I don’t think anyone that knows me would consider me a depressive person or someone who has struggled at times with depression. Generally I try to emit a happy persona. But I mask what’s sometimes under the surface of it all. In truth, I’ve battled the deepest darkness, and occasionally I’ve considered suicide.

I’m telling you this not for sympathy or pity, but because I think at a time where collectively our mental health might be at an all-time low, talking about it now feels like the right thing to do. Maybe to highlight that there is no one type of suicidal person, these thoughts can and do affect anyone. From the ordinary to the famous. Those who want to die, and those who want a certain pain point to stop. Hopefully this helps someone else experiencing them know they are not alone.

“This is a human condition, because other people have it, and it’s a survivable condition, something that many people get through. That gives you that hope for surviving as well.” – Barb Gay

I was diagnosed with depression when I was 19 years old

And for a few years I was in a really bad place. My university experience hadn’t been easy, and I didn’t talk to anyone about how I was feeling until the moment I knew I really needed help. My best friend was my rock. She gave me a safe space to talk about things. Slowly, I crawled my way to somewhere better. But there were so many moments I didn’t think I’d get out of that hole. No suicidal thoughts at that stage, just a distant feeling of not really understanding it all anymore. You know, life.

If I’m honest, I think I’ve dipped into and skirted the edges of depression many times

Yet I’ve somehow just about kept afloat and not totally fallen into that place. I’ve also gotten very good at masking how I feel and pretending to be okay, in a sort of attempt to avoid the bad thoughts. Most of the time it has worked, until about three years ago.

I’d been feeling pretty low and was living away from family. It was Covid times so I was more isolated and working from home – a major adjustment to a job that used to be people facing 99% of the time. Another relationship had just ended and I thought, ‘What’s the point.’ I didn’t just think it, I felt it to my core and couldn’t shake it. All of it felt too much. ‘What’s the point of living anymore?’ I wondered. Because life felt really hard. Life hurt. And I didn’t want to be in pain anymore.

I started isolating myself from people, messaging less, finding it really difficult to motivate myself to see people when I could, not wanting to speak to people. It was like I was shutting down

I vividly remember being in the shower one morning and just casually, like I was simply plotting out a shopping list in my head, began thinking of ways I could end my life. I’m not sure how long I stood there with hot water running down me, yet feeling numb, thinking about how I’d stop myself from living anymore. It felt like a very long time.

Something jolted me from that headspace. My brain chimed in with, “What the fuck are you doing, Amy?”. To be honest, I didn’t know. I just felt really bad all the time. Stuck in a head space that I saw no escape from. I hadn’t asked for those thoughts to come into my head. I don’t know why in that moment it seemed perfectly reasonable to be thinking them. Like they were an option. But I do know that once I’d broken free of those thoughts, it scared the crap out of me. In how normal it had felt to consider it. Had I really just been thinking those things?

I tried to analyse how I’d gotten to those thoughts, and how to avoid them ever again

I knew that the combination of being physically distanced from people I cared about, whilst going through a low mood, plus Covid on top, were all likely contributors, But I also found out that a contraceptive implant I’d had a few months before in my arm could have side effects including a consistent period, messed up hormones leading to low and negative thoughts, depression and suicidal thoughts.

When I found out that it could be related to how I’d been feeling, I got it removed straight away. I’m not saying it was totally to blame, as I know my bouts of depressive moods came years before the implant, but I’d never had suicidal thoughts prior, and I did feel a bit better once it was removed. For that occasion, I think the contraception implant was the likely instigator. Since then, unfortunately it’s not the only time I’ve had suicidal thoughts.

And I have no explanation for it. I don’t know why I do sometimes and I can’t explain why my mind goes to that place

It’s not all the time, it’s like phases where it comes and goes. Sometimes I can attribute the low feelings to possible reasons, like the winter months, spending too much time on my own, when work has been super stressful and a bit overwhelming, or general life sucking a bit can spark me to spiral. Others, I feel perfectly okay before my mind starts to turn and it catches me completely unawares. And then sometimes those low moods get a bit out of my control and the suicidal thoughts manifest.

