Trigger warning: This post contains details of attempted suicide. You may find it triggering if you have personal experience of this subject.
The memory is a funny old thing! There are times when I can’t remember what I did yesterday. Then there are days that stay with you forever. Sometimes these days are the best days of your life – the day you got married or gave birth to your children. But sometimes these days are the worst days of your life. The most hideous experiences. This is how it is for me. I still remember vividly the day that I attempted suicide for the third time.
The Day I Attempted Suicide
It was a day like any other. I was 24 and working as an Assitant Manager at the local Next store. I was also a full-time student at university, where I was trying to gain an MA by research in Greek Tragedy (don’t worry, the irony is not lost on me).
Yet, that was the day that my 19-year-old boyfriend dumped me and the bottom fell out of my world. I wasn’t in love with him. But I was ill with depression and hugely fragile. The slightest thing could send me into a deep black hole and a pit of despair. So being dumped unceremoniously on the phone tore me apart.
It also confirmed everything I thought I knew about myself. That I was unloveable and hateful. That I was the worst person in the world. And that my life wasn’t worth living. Everyone would be better off without me.
I was also in pain. So much emotional pain. It washed over me in waves. It filled my lungs, my heart, my brain and every inch of my body. I was drowning in the pain and there was no escape.
I concluded that there was only one way to end the pain and save everyone who knew me. So I coldly made the decision to kill myself. It was a decision that I had made twice before. And it was one that I made calmly.
I headed over to the 24 hour Tesco store near where I lived. At Tesco, I bought a loaf of bread, a pint of milk and a couple of packets of Nurofen Plus tablets. I then went next door to the garage shop and bought a bottle of coke, some chocolate and even more Nurofen Plus tablets.
Once I’d returned to the safety of my room I began to take the tablets. I remember feeling desperately alone. And I had a realisation that this was what my life amounted to. Lying in a darkened room and downing tablets with a bottle of coke. And the loneliness. The emptiness. The absolute belief that no one cared and that death was the only route out of my pain.
The next few hours became hazy. I phoned Samaritans. I hung up before speaking to anyone.
At some point, a few friends must have checked up on me. Because the next thing I remember is lying in a car waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
I was then in the hospital and had various tests to check the blood flowing to and from my heart. I had an ECG but my skin was so sweaty that the pads wouldn’t stick. My parents arrived.
Then the night that followed was full of tears and sickness. Sickness and tears. It felt like the longest night of my life. I was distraught that I was still alive. And every second, every minute, every hour that went past just seemed to emphasise that I was still here. Still breathing and still in the most horrendous emotional pain.
This was my final overdose. The hospital released me into my parents’ care and slowly I became better. The process was painful and involved the most mammoth effort on my part. It would have been easy to give in. But once I had come to terms with the fact that I was still alive – once I had accepted that my family loved me and wanted to protect me – then I was able to build myself up again.
My life can be divided into two. Before the overdose and after the overdose. Because hardly anything of the Lucy before the overdose still exists. In many ways, she did die that night and a new Lucy was born.
And here I am now, writing this, almost 17 years later. My life is unrecognisable. I am not the girl I was then. I am a woman of 40. A wife and a mother. I still have dark days. Sadly, I can’t say that I have never again felt the urge to end the pain forever. When the depression gets too bad I sometimes do yearn for death to take me.
Oh, but what a life I have lived and still do live. A life I may not have known. A life that I could have denied myself. All because of a moment, when I was alone and made a decision that would affect me for the rest of my days.
I was lucky. So very lucky. I didn’t die. I failed to kill myself and I was able to rebuild my life and to LIVE. To live a life that I am so blessed to have.
Others are not so lucky.
Yet, suicide is preventable. All it takes is a little kindness.
I attempted suicide three times. But it is not the only times I have felt like taking my own life. However, on the other occasions the actions and kindness of other people have stopped me.
A girl buying me a Mars Bar and giving me a big hug when she found me sobbing while sitting on the floor of the student union. An old lady smiling at me. A friend turning up at my door at the right time. The voice of my mum at the other end of the phone. All these people, without even realising, changed the course of my life.
That is why it is so important that we are kind to one another. We need to check-in on our friends and family. Ask them how they are and really listen to the answer. Don’t give advice. Don’t judge. Just listen. Sympathise and show you care. And let them know that they are loved and are not alone. Never alone.
They may be in pain. They may feel there is only one route out of their despair but show them there are other options. Give them hope and let them feel loved.
If we are kind to one another. Smile at strangers. Ask how people are. Listen. Really listen to their answers. Then we can begin to prevent suicide. Then we can live in a world where more people are able to tell their stories to future generations.
And that is why I tell my story. So no one needs to feel as I did that night. That no one needs to know how it feels to make the decision to take their life.
Suicide is preventable. Let’s prevent it together.
If you are feeling suicidal or desperate in any way then please phone someone you love. Or if they are not available then please phone Samaritans. You can call them for FREE. Any time, day or night. Call them on 116 123. Alternatively, you can email them on firstname.lastname@example.org (bear in mind, there is a 24 hour response time to the email).
For more information about mental health problems. You can contact the charity MIND. Their website is full of useful resources, including an A-Z of mental health. You can phone them for information and support on 0300 123 3393 or text 86463.
World Suicide Prevention Day #WSPD
For more information about World Suicide Prevention Day please visit their website. They have written an article on how to approach a friend who is upset and who you are worried about. It is called Take A Minute and is very helpful.
Mrs H’s favourite things
You can read more posts that I have written about this subject: