Let’s Talk About Suicide
Where does one start the conversation of something so utterly heart-breaking, where does one begin to open a dialogue of something so misunderstood?
Time and time again when awoken by news of a celebrity having taken their own life I am met with comments of how selfish that individual is. I am met with the wonder why they haven’t sought help and not too seldom with sterling advice as to how one would have overcome the dark thoughts. “Take a walk” they say. “Exercise”. “Don’t consume alcohol”. “The world will already look better after a good night’s sleep” they claim, and if worse comes to worse “sure there are always antidepressants and therapy”. When you narrate a conversation on suicide often judging statements will fill the room rather than the ability to comprehend one’s personal burden suffered. Suicidal thoughts, depression are without doubt misunderstood because none of the above will promise a future of joy without continuous support and that not just for a week until you see a smile. Ongoing support and mindfulness is the key. Mental health requires nurturing and that sometimes for a lifetime.
If you have been lucky enough to never having been faced with a complete absence of hope (and I mean ‘lucky’ with every sense of the meaning that this word entails) you will simply not be able to relate, no matter how ‘woke’ or ‘knowledgeable’ you consider yourself to be. You won’t be able to understand the mental and physical debilitation and therefore you will have automatically misunderstood that now deceased person’s frame of mind at that very moment they take their last leap into freedom. Freedom which in this context means the end of the presently unbearable suffering.
So let’s talk suicide and to do so I will be open and honest with you to hopefully provide compassionate awareness to that someone who points their finger disparagingly at that person who in absolute despair left us. As a former psychology student I could give you facts and numbers but since there are so many articles out there stating these and we as a species seem not to have progressed in clearly fathoming a mental illness I shall serve it to you in its rawest form. My story.
The first time I decided this world was a too painful one to bear was at the tender age of eleven. I had at that age been abandoned by a parent and a troubled relationship with the other. What made it more confusing to me is that my older sibling had a great relationship with the one that raised us and was allowed to visit the one that had declared I was not to be a part of their family. There is a story of course but not necessary for this article to engage in. I was the class clown, clever and perpetually curious, super silly, humorous, eager to please & learn. I was loud and outwardly full of confidence but I indeed was a very troubled girl when pondering the question of if I belonged at all. I sought unconditional love and since my parents seemed to be unable to give this gift to me and I had no extended family to turn to I targeted friends for that unequivocal endearment. Naturally an eleven year old was only out for a play-date not to love someone. I felt empty and unfulfilled. I felt alone. When in my own space I cursed myself for being so stupid to think someone like me could be loved, I punished myself by hitting myself and saying the unkindest things about my character to myself recurrently. I heard these also from family members so I “knew” for them to be of truth, their words I of course dissected incessantly and they hurt, deeply. I thought of myself a waste of space. I viewed the world to be cruel. There were so many challenges confronting oneself and I did not entail the strength to jump those hurdles. I desperately longed to quieten the words heard about myself & believed by me. With thoughts of dying I tried to lessen my mental torment — imagining myself dead was easier than trying to understand the belittlement experienced. I was but a young child not yet having grown to learn rationale or how to compartmentalise. Words I didn’t realise yet were sometimes spoken yet not meant in their meaning.
Drinking washing up liquid and consuming my parent’s aspirins did not kill me at eleven.
At 15 the pill cupboard didn’t horde anything strong enough to allow for me to immerse myself into my coveted ‘long’ sleep of peace.
At 18 I had emigrated to Ireland in the hope of restarting and kick-starting a new life — turns out there was no “Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind” cure by running away from the “problem”.
At 32 I was rescued by an ambulance and trip to the hospital due to someone acting on my ‘goodbye email’ in the middle of the night when I had assumed it to be read in the morning when all would be over.
At 32 I was a mother of a wonderful 11 year old child, whom I loved with all my heart. My child meant the world to me and I carried my love for them vividly. Adoration and pride an understatement and anyone even if I had succeeded in my attempt to commit suicide couldn’t have been more wrong if claimed for my love to not having been wholehearted and for my actions to having been selfish & thoughtless. All that I felt was love and also overpowering guilt — knowing should I succeed in my attempt to “quit” by my own doing forgiveness was too much to ask for. I was fully aware my child would question my leaving them and their importance to me for the rest of their life. I understood they could never truly move on from losing their beloved mum and I would shatter their heart in trillions of pieces, some never to be mended again. And yet, I felt I could not bear another minute of this unforgiving life. With all that hurt I knew I would cause to my dearest (who was on that evening safely asleep at her father’s) and with all the guilt engulfing me I put one after another sleeping tablet into my trembling body washing each down with a sip of Poitín. I wrote my goodbyes in a desperate attempt to convey the why as I will endeavour to explain to you.
