This blog was written by PAPYRUS supporter, Sophie Sturman, about her experience with suicidal thoughts and feelings of hopelessness. Trigger warning: This story contains themes of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts and mental health disorders Reader discretion is advised.

I have suffered with poor mental health from as young as three years old, however, things became notably worse when I was just 13. This marks when I first made an attempt on my life.

Between the ages of 13 and 18, many aspects of my life were extremely unsettled. During these years, I was in and out of care homes, moved away from my hometown and taken away from my friends and support networks. Similarly, my school life was also uncertain and rootless. I felt lost in all areas of my life, completely unaware of my purpose or even how to find it.

These ongoing struggles often transpired into periods spent in psychiatric units and relying on round-the-clock support from mental health workers. This only highlighted to me how different my circumstances were. How different I was to those around me. All I wanted was to be like other 18-year-olds; going out with their friends, socialising, partying, just living what appeared to be a normal life at this age. Not lay in a hospital bed grappling with my own thoughts and hopelessness.

I would try and remind myself that my situation was not my fault. I would tell myself that I am not different, just struggling. However, this is only something I have come to appreciate now, as much as I would try and be kind to myself back then.

This theme of struggle and isolation followed me into my twenties. I found myself in more traumatic situations and I couldn’t see a way out of it. In my attempts to find happiness and security, I was faced with more reasons to not want to be alive; I encountered domestic abuse in a relationship, and this felt like the end of my world. Nothing ever went right for me. It felt like it never had and never would. I wasn’t settled in a home environment. I had no place where I could feel safe and secure and I knew ultimately this was all I wanted and needed.

At 27, I made a final attempt on my life and in some ways, it was the end to a part of me. It was the end of a sense of defeat and hopelessness. After this attempt, I quickly realised that I am here for a reason. My role in this life is important. I am so loved, wanted and needed in this world and I realised that now. While my friends and family have always stood by me, I had been blinded for so long and unable to see this. I had always felt like this was a battle I was fighting alone, however, I couldn’t have been more wrong. And it was just a case of me accepting the help that had been surrounding me all that time.

Understandably, in most cases, a suicide attempt is a traumatic event. However, for me, I can honestly say it marks, I guess, a celebration of the day I found purpose and felt empowered to change the course of my life. It’s the day I committed to living and seeking the correct help and support for my wellbeing, and I did exactly that. I recognise I was fortunate to receive low-cost private therapy to help me work on my past traumas and myself.

Following my suicide attempt, two years ago, I have found hope in an awful situation, and my life has changed dramatically ever since. I became a proud crazy cat lady, with my four cats becoming my best friends. They are a source of unconditional love, and I must admit I do talk to them every single day. They have helped save me. I also moved to a new home, a home in which I felt safe and secure and have been able to settle down and make it my home – something I never would have envisaged would happen in my story.

On my journey, I often sought strength from watching other people share their stories about mental health and suicide. I would say to myself ‘If they can do it, so can I’. Previously, I would typically see those stories and compare myself in a negative way, telling myself how I could never achieve that or finding the ways in which we were wildly different, however now I’m able to compare in a positive way.

Along the way, I have also had meaningful tattoos that have been able to help me. This has been an important thing for me on my personal journey, as each tattoo reminds me of where I have been and what I have achieved, and reminds me daily of my strength and resilience.

I have never felt more empowered in my whole life than I do now at the age of 29. At times, I didn’t think I would make it past my 14th birthday, or my 16th, 18th or 21st, but I am here today, able to share my story to help others find hope.

If there is one thing I could ask any young person struggling right now, it would be please don’t make a permanent decision on a temporary thought – no matter how often that thought might occur. Things truly do get better and there really is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Thoughts come and go and it’s when we think more into that thought, that’s when the problem arises or worsens in our heads. Let the thought go, or ride its wave while utilising healthy coping mechanisms, try not to dwell on it and definitely don’t give it to it.

You have the power to change your story around. You have the strength to create the future you’ve dreamed of for so long.

After the whirlwind of chaos throughout my life, I am now investing in my future and have decided to return to education and study access to nursing and become a mental health nurse. If my teachers from school could see me now, I have no doubt they would think ‘Wow, amazing. The girl who left school with no GCSEs or no purpose in life has found herself’.

My only wish is that I had found this purpose a long time ago, but I know my story is why I am the person I am today. It is why I am the strong, independent, empowered woman I am. I know now that reaching out for support is so brave, and it’s important you have that one person or organisation you can trust and reach out to in your times of crisis or support. Reach out as many times as you need.

Remember it’s not your fault and there is no shame in feeling the way you do. Everyone will go through some sort of mental health struggle or hardship in their life and it’s okay to feel how you’re feeling, as long as you reach out for support when needed. For me, writing a diary has been a massive help and allows me a space to get all my thoughts out. Above all, my pets have been the most help for me!

I’m sharing my story because I want to be able to help others see hope in life, and if I can come through the other side and choose life, then so can you. The people around me always viewed me as ‘the funny one’, always telling jokes and making light of things, and back then that was how I’d silently deal with my problems. However today, I am still that funny, caring, loud Soph, but I’m also strong, empowering and even emotional at times.

Your story should never be a full stop. Put a ‘;’ and start your new chapter today to become the best version of yourself, because you need to believe in yourself and have trust in yourself. I have never met you, but I believe in you and have faith in you for you to reach out for support when needed and be able to have a happy future like Cinderella after all.

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 88247 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org. We’re here to support you all day, every day, whenever you may need us.
If you would like to contribute your supporter story to the PAPYRUS blog, please get in touch with communications@papyrus-uk.org.
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