Some people feel they are driven to suicide by events in their lives and around them. For others, events are just the influence and it is ourselves who struggle with the world around them. My Mum's boyfriend took his life when I was 14 years old, almost a year after my Mum had died from alcoholism. Whilst I had lost contact with him in that year following my mum's death, he was an intelligent, caring and eager man but it's fair to say that his death was driven by losing my Mum and me, and by the collapse of his finances in the crash of 2003/2004.
My thoughts of suicide were not because I was in some dire situation that there was no way out of. That was until recently. In May this year, after a culmination of incidents in my workplace, I tried to kill myself. I am currently on long term sick with a formal complaint being investigated.
I am only 25 years old but over the past 10 years I have become more aware of my own mental health, which after several crisis points is now heading towards a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. In summary, my moods go up and down in a cycle. Picture a sine wave from your school science lessons. In my blog I've covered how everyone has good days and down days but for me they are more extreme. The peaks and the troughs on my 'sine wave' are taller and deeper than the majority of the population. On one hand this can lead to days of little sleep, hyperactivity with overflowing creative ideas and passion for music, love, life and my hobbies of blogging, YouTube and amateur dramatics. However, half a cycle later I am at my lowest. Sometimes a petty thing, which would not normally upset me and I would be able to shrug off as nothing, can trip me over and I fall into my black patch at the bottom of my cycle. Perhaps I should allow myself to be upset.
In 2013 there were 6233 suicides In the UK and while every story is unique there is a crossover of reasons. During the recession, NHS Mental Health services faced severe cuts and had to tighten it's belt yet the staff that remained continued to do the very best they could on very limited resources; I honestly believe that. However, that does not change the fact that since my last crisis, the situation at my workplace has only deteriorated. Recommendations from the Occupational Health went unnoticed. I saw the warning signs and asked for help; I am on long term sick. I have fought and fought hard to live and get where I am today yet when I handed in my sick note I was told "no one else has a problem."
From an independent view, I am a man who has left a broken childhood where I was the sole carer for an alcoholic mother. Today, I live in my own flat and I am the chairman of a local community drama club. Perhaps I should be proud.
From my view, life is hard. Every day where I am near or in a black patch, I struggle to get out of bed. You all see such a pretty, colourful and caring world yet I see a roaring river crashing over a waterfall with me clinging on the rock face struggling to survive. Life is water boarding me. My duvet and my dreams are the only place I am safe. Despite the fact I act the camp, clever and comedic big brother I just want to isolate myself. Perhaps I should be alone on a deep space mission.
Part of me prays that you understand how normal mental health is. I am coping. Compared to the struggles of last week's crash, I have more energy and passion for work and play. My hope is that you will read this and understand how important mental health is. We all know someone with some level of mental health issues, whether it is the hormones firing in all directions after giving birth, the grief of losing a loved one or even returning to 'normal' society from the horrors of war. Perhaps it is more normal than we all think.
Perhaps we all slip into the mental illness side of the spectrum at some point in our lives. Perhaps this stupid stigma can be dropped. Perhaps you could fund the NHS for better preventative care so conditions like cancer and depression are treated equally. Perhaps then it won't take six months for the right diagnoses to be passed or for a crisis to happen. Perhaps if we target these things in our communities we can prevent some of those 6,233 deaths?
Matt Streuli hosts a radio show on Southwaves Radio every Thursday night at 8pm. Read more from Matt on his blog: www.MattStreuli.UK
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