I reckon everyone who has a Facebook account has had the same images and the same statements of shock and sadness regarding the death of one man:
And it is shocking. It is sad. It’s horrific to think that there are depths of sadness and despair that can eventually swallow a life up, permanently snuffing out the flame of existence.
The thing is, I wish it wasn’t so shocking. I don’t want us to be so dumbfounded when suicide occurs. I want us to know that this is what can happen, when depression and mental illness spirals out of control. Suicidal thoughts are a symptom of depression. And if you don’t know what it is like on that precipice of life and death, let me tell you:
Hope disappears. There is no more will to live. And regardless of every single spark of brightness around you, there is a certainty that it is not of you. It is not a part of you. The sparks do not belong to you, and the sparks shine regardless of whether or not you are there to see them. There is no light. No hope. No reason. And rather than ending with a moment that changes the world, in your suicidal state, you know that yours will be a simple and silent end of being. A relief, not just to yourself, but surely to every single person you interact with.
I don’t want this to be unknown. I don’t want you to have no idea of what it is like.
Because if you know, then you are aware.
And just like that, a scrap of stigma is stripped away.
We need to talk about this shit.
People often thank me for the more revealing posts I write, about mental health and my own times of total and utter despair of life. And I always reply the same way: Someone has to write about what it’s like. Someone has to be telling the truth and breaking the silence about this. And if I had to experience this stuff, the least I can do is try to force something good to come out of it.
Because, there are people.
There are people now, envying Robin Williams.
Thinking he had the right idea.
Wishing they could do the same.
Knowing beyond a doubt that this is the only answer to the way they are feeling.
And if that’s you, I can’t offer you a solution. Because mental health just doesn’t work that way.
But what I can offer you is this: Just… wait. Give it a day. If a day is too much, give it 12 hours. Still too much? Fine. Just put your plans on pause for an hour then. OK, half an hour. Take half an hour. And if you are inside, go outside. If you are outside, go inside. Change the scenery.
And then, count.
Not happy thoughts, not blessings or good things or any of that. Because right now, they just don’t cut it.
I want you to count what you can see. Grass? That’s 1. A wall? 2. Your feet? 3 and 4. Keep counting until you’ve run out of things that you can see. Then move on to things you can hear.
And as you feel those internal systems slowing down and calming. As you start to catch your breath. As you manage to lift your head, know this: It isn’t over. This is a battle. A battle that you are going to want to lose. A battle that seems to already have been won. No… it isn’t over.
But you did get through.
Ask for help. Please. Find someone to ask for help. Your GP. A friend. Your neighbour. There will be someone.
I’m not going to tell you that your life matters, or that it’s a bad choice. But I am going to tell you that there are alternatives. You just need to slow down and put suicide off for long enough to start working out what those alternatives are.
And I’m sorry. I’m so very, very sorry that you are in this space. It’s fucked up. I know that because I’ve been here, too.
Which proves that you are not alone.
Which proves that survival is possible.
There are days like these. And the more we can talk about them, the better.
Image source unknown.
If you need someone to talk to, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or chat to them online at http://www.lifeline.org.au