10 September is World Suicide Prevention Day. To mark this I really wanted to write something about my own suicide attempt. The piece I wrote, evolved into something I wanted to use for a book I was writing about my experience with Depression and OCD. I've since continued writing that book but I wanted to share this particular story in an effort to raise awareness of Male Suicide.
It was September 2012. I don't know the exact date. Perhaps I should. It was the day I decided I wanted to die. Actually that's not strictly true. It was the day I decided I didn't want to go on living. I think perhaps I should know the exact date but I guess it's fair to say I wasn't in the best frame of mind to mark the occasion on a calendar.
My troubles with depression had continued for two months since that first GP visit and I'd still heard nothing from the resource centre I'd been referred to. Every day followed the same pattern. The medication I was taking would have dehydrated me through the night. I'd wake with lips that ached. Everything ached. My mouth was dry and the anxiety left it tasting of dirty copper. Next to me on my bedside table, was a glass of water. Yet I couldn't reach for it. It hurt to move, it hurt to think about moving. I was so depressed, that the simple act of reaching for a drink I desperately wanted was too much. And so I laid there, thirsty and in pain. As time passed I'd need the toilet, but still I lay there. I lay there until my stomach cramped up, until the pain got so bad I'd cry. And then I lay there some more.
Thoughts of returning to work had long since passed. Thoughts of anything much seemed a distant memory. Just the pain remained. And it remained every day. On this particular day I woke with nothing but the pain. I'd love to tell you how blue the sky was, or the noise the birds had made that morning. I'd love to tell you what my wife said as she left for work, or that the sounds of the traffic outside had alerted me to the world outside my bedroom. There was nothing though. Nothing but pain. My back hurt, my neck felt twisted. The light creeping in through the gap in the curtains blinded me. It hurt to open my eyes, to even roll over in bed. And so I laid there, I don't know for how long. An hour, maybe two. Just being awake hurt my senses. I got up and I took a sleeping tablet. Mid morning and all I wanted to do was write off another day. I didn't want to die, I just didn't want to be alive anymore. I'd got into the habit of going to bed earlier and earlier and taking a sleeping tablet to do so. This however was a new development, taking one in the morning just to pass another few hours. All I knew was being awake hurt, both physically and mentally. So I slept.
When I woke up later that day I found the strength to get out of bed and move to the lounge. I took two tramadol which I'd been prescribed for my back. The tramadol no longer did much for the pain but it did lift my spirits. I'm a drug addict and however bad I feel a quick opiate burst will always lift my mood. I told myself the pain was still bad so I took another two. Then another two. By early evening I was high having taken probably 10-12 painkillers. Then the suicidal thoughts hit me again. This time they weren't the fleeting thoughts I'd experienced before. They lingered. No matter how much my exhausted mind tried to move the thought process on they came back to me. Could I really face another day like today? Could I really just go to bed again now and wake up and do it all over again? I could end it. The physical pain, the mental exhaustion, the utter despair and hopelessness I felt could all end. I've seen people say that suicide is a selfish act, a coward's way out. Well all I can say in my defense is it was the hardest thing I've ever fought against. Those thoughts that had been recurring for months had finally taken hold of my brain. I was too tired to fight anymore. For that brief moment they had won and I was at their mercy. I took more painkillers, I don't know how many. Enough that i 'fell asleep.'
And then I woke up. The pain in my stomach was intense, I needed to be sick. There was no 'choice' in my decision to throw up everything I'd taken. My gut took over, quite literally, and I slumped over the toilet for an hour. I remember it was 3am and for the first time since this situation started I felt a moment of control. As though I had a choice. I made what at the time felt like a conscious decision and that decision was not to call for help, I made the decision there and then that I wanted to die. If everything that had come before it was out of my control this moment felt like I'd made the decision for myself. I wanted to die. But I didn't.
Three years on I still battle regularly with suicidal thoughts. I hope however that this is the only time I ever have this story to tell.
I've had a lot of support and charities like CALM and Samaritans are an invaluable resource. The best piece of advice I was ever given was that you don't have to be suicidal and on that ledge to ask for help. You can ask for it long before you get to that point. Right up until my suicide attempt I still believed that i shouldn't ring Samaritans in case I was taking the resource from someone more needy. I really find it astonishing that I attempted suicide before I asked for help.
You can find CALM at www.thecalmzone.net and if you are struggling and think you need help you can ring Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90