my nan and me

I was 15 when I attempted to take my life; that was 20 years ago. My family’s response was not to talk about it. However, they did get one thing right by sending me to see my Nan, who herself had survived several suicide attempts. The understanding from one suicide attempt survivor to another cannot be undervalued, even if the event is rarely mentioned.

I would love to share some things that she has written as part of her memoirs:

“My life hasn’t been a bed of roses, quite a few dramas; but then again, no real tragedies so far. I like to think I am a survivor, the problems encountered on the long road being solved to the best of my ability. For a time, life did not seem worthwhile. The hardest years was when my marriage was breaking up and I had to accept the fact that it had ultimately ended. Facing the emotional challenges of those long years was incredibly depressing. Even though I tried to start life anew, I felt my heart had broken. There were times when I completely gave up and felt I could not face another depressing, heartbreaking day. Nobody could cheer me up. Even when my girlfriends rang me, they didn’t know what to do or say to help. I was advised to take up some sort of hobby. After (my husband) finally left me, my will to live and keep going broke down and I tried to end my life. I reached this low ebb four times over the years, and each time woke up in hospital… A cry for help and no one could help. It was up to me, but I didn’t care at that stage. The disgust that I felt with myself when I awoke, once in a strait jacket, cannot be described. My mind, still groggy, was confused as to whether I felt relief or disappointment that I was alive, still in the world from which I had tried to escape. Why could I not die as I wanted. Always a psychiatrist was called, and I was transferred to a ‘Home’ or psychiatric hospital for a couple of weeks. The nurses and staff were always very pleasant and therapy classes were held each day. Although it was only for a short time, I felt much better, and life was marvelous. Happy and secure in the knowledge I was cured and there would be no more incidents to upset this precious feeling, I forged ahead with working, gardening, going on a holiday, or whatever. “

When I first heard about the Way back service, my initial thought was – that would have been so helpful for my beautiful Nan, and me. The transition from hospital to home, and the months after were very difficult and the support from a service like this would have made a big difference long term.

back to my future

To my future me,

Right now, I feel so alone. Will the tears and this pain ever go away? When will people start to listen and really care about what I’m going through? I know there are people in this world suffering too, but I’m me and I’m hurting, and I don’t want to suffer anymore. I’m sorry I’m sad all the time and I don’t want to feel like this forever, but I don’t know how to stop. I’m tired of people telling me to get over it. I’m tired of feeling alone. I’m sick of people asking me how I’m feeling. I’ve just lost my Dad how the hell do they think I feel!! I know I’m sad, but I don’t really know what else I’m feeling. Someone please help me!!!

Tania 14 yrs Old (December 1988)

To my darling 14yr old self,

I will be honest with you. There have been some bad days, and there have also been days that I have experienced joy. It has taken me a long time to get to the place I am now, but had I not pushed my feelings down, I could have got here sooner.

I’m still learning to speak my truth. As a teenager nobody wanted to hear me. Recently, I found the most amazing, honest therapist who really listened. She helped me understand my feelings and taught me it was ok if I was feeling sad, or angry. I had so many repressed feelings from when dad died. I pushed them down so far and pretended I was ok. I didn’t think it was ok to have fun in my life anymore. I had been suffering from PTSD for a long time.

I found it difficult identifying my feelings. I learnt that ok was not a feeling. I was introduced to the feelings wheel. Feeling the feelings was hard and extremely painful. I had lots of anger in my jaw from never speaking my truth, I suffered headaches and neck pain from constant worry, I became anxious and found it hard to breathe, all because I was never honest about how I was feeling, in fear of being judged. After 12 months of working through my trauma and EMDR treatment, I’m happier, calmer, proud, confident, love myself, take better care of myself & know that I am worthy and deserving of all things amazing.

Loving you always, unconditionally,

Tan 45yrs (December 2019)