Trigger Warning: This Post Contains Reference To Suicide & Suicidal Ideation
Until now the most challenging and nerve-wracking subject I’ve tackled is intrusive thoughts but today’s post is even more difficult to discuss. But given this platform I’ve created I do feel it’s vital that I speak about it because the very fact that I find it difficult says a great deal about the stigma that still surrounds this topic. I have the opportunity to discuss it here and I feel like I should.
The truth is, I have considered suicide.
That’s a shocking statement, isn’t it? Despite everything I’ve written about mental health and my postnatal depression experience, and all my bravado about speaking up, I still squirm and flinch typing out those words. Plus I’m sure many people reading this will feel the same sense of discomfort and I’m sorry about that. I’m sorry to my husband, parents and family reading those words and how it makes them feel. But it needs to be said. Suicide needs to be discussed to be prevented.
And it is a truly abhorrent concept, isn’t it? Whatever you believe in, the fact that we are here, living this life, is a true miracle. The idea that someone would consider ending that life, someone who has a child and a husband and a family who loves them, someone who lives in Western society and has plenty of money and a stable existence, is beyond imagination for many. It feels strange and criminal and unfathomable.
But not to me.
I’ve been to a place so dark, so frightening and so heartbreakingly inescapable that I no longer feel disbelief that someone could consider ending their own life. I believe it. I get it. I know that feeling well. Some places in your brain, once seen, cannot be unseen.
Whenever anyone questions the seriousness of anxiety I tell them “it was so bad I wanted to die” and that tends to hit home a little more. The sad fact is that conditions that affect our mind are so powerful, and so consuming, that sufferers can reach the point of suicide staggeringly quickly. Time slows down when you are suffering, so the thought of even one more minute can feel unbearable. By contrast, battling mental illness over many, many years can grind a person down more slowly – but ultimately to the same dreadful place.
Before 2013, the idea of suicide was utterly alien to me. I simply couldn’t imagine a situation where I would understand it. Within weeks that person was long gone and I found myself thinking about it, imagining it, fearing it and wishing for it. But I was lucky. Incredibly lucky. I felt able to speak up. I told my husband and my doctor and my therapist how I felt. I got help quickly enough that the flame of hope stayed just bright enough for me to escape those thoughts before I got too close to putting them into action. Not everyone has someone. Not everyone can find their voice.
Not everyone is lucky.
Suicide is the leading cause of maternal death (defined as death any time during the year following giving birth). That is truly shocking. Outside of perinatal, the stats are even more shocking with suicide being the leading cause of death among all men aged 20 to 49 in the UK, leaving young men as the demographic most likely to die by suicide. And yet, despite this frequency, it’s still a taboo subject.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. The charity Mind have decided this year to focus on three factors: connect, communicate and care which I think is so vital. If you want to find out more about what you can do to help someone, or to raise awareness and drag the darkness of suicide out of the dark visit the Mind website.
Suicide is not something that happens to other people. Being wealthy or seemingly happy or from a large, loving family does not mean you are immune from mental illness, or from suicide. I am proof of that. I don’t like to think about that time too much, and those terrifying thoughts I had of harming myself or putting myself in harms way, but I know sometimes I have to think about it. To remind myself how far I’ve come.
It’s almost unbearable to think there was a chance I could have missed my son growing up and everything wonderful that’s happened in my life during the last three years.
Sadly, others have missed out and we need to do more to prevent it.