At 5pm today, I decided to get a three shot latte. At 11:55pm today, the caffeine decided to stay in my system and now I can’t sleep. I regret the £3 coffee, and tomorrow I will regret a 6am alarm clock. But I’ve been laid in bed trying to sleep, and there something I keep thinking about.
The topic of this blog post is a lot more sensitive than what I usually write about. If you’re particularly vulnerable to talk about suicide, depression or anxiety – maybe don’t read.
I write this from a very healthy and stable mental health space. In the last 9 months I’ve probably been in the best mental health space I’ve been, give or take a few crap days. I’ve had a lot of time to work on myself and reach such a good and accepting place in my mind.
The things I talk about in this post no longer affect my life, however the experiences are still somewhat difficult to talk about. But I’m a firm believer that revealing difficult stories like this is key to lowering the stigma and lack of education surrounding mental health. It’s hard to talk about, but it’s harder if nobody talks about it.
Whilst trying to fall asleep, I found myself thinking about something which has been on my mind a lot recently, and without sounding abrupt – I can’t stop thinking about why people chose to end their own lives.
I think it’s because of the high profile death of Mike Thalassitis, and the media/tabloid coverage of “why would someone like Mike take his own life?” A man with plenty of opportunities, a seemingly perfect life and an abundance of friends and family around him.
When I saw the first news story about his death, it hit me more than I would have expected – not just because he was a ridiculously attractive celebrity – but because I understand what it’s like to feel as though suicide is the only option.
I’m not at all claiming to understand his personal circumstances, but I understand what it feels like to think that death is the only way to fix things.
It’s not a conscious decision. It’s not something that can be swayed by counting how many friends you have, or thinking about how bright your future could be. Your mind is in bits, and like an incorrectly calculated maths question, you work out that taking your own life is the only plausible solution to your problems.
I write this, as someone who attempted to take their own life a year ago. Whilst it’s not a lighthearted topic to read, write, or even think about; it’s something real, and it’s happened to me.
I can’t write on behalf of everyone who has made the attempt to end their lives – I can only write on behalf of myself and the stories I have heard from others.
By sharing this, I want to be able to potentially offer an insight into the decisions of someone when they’re at this incredibly low point. There are so many lost lives, who tragically can’t express their reasonings.
They will never have a chance to explain to loved ones why and how they hit such a painful point in their lives. I think by surviving what I went through, it’s important that I can shed some light on how or why death seems like the only way out.
For me, it wasn’t a case of wanting to die. I am terrified of needles, pass out in a blood tests and cry over fictional deaths in films. For me, it was a case of wanting to put an end to everything that I was feeling.
When you’re in the depths of the worst depression and anxiety, it’s an insufferable experience. Every single negative thought is exasperated by the relentless speed of anxiety.
My brain felt like a broken washing machine on the fastest cycle, spinning around none stop with worries, fears, stress, nerves, faster and faster and faster and faster and faster.
All I wanted to do was make it stop.
This wasn’t just one bad day, or a bad few hours. This was months and months of listening to the same clatter and wreckage running through my mind, infiltrating every thought and every moment of my life.
I constantly tried to think of the other positive things I had in my life: good friends, good education, money, loving family, good sense of humour.
On a sunny day, I’d make an effort to appreciate the heat and good weather. I’d turn my phone on airplane mode and go for a walk, trying to be in the moment.
I read self help books, took anti-depressants and followed all the motions of a healthy life.
I’d laugh with friends, attend classes at the gym and turn up for placement everyday.
Yet the heaviness and sound of self critical thoughts took over everything.
I couldn’t focus for a single minute without having to fight off a swarm of criticism, irrational abuse and anger from my own mind.
The sheer weight and pressure caused by depression is indescribable.
It’s relentless and seemingly never ending. I tried to live a normal life, whilst pushing it aside and trying to pretend it wasn’t there – which made things worse.
But each time I tried to think of one of the positive aspects of my life, the cycle of depression and anxiety in the broken washing machine spun faster and faster and louder and louder and clattered around, hitting everything and invading all my rational thinking.
All that I could hear, all that I could focus on and think about was the sound of everything I feared. I was a shit friend, a shit student, I was shit at relationships, shit at everything. Everything was bad, in-comprehensively bad. All I wanted to do was make it stop.
I couldn’t wait for the metaphorical cycle on a broken washing machine to finish, I feared it would never stop.
It got louder and louder and louder, and the thoughts infiltrated my vision – I’d be driving my car and unsure if I was even on the correct side of the road, as my mind was rattling over the intense and irrational fears I had.
All I wanted to do was make it stop instantly. Put an end to the constant noise in my head. I no longer had the energy or the focus to spend time meditating, reading self help books or talking to a counsellor. Everything was so loud that I couldn’t even focus on cleaning my teeth. I wanted it all to stop.
And I tried to make it stop. And I thought I’d successfully made it stop. And I thought I’d actually done it. I thought I was actually going to die.
And right there, in a state where myself and doctors truly thought I was going to die, I realised what I’d done. I realised that none of the thoughts were true.
I survived, and everyday I am grateful. And I want to stress that there’s nothing anyone could have done. I had support from every single direction in my life. I was too consumed in my mental illness to think rationally.
The only way I got better was through learning and accepting myself, and taking things slowly.
I’m not saying everyone experiences the same thing as me, and this is a ridiculously sensitive and lengthy topic to consolidate into one blogpost – people have written entire books on the thoughts that lead someone to suicide. But it’s not as rare as people think. It’s a long term solution to temporary problems.
If you have, or are experiencing anything that I’ve written about in this post – just know that it does get better. And I mean better, not perfect. The thoughts don’t go away forever, there’s no such thing as a life of only positive thinking. You will learn to dismiss and live alongside the negative thoughts, and they won’t consume you. The cycle spins slower, and sometimes stops spinning all together.
The human mind is a complex and messy thing, but you’re not broken or defective. You’ve got your own unique mind, and in time it will grow to be something you can embrace and live alongside.
Anxiety, depression, and any other mental illnesses are just parasites which thrive when they’re fed.
You’re going to be okay. I promise