Writing the blog has made me think a lot about events from the past and how their actions ripple across your life shaping who and what you are now. My overdose attempt from my late teens was definitely such an event. That one action has certainly acted as a kind of ground zero for me, making sure that everything after that would be different, that my life couldn’t be the same after it.
According to the website http://www.mental health.org.uk recent statistics show that 4,400 people intentionally killed themselves in the UK last year (to put that into perspective that’s one person every two hours), with people attempting it at nearly ten times that figure. There’s a strong chance that you’ll know someone who falls into those figures.
I’ve talked what happened leading up to it before previously (see my blog post Story Of My Life (Part One) – The Downward Spiral) so I won’t go through them again here.
I’ve been asked before what went through my mind with the overdose. Someone even told me that they thought that me trying to take my own life was brave. Far from it, it wasn’t brave. It wasn’t a conscious decision that I made. It wasn’t premeditated. I just reacted that way to the situation I’d placed myself in. It wasn’t thought through in any way at all. There was no note, no real thought on what would happen to me or the people around me if I succeeded or what would happen if I didn’t.
Suicide is never a selfish option, it’s probably the worst thing you could say. Try telling the family of a loved one that a suicide attempt that it was selfish of the victim to push themselves through it and they’ll give you a cold look, as well as probably some very harsh words. Often all they’re left with are unanswered questions.
In fact even when an attempt is unsuccessful, there are plenty of unanswered and unanswerable questions. My family are fairly open about what happened but there’s never been much discussion about it and my reasoning at the time for trying to take my own life. In respect though, I’ve never particularly asked them how they felt about it either. It’s obviously a very hard subject to talk about with your loved ones.
Try to think what would go through a person’s mind for them to consider this as their only viable option, that ending their existence and removing themselves from everything is the best course of action for them. It’s hard but also it rarely makes any kind of sense.
People give up things in life for various different reasons. Some see a futility in carrying on with what they’re currently doing. Some think that what they’re currently doing is having a negative aspect on them. But most of all, people just want something to change. Suicide is a similar thing, just to an extreme degree. You feel that you have no control over anything. You want an end to everything, you want it all to stop. Part of you wishes you’d never existed and that by going through with it you can remove yourself from history.
I’m not advocating it at all. To me, it was worst thing I’ve ever done. But now, distance and time have made me able to look at it in a different light. If I’d never attempted it and failed, I wouldn’t be the person I am now. It’s part of what I’ve become. I’m not a total product of it, but it’s heavily influenced who I am now, the way I think and the way I am. I’ve been able to embrace it and accept it’s effects. And some twenty years distant from it I don’t feel I’m any closer to understanding the reasons and motivations behind it.
It’s not something that I’m proud of but it has enabled me to be who I am. The distance to the actions have given me a place in my life where I can talk about it without feeling the numbing guilt I carried for years. And when you survive you do carry that on. To me it was a weird mix of disappointment, embarrassment, resentment, anger and guilt, all because I’d failed in my attempt. A lot of it is focused on what you’ve put everyone else through and the remainder was because I’d failed. You have to live forever with the fact that you were low enough to put yourself, and, by extension of it, everyone else through it. It’s almost a communal thing as, if a suicide attempt is successful, it’s affects are felt by the people you leave behind. And they will struggle, they will suffer, and they will always be left wondering why.
As usual I’ll sign off by saying if you want to talk more about this then you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also we’ve put together a closed support group on Facebook that you can join. Just search for The Order Of The Dog and you’ll find us. It’s not just for people who suffer from mental health issues, it’s for everyone.
One final thing. If you do find yourself in a place where you’re considering something drastic like suicide, please talk to someone, anyone. If you don’t have anyone close that you can open up to, there are groups like the Samaritins who will listen and try to help you. There’s a free number you can ring them on in the UK. Just call 116123 any time of the day, any day of the year. Just don’t let yourself become part of the above statistics.