When I came round I realised I didn’t actually remember getting there. I was devastated.
I was in a hospital. I wanted to be in a coffin.
I remember being walked to the mental health unit. Where I was put in a room. It had sofas. And comfy chairs.
I chose the floor.
I curled up on it, under a huge open window, and the rain started to fall. The lightening started to strike and the thunder started to roll. And I just sobbed. I rarely cried then (I know, if you know me now you’ll find that hard to believe!). But I did that day. I didn’t care. About anything. I was alive and I didn’t want to be.
Somehow they let me home. With strict weekend Crises Team contact and my CPN visiting daily.
Fast forward three months later. It had been a long few months. It was the night before my birthday. I was still devastated to be alive and I did not want to spend another year on this earth. Living in and with the darkness that had overwhelmed my mind. With the pain and torment that was overtaking every single bit of me and my life. I
I wanted out. I was tired. My mind was tired. And my body was getting tired. Of the nicotine, alcohol, cutting. So I made plans. Plans that would ensure it would work this time. So I didn’t end up feeling like even more of a failure than I already did by not being able to successfully kill myself AGAIN.
As I walked to the bridge that someone I had known when I was a teenager had hung themselves from I prayed. I know. I didn’t really believe any more. Or so I used to say. But I did really. I just was angry with God for ‘letting’ what happened happen. But more than anything felt like I had let Him down. That my whole life had been a let down. To God and everyone else. So I prayed. And said sorry. Sorry that I couldn’t make anyone proud. Sorry for being a failure. And I asked that God that He would just look after my Mum. It was all I wanted. My mum to be looked after.
As I stood at that bridge I wondered what would happen if it didn’t work. It was the first time a seed of doubt had entered my mind. The first time a ‘what if …’. It didn’t work last time, so what if …. And then a more general ‘what if …’ came by. At the same time as some headlights of a car passing by (I was hidden by a tree).
What if …
What if some how there could be a light found once again. Even if it was fleeting? What if …?
I don’t know how I knew the Samaritans existed. Maybe it was just something I knew. Maybe I had seen them advertised. Maybe someone had told me about them. I don’t know. But something in my soul stirred.
I hung up the first time. And the second. But on the third go, after being silent for what felt like the longest 5 minutes of my life (maybe it wasn’t that long, I don’t know), I finally spoke. And the person on the end of the line was still there. Just waiting. His name was Steve.
Steve stayed on the phone with me for over an hour. And then another hour. And then while I walked home. And laid on top my bed smoking cigarette after cigarette. He stayed on the phone while I was silent. And while I cried. And while I talked out everything that was in my head. It wasn’t pretty. Steve stayed on the phone most of that night with me. Until the sun started to rise. Light started to flood into my flat, through the crack in the black out curtains. Until imminent danger had passed. I am still, to this day thankful for Steve, the Samaritan. Whoever he is.
It was the last time I would actively try/seriously consider/make moves to kill myself. And it was the night the smallest glimmer of light entered into my life.
That was 8 years ago.
And I don’t know where to begin trying to tell you how different life is now.
Some of you reading this will know me, and will be able to agree with me on that.
Some of you don’t know me but all I can say is I am alive, and thats a good thing.
Living looks very different now to back then.
I won’t pretend its been easy. It hasn’t. It took another 18 months to truly come to a place of accepting I was alive. It took a few more years to be in a place where self harm, smoking, and getting very drunk were not features of daily life. It took even more years to start processing the terrors of life that had took me to the brink.
Its taken 8 years to get to this place now, and I’m still journeying. But it is a journey worth journeying.
Why am I telling you this? Why am I writing this?
Because its World Suicide Prevention Day today, and social media has been buzzing with tweets and statuses. I don’t even know how many. Millions. And I love that we have this day and it does some amazing awareness work, for sure but …
I know, there is a but. Which might not please everyone.
BUT as I read through the tweets on the hashtag this morning, and as I reflected on my contact with Steve and the Samaritans I thought about how many people are ‘marking’ this day with a tweet, and will then never think about it ever again? Or not again until next year comes around?
How many people tweet/facebook status a simple ‘you are not alone’ and a ‘RUOK’ today, but not the rest of the year? We are encouraging people to ask their friends if they are ok, today. Which is great …
But we need to be doing that every day. We need to be asking our friends every day if they are ok. We need to be watching out every day for people we know who are vulnerable and for the people we are in contact with.
We need to be signposting them to organisations that can help. Professionals. Trained people. As well as being listening ears and friends.
AND WE NEED TO KEEP TALKING ABOUT SUICIDE.
We need to keep talking about the issue, not just once a year. Not just on the 10th September. Not just every now and then, when a famous person, or a high profile media story breaks.
We need to be working towards erasing the stigma that mental health issues and suicide bring EVERY DAY. It needs to become part of who we are and not just a topic that we jump onto when its popular.
Because whether you like it or not, this isn’t a popular topic. People don’t normally want to talk about it. People don’t understand it. People misunderstand. People believe the myths. People don’t know where to begin.
Both in society, and within the church/faith groups.
And that leaves people like me with no where to go, and feeling like there is no one to talk to.
That needs to change. Must change.
If everyone tweeting today on the World Suicide Prevention hashtag supported this cause every single day of the year how much of a difference could we make in the world?
If everyone tweeting today using that hashtag (if able to) donated just a couple of quid to an organisation such as the Samaritans, how much of a difference could that make?
I urge, and beg actually that if this is something you have engaged with today, but you don’t normally, please don’t stop. Please continue. Please use your voice. Be active. Do something. It might not be donating money to a cause, sure, I understand that, but maybe it is? Maybe it is volunteering for a local helpline? Maybe it is getting some more education on the issues. Maybe its advocating for those who can’t speak for themselves.
Maybe its … there is SO much you can do … as well as tweeting once a year.
I used to believe there was no hope. I’ve discovered there is. And it was and is because people were and still are willing to reach out, and hold my hand (kinda) and walk alongside me.
And thats what people have done for me, and continue to do. They’ve not given up.
And its what we need to do with people in a hopeless place. Walk with them. Its a hard road. But worth it.
I remember someone saying to me a few years ago when my head was starting to overload again (my Pastor actually) that they (he & the church) couldn’t just pick me up and take me through the crap, and put me down the other side, because it wouldnt work that way. But what they could do was hold my hands, position themselves either side of me and walk beside me, alongside side me. WITH ME.
Please please please be willing to do that. 24/7. 365 days. Not just on the 10th September.
World Suicide Prevention Day needs to be today, tomorrow, and forever.
Thank you x
If you are alone – hurting – broken -in pain – can’t see the light – want out – YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Contact the Samaritans
08457 90 90 90 (UK)
116 123 (ROI)
or reach our to your local suicide prevention helpline or a friend if you are somewhere else in the world xx