A few weeks ago, I wrote a post talking about the night that I wanted to end my life and it received a much larger response than I ever imagined it would. I had hundreds of views on that particular post and a ton of messages of encouragement and support. After going through something so serious and intense and then opening up about it, I realised just how much peoples perceptions of suicide and being suicidal vary. Some people see it as being selfish, many people don’t understand it at all and very few understand a persons state of mind whilst going through it. I’m in no way saying that I have all of the answers, or think that the way I felt is the same way as every other person feels, because I’m sure the situation is completely different for every single person. But after going through it and coming out the other side, I feel like I’ve gained an understanding much deeper than a lot of people have. I want to share my own personal experience of going through this in more detail in the hope that I can help others to gain a bit more of an insight into the suicidal state of mind.
Getting to the point that I did that night wasn’t something that happened within the space of a few hours, or even a few days. There’d been numerous times over the previous few months when I’d had thoughts of not wanting to be here anymore. I couldn’t shake the thought that everything that was happening was just too much for me to be able to cope with. I felt like it was only a matter of time before something else would happen that would tip me over the edge. A handful of times I’d shared the fact that I’d felt this way with my ex-boyfriend at the time. But because at the time I felt that it was something I could manage, I didn’t really make a fuss of it. He’d encouraged me to talk to my counsellor about it, but I felt ashamed to admit that I felt that way. I didn’t know how to start the conversation of feeling suicidal, and I felt that I’d be judged for having those thoughts. So in the end it was something that I brushed under the carpet and hoped that it would just go away on its own.
Suicide was something that I knew happened, but I never truly understood it. I knew that people must have to get to a bad place in order to do it, or think that they wanted to do it, but I never understood why they wouldn’t get help to stop those feelings. It’s a very true fact that there is a lot of help out there for people who need it, and it’s very readily available. You can speak to your doctor who can refer you to the right people. You can find a counsellor, arrange an appointment and talk to an outsider. A lot of workplaces now offer free counselling as a benefit. There are so many online websites that can direct you to the right place. The help is there, and I never really understood why people wouldn’t choose to take it. I was very much someone who was naive to the harsh reality of suicide and suicidal feelings. It wasn’t until I went through it myself that I realised that you can have all the help in the world, but if you’re not able to quash the thought in your own mind, no amount of help will get you through it. The willingness to change your mind and fight against the urge to end your life has to come from yourself. And for some people, things just get too much and it’s not something that they’re able to do.
I’d essentially ignored the way I was feeling and chose to push it to the back of my mind rather than deal with it at the time. Looking back now, I think that’s one of the reasons why I ended up in the position I did. I was allowing the thought to play over in my mind without taking any steps to stop myself from feeling that way. Maybe if I’d have spoken about it sooner, I’d have been able to talk through what my options were and allow myself to see a different outcome. However, talking about suicide is incredibly difficult. It’s not the sort of thing you bring up with your family around the dinner table, or with your friends over a few drinks. It’s not something I really wanted to share with the people closest to me, because I knew that it’s not something that they would want to be hearing. At the same time, it’s not something I necessarily wanted to speak to an outsider, such as my counsellor or doctor about, because I was worried what their opinion of me would be. Looking back at the situation very bluntly, did it really matter what they thought of me? I wanted to end my life, or at least I thought I wanted to end my life. If that’s what I was planning, did it really matter if my doctor thought badly of me for feeling that way? The absolute truth of the matter is, my doctor never would’ve judged me and my counsellor will probably have had hundreds of people sat in front of her saying the exact same thing, but I didn’t see that at the time. I did however have a real fear that if I opened up to a professional about my suicidal feelings, that I’d be sectioned under the mental health act. Now, I had and still have very limited knowledge about how this process actually works. But at the time, I’d managed to work myself up and convince myself that if I told anyone how I felt, I’d end up being sectioned. And if it was a choice between being sectioned or ending my life, I was ready to choose the latter.
