#WMHD2019: Sue's Story
"Something clicked. I realised what I was doing, and it frightened me. I had promised the family that I would ask for help if I found myself in that situation again."
10th September 2019, 8.30am | Written by: Sue
**trigger warning: references to suicide**
I think I’ve had anxiety all my life, and if it isn’t handled well it can lead to bouts of depression and self-harm. The depression wasn’t diagnosed until a failed suicide attempt in my 30s, and it took another 10 years to discover that they underlying cause was my anxiety. Since then I’ve been able to explore healthy coping strategies that have improved my quality of life no end.
But life has a way of tripping you up, and the last 12 months have been really difficult, with an awful lot of stressful situations, most of them completely outside my control. I did my best to cope, and mostly I did, but there was a prolonged situation at work that really played on my mind. My logical self knew that nothing bad was likely to come of it, but the possible consequences of it going the other way were so toxic to many areas of my life, both in and out of the workplace, that as time went on my coping strategies began to fail. 6 months is a long time to keep your head together.
I found myself slipping back into the black pit that I had feared for over 20 years. So, I asked for help in dealing with the underlying problem from the people who I thought could speed things up. But, maybe I wasn’t clear enough. Perhaps “This is making me very unwell” didn’t give a full picture of what was actually going on in my head. I hate a drama, so probably didn’t do myself any favours. Nothing happened for another month.
I found myself, on a day where I would usually go to my evening class straight from work, looking at a hotel-booking site. It would be easy; I could book a room and go there instead of to class. This wouldn’t be noticed until I didn’t arrive home at around 9pm. By that time, I would have sorted everything out. No more me, no more problem.
Something clicked. I realised what I was doing, and it frightened me. I had promised the family that I would ask for help if I found myself in that situation again.
Instead of booking a room, I went to the loo and had a good cry. Then I bit the bullet and sent a slightly hysterical email to my line managers, union reps and HR. I went off to the class as if nothing had happened.
The next day, at work, things started to move. Intense conversations were had. I was honest about how exactly I was feeling. Friendly, gentle support was given and, after the initial panic about making such a fuss, I began to feel calmer.
My concerns were finally taken seriously, and it wasn’t too long before I had written confirmation that the issue had been concluded. This helped a great deal, but even months later I still have the feeling that it might come back to bite me. Like the final scene of a clichéd horror film, I suppose.
I’m still not well; I’ve faced other challenges since that have knocked me back. But, I am heading in the right direction and I have some really good days. I’ve been here before; I know that if I take care of myself things will improve.
I supposed what I’ve learned from this experience is:
None of us can carry a burden for a prolonged time alone,
It’s ok to ask for help,
When you ask for help be honest about how bad things are for you, the person you are asking can’t read your mind,
Do not try to deal with suicidal feelings alone,
Things will get better for you,
The world is a better place with you in it, whatever you might think.
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