By the age of 32 I had been in two different mentally & physically abusive relationships, one I got married to and divorced. My entire life up unto that point I had been made to believe to be of no worth, unlovable and I had been coaxed into thinking this to be true by the ones presumed closest to me. I could deal with the beatings but the words sliced my never fully recovered childhood wounds open again. Gushing blood of abomination — a constant flow of hateful utterance on a vulnerable mind. I had not long ago moved into my then boyfriend’s house which would count my third menacing relationship — and I knew as soon as “I get out” my child & I would face
homelessness. I couldn’t do it again. ‘Again’ is the prominent word in my own story of my mental well-being deserting me for a final time. I simply couldn’t “fight” survival again. I detested myself, I was tired and I had reached my breaking point and a vision of no change. I had been lead on a long-winded path of destruction, challenges, fight, hurt and crumbling mental exhaustion. My future looked no different. There was no glimmer of dream in sight any longer. I don’t know whether you can understand that true feeling of hopelessness that lingers inside of someone with a suicidal mind. There is no hereafter, the past often proved as much and the present sucked you deep into the eye of a hurricane. The walls too ferocious to surpass. No visible way out. The fight for change too often and repetitive and a future intangible. True & utter despair. A powerful term with an abundance of meaning & feeling and one that I wish for no one to come to meet. Despair!
I did seek help but that help was an immediate offering. “Stay at my place for a bit”. Not that I didn’t appreciate this selfless offering but what happens after I stay at your place for a bit? There are no answers because that is my future and my future was without certainty. My present bleaker. Another struggle that would prolong for an unforeseeable amount of time, maybe forever. My child had a loving family, they had hope and with me out of the picture I would stop thrusting them into these scary, uncertain situations no child should ever have to even as much as to breathe a sense of. And believe you me, thankfully I was sassy enough to shield them from the abuse I endured, I always had a smile for them ready to shine when in their company and pretend all is well — something that caused my energy to drain rapidly because that pretence didn’t stop at home in front of my child but I carried it with me to work and social gatherings. In fact I was the light of any party. I went to bed exhausted from my own pretence knowing tomorrow I would struggle to get up.
Undoubtedly my truth will disturb someone’s mindset reading this and I will be questioned as to how I even allowed for myself to get into these relationships when a mother and most important of all why I stayed for longer than I should have but that is a different topic and also a matter which should never be questioned because no one wants to be there, no one seeks abuse consciously, no one enjoys the insults, beatings and mind games and most importantly no one is unfortunately invincible from them either but it takes mindfulness to not somersault oneself into ultracrepidariansim (what a great word and so poignant to this subject).
Caroline Flack decided she had no more fight left and I didn’t know her so I can’t with certainty proclaim to know what she was thinking or felt but when I read about her death, tears were streaming down my face. I remembered clearly and I understood instantly. I could feel that helplessness again and as I laid in my bed reading about her heart breaking end I was able to relate, empathetically. It all hurtled back at me, my past anguish. I felt nothing but sorrow for her. I wished I could have talked to her. I wish I could have helped. Do you realise how hard it factually is to take your own life? Not just the lead up to it but the actual action, to succeed? Boy if you succeed you meant it and it was not a rash conclusion one came to and not something done without thought by all means. Her suicide affected me deeper than others because I had always related to her in a sense — her quest for love and seemingly loving nature to others resonated with me. The party girl exterior, the happy go lucky image consciously ignited within her peer. I was able to identify with her and today I find myself identifying with her deep sorrow and I felt compelled to write something because today I am livid of the thoughtlessness and disingenuous righteousness of all of us.
Following my final suicide attempt I came to the conclusion to delete all social media, not because I had ever experienced unkind messages toward me but to the contrary I couldn’t deal with the “lies of lives” portrayed by my peer, the seemingly joyful experiences plastered in every post when I knew of some not to be true. The misinformation made me angry to a point that they affected my mental health. “Why weren’t people more honest?”. I couldn’t change their posts nor was it my business to do so, so I made the executive decision to live reality instead and not let the social “fake” world upset me. The difference here is I was able to “delete myself” Caroline Flack was not.
I am ok today but trust you me my mind is still fragile, if at any point in my life now I was forced to deal with even an atom like fraction of the scrutiny Caroline had to deal with regarding her personal life, I would sink right back into that hole of darkness. I would remember. I shield myself from social media for a very real reason in order to continue my mental frame of mind but someone like Caroline Flack would not be allowed to do so due to her line of work, even if she did suspend her social media accounts we, the people, would have made sure she would be made aware of what the public thought of her at any given moment. I can only imagine how something that should have been dealt with in a private manner behind closed doors can divulge your thoughts when judged publicly and under attack, especially when having allegedly previously suffered from depression. To date when I receive criticism I immediately fall back into a dialogue of “I am useless”. My dark thoughts are laying dormant but can awaken at any time. I am not clear of never feeling helpless again, for my own detrimental thoughts to re-emerge. Anyone’s word can affect another. If one flippancy can result in my mental health to meet vulnerability how do you think someone like Caroline Flack must have felt? Thousands upon thousands of unkind comments and statements, from ‘us’ the public — assuming it is our place to cast judgement carelessly and with that hold the power (and we do) to cause insufferable pain even if the outcome was not our intent. How do you think this would have played out in the coming months when in court? The horrid words would have continued for who knows how long?! No immediate end in sight to the attacks and she “longed” to silence and succumbed to the only way she knew how to.
People forever manifest their sympathy to mental health nowadays but when you go online and read the attacks on strangers it looks as though we have declined in empathy and understanding rather than gained compassion. We have become keyboard warriors with an opinion on everything and a misguided belief to hold the right to say anything anonymously without repercussion.
I really wish Caroline Flack had not succeeded in meeting her end but I can completely understand as to why she sought it and there are plenty more of her, they work with you, they drink with you, they laugh with you, they dance with you, they dream with you, they
walk with you, often they are the party — sure I am one of them and you would have never known!
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind, always!”