I wasn’t sure whether to post this or not but it’s Mental Health Week here in Sheffield and I feel l need to get this off my chest. The only to improve mental health is to bring awareness to it and that it’s okay to open up and it’s okay to not be okay.
When I was 16 years old, I attempted suicide. Here is what I wrote:
I remember when I made the decision that this was the only way out. I remember feeling shocked at myself that I was making that decision. I remember everything being blurry because of the tears. I remember walking over to where I knew the pills were and picking them up, taking them out of the packet and staring at them. I remember popping them out one by one until I lost count. I remember the bitter taste of them as they went down my throat and crying as l looked down at the empty packet…
‘What have I done?’
I remember nothing else until I woke up in hospital. I remember being scared and confused. I remember looking over next to me and he was there, holding my hand and looking scared and confused too. I don’t remember many of the conversations we had between us. I remember feeling guilty as I remember what I did. I remember feeling angry at what I did. I also remember wondering why it didn’t work. I was scared.
I remember the nurses asking me how I’m feeling and what I remember. I remember being scared they would take me away and lock me up because I was ‘crazy’. I remember when he had to go home to change and eat. I remember thinking he won’t come back to me after this. I remember them telling me a psychiatrist was coming in the morning to evaluate me. I remember crying that night thinking l would be taken away.
I remember waking up and seeing his face, still smiling at me regardless of the hell l’d put him through. I remember feeling confused as to why he came back. His eyes so gentle and kind. I knew he was angry. I remember him saying he wasn’t angry at me but he was angry. I remember feeling better. I remember telling him my fears. I remember him telling me they weren’t real. I remember him telling me he won’t leave me. I also remember him telling me they won’t take me away. I remember believing him. I still do.
I remember when the psychiatrist came. I remember him asking me a lot of questions. I don’t remember any of them. I remember him telling me l made a mistake. I didn’t mean to do it and it was an impulse. I remember breathing out after realising I was holding my breath in as I waited for a verdict. I remember him telling me they won’t take me away. I remember the soft chuckle he made after hearing me say that. I remember feeling relieved that he somehow understood me. I remember wondering if that’s just because it’s his profession to understand me or if he really did. I remember him making the decision to discharge me. I remember crying because I didn’t know if that was a good idea. It was.
I remember counselling, I remember recovering. It was a long road. I remember understanding I wasn’t alone or crazy. I also remember feeling like I couldn’t talk about it. I’m doing it now.
Now at 21: I have a son, I have someone who wants to be with me. I still remember him holding my hand in the hospital and saying those words to me 5 years ago. We have a house together. I have started a business.
I may not have a degree. I remember being made to feel like a failure for that. I may have done horribly at my A levels. I remember feeling lost when everyone else applied to university. But, I’m alive. I’m happy. That, to me, is not failure or loss. It used to be.
I don’t want to remember any of that anymore.
I want to always remember this:
The way my son looks at me with so much love, even though I’m still learning to give myself that kind of love. The way Rodney holds my hand when I’m sad, the same way he did that day 5 years ago. The laughter in our house when we’re chasing Kai up and down. The happiness in his face. This is what I want to remember.
And I’ll never go back to that place again because I will always remember this.
Mental health is important. Just as important as a broken arm and you’d want to get checked out for that, wouldn’t you? Sometimes your mind also needs that kind of attention and healing. You are not alone and there’s nothing wrong with speaking about it. There’s nothing wrong with seeking help. It took me going through what I did to realise that. You don’t need to.
The only way to improve mental health is to bring awareness to it. That’s what I’m doing. Let’s be aware that we don’t need to feel alone because we’re not. Let’s reduce the rates of suicides. The attempts too. Let’s teach our children to open up. Let’s not make our boys feel like they have to suppress their feelings or make our girls feel like they’re too emotional. We’re all different but we all matter. Let’s build a healthier mentality. Start with you. Start today.