I wonder how many people secretly battle these same thoughts?

And how many battles are won behind closed doors? Because you don’t hear about all those struggles, you only find out at the one time they didn’t win. I also know that when I have suicidal thoughts, I become detached from all the logic that other people seem to have that must stop these thoughts happening for them. Because it doesn’t seem selfish to me at that time, it’s just a feeling that I personally don’t understand life anymore. I’m tired. Just really exhausted of it all. It feels hard, like too hard. And stopping feels easier than carrying on.

I’ve always had the ‘back to reality’ shift before any action happens, but I’m also always worried in those moments that my brain won’t respond to the reality check. It scares me about how normal it feels in those times and I just keep hoping that rational logic finds its way in. I do also think to myself that I should die earlier than my time because of these thoughts. Other people want to live as long as possible, why do they die before they want to and I’m considering suicide at times in my life and not paying the price for that? I deserve to die, I think sometimes, just for having these thoughts.

Day to day, of course I appreciate life, I want to live! I don’t want to die right now. And I really hope I don’t

It’s just when that mindset settles in, and you feel your thoughts turning negative, it’s really really hard to find a way out of it. Nothing matters much then. Everything is a struggle. You’re exhausted from just existing. It’s hard to explain thoughts that are so unexplainable. If you haven’t been through this, I totally get you’re probably thinking that I’m a selfish arsehole. Perhaps you’re thinking that my life doesn’t look so hard. I would mostly agree, I’m very lucky in a lot of respects. But I can’t explain these thoughts to you. I can only explain that I have them sometimes, and that I wish just as much as I imagine any person who has experienced them, wished it wasn’t so.

And I don’t think people that haven’t been through it understand that. How I wish I didn’t feel this way at times in my life and that these dark thoughts wouldn’t interrupt my generally happy life and seem to come on out of nowhere and fuck me up. Of course I wished that didn’t happen. I wonder if something is broken in me. I think why does my stupid brain do this, how can I stop it doing it ever again?. Why do other people handle life okay and I seem to struggle at times? Why do I go through periods of finding just existing really hard?

I hope every time that I go through a phase and get through it, that it doesn’t return

There is always this unsettling feeling that it will, and a desperate hope that it won’t. I have zero control over it. I think to myself, ‘You’re pretty okay Amy. You’re healthy, you have family that loves you, good friends, a decent job, you have a home and generally don’t want for things, what the fuck makes this happen?’ Honestly, I wish I knew. Because if someone could give me that answer and a solution, I’d take it.

It might seem simple to just say ‘take antidepressants’ or some other form of medication. For me, antidepressants resulted in a zombie like state. I didn’t feel really low, but I couldn’t feel any sort of high either. I listened to Stephen Fry once talk about a study where people with mental health struggles were given the option of never being able to feel happy again but would also never feel depressed again, or carry on with all their emotions. No-one chose the former in that study, and I’m with them. I hate that I sometimes go through phases of feeling really low, but I also wouldn’t forsake that for never being able to feel really happy.

Right now, I’m okay. The winter months are definitely the hardest to get through of all the seasons

The past two winters post Covid especially I’ve found myself really fighting. Concentrating on my physical health (as it helps my mental health) making sure I’m social even when I don’t feel totally up for it, checking in on others (as I also wonder if people are battling the same things) reminds me that I have good people around me, and it’s a reminder to just keep taking steps forward. I spend lots of time on the dogs. I write. And I try to find purpose and meaning for my life. These are things I do to try and combat that season and those feelings.

But maybe it’s a battle I’ll always have? I have some control over my mental health, there are things I know I need to do to prioritize it, and make sure it’s in good shape, but I’m always going to have to work hard at it. It’s not something that comes naturally.

Having friends who went through really tough times last year also showed me what it’s like to be on the other side of trying to help someone who is having suicidal thoughts

I started by reasoning with them that that there is a point to existing, but then realized from my own experience how hard it is to fight an illogical mindset with rational logic. Because when someone’s mind is in a dark place, the illogical becomes logical, and logic goes out the window. I knew exactly what it was like to feel the way they felt, so whilst telling them friends and family loved them, and all those things that seem reasonable and right to say, is still something good to remind a person, maybe they also weren’t the complete answer. Because in that moment, I knew how it felt when nothing matters. Not your people, not you, not anything.

