WARNING: Parts of my storey are very confronting and some may find upsetting, if you find yourself upset and depressed I encourage you to ring Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 224636.
A lot of people who know me and who indirectly know me, have said of me in response to my attempts of suicide, or the “S” word, that I was selfish. I probably was! It’s easy for people who have never suffered depression, or who lack awareness/education, or who are building the stigma attached to depression, or who criticise the actions and behaviours of those with depression, to make judgements. When you are not flanked by a Black Dog with no obedience, don’t have a thick fog shrouding your mind, or you are not trapped in a maze with no exits, I guess it’s easy to make the determination I was just being selfish.
Yes I have been a Mum, suffering from severe depression, who has tried to commit suicide a number of times.
When you have a major depressive episode, involving psychosis you are not in a position to know what you are doing, your thoughts, feelings, consciousness, behaviours are completely inhibited by deep depression, leaving you with no control over your actions. I don’t remember taking too many prescription pills with alcohol, I don’t remember the ambulance or the doctors and nurses saving my life. I wasn’t there to support my soul mate as he stood by watching helplessly as I struggled for life nor was I there when I wouldn’t wake up for days later.
I was too depressed, too sick to realise that my actions could have left my son without his Mum, or my soul mate without a partner for life.
It’s easy to say that those that attempt or commit suicide should talk to those around them, and ask for help. That’s not so simple when you grow up in a household where you didn’t talk about your problems and feelings, or in a house filled with a family who didn’t believe in depression. It’s not so easy to start the conversation when you were always alone, or when your every word was criticised and taunted. You can’t start a conversation if you simply don’t know where to start.
My attempts at suicide have left me in ICU and wards of hospitals for weeks at a time, left me with scars, has had me locked up in psychiatric wards, has resulted in me being put on medications that have left me as a zombie unable to know what was going on around me, seen me discharged with the promises of follow up help from the CAT teams and other professionals, only to be left alone, it has caused me to be the patient of ECT, and has left me in a world where I could not see a way out of my own self built prison of helplessness shrouded in deep, deep depression.
My last attempt occurred in October, 2012. This time, unlike the attempts before, I had someone fighting for me in my corner, someone whose only priorities was to ensure I got well, and that I would reach a level of health that I could start down a road to recovery. That person was and is my soul mate.
One of the contributing factors towards suicide attempts and loss of life is not being able to or not having someone to start the conversation with to say YOU ARE NOT OKAY. To talk about depression is hard enough but talking about your thoughts of wanting to die, to commit suicide are something that someone not in this situation could ever understand. The taboo shrouding depression and mental illness is considerable, it means that you don’t talk about it. It’s not your individual decision, it’s within the attitudes of society, societies lack of understanding and lack of priorities to understand, it’s a part of societies culture towards mental illness, and suicide.
The guilt and the shame that I face daily over what has happened, what I have put my soul mate and little boy through will never leave me. But I can honestly say that without them I would not be here today, and without my soul mate I would never have received the treatment that I have needed most of my life, and I definitely wouldn’t now be travelling slowly down a road to recovery.
Organisations, and parts of government are now working to not only help those with mental illness, but to also educate those surrounding those with mental illness. These organisations can provide you with more information about how you can get the conversation started – BeyondBlue, Sane Australia, Headspace, and R U OK? Day.
When my soul mate talks about what we have been through, because of me, that tear in his eye, and those three little words “I love you” give me everything to live for. Being well enough to smile with my little boy, finally enjoy being his Mummy, and being the new me are the reasons that I will live with depression, and I will SURVIVE!