This was originally posted on my LinkedIn profile for Mental Health Awareness Week. With World Mental Health Day upcoming, it seemed the right time to share my experiences with my bookish followers – a handful of whom I know suffer with similar illnesses.
TW: Attempted suicide
Just under 5 years ago, shortly after this picture with Felix the Huddersfield Train Station Cat was taken, I tried for – I hope the final time – to take my own life.
It was an ordinary working day for many. But for myself, a dark internal dialogue had been brewing for quite some time. For years, actually.
A potent cocktail of grief and low self-esteem. To this day (until now) only a handful of people knew of this.
I couldn’t concentrate all morning. At lunch, sat in an awkward silence with a couple of colleagues, I apologised, got up, and left the building.
I was compelled, as if my own legs were on rails, to walk towards the thankfully-now-demolished Broadmarsh car park, where I would throw myself from the top floor.
Someone had successfully committed suicide recently in the same spot. So, walking past the bus station every single morning on my walk to the office, carrying upon my shoulders the unnaturally heavy weight of gloom – and a couple of previous unsuccessful attempts behind me – it felt like the time was right to see it through.
I’m a painfully rational person. Those who know me know I have little time for superstitious beliefs. But emotionally, it felt right. Crucially, and rather alarmingly, it felt right logically too.
But equally, it was a truly terrifying prospect. After all, there is no pain-free way of killing yourself. Trust me, I’ve done the homework.
I’m fortunate enough that a colleague and friend noticed my out-of-sorts behaviour and texted me asking if I was okay.
Upon receiving this message, I continued to walk, quickening my pace a little, before reluctantly slumping against a wall, and forcing myself to sit down and breathe before my body tried to spur me on.
That simple gesture of kindness probably saved my life that day.
That’s it. Just that.
Never underestimate the difference you can make to someone’s life by simply asking if they’re okay. Ask twice, just to be certain.
You may well get a few gruff responses from someone who has had a few bad nights of sleep. But on the other hand, you have the power to save a life.
As it happens, the person who sent that text is now the mother of my 8-month old child. A happy circumstance for which I am, truly, immensely thankful.
Things will always get better. Eventually.
My younger self rolled his eyes at that sentiment, almost clichéd though it is.
But it’s true.
At times, even just living is an act of rebellion for us walking dead.
You just have to try to ride it out.
For more information on how you can get help, do check out the following link: https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/mental-health/find-an-urgent-mental-health-helpline