For a while, I’d ignored that particular feeling. The suicidal feeling. I was aware it was there, but I spent most of the time pretending it wasn’t and only allowing myself to consciously think about it when I really had to. I felt like I had it under control, and while ever I had it under control I didn’t have to worry about it. Life continued around me as normal, or as normal as it could be for me back then. My friends and family carried on with their lives, completely unbeknown to the way I was feeling. I carried on with my life, completely unbeknown to the situation I would end up in only weeks later. I had so much going on during this time. It got to the point where I felt as though every single week was throwing a new setback at me. I felt like a lost soul. I was at such a low point in my life and I was beginning to enjoy the good parts less and less. Even little things like being in my bedroom that had previously been the place I felt most comfortable, suddenly began to feel like being in a cage.
Eventually, things started to seem like they were improving. I was beginning to see small changes in my mindset. Although I hadn’t spoken to my counsellor about feeling suicidal directly, there were still a lot of techniques she gave me that allowed me to feel as though I had both controlled and then quashed the suicidal feelings that I had. Things seemed generally good. Not perfect, not even great. But good, and good was all I needed. That’s when my relationship ended, and it knocked me for six. I’d been worried about something happening which would be the thing to tip me over the edge, and this was it. I was back at square one. All the feelings and emotions that I’d fought so hard to change came back like they’d never left. Everything I’d learnt through counselling or through self-help books erased itself from my memory. It well and truly felt like I was starting over again, and I really didn’t feel like I could handle that. It took every inch of my strength and determination to get myself to the place I was in, how was I supposed to find that strength again to do it all over. I didn’t have any fight left in me. I didn’t know how I was supposed to do it.
That’s about the time when “that night” came around. Throughout the day leading up to this night, I’d been out with different groups of friends and also spent time with my parents. Not one person who saw me that day would’ve ever been able to predict that my night would end as it did. And the reason none of them could have predicted it was because I didn’t imagine that it would either. I’d had suicidal thoughts previously, but I thought that I’d been able to suppress them. I had a genuinely good day, I felt happy. It may have even been the first day in a while where I’d properly laughed. When I look back to this day now I have very mixed emotions. Part of me looks back and sees a day that I enjoyed with friends, but the other part of me feels sad for the person I was on that day, covering up how I truly felt and trying my hardest to show everyone that I was ok. I really wasn’t. I was hurting so badly, but I wasn’t admitting it to myself let alone to other people. I did have a good day, but I was hiding a lot and that meant that everything I was feeling was left to bubble up inside me. Consequently, that’s one of the reasons why everything got way too much for me that night.
When I’d got home, there were a couple of messages exchanged with my ex (explained in my last blog post). Throughout these messages being sent, I had a lot going on in my head. If I could share a video of what I went through that night then I would, because articulating it is extremely difficult, but I think it’s important. I started getting emotional, more than a few tears but not quite breakdown level. I was upset over literally every single thing that had happened the previous few months. There’s not one single thing, one action or one conversation that wasn’t going round my head at the time. I was crying because I was upset but I was also frustrated. I never asked for any of this, yet here I was sat on my bedroom floor crying and having to deal with the aftermath of other peoples choices. I then started to get more emotional, to the point that I was sobbing. Real red eyes, can’t breath and a headache kind of sobbing. I was still playing everything over in my head. All the guilt I felt for what the people closest to me were going through, all my insecurities and the feelings I had towards myself. I started to believe that my family would be better off if I wasn’t around, because it would take away their pain. I knew that they’d grieve for me at the time, but because I didn’t see the way I felt ever ending, I knew they’d feel that pain with me forever. So in the long term, I genuinely felt like I’d be helping them and relieving them of the pain. Then I started to get inconsolable, and that’s when the more serious suicidal feelings started back up again. Although I’ve condensed this in order to write it, this was going on over the course of a few hours. That meant that for those few hours, I was on my own playing every single thing over in my head. Thoughts really can kill a person. I was beginning to get desperate. I just wanted everything to stop but I didn’t know how. I felt like I’d feel how I felt in that moment forever, I didn’t see a way out. I sat with my head in my hands, willing my brain to shut itself off so that I didn’t have to think about it all anymore. I needed an answer, I needed a solution, but in the early hours of the morning when I was sat on my own feeling the way I felt, I only had one answer. The thoughts didn’t come out of the blue for me, as I mentioned above, I’d already felt that way over the previous few months. But I’d never felt this way so intensely, so desperately. I honestly felt that in order to make it all go away, I only had one choice.
