Mental health affects everyone at one time or another, whether it’s directly or indirectly, but I’ve been inspired by reading recent stories and I thought sharing my story was probably the easiest way to talk about something that needs to be talked about more.
“When the moment came, to say “I was stopped in my tracks” is an understatement, and in all honesty, I gave up a little (on pretty much everything and myself).”
This is how I chose to address a very difficult time in my life, in my recent blog post about my creative journey so far.
The statement still clearly highlights the fact that I would rather hide behind vague sentences than address the issue head-on. And sometimes this is half the battle with mental health: it’s about being able to speak those first few words.
The future can be a place full of hope and happiness. But for some, it holds nothing but dread and questions that seem to have no logical answer. Looking ahead can be the hardest part of growing up not knowing what direction to take. Is it the right one? Are you doing it for the right reasons? Are you simply doing what others expect from you?
Anyway, I’m rambling again, because guess what, I’m scared about just writing this next sentence and yes I am welling up a little too, to the point where I’ve gone into hiding on the mm* benches, tucked away in the corner.
Aged just 15 I was rushed to hospital after trying to end my life… there I said it.
I saw no future for myself and I’d given up all hope on myself, which was the hardest aspect of the whole thing. How could a 15-year-old boy have no hope? It seems so strange to look back and it seems even stranger when you think that the reason I’d put so much pressure on myself has never been an issue in my future.
GRADES. For me, they were everything. They were my way to carve a future for myself. They represented the job prospects that would open doorways to endless opportunities. It seemed like they offered a pathway to my dream job.
But then I thought:
What about those who don’t quite hit the mark?
What future do these people have?
For me, these questions seemed the end.
I still remember hiding away in my room working myself into more and more of a frenzy of self-doubt and self-loathing. How had no one noticed that I was like this? Maybe that was it. Maybe no one would really miss me, or that no one really cared. But maybe that was just me. I’d hidden behind false smiles and false laughs to mask what was really going on inside.
I can’t completely remember the events that followed, but I had messaged a friend about what I had done and she did what any good friend would have done and contacted my parents. I was taken to hospital straight away where they worked their magic and I was released a couple of days later.
Reflecting back even now, I’m still not sure if I truly wanted to end my life or if it was more of a cry for help.
I received counselling from a very lovely lady called Rachael as part of my aftercare, who I think helped turn my whole perspective on life upside down. It was here that we discussed ways of moving forward and how I saw my future panning out.
I was looking ahead instead of trying to second-guess everything that was going on. I’d opened up more in the past few months to a complete stranger than I had to my family and friends for 15 years.
I mentioned earlier about grades and how they felt like the be-all and end-all of who I was. Well guess what – they’re not. I can’t stress enough how being passionate and believing in what you’re doing will out-shine any grades you might put on your CV.
Do you know how many people have asked what SATs, GCSEs, A-Levels, degrees I have?
Yes, I still have days where I’m stressed and still very easily become flustered by the things that I can’t control, and I honestly believe that’s what’s given me the drive to push forward and succeed in so many ways. I have a network of friends and family that I truly believe has become an extension of myself. They’ve given me the foundations to build and learn from the past and move forward (that dreaded word again).
It’s been 16 years since that night which seems crazy and only a handful of people know what happened and I have no idea who might read this. You know what? Even if you can’t relate to what I’ve said or only just a small portion then that’s fine.
What we should all be aware of though are the signs. This might be the most simple of things but just asking someone if they’re ok might just be what they need. Please keep listening.
And if you’re reading this and you are struggling in any way please ask for help. Because like I said it only takes a small change to make a massive difference in your life. Please keep talking.
If you want to find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week, the Mind website is a great place to start.