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Suicide, It Could Have Been Me…

After a serious injury abruptly halted my rugby career and my best friend tragically lost his life in a motorbike accident, I was in a really bad place. Struggling with mounting debt and feeling overwhelmed, I sought solace in alcohol as a means of escape. Consequently, my relationship with family and friends suffered, and to add to the turmoil, my work performance began to decline.

I became at peace with my plan and had a feeling of relief that soon it would all be over.

I was going to take my own life.  

I was lucky, many are not. After 3 days in hospital, I knew I needed change and this meant that I would have to seek help and more importantly, talk. 

I have been through more difficult situations since my suicide attempt, but this doesn’t take anything away from how I was feeling at the time. I have learned new coping mechanisms and aware of my triggers so I can acknowledge when I need support and support comes in several forms. There are services like ours, friends, family and even yourself. I learned to cope better once I learned to talk to myself more. 

I am fortunate to be able to tell my story and do the work I do daily to prevent this from happening to others. 

The message I want to share is that you matter, your feelings and pain are valid, feeling like this doesn’t mean you’re weak, you don’t have to feel guilty you are not a burden and if you are a suicide attempt survivor, you are not alone and it’s a great thing that you survived! 

I can’t say talking will fix everything and heal the pain but it’s the start towards it. 

Suicide? It could have been me.  

Some people find it tough to pinpoint a time in their life when a period of poor mental health began. I don’t – I can recall it vividly. 

It was January 2012, and three big life changing events were all colliding and hitting like a wrecking ball, one after the other, each one increasing the damage on my already fragile mind. 

A relationship breakup, a redundancy and the news that my Dad had been given a few short weeks to live, were slowly starting to tear me apart and I had no idea how to handle what was happening to me. 

I didn’t feel like I could share how I was feeling with my family. I just couldn’t burden them with my problems on top of what they were going through as well. I was 31, but felt like my life was over, I felt that I was being punished for a crime that I didn’t know that I had committed, I was feeling very low and couldn’t see a way out. 

I didn’t sleep. Those unhelpful thoughts went around and around in my head for weeks, increasing in size until I convinced myself that I was dying too and that I had somehow inherited Dad’s cancer through generational genetics. I did what most men try and do; I put on a brave face. 

Days, weeks, months went by. I didn’t feel like I had a purpose, I existed, but didn’t live. I was going through the motions. I found a new job and went on some dates. Life was slowly returning back to normal. But I was drinking heavily. I abused the alcohol as a way to help me forget and give me a temporary high – it rarely worked.  

Not long after, one of my friends moved in and we house shared for a couple of years. I didn’t know that he was suffering from poor mental health and was in a particularly bad place. Living with someone who is experiencing poor mental health, especially when they are contemplating suicide, can be an incredibly distressing and challenging situation. I wanted to approach the situation with compassion, understanding, and a willingness to provide support but didn’t know how to start the conversation – I wanted to help, but didn’t know how.

Again, I felt helpless. 

Suicide? It could have been me. 

It was the summer of 2014; I was playing cricket when I first started to notice something wasn’t right within me. I was feeling very lethargic, and not my normal bubbly self. During the game, one of my mates told me that he’s worried about me and that I should really go and see the doctor. 

I went to the doctors on the Tuesday morning, as expected, they took some blood samples, “nothing too bad” I thought, probably just a virus. Two days later I got a call asking if I can pop back for a chat about my results. 

It was the first time I ever heard the word ‘Lymphoma’ after a consultation with the nurse who had just performed a biopsy. The walk home was a total daze for me, mainly trying to work out what Lymphoma was, I didn’t call my wife or parents to let them know how I got on, as I saw that as showing weakness. 

I had Stage 2, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma or in plain terms cancer. That news hit me like a sledgehammer, even though I was masking it by laughing and joking when out in public. I have a young family; I’m fit and healthy, I can’t have cancer. 

My Dad is someone I phone every day; I couldn’t even bring myself to talk to him.  

Finally, I spoke to my Aunt who is a specialist cancer nurse at the hospital, she gave me the truth and some harsh words about what to expect from the treatment. Slowly I learnt to accept the help that I was being offered and that it was ok to show vulnerability and weakness. 

6 chemotherapy sessions later, I got the news that every cancer sufferer wants to hear ”You’re now in remission” It was a long, hard slog, but with the help of my loving wife, kids, family and friends, I had learned valuable life lesson about the importance of accepting help and that showing a little weakness sometimes is something that we all need to do on occasions in order to heal. 

Suicide? It could have been me.

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