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Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Tomorrow is World Suicide Prevention Day – so we’ve written a blog that you might find helpful, but we know that for some people the world can feel like a pretty dark place & reading a blog or speaking to a therapist couldn’t be further from your mind.

If you are in crisis or require urgent support, please dial 999 or go to your nearest A&E.
Or, you can speak to The Samaritans, for free, in confidence – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – call them on 116 123!

We spoke to somebody last week who gave us permission to share their brief story – anonymously.
So here it is…

In 2015, I was going through a tough time – it felt very much like I was in a fight with life ..
I came out fighting for each round, and it felt at times as though I landed a few blows – but ultimately, life was winning – the world was beating me down.

I was getting weaker, more tired and eventually, felt that I was fighting a losing battle.

So, in May of that year, after life hit me with what felt like a wrecking ball to the chest, I decided I couldn’t keep fighting. Although I didn’t specifically plan anything, I think I just felt beaten… exhausted.

One evening I was in my car on the motorway, it was around 9:45pm, it was dark and raining and the motorway was surprisingly quiet – or so it felt.
I’m not sure where my mind had wandered to but I remember tears rolling down my face – I think I was just overwhelmed – exhausted of living in my own mind. And in that moment, on that motorway, I closed my eyes.

Everything seemed to go quiet, eerily quiet, for what felt like a lifetime. Then my car went into a spin. Suddenly, I heard the sound of another vehicle’s horn – I opened my eyes – lights flashing at me. My instincts to stop the spin were strangely overwhelming but grabbing the steering wheel and hitting the brake pedal only seemed to make things worse.

Eventually I stopped. A few other cars and lorries passed me as I manoeuvred nervously to the hard shoulder. I turned off my engine. My mind was racing and my heart beating out of my chest.  I sat there and tried to comprehend what just happened.

I don’t remember feeling suicidal. But I do remember feeling exhausted with life. I felt sad and alone – even though I had the support of family & friends.
I don’t know what it was that compelled me to what I did, but I remember a feeling of relief very soon afterwards.

I don’t think I wanted to die – I think I was just so tired of feeling lost and alone. Feeling despair.
I know I’m not the only one who has felt that way – which is why I wanted to share this… because my life is very different now.

I still live with anxiety and I still have bad days – ‘dark days’ as I call them – and coping with them is a learning curve, but I don’t feel like I’m losing anymore. I feel a sense of hope – after spending so long feeling hopeless, that’s a powerful emotion. Life is getting better.

I’m not a doctor, so I can’t suggest how to manage your feelings – I just know that with time, patience and support, there is hope – eventually. Be patient, ask for help and be gentle with yourself.

We hope this story is helpful – and helps you to realise that although it may not feel like it, you’re not alone, there is hope, and things can get better.

Here’s some helpful info we wanted to share with you:
When something sad or stressful happens, or we’re in a particularly low mood, it’s not uncommon to feel like we’d be better off if we just didn’t wake up one morning.

Thoughts like these can be disturbing and worrying – but there’s a big difference between thinking about dying or killing yourself, and actually being suicidal. This is called suicidal ideation.

Suicidal ideation is a typical feature of many mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, and it can happen to anybody at any time.

It might be triggered by the ending of a relationship or a bereavement, causing you to feel that you don’t really want to go on without the person you’ve lost.

Destabilising life events such as redundancy or a diagnosis of illness might also leave you feeling desperately unhappy. For example a cancer diagnosis or an infertility diagnosis.
The thoughts associated with suicidal ideation can come in various different forms and often thoughts like these are fleeting, but for some people they’re a constant buzz in the background as they go about their everyday lives.

These thoughts can be scary & overwhelming. The important thing to remember is that thinking about dying or taking your own life doesn’t mean you’re at risk of harming yourself. And it is not anything to be ashamed of.
Passive suicidal ideation is actually a normal part of the process of coming to terms with something sad, unsettling or difficult.

The bottom line is, we don’t like feeling unpleasant emotions such as fear, loss, loneliness or anxiety, and our natural response to these feelings is to avoid them. Our brains look for ways to stop these dreadful feelings – and not being alive any more is one way of escaping them.

Whilst it’s certainly an unhelpful thought to have in our head, it is perfectly natural.  These thoughts tend to go away on their own – although they can sometimes persist, and this can be distressing and exhausting.

However, talking about them with someone can often help – these feelings become less frightening when they’re brought to the surface and discussed.

Talking therapy is a very effective way of learning to manage thoughts like these, particularly if you have anxiety or depression. Speaking to a therapist can be transformational, but it might seem daunting too – which is why we’ve tried to make it as easy as possible to speak to a therapist, on your smartphone or tablet – from the comfort, safety & convenience of your own home. The support you need, when you need it – at your fingertips.

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