October 10th is World Mental Health day which is a day dedicated to raising awareness of mental health issues in an effort to reduce stigma. The theme for this year is suicide and suicide prevention. According to research by the Samaritans in 2018, deaths by suicide rose by 11.8% in the UK with a 23.7% rise in people under 25 years old.
Today I wanted to share some of my own story with mental illness and suicide. I have been struggling with my mental health issues ever since I was a child, but it only became significant enough for me to reach out for help when I was a teenager. I remember feeling so horribly depressed. I felt like I was being crushed under an invisible weight that made my whole body feel heavy and it hurt to breathe. I had no motivation, no energy and no desire. I was going through the motions and pretending to be what everyone expected of me. Pretending to be a normal 14-year-old who had friends and enjoyed school, but I knew, inside, that something was very wrong. When I got home, I was be exhausted and consumed with dark thoughts about myself. I thought I was poison, that I was a horrible, worthless, selfish excuse of a person that no one really liked. I convinced myself that my friends were simply tolerating me, and my teachers thought I was stupid but were too polite to say it to my face. I would hide in my room and cut myself. I deeply believed that I deserved to be punished and harming myself was the only way I could be a better person.
At night I would pray to a God that I didn’t really believe in that I would die in my sleep. I begged for him to just let me die. I was in so much pain emotionally, it felt unbearable. I was too scared to talk to anyone; I was terrified they would think I was crazy or stupid and I would get in trouble. I was alone in my pain and it was utter torture that seemed unending. I needed a way out.
One afternoon at school, I was sat at a computer during a maths lesson and I couldn’t focus. I felt like I was suffocating. The weight was too heavy, and I was being crushed but no one around me could see it. I remember looking out of the classroom window on a brilliantly sunny day and I was struck by how beautiful it all looked. The fresh grass and pink blossom in the trees with gorgeous sunshine streaming down on it. The world was such a beautiful place and here I was, with all my darkness and my poison, contaminating it all. I was making the world ugly just by living in it. It was then I decided, I needed to be eradicated.
After school, I went to my parent’s house because I knew they wouldn’t be home for hours and I would be alone. I lived with my great grandmother at the time and I knew where my parents kept some of her medication. I pulled out as many pill packets as I could find and lined them up on the kitchen counter. I poured myself a glass of water and that’s when the reality of what I was about to do hit. What was my grandmother going to do if I died? Who would take care of her? How would my parents feel when they come home to my dead body? Frustration and helplessness hit when I realised, I couldn’t take my life. Not then. I sat on the kitchen floor and sobbed. I screamed at the thought of having to keep living. I was consumed with crippling despair.
Since then I have attempted suicide several times and I have lost friends to suicide. It’s devastating when someone is in so much pain that dying feels like their only option.
If you are thinking about suicide, I am so sorry that you are suffering. You are not alone. There is hope and I know it doesn’t feel like it right now, everything feels bleak and painful, but it won’t last forever. Things can change. There is help out there. Please reach out to someone. Don’t suffer in silence.
Here are some helpful organisations
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – for men
Call 0800 58 58 58 – 5pm to midnight every day
If you are in immediate danger please call an ambulance or take yourself to A&E. You deserve help and support.