Tag Archive | Suicide

One year on….

from my last devastating relapse into a severe depression and how am I doing?

Quite well actually.

This time last year I was suicidal, hopeless, uncommunicative and emotionally numb. Fluctuating between tears and staring into blank space, spending 16-20 hours asleep too exhausted and uninterested to get out of bed I knew I was in trouble and with my reactions to this illness  honed from previous episodes of depression I switched to auto-pilot and found myself at the GP surgery seeking help.

The good thing about recovering from bouts of depression is that you know you can do it. It gives you hope. It keeps you from buying THAT bottle of vodka which you want to mix with the Valium/Tramadol tablets stored in the drawer upstairs for just these desperate times. When asked by the Doctor if I would consider killing myself my answer is unequivocally “Yes.” Why would I want to live my life feeling (or not feeling) like this? What do I have to live for? I have failed in everything I have done. I have no skills. My husband could look after himself without me.  My son is now 18 and can live independently. Who would miss me anyway?

These were hard times yet I had done so well being off my antidepressants for 18 months. But the sudden and unpredicted spiral into a major depression convinced me that it was just too hard to carry on without the support they give me. I’m not ashamed of taking them. They work for me and if they enable me to enjoy a certain quality of life, continue working and stay alive then bring them on.

Thankfully I have a great GP service. I have a Clinical psychologist who has known me for more than 20 years who understands me and my illness. They work together and come up with the best treatment for me. My medication was changed to suit my symptoms, which now include anxiety as well as depression, and the dose was adjusted until I reached a stable mood level. Sadly, I am one of the lucky ones who have this support. Everyone should have this expertise and care but the funds just are not available. This is appalling and condemns too many people to an existence that need not be.

More funding; more understanding of the complexity of mental illness; more mental health professionals; a review of the police reaction to suicide attempts and those with mental illness; respite facilities; talking therapies and counselling; regular drug reviews; support for families etc etc etc; I could go on and on but there is so much work that needs to be done in the treatment of mental illness I would be here for a year trying to explain.

We have made a great start by encouraging people to talk openly and honestly about their experiences whether good or bad. Everyone has their own experience of mental illness which should be respected. One size does not fit all but there are basic things we can all do to help those with mental illness- being kind and understanding is top of the list.

 

Depression is indiscriminate

If depression was a person, it would have received every honour and award going. OBE; MBE; CBE; BBC Sports Personality of the year; Oscar winner; Nobel prize Winner……………

It is completely anti-racist, 100% non-prejudiced about race, colour, intelligence, ability, gender,financial success, sporting prowess, personality type, job, weight, religion, ideology, age, freckles, etc etc.

So it never surprises me when talented individuals come clean about their experiences of the “Black Dog.” In the past, we mortals have been influenced to believe that film stars, elite sports people, celebrities, and the financially and intellectually advantaged are somehow immune from depression. Not so but it is sadly comforting to hear stories from so-called privileged individuals that all is not well in their world for whatever reason. I would never wish depression upon anyone. Ever. But as the world gradually wakes up and acknowledges that depression is indiscriminate, so we all have hope that we will be taken seriously and appropriate help will be available.

So good on Brett Seymour, a giant of a rugby league player for Castleford, who has told his story of depression and how he considers himself lucky to be alive today. A big, strong, talented sportsman, why on  earth would he believe that the best way out would be to end his life? That’s depression for you.

I too was plagued by this overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and uselessness about this time last year and the reasons I am still here are; My son Will, my husband Feri and the continued underlying belief and hope that things will improve. I understand Brett’s concerns and share his pain but am so happy that his demise was postponed! As I expect, were his family.

If you know someone who shows signs of depression, low self worth or is just plain miserable day after day. Reach out. There is help out there so make it your mission to find it.

suicide

House of Commons

You’d have thought that a gathering of depressives and their supporters (not sure what to call a gathering of depressives?) would have been a rather sombre affair but you couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, if you could have heard the increasing  volume of raucous laughter and jolity coming from Dining Room A, you may have been forgiven thinking it was a comedians party. But serious business was being done.

