On the 13th November 2019, I swallowed several handfuls of pills in attempt to end my life. But before you read on, I want to let you know that this is a story of hope. If you are looking for a sign to hold on today, this is it. It’s not time to give up.
As I’m sure you can imagine, my struggles with mental health began long before the events that unfolded on that day.
From the age of 13, there was a series of accumulating events that led me to that exact moment on November 13th. I was a talented dancer, intelligent, sociable and had an intense passion for adventure. In some ways, I think it would be easier to know the exact moment that all that changed. But in truth, everything crept up on me silently, until it was undeniably obvious that I was in the depths of an eating disorder, a vast depression and spiralling anxiety.
In hindsight, I suppose it began in the dance studio. I was sucked into the all-consuming ballet world, where anything but precision and perfection were a mere flaw. The newfound toxicity I had developed, quietly seeped into my school and social life. I was ‘controlling’ my pain through starvation, leading me down the deep rabbit hole of the self-harm and the binge, purge cycle. This, combined with sexual abuse and family trauma, eventually led to my suicide attempt. It was out of desperation to feel anything other than how I felt. I had no intention of surviving that evening. I believed that nobody would care if I were gone. I was convinced that nobody would even notice. The irony being that, almost as quickly as I swallowed the pills, I received a message from a close friend who knew something was wrong. During my time in an Intensive Care Unit, there was barely an hour of the day where my friends left me alone. ‘Thank you” doesn’t quite seem enough when someone saves your life, but I am forever grateful to all the friends who saved me that day.
However, surviving was not the end of this story; in fact, it is just the beginning. For some time, surviving my attempt was extremely painful. I thought the only thing worse than having to battle with my mental health was surviving a suicide attempt and still having to battle with my own mind. Only with time have I come to understand that I didn’t want to die, I just didn’t know how to live.
For me, true healing began the moment I made the independent decision to check into a crisis house and defer my place at university. I surrounded myself with people who lifted me up and sat with me in my darkest hour. Today I experience good and bad days and that’s okay. I have a support system in place to prevent me spiralling.
Today I share my story in the hope that if I show people that it’s okay to be struggling and need help, then others will speak up and not let a stigma-ridden society silence them. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people. Therefore, I want to initiate a life-saving dialogue because talking saves lives. Please reach out and ask for help. You are not alone and you are worthy of happiness.
I represent everyone who can’t speak up, who is screaming inside for help. I represent the forgotten, the misunderstood, the people starving and relentlessly calorie counting, the people having panic attacks in bathroom stalls and anyone who just needs someone to say, “I will help you”. I need you to know that you are not alone, because even when it feels like you are, I can promise you one thing. I will never stop fighting in your corner, helping to remove the stigma of mental health until you feel brave enough to open up and share with the someone what is suffocating you. One person every forty seconds dies by suicide and you’re not going to be one of those people. You’re going to be amazing. You are amazing.
Talk. Share. Help.