Mental Health May

The time is now

It has been two years and four months since the night I wanted to kill myself.

It was out of pure desperation; I felt useless, lonely, scared and, most of all, lost. I didn’t know where to turn to; the mental pain I had been torturing myself with had numbed me of rational thought and emotion. I felt like my only means of escape was through not being alive anymore, the thought of which makes me feel nauseous now. Since hitting that low point in my life, with the support of my friends and family, I went out and got the help I needed, and now I’m at the stage where I am finally happy and content with the way my life is.

The hardest step with most mental health issues, whether it be depression, an eating disorder, or an addiction issue, is not only realising that you have a problem, but acting on it. We live in a time when we are not formally educated on mental health, in schools or universities, so knowing where to look is a big issue. When you realise what you are struggling with, the last thing you want to do is scroll through the internet for hours trying to seek out the best method to obtain help. The reason I didn’t seek help is because I was embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to know how weak I perceived myself to be, so I just lived with the way I felt for months on end.

However, once you do take the leap, and seek help, the support you receive is overwhelming. People around you, friends and family especially, are always there and as soon as they know there is an issue, they will try to help. It’s almost impossible to tell when you are blinded by your own thoughts, but you are loved and someone is there to help. The people closest to me were the ones who helped me most, and made me feel alive again. For the most part they treated me normally, which kept me sane.

Samaritans image

Whatever you discuss with Samaritans is down to you. Credit: wolvesunion.org

Alongside this, support from mental health agencies and my counsellor were also great. Samaritans (phone number: 116 123) were my personal option of support service; I actually called them after I was done with counselling. I just wanted to confide in someone I didn’t know; I would reflect back on my issues and would tell them what treatment helped me. After I was out the eye of the storm, the easiest way for me to cope was to acknowledge that I still had some troubles I needed to work through. For these hotlines, whatever is discussed is down to you. They work hard to ensure you feel better, so even if you’ve had a terrible day and need someone to let off some steam to, these people can help.

Counselling is something I can strongly recommend. At first it was one of the scariest things I had ever done. I was about to open myself up and face all the thoughts that had consumed me for several months, in front of a person I had met five minutes prior. But she was calm, patient and quite simply excellent. In the first session, I was hesitant, but she was brilliant in building my trust quickly, and we started making big strides. Unleashing all these inner emotions, for me, seemed so much easier with it being someone I didn’t know in a casual setting. She wasn’t there to judge me, only work through things and give me coping mechanisms to utilise during times when I was feeling down.

There are always going to be moments in life when I feel down, but now, instead of letting them get me down and keep me down, I have my methods of coping. Having a network of people around me I can trust and discuss and work through any issues with is important.

A friend recently approached me and asked when I knew was the best time to come off anti-depressants. I think that it is down to each individual person but, I suggested that they had a solid support group in place for when they were coming off them.

For me personally, I had a heavy dose of anti-depressants for eight months. I had discussed with my GP that I wanted to decide when to come down in dosage and eventually come off them. They granted me this and it was good. One of the big issues for me when battling my depression was the lack of control I had. If I could control this aspect, I’d feel like I was back in control of my life. I vividly remember when I decided I was ready to come off them.

I had been working two jobs in the summer of 2016 and the people around me were terrific. They didn’t know I had been (and still was at the time) struggling with mental health problems. I felt confident with the happiness and stability these people had brought me, that I could half my dosage and see how that went. But the moment I felt confident enough to come off was when I was in Denmark that July. I was sat at TGI’s with the sun beaming down, chicken tender strips en route and an overpriced glass bottle of Diet Coke in my hand, surrounded by people I felt comfortable with. I felt so happy in that moment, so at peace and not a single worry. If I could feel that happy at any given moment, then I could feel that happy for the rest of my life.

Stepping off the anti-depressants was excellent because I didn’t feel a change. When I started them I did, but ever since I have felt ‘normal’.

happy in LA

Hanging out at the Eagles@Rams game. Credit: Harry McArthur

I’m at the stage now where I have lived out all I’ve ever wanted in life so far and achieved some things I never thought were possible for me. I smile and laugh every day and enjoy life as much as I possibly can. I’ve been to America on my own, seen my favourite sports teams break taboos and I am set to be Editor-in-Chief of Brig for a full year. The point of this article isn’t so I can blow my own trumpet; it’s to show that happiness is possible regardless of how low you feel. I have been fortunate enough to have the previous two years of my life enhanced greatly by constant swarms of good news and fun adventures. One thing I realise now is that time keeps moving forward. Even at the lowest point, time doesn’t stop and life moves on.

For some people, it unfortunately did not: Chester Bennington, Robin Williams, Chris Benoit, Marilyn Monroe, and Kurt Cobain, to name a few high profile names that have taken their own lives. It shows that everyone can be fighting their own battles. No matter how perfect their life can look or how happy a person they can seem, people will be going through their own issues.

If you persevere, things will look up and get better. Things may seem daunting but life keeps going and no matter the situation, there is always a solution. With suicide rates and mental health issue rates rising, the time to speak is now. Seek the help you need because if you get it, fight through it and get to the other side, then you will find that happiness is attainable.

The time to speak is now because you deserve it.

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