On 17th May this year I planned to take my own life. It was all planned out. I had decided the how and the where and even the time I would do it: 2pm. However, I had made one concession to my plan; I had decided that I would ask for help first. I have known for a long time that I was different. Over the past thirty years I had come to recognise the signs and feelings but aside from trying to manage them myself I had never sought professional help. The trouble was the self-help I learned only managed my symptoms during the moderate times. Nothing stopped me from crashing.
I had cycles of self-destructive behaviour which normally led to my anxiety and depression escalating to the point of 'cry for help' suicide attempts and long phone calls to the Samaritans. I love the term 'cry for help'. To a sufferer it means the screams in your head have to come out. To those with no knowledge it's seen as attention seeking. The thing is, sitting in a dark room with a bottle of pills and a bottle of whiskey pouring your heart out to a stranger, is a bit beyond wanting people to feel sorry for you.
My last trip into darkness took me further than before. It had been a while since I had last crashed and as I had stopped drinking I didn't even have the increase in my alcohol intake as an indicator. Work pressure was getting intense and family life was suffering so I had actually been to see my GP who put me on medication and told me to take a couple of weeks of work. I still did bits of work as I worked from home and basically went back to early. Then on Friday the 14th I cracked - all because my rabbit scratched me.
You see when she scratched me I felt pain and I realised I actually felt something. Over the course of the weekend I started scratching myself with a small sharp screwdriver to feel that pain. Soon they became more frequent and deeper and slower. By Sunday I had realised that if I was to die in an accident my family would mourn and move on. If I killed myself they would do the same. The scene was set but I had agreed with my partner that she would come with me to the doctors on the Monday morning so that visit was part of the plan.
Monday morning I got up and had to put my daughter on the bus as my partner had been called into work. I acted normally I have been told but in my mind the plan was in action. I even took a picture of me and my daughter before she got on the bus. This was to be the last thing I intended to see. I was first to see the doctor that morning and I held nothing back. By Monday at 2pm I was not dead in a field. I was safe on a ward of Whitchurch Hospital. The system had saved me and, whilst I hear so much about how poor mental health services are, I owe them my life.
Since then I have decided I will share my story and spread the word about mental illness. My recovery is ongoing and will take a long time. However, I have found a community, on forums and social media, that helps me every day and I even try to give back by supporting others. There are so many of us that we can help each other. Mental illness is as much about talking as listening, knowing that others understand through experience not just training. I am not alone on my journey out of darkness. I have help and every step others join to help and be helped.
To read David's blog, visit davesoapbox.wordpress.com.