Last week there was a day named suicide awareness day. One day. What was done on this day to publicise or discuss this horrific issue? For me all I saw were a few tweets and a few articles in magazines discussing it, written by journalists that had probably never been in a 'suicidal' position. It's hard to talk about and discuss this issue unless you've been there to feel the pain, emotion and witness the heartbreak it causes the victim and those around them. I was over the moon when I sat down to watch Ruby Wax's documentary on mental health recently helping to raise awareness and openly discussing her battle, it was truly inspiring.
My own personal battle started around two years ago without me realising. I was your average 24 year old, I was very motivated in my career with a job paying a good wage, company car, my own house and dating my now former boss. Everything seemed pretty perfect to me and everyone else around me, I knew the direction I wanted to go in and I was focused. I was that girl everyone wanted to be like, my friends were jealous of my career, my house, standard of living and partying lifestyle. Little did I know everything was about to change...
It's safe to say I've never had the most stable of lives. My childhood was always a little crazy. I went to a private school and I hated every moment of it. I found everyone very pretentious and I never wanted to be there. I found every day hard work and always got so angry with teachers; I hated being told what to do. At home, life was always manic as well. I'd grown up in a big family; there was noise and chaos and I remember wanting to always be out of the house with friends, or left alone. My moods had always been at ridiculous highs or rock bottom lows; I never had equilibrium. This was a trait that has stayed with me throughout my adult life. I always wanted to be thinner than I was and would secretly starve myself for days. I left school at 16 and went straight into being a trainee travel agent which I enjoyed. I fell in love and got engaged at 18 and was ready to be married and have a family. That's all I had ever wanted, to have stability. All this unfortunately was followed by a split a year later after I found out he had cheated on me. From there I ended up here there and everywhere in unsuccessful relationships with all the wrong kind of guys. A big part of my life included a spell of living in Cyprus where I met the most amazing guy ever, Mikey. We lived the dream out there in a beautiful villa, pool, puppy, the lot. However I missed my family terribly so I ended up coming back to the UK. When I returned I decided I wanted to start a life here so I interviewed for a few managerial positions in the travel industry and ended up working as a sales manager for tour operators whilst perusing my modeling at the same time. I went out on a few dates and ended up seeing a guy a fair bit older than me. Modelling, looking back, was a dangerous move for me. Being told what to wear, eat and do constantly was far too much pressure and I fell into that cycle of being obsessed with every little thing in my life. I would constantly calorie count, wear a pedometer at all times and spend hours obsessing over how I looked. Something, again, I've never discussed with anyone.
Things started to get sour in the January of 2010. My then partner had been violent for quite a while and I had stupidly put up with it smiling through the relationship and always making excuses for his behaviour. We eventually broke up after an argument resulted in him breaking my hand. It was great to be out such a relationship but also strange as he had been in my life so long. I then started dating my now, former, boss and fell head over heels for the guy. We'd liked each other a long time and it felt right.
In the April of 2010 I had one of the worst phone calls of my life. My ex boyfriend, Mikey, had been murdered in Cyprus where we used to live together. He was 29 and left his beautiful 6 year old daughter and 2 year old son behind. I was devastated, obviously for myself but also the children, they would never get to know their dad properly. The funeral was horrific and I could barely stand up from the emotional pain and heart break I was feeling, a pain that will never leave me.
A month later I fell seriously ill. I was in and out of hospital with operations and treatments. I was off work for around six months before going back part time. Wayne, my partner at the time and who was also my boss was very supportive. He would come and visit and call all the time to see how I was doing. During this time I didn't get sick pay so I started struggling to pay my bills and worrying about the house. The last thing you want to worry about when you're ill.
During my illness I found out that Wayne was back with his ex girlfriend and they were expecting a baby; I found this out through a work colleague and he had kept the whole thing from me. I was in pieces. I knew I needed to walk away but I couldn't, I was in love with this guy and he had supported me through my illness so much. I begged him time and time again to walk away from me as I wasn't strong enough to leave him but he wouldn't. He told me he wanted to be with me, he wasn't with her, and it had been a one night thing … basically the things we have all heard before but believe because we want to. I felt like I needed him in my life, I couldn't live without him so I stayed.
Sometime later I got offered a job working for Club Med which would double my wage. I took it and ended up having to move cities. A new house, new friends, new environment; it was all rather scary yet exciting. I settled really well and loved my job. I got to travel the world and see all the fantastic hotels they had, I felt I was living the dream.
