Trigger Warning: This story contains themes of suicidal ideation, sexual assault, domestic abuse, self-harm, mental health disorders, and life-altering injuries. Reader discretion is advised.

 

“I struggle with life after injury, it’s hard. But the time I spend with my little family, making a little difference in my small corner of the world, well, that’s enough.”

PAPYRUS supporter Naomi’s story is not one of ‘teenage hormones’ or a ‘phase’; it’s a journey deep-rooted in the challenges she faced during her earlier years in life. “I was exposed to suicidal thoughts very young,” Naomi shares, recounting the traumatic experiences of sexual assault, neglect and a household involving domestic abuse that marked her childhood.

28-year-old Naomi first recalls thoughts of suicide when she was just 12 years old – an age many would believe too young to think about what the world would look like without them. From her struggles as a teenager to the life-altering results of a previous suicide attempt, Naomi’s lived experience of suicidal ideation highlights her capacity for resilience and a commitment to healing – a journey that admittedly hasn’t been linear.

At just 13, Naomi made her first attempt on her life, which marked the beginning of a series of encounters with mental health services, professional support and further struggle.

“My teenage years are a total blur of self-sabotage and reckless behaviours.

“Back then I was very impulsive. If I had a suicidal thought, I would act on impulse and wouldn’t think about the consequences. Despite being known to services, I didn’t speak as openly about suicide as people might think, so I would hide a lot of it. I wish I had talked more about it then, but I got very good at telling professionals what they wanted to hear – pretending I was fine.”

As a teen, Naomi was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, conditions which she says only added to her feelings of hopelessness. But despite her internal struggle, she continued to put forward the ‘façade’ of strength she had learnt to master until she found it impossible to do so any longer.

Naomi says, “Being diagnosed with bipolar and borderline personality disorder impacted me heavily in my teenage years and continued to worsen as I got older. Eventually, when I was 19 years old, I made another attempt on my life, but this one I really thought would be final.”

The attempt Naomi is referring to is one that marks a significant moment in her life and one she never anticipated the lasting results of.

Naomi adds, “I would say that the attempts when I was younger were more of what would probably be seen as a ‘cry for help’. I wouldn’t say I wanted to die; I just knew I didn’t want to be alive with the pain I was feeling anymore. Whereas the attempt when I was 19 was final – even though it didn’t go that way. That attempt has left me with life altering injuries that will affect me for the duration of my life, which is not something I ever would have thought about when I was younger and when I was thinking about ending my life.”

In the years following the suicide attempt at age 19, Naomi struggled to adapt to a new way of living. Initially leaning into more damaging coping mechanisms and unhealthy relationships, until reaching a “turning point” four and a half years back that has seen her on a path to reclaim her life.

Naomi explains, “A wake up call for me was when my physical health began to decline. I asked myself ‘what is the point of continuing to harm my body?’. I realised I have one life and I need to start living what left of it I’ve got. My condition is a result of the harm I have caused to my body, and I decided I can’t do that anymore.

“I felt like I had one life, and I was wasting it by planning how I was going to die.”

It was around this time Naomi met her now fiancé, who came with the addition of two children that Naomi would soon come to value as her own ‘little family’, infusing her days with newfound purpose and love.

“My fiancé has helped me realise that I am not a burden, even at times when my condition impacts him, or on my darker days and the times that I need support. He will regularly reassure me and hearing him say those things is helpful for me when I am struggling.  I know he is my person. He understands me and has helped me see the good in my life. I never thought I would get to live this kind of life, and if I had known about this when I was 19, I never would have made the decision I did, but when you’re in the depth of it, it’s hard to look beyond that.”

Reflecting on her journey, Naomi’s advice to any young person currently struggling with thoughts of suicide is, “Plan coping strategies in moments of clarity and when you’re feeling okay, don’t wait until you’re struggling to think about how you can make yourself feel better, because you might then do things that can be even more harmful.

“Really importantly, I would advise young people who might be planning the end their life to consider the ‘what ifs’ and envision a future beyond this pain. You only have one life and there really is some beauty in each day. It is all around us, I know it is hard to see, but if I can see it, then anyone can.”

Armed with a list of coping mechanisms ranked from most to least healthy, Naomi now navigates the complexities of her mental health with resilience. From once acting on impulse with every negative thought, she now has steps in place for challenging times, and she recognises the importance of seeking support and talking openly.

“Nobody is unscathed in this life, and we will all experience hardship at one point or another – you are not on your own in how you feel. There will be someone else struggling with the same things you’re struggling with.”

As she looks to the future, Naomi embraces each day with renewed vigour and hope. “Live each day as it comes, and embrace the uncertainty of tomorrow.

“You can make your mark in this world. Don’t you dare leave it without leaving a lasting positive mark.”

If you would be interested in sharing your personal story on the PAPYRUS website., please contact communications@papyrus-uk.org.
If you’re experiencing thoughts of suicide and need a safe non-judgmental space to talk. PAPYRUS is here for you. Call HOPELINE247 for free, confidential advice and support on 0800 068 4141, text ‘HOPE’ to 88247 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
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