On 23 October, 2015 I almost died, by my own hands. I had taken the decision that to live was too painful, mentally, and wanted the darkness and demons to permanently dissipate. It was a particularly dark night of the soul and I wandered into suicidal territory. I am thankful the attempt failed and now I am trying to embrace my second chance at life.
Depression is a merciless illness and batters you into submission, leaving you mentally bloodied and bruised and wondering, no, despairing as to when the light will appear at the end of the inky blackness. Make no mistake, if you know someone who suffers from depression, they are crawling up a muddy mental bank with all their strength. I allowed the illness too much presence in my life, in the respect that I failed to cry for help when I needed it most. It's a punishing condition because you cling on to hope that tomorrow will feel better and, naively you will be able to fight through it on your own. I was blind to the fact I was like a fighter on his last legs and one punch could knock me out. When the punch came, it hit me hard.
It's now 2016 and I am getting much better. I have clarity I haven't had in a long time; it's still hazy round the edges but I recognise triggers much easier and I also have an emotional maturity I had forgotten. So I sit here writing this with hopeful trepidation that I can start to live my life again. For much of 2015 I was wandering through life like a ghostly figure. I was present in body but absent in heart and mind. It was daunting to take an hour at a time let alone a day. To try and think about a week in advance was terrifying and would cause me to crumble under the anxiety and hide away in my bed. Bed was safe; the outside world was a monstrous entity ready to devour me from the inside out.
I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself and when I am feeling a bit better I try and bound forward with plans and goals. All too often I end up burned out and a ghostly shell again. I berate myself for not being able to achieve great things and, in consequence, push myself harder. All that happens is I am a blubbering mess, fearful and feeble. This time though, this time it's going to be different.
I remind myself I nearly died a matter of weeks ago so any plans I make have to be in light of that. Work has to be a gradual thing, where I do the hours I know are realistic and to be honest with those around me if I am unable to do more. I am ill. I need to recover. I am working though and I am congratulating myself for that achievement. I want 2016 to be a year where I truly understand what it means to be alive, as opposed to simply existing. I am breath taken by the possibilities that lay before me and how I can actually reach those once far off ideas. This wonderful world is bursting with hope and opportunity and my depression may try to suggest I am unable, too fearful or simply too talentless to ever attain. I am alive. I am a person made up of creativity, imagination and talent. I am the maker of my own destiny. Death was not going to be the narrator but life was and will be.
My father is an oysterman and cultivates these hardy molluscs which go through extreme conditions to survive. Survive they do against the odds and a beautiful thing they are. Indeed the old adage, 'the world is your oyster' resonates very strongly and I will take this mantra into and throughout the next year.
Useful websites and helplines:
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: email@example.com
- HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41