However work started to become very stressful and we had a new boss who even admitted herself 'girls don't like me because I'm a bitch.' Part of my role was to take travel agents out to hotels to review them. I took nine of them to Egypt to check out our hotel. Whilst I was over there a member of staff, working at the hotel, came in to my bedroom and sexually assault me. I was petrified. I've tried so hard to blank the whole thing out my memory but I still remember his smell, his touch, his clothes, every word he said to me...everything. Obviously the first thing I did was call my boss who was on the trip with me. One of the first things she told me was I wasn't allowed to tell anyone what had happened as it would tarnish their reputation. She handled the situation badly as I was forced to sign a form straight after the attack saying I’d never discuss what happened with anyone. I was even told by her that 'I should be more careful how I present myself around men.' I never realised anyone could 'ask' to be attacked! I wanted to go home more than anything but with it being the last night I stayed. I couldn't sleep alone so slept with a colleague in her bed. The whole situation was totally surreal and it's still something I find too difficult to discuss fully. The day I returned to the UK was the last day I've worked for them.
Within a month my world collapsed around me. The situation with the baby and my partner was too much and we broke ties completely. I couldn't be in my home on my own at any point. I was crying constantly, not sleeping, not eating. I then had a tragic loss of someone else very close to me suddenly. I lost two stone within a few weeks. I was paranoid people were following me, staring at me. I took myself to the doctor and they diagnosed me with post traumatic stress disorder and severe depression, they gave me anti depressants and put me on a counselling list which was around six months long! Getting handed anti depressants at the age of 25 was one of the lowest points I've had. I sat there staring at these tablets telling myself over and over I was a failure and this was me admitting it. It was a horrible feeling.
After this things went from bad to worse. One night I was at home with family and I saw a man in my house with a knife; I heard every word he was saying to me, it felt unbelievably real that I was terrified. I didn't know who anyone was and didn't recognise anyone in the family. My sister was trying to help me but I lashed out at her thinking she was someone else. Family members that were with me called an ambulance, they arrived and said they couldn't do anything; they wouldn't even give me drugs to calm me down. I felt like a mental patient, that I had actually gone crazy! I hardly told anyone about the hallucinations and I begged my family to not tell anyone as I was embarrassed about it. I didn't want people thinking I was a freak!
A week later I found myself sitting on my bathroom floor taking all tablets in sight. Still now I can't remember a lot about what happened that night. I remember getting woken up by paramedics, my sister had found my lying in my own vomit on the floor. All I remember is begging them to leave me to die. I didn't want to be helped. That night at the hospital I was poked, prodded, saw a crisis team and sent home again. My family said they didn't seem to care that I was there pulling off the treatments as I didn't want help and going home I would just do this again.
For the following few weeks I was on suicide watch, I had a crisis team visit my house twice a day, I wasn't allowed to be left alone at any point, I had my mobile phones taken away from me by my family and I visited the doctor nearly every day. I was so lucky to have had my family and friends around me who tried so hard to understand what was going on in my head. The truth was I didn't even know. I had so much to look forward to in life, my little sister was due to get married, Christmas was coming but I just didn't care. I didn't want to live.
It took 5 months before I got an appointment to see a counsellor. In that time Club Med decided to let me go. As I had been there under a year I had no employment rights. This if anything made me realise I was lucky. Firstly to be out of a company that would treat someone like that, secondly I was so lucky to have my family. I couldn't imagine what would happen if someone was going through what I was experiencing without that kind of support. As the tablets started taking affect and my friends got me out, I started looking around at what I did have in my life. I had been modelling for years, I’d started up my own business a while ago and which I wanted more from, and I had a supportive family and friends. I realised I was blessed.
The more I think about what I continue to go through and then look into other people’s similar situations it amazes me how this issue doesn't have more publicity.
Someone in the world dies every 40 seconds from suicide making it the fifth highest cause of death in 1-24 year olds. It's ranked next highest to flu and kidney disease which we all hear about all the time in general conversation and in the media. Suicide has been moved up one place amongst highest mortality rates since 2000. Is this to do with day to day pressures getting too much? Children growing up faster, bullying, peer pressures and money worries are just a few things which have been brought to light a lot more in the 21st century? I don't think we'll ever know the full damage and extent of mental health issues as there are so many different types and people won’t discuss it. I, for one was embarrassed to discuss my mental health issues for a long time. I didn't want people labelling me crazy, nutter or a freak but I've learnt something. This is a test, to make me stronger and I've definitely become a lot stronger and positive from it. Anyone who meets me now would never be able to guess what I've been through. They all see me as the old me, this bubbly party girl who is positive with huge ambition about my business and life in general. I will always have that front on, I will always smile through the good and bad days as I know deep down the bad days are my illness testing me and I'm stronger than that. I will be on anti depressants for years to come yet; I'm taking each day as it comes but I know I'm one of the lucky ones. Whilst you have been reading this around upward of a dozen people will have taken their own life somewhere in the world.... Think about what you can do to help someone or help yourself...
It took me a lot to write this and I hope by doing so I've helped others.
TALKING IS A MEDICINE!
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