*Trigger warning: Suicide- description of feelings, attempt & method*
Have you ever gone to sleep knowing it was for the last time?
Secure in the knowledge that soon you would take your final breath and there would be no more pain? I have.
I died my perfect death that day, after an intensity and panic akin to nothing I had ever experienced before, in a state of pure peace I lay my head back on the pillow, took time to remember each of the people and pets I had held dear, the places I had been and the good things I had done, grateful for the lessons I had learned along the way. Then I smiled to myself as I felt the drugs take hold of my body and I took a deep breath and let the blackness carry me away.
People don’t talk about suicide, it scares them because they don’t understand how we as living beings can choose to simply cease to exist, they don’t understand a pain so powerful that taking that final step seems the only way to end it, the only way to find peace.
That’s how I felt.
Only I didn’t die, I woke up four days later choking on a tube in the intensive care unit of the hospital, confused, embarrassed and unsure of where I was.
A lot had happened while I was sleeping, I had been found unconscious by the nurse at the mental health unit where I had been a patient and transferred from a country hospital to the big city by helicopter. My brother and sister had flown in from interstate and my husband had to break the news to my four children after receiving the worst phone call of his life.
The pills I had smuggled in to the unit should have killed me in my sleep and it was pure chance I was found when I was.
My depressions have almost always involved varying degrees of suicidal ideation. On this occasion I went into the hospital for dysphoric mania, I went in with the intention of trying to get better but with the hidden pills as a backup plan, in case it became too much – that way my family wouldn’t have to be the ones to find my body, some things you can’t un-see.
The saddest part of my failed suicide attempt was that I was forced to bare witness to the affect my actions had on the people around me. It turns out they had genuinely loved me the whole time and now I had hurt them unimaginably. My friends, my husband, my children and then there was the look of sadness and self-blame through the tears in my mother’s eyes.
Yes it’s hard to deal with the guilt of the fallout, let alone the fact that you are still the same person you were a moment before you chose to take your life. You are still held prisoner by your own mind and now there is more pressure as the people around either don’t trust you enough to leave the room or they expect you to just feel grateful for a second chance and excited to be alive when in reality that takes time, sometimes a lot of time.
Over a year on and the depression comes and goes as it always did, the new meds only muffled the mania and made me numb. I still have days and weeks when I wish I had died that night, times when I cry myself to sleep and curse my illness for grasping me so tightly in its clutches that I forget there is a different way to feel.
Death lures you with false promise, if you are looking for peace or relief it is not the answer you are simply existing in a state of sadness and fear and then you are gone. Nothing. Finished. Sadness was all you knew.
They say where there is life there is hope and I guess that is true, each day may seem harder than the last, problems may feel unsolvable but you really do still have a chance of finding some happiness, if you choose death there is 0 chance of happiness. So I try and remember on those long nights when the depression hits and I lie awake crying, no matter how hopeless I feel, I tell myself I do have a chance – even if it’s a little one.
Suicidal ideation might be a taboo topic but it is also a very, very real one and it’s not going away. Discussion leads to understanding and the realisation that we are not alone, it gives us the ability to share our stories, and as they say a problem shared is a problem halved. If you are going through a tough time reach out to someone, it doesn’t have to be a person in ‘real life’ if you are uncomfortable with that, some of my most validating friendships have come from people on the internet who are going through similar things to me.
Take care of yourselves, you are the one person you have to live with for the rest of your life so treat yourself with kindness and respect as you would to other people, your mind and body will thank you for it!
Have you or someone you loved struggled with suicidal ideation?
If you have been triggered by this topic or are experiencing suicidal feelings, in Australia please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or international readers please see our “Help In A Crisis” page