By Nicola Graham
I want to die
I long to say
I yearn to cry
To walk away
To leave this life
And all this pain
Just go to sleep
Never return again
Some say it’s selfish
They say it’s weak
But do they know
About the pain I speak
The endless voice
Inside my head
That says I’m useless
And better off dead
I’m so exhausted
Of the masquerade
Of dreaming of sunlight
But only living in shade
I want to die
I long to say
But it’s not my turn
Not my time today
I attempted suicide as a teenager. In August 1987, a couple weeks shy of my seventeenth birthday, I overdosed. It was not a spontaneous decision, I had agonized for days and weeks falling deeper and deeper into a darkness where I only seemed to find one solution; to bring an end to my suffering. On a summers evening after I wrote a note hoping to relieve my loved one’s of any blame or guilt, I swallowed what should have been a lethal dose of pills, climbed into bed and waited for the end.
After swallowing all those pills I remember my mum coming in to check on me as she thought I was sleeping. Other than that my memories are mostly audio one’s as when the pills kicked in I became unable to move but I could still hear what was going on as I slipped in and out of consciousness. I still hear their voices, their panic, their pain. I hear my sister and best friend and the chaos as they discovered me. I hear my mother as she wept over me in the car. In the hospital I had an out-of-body experience, I watch them working me, pumping my stomach. How much of these memories are real I don’t really know because as a family we have never really sat down and spoke about it, even now 28 years later my mother can not speak to me about it. That is how much pain my suicide attempt caused her.
I don’t recall much else until the next day when I woke up in the hospital. Alive. I felt such a sense of utter failure, and of shame. Those feelings of uselessness and worthlessness were magnified a million times by my inability to succeed. Of course I put on a fake show of regret to everyone, including the shrink that evaluated me and I was released. I had no follow-up care, no psychiatric evaluation or therapy. My life slipped back to “normal” immediately, my parents watched me cautiously for a while till I convinced everyone that I was fine. I went back to work after a couple of days off where most my co workers greeted me as if I’d had been out with the flu. It was as if it never happened. I remained numb, and inside I struggled with being seriously depressed, but I had to put on a mask and pretend that I was happy to be alive, happy that I had not succeeded. I would say the rehearsed lines over and over to convince whoever I was talking to that I was ok, but I had such deep demons.
About a week after my failed attempt, a very close girlfriend of mine died suddenly in a car accident. Attending her funeral with all of my friends was like attending my own funeral. I wanted to die, she did not. How unfair was that? I wished I could have traded places with her as I sat there looking at her casket. She wanted to live, she wasn’t ready to die. I grieved deeply for my friend, I talked to her a lot, sometimes I still talk to her now. I think perhaps I grieved for both her and myself back then. For me, it was her death that helped pull me through, helped me survive my survival.
I’m in my mid forties now, a wife, a mother and if I’m really honest I still think about dying, I still struggle with living, as a survivor I don’t think it ever leaves you, those thoughts never go away, they’re always there buried in the back of your head. I have never attempted suicide again, but I won’t lie and say that it hasn’t crossed my mind….briefly in a moment of darkness. That feels awful to say out loud. But I struggled with postpartum after both my children, and I have endured severe PMDD my entire adult hormonal life. I have high ups, low downs, definite waves of depression my entire life, plus a family history of suicide attempts and deaths. But what stops me from crossing that line is knowing what it would do to my family, the pain that it would put them through and the permanent damage it would have on the rest of their lives. And as long as something stops you then you are surviving. Life is happy most times, hard sometimes, and depression can sneak up and consume you so quickly that you don’t even have any warning. I often struggle alone in that darkness and no one is aware of my pain. It is exhausting clawing my way out of that pit time and time again. And I have been there many times during my life, including as recently as earlier this year. But the difference is that I always find a way out and it is worth it every time.
I often think about my girlfriend, the one who passed away. Rene, her name always brings a smile to my face. Many friends have long forgotten her, but I never have. She never got to fall in love, get married, bring a life into this world, or hold the hand of a loved one as they took their last breath. I have celebrated birthdays and Christmases, heartaches, and such amazing joys. All of which would not have happened if I had not have been found when I did by my guardian angel and dear friend Kim. The doctors said I barely made it, another 30 minutes and I would have died. My son and daughter would not exist, the footprints I have made on this earth would vanish….I would not have been able to positively impacted anyone, only have negatively impacted the people I loved by dying too soon. There was a reason I woke up in that hospital bed, and 28 years later there is a reason I am still here, writing this.
A suicide attempt changes you forever, and every time I hear that someone has succeeded in taking their own life I feel such a deep sorrow for that person because I have walked in their shoes. I know what it is like to feel so hopeless, so desperate, and so alone that there seems to be only one feasible solution. I like to think there is always hope. Even during the most horrendous storm, the sun is shining majestically high above the clouds. You can claw your way out and you can live, because there is a whole life ahead of you waiting to be lived. You just have to find a slither of hope, your reason to survive. Your dire circumstances are only temporary. Today you don’t have to slip through the cracks, there are resources, medications and many avenues to get help, and you don’t have to be alone. I hope that if you are contemplating suicide or have woken up after an attempt, or you are looking for help, that these words have reached somewhere inside of you. You might not be able to see past today right now, but if you give it a chance things will get better, you can get better, and one day you too will have the chance to share your story and help someone.
National suicide prevention hotline 1/800-273-8255
Samaritans In the UK 08457 90 90 90 or email email@example.com
(if you can’t speak privately)
Childline In the UK 0800 1111
Thursday September 10 2015 world suicide prevention day
Someone attempts suicide every 30 seconds
Someone dies from suicide every 12.95 minutes
Suicide is the 2nd Leading cause of death for 10-24 year olds
More people die from suicide than from homicide
90% of those who die by suicide had a diagnosable psychiatric condition at the time of their death.