If you've read any of my previous blog posts, you in all likelihood know that in 2008, I started suffering from life-threatening bouts of depression, which led to alcoholism, drug abuse, medicine-induced psychosis and multiple hospitalizations.
But worst of all was the fact that at times, I couldn't see any way out of my ghastly misery. As anyone who's ever suffered from clinical depression will tell you, it's an expert at convincing you that your despair is eternal, and destined to oppress you for the rest of your days. And it was when I was in that horrifically black place, staring down the barrel of what I truly believed would only be a lifetime of wretched agony, that my thoughts turned to suicide.
In those moments, it seemed as if it was my only recourse. I was convinced that Planet Earth held nothing good in store for me, and that I would be better off no matter where the afterlife took me. But after a while, one of the multiple medications I'd tried started to work. I started benefiting immensely from therapy. I committed myself to eating well, sleeping well and exercising frequently. And over time, I began to recover. Towards the end of 2010 and throughout 2011, I also made a number of positive lifestyle changes, and by early 2012, I'd kicked my depression for good. Ever since then, I've been feeling great.
Looking back now, there are times I think about everything I would've missed out on if I'd ended my life in the throes of my depression. I had this thought last weekend while I was in Singapore visiting a good mate from high school. Below is a picture of me and my buddy at Marina Bay, feeling happy, healthy, and so glad I never ended my life on one of the countless days I felt that suicide was the only way out.
I've loved backpacking ever since my first trip, and every time I'm travelling, I'll always have at least one moment where I stop and think "I'm so glad I'm here ... I'm so glad I got to have this experience". There have been so many of these grateful moments since I had my first suicidal notion way back in 2008, and I know there'll be so many more of them in the years to come ... backpacking around the Greek Islands and North & Central America later in the year, getting my first novel published, get married, having kids, having grand kids ... the list goes on and on.
I have so many things to look forward to, and you do too. I know that depression is an expert at robbing you of your hope, and making you feel as if you're destined to a life of unremitting misery and despair, but depression is a liar. Recovery is possible.
So if you're in that horrible place I used to be in, then please remember that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and make sure you reach out for help.
You'll miss out on so much if you end it.
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, please contact your GP. If you think you need help in a crisis you can also contact the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90. You can also call the NHS helpline on 111, 24 hours a day.
If you enjoyed reading this post, I encourage you to download a FREE copy of my memoir here. Recounting my struggle and eventual triumph over depression, I wrote it so that sufferers of the illness could realise they are not alone - that there are other people out there who have gone through the same excruciating misery, and who have made it through to the other side. I also wrote it so that I could impart the lessons I learned on the long, rocky, winding road that eventually led to recovery - so that people could learn from my mistakes as well as my victories - particularly with regards to relationships; substance abuse; choosing a fulfilling career path; seeking professional help; and perhaps most importantly, having a healthy and positive attitude towards depression that enables recovery. Multiple-bestselling author Nick Bleszynski has described it as "beautifully written, powerful, heartfelt, insightful and inspiring ... a testament to hope."