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.