The following blog has been written by PAPYRUS volunteer, Neville, about his personal experience of suicide and how he learnt to reconnect with his reasons to live.
I’m not gazing out or staring, it’s just the world entering my eyes like two dark deep black holes into an empty, dark, cold, unfeeling soul. No real mental processing – just sucking the life out of everything around me and consuming it, consuming me from the inside.
In those desperate moments that seem to go on forever, it seems that nothing can stir anything resembling warmth, love, or joy, almost no emotion at all – empty, heavy, dark. No real negative emotion either – no anger, no fear, no dread; nothing.
I see my wonderful lovely young children playing, but it stirs no natural emotion in me. I should play with them, enjoy that moment, lift myself up, “pull myself together” … If only the people that say that really knew.
I know what it’s like to convince myself that it would be, “better for everyone” including the ones I love and who depend on me. If only I knew how distorted that is. I know what it’s like. I really do. It’s desperate. It’s irrational. It’s crazy, but it’s real. Oh my goodness it is real.
But it can be overcome.
There is light, there is love, there is warmth, there is treatment, there are medicines, there is therapy, there is feeling returning, there is joy there is laughter, there is LIFE!
Inside me, and I believe inside us all, even during those deepest darkest moments there is a small ember of hope and of our soul’s desire to live. There is the seed of real true unconditional happiness and love. With help, (and sometimes a little bullying and frustrated straight talking from a very patient spouse) I learn to find it, and then learn to keep searching for it, gently blowing on it, feel it warming and glowing, the flicker of a flame. I’m sure I just spotted that flame smiling, dancing, rejoicing in the darkness.
Now the cold is retreating, the darkness is hiding, cowering in the corners like the pathetic insecure thing it really is. I imagine it burning more strongly, a deep breath – In… and out… this fans the small fire now starting to invigorate my soul, rekindling my senses. I must remember this, it’s as real as the depression and it is good! I am a flower opening, a bird soaring, a brook babbling, a cat stretching, I am coming alive. Eyes now want to open wide. Breathe deeply and freely, sigh, relax, smile, “Yes, go on…” I tell myself: ”Smile.”
And I practice; at first I’m a novice, alternately plunging back into the depths and slowly managing to claw my way out of the downward spiral. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Turning the spiral around and getting it working for me like an eagle uses thermal updrafts to soar above the plains. I learn to recognise the depression, label it, I seek professional help, I take prescribed medication, I tell my friends and family when I need help. I have some great friends, they help me. They don’t ridicule me, or shun me like I feared – they love me, and tell me what I’m good at, they reassure me, they tell me I’m doing great and I learn to love myself. I learn to accept their views and praise and I learn to tell myself those things instead of doing myself down with my previously incessant self-doubts and negative self-talk.
I learn that I love myself enough to want to live and I make a list to remind me and cherish the things I love about life. The simple things that whatever happens I will probably always be able to afford to do and enjoy. The real things that make life worth living. Just a list of simple sights, sounds, smells, feelings, textures, emotions.
So, what helped?
- Being gentle on myself but at the same time finding the inner strength to keep on keeping on.
- Trusting that however bad I felt it wouldn’t always be that way.
- Reminding myself of the good things that I enjoy (using my list) even if it didn’t feel like that at the time. (simple sights, sounds, smells, feelings, textures, emotions.)
- Going to relaxation and meditation/ mindfulness classes.
- Exercising hard – playing squash, spinning.
- Prescribed medication
- The psychotherapy
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
- Writing positive affirmations about myself on the backs of business cards so I had them to hand to remind myself
- Using my support network of friends. Sometimes just telling someone I was “having a wobble” helped because I knew then I wasn’t suffering alone.
Learning to really believe in myself and to love myself and make myself the number one priority in my life. (It helped me to realise that if I wanted to help other people and care for my wife, my children and my family then I had to put myself first. If I didn’t take care of myself then I couldn’t be there for anyone else.
Basically, accepting it and working, learning to cope better, little by little, day by day, and recognising that there would be ups and downs along the way.
Thirty years later, I remain eternally grateful I survived and thrived, and I connected with my reasons to live.
With love and deep compassion for whoever reads this, Neville.
For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice please contact PAPYRUS HOPELINE247 on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email firstname.lastname@example.org