Depression is not a word I ever thought I would associate with myself. What would I have to be depressed about? I had a lovely family, great friends, chasing my dreams and carving out a career. Yet, here I sit, almost exactly four years to the day since I attempted to take my life by suicide.
I still find it hard to think that the person I am, the person I was before depression gripped me, could ever find themselves so low that suicide seemed like the only option, but I felt as though I had no choice.
A dark and lonely bubble that separated me from the warm and loving circle of support I had around me. I forgot how to feel. Anything. Joy, sorrow, guilt, love. My brain would tell me but my heart couldn’t feel it. I became more and more detached from life and I had no idea why.
I just thought the feelings, the anxiety, the heaviness, was just part of growing up. I was 23 years old, not long out of University and having to deal with the real world. Making money, taking on responsibilities. I thought the feelings were just part and parcel of that. And so, I ignored them. Bottled them up. I didn’t bother anyone with them because, people have their own problems, I guessed they all felt the same way, only they seemed to be coping, unlike me. Which made me feel even more pathetic.
Pathetic is the word. I felt useless. I had no purpose, with nothing to offer the world. I just existed. Barely.
As I fell deeper into the darkened mist, I felt as though I was a burden to those I loved most. I didn’t want them to worry about me or try to help me because I thought I was beyond helping.
I tried my best to get through each day at a time, despite my inner turmoil, until one day, out of nowhere, a voice inside my head told me: “kill yourself”. Suddenly it all made since. It was the answer to all my problems. I end the misery, not just for me but for everyone connected to me. With me gone, they could all get on with their lives. So, I did it, or at least I tried. Alone in my car.
But my story doesn’t end there. My then girlfriend, now fiancé, found me before it was too late and so began a four year journey of building my life back together.
From speaking out about my personal experiences, I have had my eyes opened to the suffering of so many, who all needlessly feel alone and helpless.
After each and every interview I am contacted by someone, often a stranger, asking for help. Where do they go? How do they get help? And in all honesty, I didn’t know, but I knew one thing for sure, if I was going to speak about my experiences on a public platform then I had a responsibility to find out.
The truth is, it’s too hard to find help – we should be pulling together to make help as easy as possible to find. That is why I founded Chasing the Stigma and have launched the Hub of Hope – a national database of organisations, groups, charities that can offer help, support and information. I aim for it to be the UK’s biggest mental health database – bringing mental health support together in one place.
By creating a community of real people who have faced real problems, we can offer genuine hope to those who need it the most.
Hope, no matter how small, is what gets us through every situation. If I can use my experiences to give other that glimmer of hope to others and to show that there is an alternative, then I will make it my life’s goal to continue to do so.
Nobody should ever suffer alone. There are people who understand. There is help. There is hope.