Sadly, many suicide victims will never attempt to get any medical support before taking their life. The bereaved family is often left in a state of shock and disbelief. Many families will say they never saw it coming. Yet, I always wonder, how many of these deaths could have been prevented?
As a survivor, I can appreciate how hard it is to come forward and talk about suicide. But, rightly or wrongly, I still find myself apologising if I make people feel uncomfortable on the subject. I wish we lived in a world where this wasn't the case. Saying that you suffer from depression is nothing to be ashamed of, but it can be a great way to kill a conversation.
Depression feeds on the loneliness and self-isolation of individuals. Therefore, nobody should expect to fight depression singlehandedly — support is crucial in this battle!
The effects of my depression have been crippling, and in my darkest hours, it led to two attempts on my life. The latest attempt came two years ago when I took an overdose. I swallowed a concoction of pills, including an entire packet of paracetamols and anti-depressants, all washed down with half a bottle of Jack Daniels.
It has taken me a long time to accept my illness and to get the proper help I need. But, what reason did I have to be depressed?
It was a long journey to the root of my depression. In the end, intensive counselling sessions helped me realise that traumatic childhood memories can act as a trigger and affect your mental health years later.
When I left school, I got a job in the NHS caring for adults with learning disabilities and complex needs. Right from the start, I loved the job, and soon my colleagues became some of my closest friends.
Moving forward, I worked within the Mental Health sector. Unfortunately, as rewarding as the job was, it could also be psychologically draining, and it all became too much for me after the sudden death of my father.
Over the years, my panic attacks became more frequent and much more random. They were taking place in shops and supermarkets, on public transport and in many other social situations. I soon became fearful of everything; even opening my mail or answering the telephone became too much. I could no longer work anymore, and long periods of isolation led me to slip into a deep depression.
In 2015 I reached breaking point. For me, this was a feeling of sheer despair. I was being swallowed up by a sickening sadness and a sense of hopelessness. I felt unimaginable mental torment, which resulted in my first suicide attempt.
Thankfully, I now find myself in a much happier place. Although I am far from recovered, I have learnt ways to manage my illness.
Moving forward, I want to reach out to people like myself who are battling with their mental health. I want to reassure them that they are not alone or abnormal in how they think. I need them to stop feeling ashamed.
I hope to encourage more people to come forward and seek help in the early stages of their depression before they get to the stage that I did.
In my book, 'A Gentle Breeze' I challenge some of the stigmas and try to change old fashioned ill-educated viewpoints on depression. I hope to help change people's perceptions for the better, making coming forward and talking about depression much easier.