Mental Health Series: Let’s Talk, Suicide.
“Place your hand over your heart, can you feel it? That is called purpose. You’re alive for a reason so don’t ever give up.” – Unknown
I always thought I never had a purpose in life, that the reason I was here was to be a human punching bag that mother dearest could scream at, demean, humiliate and was reminded on the daily that said punching bag was selfish, just like her father.
Thing is, though… my dad hasn’t got a selfish bone in his body. I, however, I’m not a saint, never calmed to be, I’m a work in progress. Have I been selfish? Absolutely, but in my defence, I needed to be, to save my own life, to get better and to become the new me.
Suicide… when writing this, I thought back to when I first remembered when I discovered when suicide was. The thing sticking out to me was when my uncle died. He died on the 4th August 1996, he told his wife, my Auntie Jill, he was going for a paper, but he never returned.
My uncle shot himself in the firing range at RIR, Ballymena Barracks, Northern Ireland. He was 34-years-old, he’d just been promoted to Sergeant, he wasn’t depressed, he was the happiest, most amazing person you’d ever meet. He was without a doubt my joint-favourite uncle on my mum’s side (don’t worry Uncle Andy, you were joint first with him).
I was 10, I remember the moment I found out. I heard mother screaming, I thought it was a nightmare, but it didn’t stop, I ran into the living room thinking she was hurt, my uncle Andy stood there, I asked what was going on and my mum just screamed that my Uncle Shane was dead. This, this is so hard to write, it’s been 22 years and the pain and trauma of losing my uncle has never ceased. I remember screaming and crying, one of the only times I ever showed emotion in front of my mother.
I didn’t know he’d killed himself, there was a lot of talk about it being a murder that had been covered up, I still don’t know the truth. I don’t know if I ever will. On Nivets my uncle is remembered as a veteran and is death is cited as violent and unnatural. I remember the soldier burial, I remember the screaming of my mother, and my aunts, because they couldn’t let him go. I remember trying to shield my little cousin, J, because he wouldn’t understand, he was only 8. I remember me and his big brother Gordon playing Mariah Carey’s Without You non stop and sobbing. I still can’t manage to sit through that song and will get up and remove myself from wherever it’s playing if I can’t turn it off.
That was my first knowledge of suicide and what it meant. Remember, when I was a kid, we didn’t have Google. We didn’t even have Ask Jeeves at that point from what I remember. Yes, I’m that old. I remember after that, suicide was in the back of my mind at all times. I thought that if I didn’t end up killing myself, then mother would, whether she would kill me in my sleep, or burn the house down (believe me, she’d tried, more than once, but I have a great sense of smell and got to it before it got to the point of smoking).
I remember writing in my diary about suicide, writing about how it would make me free, how I’d not be in any more pain, that I’d be with my uncle. My uncle whose death broke my angel Nanny. It broke her, she was never the same, no mother should have to bury her child. No one saw it coming, some hit the drink, some became unbelievably depressed, me, I didn’t know how to grieve, at least I thought I didn’t, but clearly having MC on repeat was my way of grieving.
Even before I knew what suicide was, I felt the need to want to die. My childhood wasn’t what it should have been, by age 7 I was the parent. Dad had left mother and due to idle threats by her, he couldn’t take me with him. My mother was an alcoholic, manic-depressive, she abused me physically, emotionally and mentally. I’ve touched on this in my previous blog and I will add my story here, again.
I was born with a harelip/cleft palate, this affected me massively as a kid, and even more so in later life. I’d bad ear infections, suffering from glue ear as long as I can remember. I had grommets fitted when I was 6 or 7 (or vents as some other people call it). The grommets caused an allergic reaction which blew a hole straight through my left eardrum, to the point where every ENT specialist I see tells me they haven’t said anything like it. All I can say is, “thanks”, I mean, what else can I say? My parents should have sued, they didn’t, but they should have. I know dad wanted to, but mother, no, not if the money wasn’t going in her pocket.
My childhood was far from normal, I was pretty much a recluse. I spent so much time reading to escape the life around me, I had a tonne of friends at school, friends that I would sometimes go out and play with, but my childhood wasn’t normal. I grew up super quick, I was an only child until the age of 10. My little brother, J, was born in July just before I lost my uncle. I was ecstatic when he was born, I’m still ecstatic to be his big sister over 21 years later.
I’d go river walking with my cousins and I’d think of the movie “IT” based on Stephen King’s novel, I’d wonder if we’d ever find Pennywise and that I’d surely offer myself up, as I didn’t want to be here anyway. Bear in mind I was no older than 9 or 10 when I was having these thoughts. I was never scared of being kidnapped, I was a streetwise kid just given the fact I grew up on the Shore Road, right beside Tigers Bay. I’d often go around the Bay area to play with my cousins, and our wee friend, Carl. Yes, Carl, as in the famous boxer from Tigers Bay.
