Finding hope

In response to our recent article ‘Taking a minute could save a life’, one reader has bravely shared their story.

There are parts of the story we’re unable to publish, due to laws surrounding suicide.

We’re aware that much has been written in the media recently about suicide, and that sometimes when a topic is covered so widely, it can cause people to switch off.

However, with a matter as serious as suicide, we feel compelled to keep shining the light on this issue so that people facing it know they are not alone. We hope you’ll keep reading and that this story will prompt conversations with your loved ones. It is okay to talk about, and it is okay to ask for help. 

I am one of those people who has nearly taken their life on a number of occasions, ever since I was a very young person. At least six others I’ve known, have actually taken their lives.

I am now 55 years old, and I am happy to say, I’m still here.

I was seven years old the first time I thought about ending my life. No one in my family knew what I was thinking, or intending to do. Why? you ask, did I want to take my own life? I was not a happy kid. I was continually getting hidings at home. I did not feel loved. At school, I was always in trouble. I was teased. Most of all, I felt that no-one understood me. My Dad’s Mum committed suicide. My Mum, I believe, was also unhappy.

During teenage years, the problems are worse. We are desperately trying to find our identity. It’s a terribly dark place when you are that unhappy. Other people will say ‘cheer up—it’s not that bad’. But unless you’re the one living it, they just don’t know how crippling depression can be.

Emotionally dead in my 20s, alcohol and anti-social behaviour started to creep in. I had no direction in life. Alcohol became the crutch for many years. Black outs. Waking up driving in the gravel and narrowly missing power poles. Drugs came later. I made the decision to leave the district. If I hadn’t, alcohol and drugs were going to kill me.

I realise that I never wanted to die.

My first breakthrough came from seeing a counsellor. It was a very positive experience and gave me a huge boost and much needed strength to carry on. That, and finding a book written by Norman Vincent Peal. It’s a brilliant read if you feel you are in a bad place.

I see a local counsellor for help. I learnt that day, that all counsellors are not equal. You need to find one that is prepared to listen to you. One day things were really bad. In desperation, I see a doctor solely for the purpose of getting some help for depression. I think I scared her. She said she couldn’t help me, but knew someone that could. I go see a counsellor in Manukau. I firmly believe that if I had not met him, I would not be here today. He was just the person I needed. He taught me the skills I have today, like how to get through the many times when I wanted to end it.

Depressed people can shut themselves away as I did, or hide it behind many other things. In my case, alcohol, drugs and reckless behaviour were just some of the crutches. I beat them all, and I’m here now to say that it can be done. I’m not saying I don’t get down days. But I’m in a far better place than I used to be.

Get help.

From someone who has been there, and knows what it feels like to have no hope. There’s always hope, and I found it again.

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