It’s one of those words that when said aloud drops like a ton of bricks and sends some kind of uncomfortable pain down your throat, like swallowing a cherry whole. Though it carries a dramatic weight, it cannot be bellowed out through a megaphone or shouted from the rooftops. It’s usually said in hushed tones, shamefully whispered, as if speaking about it will cast a curse upon that person.
It’s also a word that I’ve become all too familiar with this last year because, not so long ago, I almost took my own life.
It’s not one of those things that I’d been planning for a long time. It was one of those times, however, where everything bad happened at the same time and I couldn’t see a way out. I had been suffering with severe depression for over a year, was stressed in my job at the time, and then my long-term relationship came to a sudden and painful end, and all I could think was: what’s the point?
What is the point?
The thought became an obsession. There didn’t seem to be any point in walking, in eating, in talking. Watching the news hurt and upset me. Everyone seemed to be lying or killing (or lying and killing) and I couldn’t understand why. There was no point. No point to any of it.
The worst thing about having a strong imagination is that you can see how things could be so much better than what they are. Not understanding why the world couldn’t be better kept me up at night. Not understanding why I couldn’t be better when I had everything that society applauded - a job, a roof over my head, food, a loving family and a whole load of friends - jarred with my emotions and feelings.
I was going to hang. I was going to hang and my parents were going to find me. And I was going to create ripples because the negativity would start with my family, then spread to my friends, then my colleagues at work, then acquaintances, people who I met once and who added me on Facebook, old school teachers, someone I never spoke to but sat in class with for over a year. I was going to break people. I was going to press that painful word to their lips: suicide.
As I stood there, noose around my neck, my body urging me to just get it over and done with, I started praying. I prayed and hoped that somebody I loved would come bursting through the door to tell me they adored my very being and I was worth everything, and it was going to be okay. No matter what, it was going to be okay. But they didn’t.
I stopped myself in the end. For the first time in a long time, I thought about the tomorrow.
"My parents are the ones who advised me to talk to the GP. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have received the fantastic support from the mental health team I was referred to."
Thanks to the support from my friends and family – and the heart-warming company of dogs - I have been able to say the words aloud with confidence and acceptance: I almost killed myself. I almost tried to commit suicide.
But I didn’t. I’m not even one of those people who could say that I tried. I’m an ‘almost’ kinda gal. I’m one of the lucky ones. There are people out there who can’t even say the word aloud. There are people out there who can’t see anything else but the word. There are people out there who associate suicide with selfishness. There are those who say, ‘how could they? I could never dream of…’ I know this. I know this because I was one of those people once. When someone jumped in front of a train, I saw it as an inconvenience. Now, I see it as a tragedy. That person never received the help they needed or, more importantly, deserved.
I'm not sure if I'd still be here today if it wasn't for my parents. Both took time off work to stay with me, look after me, made sure I was fed and got out of bed in the morning. They're the ones who advised me to talk to the GP. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have received the fantastic support from the mental health team I was referred to. They assigned me a nurse, a psychiatrist and put me in contact with the weekend CPN team when needed. I have also been incredibly lucky with my work who have been completely understanding and supportive throughout this process. Most importantly, I can be open and honest with those who I'm close to who do not flinch around the word suicide, but who, instead, embrace and accept it.
Depression is like having a wall of negativity around your mind, a barrier too overwhelming to break. Stigma, on the other hand, is a wall that can be broken. So break it.
If you would like to write a blog post about your experiences of stigma or related issues, email firstname.lastname@example.org