We moved from the Shore Road to Monkstown, Newtownabbey when I was around 11. I had passed my 11+ and was delighted as I’d set my sites on Belfast High School (BHS), which is a Grammar School in Northern Ireland. Mother wasn’t having none of it, I was still her only child, she didn’t want me getting a bus on my “own”. This was bollocks, of course, because I’d friends going to BHS.
Mother’s drinking was getting worse, I spent a lot of time online, she worked nights so I was left on my own during those times. I remember visiting sites like Rotten.com and SteakandCheese.com, downloading horror films on Limewire (#RIPLimewire). She was still abusive and I was a typical teenager, full of angst and full of hatred for her.
When I was 16 I decided I’d had enough. I hated school, I felt I was ugly, I’d have the piss taken out of me because of how I looked on a regular basis. I always laughed it off and never let anyone see it was upsetting me, but inside it was fuelling the burning urge to end my life. By this point, I’d used the internet to search for suicide methods and had looked at images that no teenager should ever see.
I wished I was beautiful, I dreamed of looking like someone completely different, having a far better life, living in a nicer house, with two loving parents, and no worries. Instead, I was 16, living with an alcoholic mother who spent her days asleep, sleeping off her hangover, and her evenings working and leaving me alone. I was dead inside, I saw all the pretty girls in the year above me with straight, perfect white teeth, good hearing, no glasses, normal, no issues with parents, I was a freak. A freak hiding everything from even her closest friends. My closest friends only found out when they read my original suicide and me, and my childhood abuse story posted on my old blog.
Mother’s alcoholism was reaching the peak, she was beginning to harm herself and she’d stopped hiding the empty bottles of vodka in the usual places (dirty washing basket, hot press, vegetable rack, washing machine and so on). The house had food, but I couldn’t touch it, as it was there for “show”. I didn’t see any future for myself, I’d walk my dog Honey very late at night with earphones in, completely fearless and hoping someone would just kill me. I didn’t think I’d pass my GCSE’s, I used to beg the universe to kill me, my dead relatives to just get me through my GCSE’s to make my dad proud so I could die.
I decided one night I’d had enough, my life felt empty and meaningless. All I had was my dog and she was so moody I thought she hated me too (she didn’t, she loved me dearly, she was just a moody bitch like me). I remember thinking to myself about how ugly I was, that I’d forever be alone, I’d never amount to anything and I just wanted it to end, I had the means to do it and I’d wanted it to happen for as long as I could remember.
It was after a particularly bad fight with mother and I decided that was it. I had nothing going for me, I hated mother, I hated my life, my dad had his own little family in Belfast, I hated myself, I was ugly and worthless, I had to die. I went to the kitchen where mother was and took a large Chef’s knife (I didn’t realise at the time it was blunt) from the kitchen drawer. I began sawing at my wrists, nothing was happening. I know looking back now I wasn’t doing the right thing in terms of how to cut yourself, but I also think of my uncle who’d passed when I was doing this and felt like it was him stopping me from doing it.
No matter how much I tried, I didn’t break the skin, it just looked like I’d been wearing elastic bands around my wrists, just a red mark. No blood, no pain, nothing. I was so frustrated and angry, I just wanted to die. I remember mother commenting, “You can’t even do that fucking right!” I can’t remember if she took the knife, or I threw it. Either way, it ended up in the sink and I ended up in a clump on the floor crying, asking why couldn’t someone kill me, why hadn’t it worked, there was no point in my life and I couldn’t understand why what I thought was a foolproof plan, hadn’t worked.
Mother had walked out of the kitchen, I picked myself up, wiped my nose and took myself to my room and slammed the door. I just remember spending the rest of the night staring at my red wrists, wondering why it hadn’t worked, crying and listening to music that reminded me of my dead family members and wishing I was with them because I missed them so much. I’m not a cryer, I’ve barely ever cried, I’m the one at the funeral that just stands there showing no emotion. The last time I remembered crying was losing my uncle when I was 10. Crying was a sign of weakness, and I didn’t show weakness. I didn’t show it around anyone, especially mother.
Fast forward to October 2016, I’d since met my partner, married and had spent time in mainland U.K, before returning to Belfast as my granda has just lost my granny and I was scared I was going to lose him and never see him, again. Partner and I agreed it was best for me to move home, he’d planned to leave, we were going to buy a house and start a family. None of this materialised. I was in work, having one of many meetings of the day, this was with my counterpart at another site and my Manager, whom I was extremely close to. My counterpart and I had a disagreement, the short version is she was a liar, she was older than me and she belittled me in front of my Manager. Usually, I’d fire back, as I was always feisty and would never let anyone speak to me like shite.
