[This piece is brought to you Ahead of National Suicide Prevention Week]
I’ve had the pleasure of being able to write for LadyArse since April 2011. Having an opinion is one thing, but being able to reach such a wide and knowledgeable audience on a weekly basis with one is quite another. Some of you have agreed with my viewpoints, and some of you have not. But if any of my pieces have ever made you think about your own point of view of the subject in question, then I’ll have succeeded in my goal.
So if you’ll allow me, today’s article won’t be an article about Arsenal, but one I wrote in October of 2010 for my own lowly blog page. If you’ve read this already (it’s doubtful but you never know!) then I apologise, but it’s a subject that I’ve had a lot of experience with over the years, and is one that too few people understand, hence the reposting today. I won’t say what it’s about, as the article will explain itself, but if you have any questions about the matter, or indeed just want to comment on the article, then feel free to add your views below, or contact me on Twitter at @bradley08. Thank you for your time.
I was planning on posting a report of the Chelsea game here this evening, but I’m going to leave that until tomorrow. Today, I’m going to talk about something much more important than football. And I apologise in advance if I upset anyone with the following article. But this is something that has affected more people than any football match ever will. So if you’ll allow me, I’ll begin.
I tried to kill myself ten years ago.
Isn’t it amazing how eight little words like that can be so evocative. But it’s true. When I was 17, I decided that life wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t a hard decision either. I had considered all the pros and cons and had come to the then logical conclusion that I’d be better off dead. It sounds ridiculous now, but at the time it seemed like I was making the right choice. My father had been sent to jail, my girlfriend had dumped me, and my grades were slipping in school thanks to a combination of having to work a full-time job and studying at the same time. This, all while dealing with the public fallout from what my dad had done to get locked up. I could honestly see no point in living. None.
So one night, I swallowed a packet of painkillers, and stood at the top of the staircase. And jumped. I smacked my head off something in the middle of the staircase and was knocked out cold. The next thing I know, I’m in hospital having my stomach pumped. All I can remember, is the nurses asking me what it was that I’d taken, but I couldn’t answer. I was too ashamed to admit to anything at the time. Of course, it didn’t take long for the doctors to put two and two together and figure out what I’d done. I was so embarrassed when they asked me the first question. “Why?”.
There I was, lying in a hospital bed, being asked why I had tried to commit suicide. All I could do was look at them, shrug my shoulders, and reply “Why not?”. That’s all I could come up with. In my head, it had all made sense, but actually saying it aloud proved beyond me. I didn’t think that anyone else would understand where I was coming from, that if I actually explained in detail why I thought my life wasn’t worth living, no-one would take me seriously. I knew, that if I said what I thought, I’d sound like an absolute moron. But in the same instant, I knew that what I was thinking was entirely logical.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what having mental health problems can do to you. There I was, a stuttering, gibbering wreck, trying to make sense of the situation I was in, all whilst two conflicting opinions on what to do were bouncing round in my head. I had lost all sense of perspective. Not only had I tried to kill myself, but at the same time as I was telling my doctor that I realised I had made a stupid mistake in not telling anyone I wasn’t feeling too well, I was criticising myself for botching up killing myself in the first place!
The doctors diagnosed me as being manic depressive. At the time, I had thought nothing of walking down the road and then suddenly feeling like shit because I’d remembered something stupid I’d said to someone when I was seven. I had thought nothing of being critical of myself when scoring “only” 95% in tests in school. I thought this happened to everyone, so I dealt with it by myself. I thought I’d be able to cope with everything, and that I didn’t need help from no-one. Little did I know that I was slowly going insane, and that my idea of “dealing with it” would lead me to end up standing at the top of my staircase thinking “Thank God it’s all about to end.”
Now I’m sure at this stage, you’re all reading this asking “Why is he saying all this?”. I’ll tell you. Yesterday I found out that a mate of mine had committed suicide. He’s the third person I know that’s done this in the last eighteen months, and it’s the third time that I’ve had no inkling whatsoever that there had been anything wrong with them. And I’m sure I wasn’t the only one, either. (Since this article was written, that number has now risen to seven.)
Suicide is an awful, terrible, ridiculous thing. To even consider such a thing is just mind-boggling. To not realise that there might be something wrong with you that’s making you think that suicide is even remotely a good idea, is just as crazy. And that’s the problem. The reason I thought suicide was a good idea was because I was crazy. I just didn’t realise it at the time.
And there lies the problem. No-one realises that something is actually wrong when they start contemplating taking their own life. They just assume it’s normal. It sounds mad, but that’s because THEY ARE GOING MAD. For some reason, a person’s mental health isn’t as highly regarded as their physical well-being. So when your mind starts playing tricks with you, it’s not as big a deal as say a headache would be. At least that’s how I felt about it.
Suicide will always be a taboo subject, as long as we keep treating our mental health as trivially as we do today. If we want to do something about suicide, then we have to start taking our mental health more seriously. If your arm or leg is broken, then you go to a hospital to have it looked at. Sounds simple. The same should apply when your mind is broken as well. Just because there are no physical symptoms, that doesn’t mean you’re not unwell.
I’ll leave you with this piece of advice. If you’re feeling a little down, or if something is getting you worked up for no reason, or even if someone you know is acting a bit weirdly, tell someone. It doesn’t matter who you talk to. Nor does it matter what you say. Just say something. Anything. Just don’t make the same mistake I and many others make by trying to bottle it up. You’re only doing yourself harm. Both physically AND mentally.
Trust me. I know.
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