Thanks to Movember for alerting me that it’s World Suicide Prevention Day today. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under fifty. Mental illness, of course, cares not what gender you are, but it’s something that we men find particularly hard to deal with and open up about. We are emotional and far more sensitive than society likes to try and condition us to be, yet collectively still appear to fall for the fallacies, viewing talking about such things as a sign of weakness.
I know as well as anybody how horrendously frightening and just impossible it seems to begin communicating such dark, hideous thoughts – hence the drawing. It feels as though nobody is there; no-one will understand. I bottled up my mounting depression and anxieties for several years, until, in 2012, I could take no more and suffered a breakdown whose magnitude was such that I’m still coming to terms with it and receiving treatment (currently a combination of medication and counselling). It scuppered the final year of my degree and put me completely out of action; I spent Christmas that year and later my 21st birthday in the dark, hiding under a duvet, because I’d convinced myself it was all that I deserved.
The path has certainly not been easy since then. In the intervening period, suicide has flirted with me on a number of occasions: It would be the only way out. It would mean nobody had to worry anymore. I don’t deserve the people around me. I don’t deserve to live anymore. I’m useless. I’m such a disgusting person…
But, reach out to the right places, and there are lights in the dark. There is stardust in the nightmare. I’m not over all that happened, and there have been some worrying relapses, but I’m in a better place right now than I have been for a while. I owe that to a select group of people, most of whom are not doctors or psychiatrists. Please don’t let it get to such desperate stages, and certainly don’t leave it until your suicide note. Remember that there are people and services out there who want to help and can lead you in the right direction, and, with time, help guide you away from this awful mindset.
Likewise, if you know anybody who’s in a dark place right now, remind them that you care. An act of kindness or generosity you know they’ll appreciate. Give them a hug. You don’t have all the answers – I certainly bloody don’t – and it’s naive to think that you will, but it could just be one of the most important exchanges you ever have. Just being there is worth more than you know, and it most definitely won’t go unappreciated.
Be the light in the dark.
On this vein, I feel I must, with my experiences, offer my own ears; if anybody finds this who would like to have a chat privately, I’m around anytime. You can also contact Mind or The Samaritans if you are in need of help.