I didn’t this day, she spoke to me just as mother had. I felt something inside me snap, I don’t know what the argument was about, mother was dead, she died in 2011. I ended up going home, and I didn’t return to work for 3 months. Suicide had always been bubbling in the back of my mind, my life was never what I wanted it, but is it ever? I hated myself, I hated the way I looked (I’d put on 6 stone and my family aren’t shy about commenting on other family members weight), my job, my life, my personality, you name it, I hated it. Counterpart caused me to have a flashback, that flashback opened a world of hell for me for the next two years.
I was living on my own, my partner has a job that keeps him working away in the mainland U.K for long periods of time. I spent the first week off work in bed, okay that’s a lie, I spent the majority of the next 2 years in bed. Suicidal thoughts now at the forefront of my mind, they’d always been in the deep, dark places of my mind, where I hid my abuse, my rape, the bad things I’d seen online, the bad things I knew about, I’d locked them away to be able to cope and function as a “normal” person.
I contemplated suicide a lot during this time, I attempted it more than once, often ending up in agony from taking too many tablets. All it did was cause V&D and a really horrible dull ache in my stomach. I thought overdosing would be the best way, no blood, it would be a “tidy” suicide.
I don’t know how far into my illness that I managed to get my other half home, I just remember the huge panic attacks, the huge waves of sadness and low mood. Not even having the energy to feed me and barely having the energy to get up and let my dogs out. One thing I do is block things out, so when I have a bad experience it’s blocked out and I only remember bits and pieces, a bit like I’ll close my eyes for half of the memory then open them again at a certain point, I hope that makes sense.
The suicidal thoughts were horrendous, the feelings of not being good enough at my job, of being overweight, of being a terrible wife, of losing my baby, of being a horrible dog mum, a terrible daughter, friend, cousin, sister and so on. The panic attacks were constant, the feeling of anxiety was constant and it’s something that to this day has still not left me.
For anyone who has felt the feeling of anxiety you’ll know what I mean when I say the thought of leaving my house or getting out of bed filled me with this absolute dread, I feel this huge knot in the pit of my stomach, I feel like I can’t breathe and I get so shaky and fearful.
My husband would try and get me out of bed, it made me worse. Again, for anyone who has been depressed they’ll know how I was feeling, that it made me worse. I couldn’t even get out of bed, what type of loser was I? The thoughts of suicide were constant, my husband’s work was kind enough to give him a few months off, he had a good EAP (Employee Assistance Program) with his work which is where I met my counsellor, to protect her privacy and mine, let’s call her Katie. I know this blog post is sort of all over the show in terms of memories etc. but that’s how I’m remembering it, bear with me.
I tried to commit suicide before my husband came home, I’d swallowed enough tablets that it should have done the job. This might seem completely stupid to some people, but I remember lying in bed waiting for it all to kick in and I turned and looked at my 14-year-old dog who had been by my side since I was 15 and my other 7-year-old dog both staring at me, both looked so sad that I burst into tears and ran to the toilet and shoved my hands down my throat until I vomited. I kept going until there was nothing but bile coming out. I still felt really sick and nauseous but I didn’t go to A&E.
The next few days I felt so unwell, which is completely my own fault. I’m not in any way saying suicide is a good idea. After my suicide attempt, the husband got home, I met my counsellor, Katie and Katie helped me to realise that what happened to me as a child wasn’t my fault and it wasn’t right. I wasn’t just a child stuck with a strict parent, I was a child of abuse. There’s a picture online of the signs of abuse I remember seeing it on Linkedin and circling the picture with everything I’d suffered, it was then that it truly hit me.
Fast forward again to December 2017, the Depression and Anxiety was back this time it was worse than ever. I had lost the majority of the weight during my previous bout of Depression and the months thereafter so at this point I was 3 stone under my “BMI” weight (BMI = Bullshit Measurement Indicator, please never, ever, ever follow your BMI any good GP will tell you it’s bullshit). I stopped eating in this bout of Depression, I survived on tea, diet coke and water. Did I have an eating disorder? No, I don’t think I can say I did. I think I was struggling to have no control over my life and this was something I could control if it does sound like an eating disorder then forgive me for my ignorance.
I’d lost my baby in November 2017, my then 15-year-old dog who had been my rock, the love of my life. I’m crying as I write this as I’ll never get over this, she was old, she was in pain and she looked at me one day and I just knew it was time. I think that’s what started it all, to be honest, I didn’t get time to grieve, I scream cry a lot even now because I miss her. I wouldn’t wish my pain on anyone, she was the first living thing that I ever truly loved with all my heart. Mummy loves you, my baby.
