I've just read the interview from former Professional Football Association chairman Clarke Carlisle about his suicide attempt last December. He talks openly to The Sun newspaper about his battle with depression, and my social media feeds have filled with messages on the importance of talking about it, especially as it is the leading cause of death in young men.
When Robin Williams died last year, I thought a lot about the silence surrounding depression and mental illness: the great taboo you can never give voice to, for fear of making people around you feel uncomfortable.
I've not talked about this for years, so here goes. Here's my Great Taboo.
I tried to kill myself when I was 19 or 20 - the event is so shrouded by silence I can't even remember exactly when it happened. I won't go into why I felt so crap about life, but I did. I now know that what I did was a cry for help, that I wanted to be found and thankfully I was.
What was so shocking about that time was how quickly The Silence descended. No one talked of it, then or since. Even I found it hard to tell people. I told a boyfriend once - he couldn't believe that 'someone like me' would attempt it. Well it's always 'someone like me', isn't it? It's not a special sector of hidden people going around planning it in the dark.
They're right in front of you. In the daylight.
I wonder if people can't handle the idea that someone might want to remove themselves from the earth because it's a latent dark thought in all of us. Some of us are used to it emerging at difficult times - it's the ultimate get-out clause, after all - but others steer well away from it, unable to even admit that it's lurking there.
About six years ago, I had a near-death experience. This time I hadn't willingly brought it on - I'd been running next to the Thames in Buckinghamshire and the banks were flooded. I'd miscalculated my route and fell into the freezing-cold river. I can't swim. As the water submerged me I remember thinking, 'so this is how it's going to end.' I almost smiled to myself in that millisecond of drowning.
I do remember seeing a very fast slideshow of images from my life - they did flash before my eyes, but I can't remember what I saw. All I know is, when the moment came, I was ready to accept it. I was unhappy in my marriage and maybe this was the way out for me. Until a lovely woman pulled me out, with the aid of her Portuguese water dog, Max. Thank you again, Sue Low.
Just after Williams died, I attended the funeral of a person whose life was tragically taken away from them by a terminal illness. They entered my life for only a few months but my eyes were still blinking from the glare of their brightness. We find these situations incredibly difficult to talk about but we do talk and console each other with a stumbling shared disbelief of the circumstances.
Robin Williams' life was tragically taken from him too, by depression. It is the illness that dare not speak its name and one that we find much more difficult to talk about. Let's talk about it, shall we? Too many amazing people are being lost to it, or living with it on a daily basis to ignore it.
For once, I think The Sun has published something worth reading.
First published on: http://becauseicanblog.com
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