I was invited to the House of Commons yesterday as a guest of the Depression Alliance for a reception to celebrate the initial success of their Friend in Need Appeal. The appeal is raising much needed funds to help establish a new website service to help combat the loneliness that often accompanies mental illness.

It’s hoped the service, which will put people in touch with others living in their area, will be launched before the end of the year.

The funds are rocking and rolling in and the DA are spreading their wings to join with other charities and organisations in this quest to provide the support which everyone knows is one of the most potent weapons in your fight against depression and low mood-FRIENDS.

Alan Clayton kicked off the reception with a rousing, and at times, very moving speech about the importance of having good friends around you when things are not going well. As well as being blighted by depression himself he has been through the traumatic experience of his best friend committing suicide. At a time when maybe being a “Friend” would have made a difference, Alan listened to the 9 messages left on his answerphone asking him to call her but thinking that it could wait until morning, he went to bed. Sadly, whatever it was couldn’t wait until morning and by the time Alan made contact, his best friend was dead.

This is partly why Alan is so committed and passionate about this appeal and clearly knows first-hand why friends are such a vital element in the life of a depressive. But not everyone has friends and family support network to help them through. Many drift away, unable to cope with someone who has depression. It is hard being a friend to someone who has withdrawn, become a “different” person and it is often easier to walk away.

The Friends in Need initiative is about to address all these concerns and aims to provide everyone with a friend when most needed.

I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t had the support and understanding of my friends, family and colleagues; the patience and committment of the mental health professionals looking after me and yes, a sheer stubborn determination and fundamental belief that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Not everyone has these advantages in their fight against depression so I am asking everyone to think about this initiative and spread the word.

And most importantly, make sure that your best friend doesn’t die friendless.

Gary Speed- Legend

There are very few people who you can describe as a legend in their own lifetime but the footballer/manager Gary Speed is one of them. Hard working, grounded and the ultimate professional he was an example to all young footballers everywhere and he will be sadly missed.

Appearances suggest that he had everything to live for. Clearly Gary felt otherwise and whether the desperation which led him to take his own life built up gradually or was triggered by recent developments we the public may never know.  I hope however that his beloved family gain some insight into this tragedy so that they have a chance to come to terms with the loss of a husband, son and father and are able to rebuild their lives in due course. Whatever transpires over the coming days and weeks they can be immensely proud of this talented and unassuming man and his achievements.

There have been times in my life that the depression has been so overwhelming and so suffocating that ending my life seemed the only solution but thankfully I have always been able to see through the shroud of darkness and I never lost the hope that keeps you going. I have a wonderful family, fabulous friends and receive amazing support and comfort from the mental health professionals who know me from way back. For some reason Gary lost that hope and it is sad beyond comprehension that he should feel this was the only way out.

My thoughts are with his family and friends who are facing up to a life without Gary and the void he leaves behind. I hope that the media respects their privacy and allows them to grieve without intrusion and idle speculation.

RIP Gary Speed-Legend.

I give in

I try so hard. I now think that I try too hard and I can’t do it anymore. Maybe it’s a small misunderstanding between friends, I’m not sure but it feels like a huge chasm has opened up and all of a sudden everything seems hopeless. Unfortunately it is the middle of the night and there are no trains out of here but I’m up and ready to leave if I have to. I suppose I’ll head home but I’ve got past caring. A train anywhere will do. I can’t be bothered.

I’m lucky I have my son William. I wouldn’t be here fighting this losing battle if I didn’t. I would be forever at peace, rid of this torment and turmoil that is depression. Despair overwhelms me as it has threatened to do for weeks now and I have no resources left to resist. It’s strange that after all I’ve said and done that one small sentence can tip me over the edge. To be so misunderstood is heartbreaking and I thought I’d done so well. How wrong can you be.