By January 2018 I finally got to see a Psychiatrist, I was finally diagnosed with PTSD. I struggled from January 2018 to April 2018, suicidal thoughts prominent in my mind. By April the partner and I were in a bad place, the past few years had taken a huge toll on our relationship, both of us had been lost and swallowed up in my sickness. I tried it again, I wrote out a plan in my journal, it was planned right down to my funeral. Looking back at it now, it’s scary. It’s scary to read and scary to think I would have gone through with it had my best friend not sussed what my cryptic messages were about and called the police. She called my partner, too. He was furious, called my dad and everything came tumbling down around me. I needed help, badly.
I devastated my dad, he treated me differently for a very long time. I know he told other family members, I was so ashamed. Not because I wanted to die, as to me that was normal, but because I’d let them all down. My granda was dying, he had been told he was terminal for years, but after losing my granny, he just didn’t want to be there without her. So, I sought help, because I didn’t want to be the one to upset my family, we’d enough death to last us a lifetime.
I’m not going to recommend the Samaritan’s to you because, to be honest, I’ve been there and they can’t do anything, but continue to ask you to keep talking to them. I know from my personal experience that’s not what you need, you need someone to tell you that you mean something, that you are worth it, that no matter what happens or what has happened, you are beautiful, amazing, you are worth being here and life is sent to try us, trust and believe it’s fucking sent to try us, but it makes us stronger.
At present, I’m doing okay, I’m not 100% and I don’t know if I will ever be, but I’m me, I’m here and I’m taking each day as it comes. I still don’t know what my future holds and I still don’t have full control over the anxiety or PTSD, but I’m eating properly again, I’m healthy and have kept the weight off, I miss Honey every day. I lost my granda in August of this year, two days after he died, I miscarried. I was 2 months along, I’d no idea, partner and I were still in a horrendous place, so I’d no clue I was pregnant. It was absolutely horrendous, I’d to leave my hero (my granda) wake early because I was bleeding through my dress.
I mention this because I got through this, I got through losing Honey, possibly ruining my relationship, several suicide attempts, devastating my dad, worrying my little brother, my friends, losing my hero granda and losing my baby, my very much wanted and very much loved despite never meeting them, my baby. I never thought that I’d be sitting here in December 2018 not even considering suicide. It’s always there, always in the back of my mind, but I think of my dad, of the people my family has lost, I think of my dog, T, who would look after him?
I’ve decided to dedicate my life to helping kids that may have been through what I did as a child. To get my PhD in Forensic Psychology so I could make all the child killers pay, to ruin their lives as they ruined families. To do what I can to name the nameless, to protect the future generation, to lobby for the death penalty for paedophiles and to work on becoming a better person. My whole outlook on life has changed, whilst my body dysmorphia is still very much present, I push it back into the shadows with the suicidal thoughts. I started back at university in October 2018, studying Psychology and I’ve met two girls that I call family. It’s like we were destined to meet, my soul sisters and every day is full of banter, craic and us talking about how much we wanna lick Brendan Urie’s chest and have Jamie Dornan’s babies (okay, maybe that’s just me saying that).
So what has my suicide attempts taught me? That nothing is worth ending your life over. You may think you are not wanted, that the people on your social media accounts just want to be your friend to nosey about your life, but I can tell you that more than half of them will miss you, will attend your funeral, will mourn you and will wonder what could they have done to help you? What was so bad in your life that you couldn’t possibly get over it? Look at me, look at my loss, what I went through as a child. I don’t want a pity party, I want you to realise that all of this, all of it has made me a stronger, more patient, more open-eyed to the world around me and more determined to save others.
There is the saying that someone is always worse off than you. I hated that saying, but it’s true. I hope you read my story and realise it’s not worth it, don’t put your family through it. Come to me if you need help, let me talk you through, please just talk to someone. You are never alone, there is always someone going through something similar or has gone through something similar and gotten through it.
If you are feeling suicidal please contact the following charities:
MindInfoline: 0300 123 3393
Campaign Against Living Miserably
Helpline: 0800 58 58 58
Papyrus HOPElineUK – 0800 068 41 41
YoungMinds (ages 13 – 25)
Helpline: 0808 802 5544
The Mix (ages 13 – 25)
Helpline: 0808 808 4994
Helpline: 0808 11 11
Lifeline Suicide Prevention
USA Suicide Prevention Helplines Please go to this site and you will find a list of organisations to help you.
Or please, please message me. I can’t do much, but I can be the person at the other end of the computer or the phone to talk to you, to make you realise you are stronger than what you are feeling. We’ve got this lad, we honestly do. There is so much damage being done by the evil of the world, it takes people like us, with guts, with strength, especially in numbers, we can beat this.
“Suicide doesn’t end the chances of life getting worse, it eliminates the possibility of it ever getting any better.” – Unknown
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