Every time I read or hear that someone has passed away as a result of depression, I feel so helpless, useless and devastated that I hadn’t managed to reach out to more people about my own story of what, too often, as felt like a terminal disease that I believed would inevitably swallow me whole one day.
I’m not so egotistical as to think I can make a difference to everyone that feels this way but please, if you’ve ever felt like there’s no hope, that things won’t change; if you’ve ever felt that being alive is too much and like you’re drowning in the middle of a never ending storm at sea, read on.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve tried to end it all. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve screamed and begged to an imaginary god for it all to be over.
Yet, as of today, I’m alive and I want you to be too….
At around 7 years old, I was sexually assaulted by a friend of the family.
At around 9 years old, I began being bullied for being a tomboy, for being a ‘show off’, for having boobs.
At 10 years old, I started cutting my arms.
At around 11 years old, I began being bullied for being intelligent, for being fat, for having greasy hair, to the point where I’d have to get off the school bus half a mile from home to get away from the bullies as soon as possible.
At 14 years old, I tried to take my own life for the first time and had my first mental health related stay in hospital.
At 16 years old, I begged to be put on medication and sobbed as I was refused. I stopped ‘trying’ in school to combat the bullies.
At 17 years old, I fell pregnant with my first child.
At 18 years old, I started having nightmares.
At 20 years old, I was raped and made the most serious attempt on my own life.
At 22 years old, I had my second child and found out my first child was autistic.
At 23 years old, I dropped out of university for a second time. Nightmares and flashbacks got worse.
At 24 years old, my husband left me after a bad (yet still undiagnosed) ‘manic’ period.
At 25 years old, I got myself into a lot of debt. My family decided my children were better off without me for a while and I lost my home. My entire family, mostly, stopped speaking to me.
At 26 years old, my grandmother & best friend passed away. Still homeless, I fell pregnant with my third child but thought I was getting better. I suffered with post natal psychosis and again people thought my child was better off without me at that time.
At 27 years old, I was told I was a bad, abusive person for telling others when I felt suicidal (anyone who ever tells you this is wrong). I stopped seeing my children. I had to live with the self hatred of having to have a very late abortion. I went through weeks where I couldn’t afford to eat.
It’s just a skeleton of some of my experiences but every last memory of what I had been through haunted me on a daily basis and with my last suicide attempt, I tried to hang myself with a dressing gown cord. I only survived because the ‘give’ in the cord stretched my toes to the floor.
But, guess what? I’m grateful. Things change – no matter how bad they’ve been.
Every one has to leave eventually. It’s a beautiful part of life, that we make room for more and more exceptional lives on the planet, but no one should ever leave this earth feeling worthless, under-valued, unwanted, lonely or unloved.
Nothing magically ‘clicked’ that day but things did start to change.
My two eldest sons came to visit; they brought me homemade Mother’s Day cards and a box of chocolates which I steadily munched away on whilst cooking Sunday dinner and watching last nights Match of the Day.
I now live in a cute, little flat. I’ve been accepted back to university which starts in October. Most of my family now speak to me and I’m jetting off to California in the Summer. I guess it could be put down to the fact I was finally diagnosed and correctly medicated for Bipolar Disorder last October but then I thought on and realised, illness, or not, I’m the one making this conscious decision to stay alive.
Because, regardless of what we go through, and regardless of what we have to come, we need to truly understand, that all feelings are temporary. You won’t be happy forever but you won’t be sad forever too.
There is no miracle cure, there’s not one single mental health ‘quote’ or conversation that makes us want to live but I do have two simple pieces of advice that I think have helped me stay alive and become content and aware.
1. Talk about it. To your family, friends, your pet, even yourself. Other people can help if they know. You can help yourself if you start to understand it.
2. Love something – even if it’s just Netflix documentaries. People aren’t perfect and we can often be left feeling worse when our ideals aren’t reciprocated but they don’t have to be. My love is for Football and at times, I’ve remained focused just to see the following weekends results.
I am NOT a strong person, no matter how many people tell me so because that adds to the misconception that you have to be strong to beat this.
You don’t need to be strong, all you need is patience and I promise, things get better, even when they have to get worse first and I am that proof.
You can beat this.
At 28 years old, I swung on park swings with my friends at midnight and felt happy.