Struggling to eat and sleep. Resigning myself to a life of no enjoyment and overwhelming unhappiness and depression. I realised how much I was suffering, however, I simply couldn’t motivate myself to do anything about it. Everything was just too much. I felt powerless. Suicidal thoughts lingered like a bad smell!
The variety of short-courses and work experience opportunities I subsequently tried after my exit from sixth form- in attempt to bring some form of clarity and routine back into my life- were to no avail and I was falling apart. Feelings of anxiety and depression were intensified, my relationships with others were damaged and I had no idea how I could get out of it.
Several months later, by chance, I stumbled across online some mental health campaigners and I was immediately intrigued by doing something similar. This was the moment I was waiting for. Something that could motivate me to get out of bed in the morning. To make a difference to other people. And to also help myself!
Being so active in my campaign work, through Time to Change and Lancashire Mind, I was driven and passionate to make a greater change that it gradually became detrimental to my own wellbeing. I overworked to the point of exhaustion, the stuff I did felt insignificant and unsuccessful and I neglected my own self-care and mental wellbeing far too much. Come July 2018 I’d spent my first time in A&E after reaching crisis point and only 5 months later, in December, I’d returned when a friend called an ambulance for me. A 15-hour wait to see somebody followed. 15 hours! No exaggeration. Upon my departure, I was referred to a psychiatrist. An approximate 7 month was in the pipeline. Things needed to change. And I had to take more responsibility.
Since my most recent hospital admission in December, I’ve noticed a vast improvement in my own mental health and the way I’ve dealt with various situations put my way. By prioritising self-care, managing my volunteering workload and taking things one step at a time, my wellbeing has started to improve more than I could have ever imagined. Suicidal thoughts I previously experienced on a daily basis have dramatically dwindled, my life has a much better balance and most importantly, I’m finally feeling more enjoyment and happiness. I’ve got a long way to go but it’s a relief to be on the right track!
According to a study by Time to Change, around 17% of people will experience suicidal thoughts in their lifetime. If you are reading this and encountering something similar, I would encourage you to seek professional support. Visit your GP. Contact helplines or visit links provided on this website. Take as much time as you need. Remember your health is the most important thing. No matter how hard it seems- you can get through this!
Thanks for reading,