But that’s the stuff of dreams right now. I have to fight, I have to stay strong, and it will take every ounce of my energy but I will still be here tomorrow, and the day after and the day after.

I suppose that’s a victory in itself.

Depression will not win. Ever.

Depression & suicide-Busting the myths

People are getting better at talking about depression, stress and anxiety but we still have a long way to go. Suicide however remains very much a taboo subject and many myths have developed over the years.  These myths need busting if we are to understand this phenomenon and help those who feel that their only way out is to kill themselves. I have been thinking about this for a few days now, and the more I think, the more complex this issue becomes.

Links are included at the end of this post for further information and help if you or someone you know is feeling suicidal.

The following myths are taken from an article in the ONEinFOUR magazine-winter2008.

  • Myth: People are most likely to commit suicide at Christmas .
  • Myth: People who talk about committing suicide are just seeking attention.
  • Myth: People who talk about committing suicide will not attempt it.
  • Myth: You cannot stop someone from committing suicide.
  • Myth: People who are suicidal don’t want help, they just want to die.
  • Myth: People who are suicidal are weak.
  • Myth: People commit suicide so as not no be a burden to others
  • Myth: Some people are more likely to commit suicide than others

“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”-Phil Donahue NBC TV 1984

Research shows that although calls to helplines increase during December, a difficult month for a number of reasons, there are fewer suicides.Talking about committing suicide may be a call for help but it can also be a real threat. Anyone considering suicide should seek help immediately. Talking about suicide is a sign that someone is in deep distress and should be taken seriously not dismissed.  People can recover from being suicidal if help and support are given and maintained. Most people don’t want to die, they just want a release from the pain, exhaustion and despair that won’t go away. Some people don’t realise that depression may be the cause of their extreme intentions and it helps if this is diagnosed sooner rather than later. People who are suicidal are not weak, neither are they “crazy”. They are in great emotional pain and often seriously depressed.

“Depression is not a weakness. It’s a sign that you’ve been trying too hard for too long”

A suicide can be devastating for the friends and family of the victim and certainly does not bring relief in most cases. This can be hard for someone who is seriously depressed and suicidal to believe and may feel that there is no alternative. But there usually is a different way forward once the right help and support is obtained.

Don’t delay, seek help today.

Samaritans UK: 08457 90 90 90

Samaritans

Suicide information-International

HAMLET:
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.–Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember’d.






The Times-Taming the black dog men & depression

The truth about men and depression by those who live with it.

If you can get hold of today’s Times, you will find a great article in The Times 2 Section called Taming the black dog written about men and depression by men who live with it.

I live with depression and I talk about it a lot as you will have noticed. There are two topics which are particularly close to my heart. The first is stigma. I am committed to reducing the stigma surrounding depression by talking openly and honestly about my experiences. More of that another time.

The second concerns men and depression. From experience I believe that it is more difficult for men to admit to feeling depressed and they are less likely to seek help and support when needed. I wrote a post for my Blog before Christmas called “Man Blue” which addresses some of the concerns raised in the Times’ article. I am not going to repeat them in this post as you can link back to the original, but the facts speak for themselves. In the UK alone, 30 men under 45 commit suicide every week. This is shocking and proof, if any is needed, that more support is required to help our men.

My husband has depression and has found it very difficult to cope with. Initially seeing it as a weakness he went through various stages of resentment, guilt, self-hatred and low self-esteem. Fortunately he is married to someone who genuinely understands the symptoms and behaviour patterns associated with depression and together we will get through it.

I am taking the liberty to write on behalf of all women who understand this illness to pledge our care and support to all men suffering with depression. Speak up you guys. If you need help ask and remember “Depression is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you have been trying too hard for too long”.

Talk to someone today it may save your life.

You may also like;

Man Blue-Poppyposts

Samaritans

CALM

The Scent of Dried Roses-Tim Lott memoir of suicidal depression