But I did know that it’s also a feeling that can pass. A fucking hard and awful one, but it does pass

It’s a fight quite literally for your life in that moment, but it’s a battle that can be won.

I know that they could be happy again, feel joy, and enjoy life. They were 100% down the path for them. Sometimes the road gets a bit shitty before we get to that place. So I told them that they had to keep taking steps forwards, because the dark time would pass, that is also certain. It’s shit and fucking horrendous and it’s really really hard, but they can and will get through it. They will find peace again, be happy, there is light at the end of the tunnel. They might not be able to see it right in that moment, but honestly, it’s there. I know it is.

Just keep going. Don’t give up just yet. There is so much more to come.

This isn’t for forever, it’s just right now.

There is much more goodness and meaning to come.

Fight this battle, and a better place is on the other side.

Being able to say that from a place of having been there, they said helped them. It also helped me, because when I start to drift I try and remember what I said to them. Ironically, I meant every word I said to them, but it’s hard to believe the words you’re saying when you are talking to yourself. But I do keep them words with me, for the times I need them.

If you’re struggling with depression, mental illness, suicidal thoughts, you’re not alone

I think a lot of us fight these battles silently. But it doesn’t mean you’re not a fucking hero every time you get out of bed and tackle a tough phase and keep going. Each time you get through a day when you’ve wondered, ‘What’s the point of it all?’ You’re doing amazingly. You got yourself a little closer out of that shit hole, and you silently, quietly fought and won. You literally rock!

That dark place isn’t permanent, it is changeable. There is light. So keep looking, going forward, getting through it. I promise you it will pass. I won’t lie and say another battle won’t be waiting for you, but maybe it won’t. Maybe this is the hardest time you’ll ever have to fight, but please do keep fighting. The world is a much more beautiful place with you in it. To your people, you brighten their days. Don’t give up on yourself, because you can light yourself up again too. I know it’s hard sometimes, but it will get easier again.

And if it helps, do what I do. Imagine a friend, family member, a loved one is feeling as you are, what would you say to them?

How would you show them you understand or fight for them to keep fighting when they haven’t the energy to do so for themselves? How would you share your strength and see them through to the good? Would you speak to them all night just to keep them safe from harm? Hold their hand and keep them close so they know they have support? Would you call every possible line of support to help them? Would you listen to everything they want to share and be there for them? Because someone out there would do this for you too. Maybe even a person you’d least expect it from.

Someone would fight for you when you haven’t the energy to fight for yourself. They’d stand by your side and see you through the darkness, and make sure you get to the other side. There are people who want you to keep going, because they care. Please talk to them, let someone know how you feel. A friend, a family member, one of the wonderful people who save lives every day at the many mental health organizations out there. They have strength to help you fight, you don’t have to do this alone.

If you need someone to talk to, my inbox is always open [email protected] but if you’re seriously struggling, please reach out and speak to one of the many charities out there who’ve helped me and my friends in the darkest of times, these people are true life savers. And yours is a life worth saving xx

If you, or someone you know, are affected by the subject of suicide, the following organisations may be able to help you:

  • Samaritans – Samaritans | Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy | Here to listen
  • NHS 111 – NHS 111 online • CALM – Get Help – Campaign Against Living Miserably (thecalmzone.net)
  • StayALive – StayAlive – Essential suicide prevention for everyday life
  • Papyrus – Home | Papyrus UK | Suicide Prevention Charity

If you want to share something about mental health, please share your comments below. Every comment is received with love and appreciation for raising more awareness and helping tackle the stigma surrounding mental health.

By Amy Roullier
By Amy Roullier

Amy is the Founder and Editor of The Authentic Optimist. She talks all things life. From the highs to the lows, to all those messy bits in-between. She is a writer, rambler, lover of carbs (her true soulmate) and she is especially passionate about dispelling myths about women in their 30s. Amy lives in Lincolnshire with her two greyhounds.

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