I haven’t written a blog post in a long time. I have been quite ill the last 4 months with a mystery bug that seems to have triggered something else in me. But, I’m not writing about my physical health. I wanted to talk about mental health.
Before I start, I will explain for those who are new to my blog, how I work. I will type whatever comes to my mind now, after watching the very moving Corrie episode where Aiden takes his own life. I don’t know what it is I want to write but I know I do. I never edit anything I type (apart from typos) so you read it as it comes from my mind.
Most people who know me know that I have struggled with mental health problems in the past. Between 2006-2015 I was under the care of secondary mental health services. I saw a psychiatrist every 6 months, my GP every 1-2 weeks and had a CPN on and off throughout those years. And at least once every year I was admitted to psychiatric in-patients because I was a risk to myself.
I often, during these years, I felt suicidal. Life felt like one big black ball. But people on the outside struggled to understand why I felt so low. Why didn’t the love of my family and friends stop me from attempting suicide, or harming myself? Having just watched the response on Corrie from Aiden’s loved ones, it hit me hard to see them struggle to understand it all. How can anyone who has people who love and care about them, feel so alone? How can they not tell anyone at all about what they’re feeling? How can that decision be made and you still have time to plan ahead? Suicide is not always an impulsive decision.
The thing is, when you are in a fragile state of mind, and you “decide” that you are going to end your life, something happens inside. Or at least, it did with me, on those occasions where suicide really was my only option. One example in particular: I was having a bad time, heading towards hospital stage of things and petrified of all my options. In my mind at that moment, my options were 1. Go into hospital (where I often felt worse), 2. Talk to someone to try and prevent hospital, or 3. Put an immediate stop to all that pain and break that cycle (hospital, then you’re well for a bit then need hospital again). The least scary of those 3 options was suicide. Because suicide meant I didn’t have to go on much longer with those feelings I had. Feelings that felt so bad, so traumatic and so damaging that I just wanted them all to stop. Having already tried option 1 and 2 many many times before, I just wanted to give in. And when I decided that suicide was my chosen option I suddenly felt good. Try imagine you’re running a marathon up a mountain and you cannot stop running no matter how much you want to. You feel close to collapse, your legs are numb your lungs are screaming for air. Imagine then, being given permission to stop; somebody to say “you can stop now”. That was the kind of relief, like you could just allow your body to collapse to the floor and feel the suffering drain away. That was what suicide represented for me.
As for loved ones – they wouldn’t be missing out anyway, would they? Because they’d no longer have to worry about me and when my next bad time was coming. They wouldn’t have to ring or text me to check I was ok. And sure, I understand it would be devastating for them, but better for them in the long run. How wrong I was. Corrie helped me see that more than ever, the sheer devastation that suicide creates for those left behind.
Lots of my friends are now updating their statuses to reach out, offer their support and encourage their own friends/families to talk to them. Which is amazing and will help so many people.
We all like to think we could help someone in that position. That we would listen, offer advice/support/information. And most of us would. But what I saw an awful lot of, when I was in mental health services, and experienced myself, and people sometimes struggle to cope with the persistence of depression or mental health problems.
For example, I’ve already said suicidal ideation could last for months in me sometimes. And some people get fed up with me saying the same things, they got fed up of saying the same things to me and they become very understandably frustrated. Depression doesn’t always disappear once you’ve talked over things. A chat may alleviate those feelings, but the underlying cause is still there.
I rarely talk about my own feelings towards those I worked with in mental health. Being on the other side of it, and supporting someone with suicidal ideation, I can understand how disheartening it can be to talk somebody down from harming themselves time and time again. There were times where I felt like I was useless to those who reached out to me. I was drained at times, with repeating myself to the same people. I’d spend hours talking to people who were struggling and my it wore me down. But I would not do anything differently. Because many of these people have gone very far on their road to recovery. And it’s only now I realise how different things could have been for them if I, and others had given up trying to help them, because of the persistent late night texts and phonecalls and sometimes trips to A&E. These people are often called “Attention seekers”. Call it what you like, but whatever you do, just never let your own feelings of helplessness make you stop caring. Whoever it is, whatever their problem, you can help even if you think you can’t/aren’t.
So all in all, if you feel like you might harm yourself (or others), talk to somebody you can trust. Or talk to a stranger or health professional. Talk to anyone. And never stop talking!!! Never give up hope that your life can feel/be better, and never give up hope that someone elses life could feel/be better.
Much love to anyone who is struggling with any mental health problem at the moment, and to those who have previously struggled as well as those who might struggle in future. In other words, much love to everyone ❤