Disclaimer: This letter was sent to us in the early hours of this morning. The person requested it be run by the Express as soon as possible. The person was quickly responded to with details about mental health services they could contact as well as requests to make contact with these services. It is not presented to give advice, criticise or any other reason than to show how someone going through mental health problems may feel at a given time in their lives.
If you are affected by any of the content discussed in this piece then please talk to someone; the Samaritans can be called on their 24hr free-call number, 116 123.
It’s mental health week in UCC at the moment (but not anywhere else, that was last month) and it’s the annual time for people to write articles and stories about their struggles & experiences with mental health. Every time someone writes something they’re heralded as a hero, as doing something brave that no one has done before. As they should, but despite the fact that everyones experiences with mental health are different every story seems the same: because it has to. Every story ends on the same vague note of “but I got through it all and look at me now you can do it too don’t give up” and that’s damaging because some times it doesn’t end.
I have crippling anxiety. Thats not self-declared (I can show you my doctors note), thats not exaggerated: weeks would go by when I couldn’t leave my bed, couldn’t leave my room; lecturers were missed, food went uneaten, friends were lost. This is the part of the narrative where I would say “but then X happened” or “I did X” and say it got better, but it hasn’t. Every day I wake up disappointed that I didn’t some how die in my sleep. I stare at Facebook, consider messaging someone to meet up but decide against it, convinced they’re not really my friends but just humor me out of politeness or pity. Same response typically if someone messages me. And I know thats not necessarily true, and that makes it worse, that makes it a constant internal battle of weighing and measuring my perceived worth to friends and family against the effect it would have if I didn’t exist. My worst day was probably one last year. I spent days curled up in a ball wanting it all to end when I decided finally that it would. 30-40 tablets later and to a deep sleep I drifted. Finally at rest.
Until the next day when I woke up like nothing happened. There is no sadder moment than the moment after a failed suicide attempt; when the knot in the noose came undone, when the car didn’t keep driving, when I woke up that morning. At this point I knew what I should probably do and that was to see a doctor. I went to the UCC Health Centre and told the person behind the desk I needed to see a doctor. I told the person I had tried to kill myself and nothing had changed with the failed attempt. Shortly thereafter I walked out the door and on to College Road not with an appointment, not with having seen a counsellor but with nothing. There were no appointments, no emergency appointments and the person could do nothing for me but direct me to the Mercy A&E. Ive used UCC services before, the DSS in particular being helpful but that day there was no one for me. I walked home and went to bed.
Life doesn’t get better but it does get bearable, it does have its good moments. The rhetoric that goes around this time of year, the advice given to people going through hard times, that you may be at the start of the one-way journey that leads to happiness and brightness. That may seem like the best thing to say to someone who’s in the place I was that day I walked into the health centre, but it served only to make me feel more isolated from everyone else. I mean, how long is that fucking road because it has been years in the darkness. So this is to you who feels like it’ll never get better: it will. It will get better, but it wont go away. To say otherwise would be patronizing. If you felt great yesterday but crap today you’re not alone in the dark, we’re all just making it up as we go along.
If you are affected by any of the content discussed in this piece then please talk to someone. The UCC Counselling Service can be emailed on “firstname.lastname@example.org,” the Samaritans can be called on their 24hr free-call number, 116 123, and Pieta House Cork can be reached on (021) 434 1400. If you feel in any way suicidal in the immediate, then please call 999.