As I sit in my bed, nursing a horrible cold and nasty chest infection, I scroll through Twitter, seeing what's going on in the world. I read some tweets about the start of the summer holidays, a few news clips from around the world, but my focus turns to a tweet that I see from a young gentleman that I have recently started following. He's a musician and mental health advocate, he has a clothing brand called In Music We Trust, which amazingly donates 50% of their profits to the charity Mind, a very worthy cause I think we can all agree. Unfortunately, his tweet features the sad news that his sister's high school prom date from 9 years ago has recently committed suicide. Such terrible news, another life gone. He goes ahead and asks "How many more people need to die?" What a good question, exactly how many more people need to die before depression and mental health gets taken seriously. This is a serious problem, and needs to be dealt with seriously. The importance of getting people to talk has never been more crucial than it is now. And through such television soaps as Coronation Street and EastEnders who have highlighted the issue, awareness is starting to be raised. But more needs to be done. Being a sufferer of PTSD, severe depression and anxiety myself I understand how lonely people who do have mental health issues feel. It can be scary, and often you don't feel like there are people out there who will not only listen, but more importantly, understand. I spent many years in denial over my mental health. I locked it deep down within myself and refused to deal with it. This had catastrophic consequences. I fell into a deep pit of darkness and was unable to see any way out. I felt completely isolated, and scared. I didn't want to deal with my issues, I just wanted it all to go away. I wanted to go away. I thought that suicide was my only way out. It was the only way I could stop all the pain and it would mean that those around me would be better off. I couldn't have been more wrong. It had a dreadful effect on my husband, who returned home to find his new wife had attempted to end her life, with nothing but a simple note by my side trying to explain. My husband attempted to revive me, whilst calling for his eldest son to call an ambulance and trying to keep our daughter out of the bedroom. He was not going to let her see what her mother had done. He was not going to let me go. Thankfully, he had returned home much sooner than I had anticipated which meant that he was successful in getting me conscious and getting me to the hospital. As soon as I had regained consciousness I instantly regretted what I had done. I was selfish in my attempt, as I had not considered what effect my suicide would have had on my husband and my children. Did my parents need to go through the pain of having to bury their child? Did my children deserve to live without a mother and step-mother to watch them grow up? And what about my husband. Was it fair on him having to walk into his own bedroom to see his new wife had given up? No, it was not fair, but when you're in that dark place, when you feel like giving up, when you can't see an end to your problems, whatever they may be, you don't think about the people who will be directly affected by your actions.
It’s true I was in a very dark place, I had been bottling up all my feelings, I hadn't been talking about what was going on in my mind. I was battling this horrible illness and I was completely stricken with grief. My dear grandmother had passed away peacefully in her sleep 7 months before I was to be married. This hit me hard. She was not only an amazing mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, she was my best friend. She was the one person who could always bring a smile to my face, regardless of how I was feeling or what I was going through. I never told her that I suffered from depression. I would not allow anyone to tell her what traumatic events had happened to me in my life. I never wanted her to feel the hurt of knowing what her youngest grandchild had endured. I wanted her to be proud of me, that was all I ever wanted. She was my life, the one I trusted with all my heart. The keeper of all the happy times I had, and the person I aspired to be. When we lost her, even at the grand age of 101 it hit me hard. This remarkable woman would no longer be there for me, she would not witness me marry the love of my life, she was gone, and that was pain that I had never experienced before. But there was no time for me to grieve. I had to be strong, you see I had made her a promise. On the Thursday before she died, I was sat by her bedside in her home that she had created with my grandfather, the place where she so lovingly cared for her 2 children, where she sadly lost her husband at a young age, and the place that held all the wonderful memories that her 3 grandchildren would treasure forever. She was asleep and we all knew, although didn't speak of it, that our time with her was limited. As I sat there holding her hand as gently as she had held mine on so many occasions, I prayed. I prayed to God not to take my beloved Nain away from me. I prayed that we be given more time. And I begged for a chance to tell her how I really felt about her. She knew that I loved her, I told her every time I saw her. But I never felt that I had told her exactly how important she was to me, and how she was my inspiration in life. As I placed my head on the bed and wept silently, I begged to God for the chance to tell her how much I loved her. And as I sat there holding her hand she gently awoke and looked at me with that smile that melted my