In the end, I got saved that night. I got saved because I sent one goodbye text and fortunately, the person I sent it to was awake and alerted my mum immediately to what was going on. I don’t like to think too much about how different that night could’ve been, but in reality I could’ve very well taken my own life and not be writing this right now. This might sound strange to read, but I feel so incredibly sorry for the girl I was on that night who had to go through all of that. And I say that in the third person because I’m not that girl anymore, I’m just the one who went through it. I was nothing but angry at the time when I’d been stopped from doing what I wanted to do. It felt like nobody had my best interests at heart. Of course, they absolutely did but I didn’t see that until I was no longer in a suicidal frame of mind. Now I’m nothing but grateful for the fact that I’m still alive and feeling so much better.
Talking about suicide is so tricky. Whether it’s the suicidal person initiating that conversation or whether it’s a concerned relative or friend. It goes without saying that you’re always going to try and convince someone not to go through with it, especially when it’s someone that you care about. You’re always going to tell them that everything will be ok, that things will be different, but a suicidal person is never going to see that. That’s a large part of the reason why I didn’t open up to anyone about how I felt, because I knew what people would say and I knew that people wouldn’t understand. However, maybe if I had have opened up a little before things got to that point then I could’ve spared myself the pain that I felt going through it. Suicide is rarely the result of just one single act, it’s a process. A long and painful process that eventually lead to me seeing no other way out. But if there’s one thing I learnt, it’s that the importance of talking should never be underestimated. I wish that I would’ve spoken to my counsellor way back when it started. Luckily I felt ok enough to talk to her about it after it had happened. But that night there was a large chance that there wouldn’t have been an “after”. That I wouldn’t have had the chance to talk to her again, or anyone for that matter. When I began to tell people what I’d been through that night, almost every single one said “you should’ve rang me”. And yes, maybe I should have. But when you’re in that frame of mind, not feeling like you can talk about it, ringing someone at 2AM out of the blue to tell them you’re going to end your life is the last thing you’re able to do. As I said above, it’s not an easy conversation to have with someone, especially when you’re at the worst point of it. That’s why it’s incredibly important to talk about those feelings before you get to that point. Life’s precious, and I’m so happy to still be living mine.
It really is ok not to be ok, and it’s ok to talk when you need to. I pray that nobody ends up in the same situation that I did, but unfortunately suicide is more common than I’d like to think. All I can hope is that more people begin to open up before it gets too late and find the solution they need to continue living. It’s time to talk.
Below are some suicide statistics that shocked me to read. All of the below have been taken from the Samaritans website https://www.samaritans.org/about-samaritans/research-policy/suicide-facts-and-figures/. We need to start realising that suicide is a widespread issue, and doesn’t only affect one particular group of people. It’s time to raise awareness in the hope that fewer people have to die by suicide.
⁃ In the UK in 2018 there were a reported number of 6859 suicides.
⁃ Deaths by Suicide rose by 11.8% in the UK in 2018.
⁃ In the UK, men are 3 times more likely to die by suicide than women.
⁃ In 2018, the rate of deaths by under 25’s rose by 23.7%, taking the total in that year to 730 deaths.
⁃ The suicide rate for young females is now at it’s highest rate on record.
⁃ The highest suicide rate in England is among men aged 45-49.
Suicide is not inevitable, it is preventable.