heart. I've never talked much about that day with anyone other than my husband. It's still quite painful to discuss it now, but I think that it will help to get my message out there to the world properly. She looked at me and said that she knew she was dying, it was only a matter of time, but that I shouldn't fear her passing. I should be thankful to God that we as a family had been blessed to have as much time with her as we did, and that she was ready to join her darling husband in heaven. I cried uncontrollably and told her that I wasn't ready, there were so many things that I had left unsaid, and I just needed more time. She told me to dry my eyes, and said that there was no better time than now to talk to her. And that's what I did. I told her that I was scared of losing her, that I suffered with depression and that I couldn't bear the thought of living my life without her. She meant so much to me, and all I had ever wanted to do was make her proud. She hesitated for a moment then smiled her usual warm, comforting smile and simply said this; "My dear child, you have made me proud, you have given me a great-grandchild and for that I will always be grateful. You are a talented young lady; you should pursue your writing because you can do it, you just need to believe in yourself the way I believe in you." I cried again, this woman who was an amazing author herself believed in my ability to write, a few years later my mother would tell me that she has faith in my ability to write and that I have a talent that needs to be nurtured. We discussed a few things, including my upcoming wedding. She said that she was incredibly happy that I had found someone who loved me and made me happy. Then she asked me for a favour. She wanted me to promise her that I would be brave and strong after she'd gone. She said that even though I may not see it myself, I was the strongest person in the family. Then she looked me straight in the eyes "Look after your mother and uncle for me please, they will need you to be strong for them, to help them deal with their grief. I know I can trust you to take care of my children, they mean the world to me, you all do. You're a wonderful mother and I'm so proud of you my dear." That was the last time we spoke to each other. I went back home, and on Sunday I got the dreaded phone call saying that she was gone.
At that moment, my heart was forever broken. But all I could think about was my last promise to her, and I was adamant that it was a promise I was going to keep. I bottled up my feelings and stayed strong for everyone else. Which resulted in me having a huge breakdown, and the subsequent suicide attempt. This was a very dark period of my life, I’d never felt so alone, so confused, and so worthless. But I was lucky, I had an amazing and incredibly supportive husband who was determined to help me through this difficult time. He reminded me every day about how lucky we were to have happy and healthy children, and each other. This little reminder everyday helped me deal with my dark thoughts and feelings. It made me realise the importance of talking to someone about how you're feeling, but more importantly it made me see that suicide is not the answer to your problems. It brings heartache and suffering on those who love and care about you the most. If you feel that you are alone in the world and that no one could ever understand what you are going through, I can guarantee that there is always someone who will listen to you. There is help available, and absolutely no shame in talking about how you're feeling. People all over the world are working tirelessly to raise awareness about the importance of talking about mental health issues, and to educate people who don't fully understand what mental health is or means.
If you're feeling suicidal or you feel that you are all alone in the world I urge you to think about the hurt your death would bring upon your loved ones, to realise that suicide is never the answer, I urge you to talk about how you're feeling. There are so many amazing charities out there who are always on hand to listen and to offer their support. Talk to a friend, a loved one, a colleague, or even someone you barely know. There are people around who are always willing to listen, and trust me when I say, you are not alone. I can't emphasise this enough. Tonight as I say good-night to my beautiful daughter, and get myself ready to go to sleep, I remember my Grandmother, who's birthday is today, she would have been 105. And even though I wanted nothing more than to close myself away from the world today, and cry, all on my own as I begin my personal grieving process, I remember her words to me. "You are strong" And to every person out there, dealing with depression, PTSD, Bipolar, Borderline Personality Disorder or any other type of mental illness just remember that you are also strong, and incredibly brave. Things may seem dark and hopeless at times, it may take you a while to get there, it may be a tough road ahead, but you will get there eventually.
I hope you have found something in my story today that may help you with your own journeys. I live in hope that one day the stigma surrounding mental health issues will forever be broken, and that people from all over the world can talk openly about how they feel, or what they are going through. Just remember, there is no shame in what you are going through, and that talking does make a difference. Take care of yourselves and each other. And to my darling grandmother, I wish you a happy birthday, and know that you are forever looking down on me, I hope I have made you proud. Goodnight xxxx