“The darkest place I have ever been was inside my own head, and nothing ever scared me more”
How would my friends describe me? Always smiling, positive thinking, outgoing, friendly. Fun to be around. I know this because this is what they tell me. The truth is I don’t feel any of those things. Yet this is the person they see. Do I act different to how I feel? I must do. Not consciously though. It’s a coping mechanism.
My life has always been filled with some form of drama, even from an early age. I always warn anyone who comes into my life that this is part and parcel of being my friend, boyfriend workmate etc All have reacted pretty much the same way, it cant be that bad?
Fast forward 6 months of me in your life and the reaction is always the same “If it wasn’t for bad luck youd have none! “
What starts as something minor can spiral. A bad day turns into a bad weeks, turns into a bad fortnight.
Have you ever been so deep inside your head, inside your deepest darkest thoughts, that you can no longer escape? That for you the only way to get out is to end your life? Think hard about that.
So many will instantly dismiss this as a selfish way of thinking. That only selfish people will kill themselves. I hear comments like “what about the people you leave behind, how could you hurt the ones you love”
I can tell you first hand that when you reach that stage of depression, it is very hard, in fact id say almost impossible to think of anyone else because you have literally reached the end of your coping threshold. All rational thoughts are long gone. Because all you can see and feel is pain. And all you really want is to not feel pain. When you have tried medication, of varying strengths, you’ve tried counselling, you’ve tried ignoring it and pushing through, but nothing has worked.
You are now suffocating more and more with each day that you wake up. It consumes every part of your day. That happy face you put on for everyone else is getting harder to maintain. You find when people ask in passing “how are you” you struggle to not break down and cry.
Lets face it, if you were honest and said “well actually I’m not good, in fact I’m worse than not good. I want my life to end” can you imagine their faces. No one wants to hear your woes. Avoiding people is easier.
2019 was quite a year for me. Highs and lows. I won two prestigious awards for my business at the start of the year. Then almost immediately after that my son tried to end his life. Almost one week later was forced to move from my home with my children. I was made to change my car and hide away in a hotel for 3 weeks. To keep myself and my children safe.
I was moved away from my workplace, from a role that I loved, into an office job. I lived day in day out with the guilt of what I felt I had put my children through. My children had been with me through the separation and divorce of their father, through bankruptcy, losing our home, moving repeatedly to more affordable housing. And here we are again. More upheaval. More stress for them.
The date was now 2nd April 2019. I was at home packing my suitcase for my trip. I was due to fly to Tunisia the next day for 7 nights. A trip which I had booked the year before and, in my head at the time, I was not coming home from. Yes, I was packing a suitcase, but the truth is I literally packed an outfit for arriving in and a bikini. And my trusted medication. My happy pills as I called them. Except I wasn’t happy. I was far from happy. I was barely getting through the days. I avoided people. I avoided conversations. I was on the brink of tears all the time. The verge of breaking down. I just had to get through one more day and it would all be over. My suffering. My familys pain and hurt. 24more hours.
I said goodbye to my daughter and held her so tight as I dropped her at her fathers. She didn’t know that my plan was to never return. Not because I wanted to abandon her. She had done nothing wrong at all. She was so so perfect. But she deserved a mum who could be a strong supportive role model for her. Not the shell of a person I was at that time. I struggled to even see myself as a person.
I spoke to my son on the phone and by text message had told him how much I loved him. He was a strong man. At 20years old he had been through so much. He had tried to take his own life in February. Another failing on my part. I wasn’t there enough for him to feel he could make it in this world. I loved him so very much.
My flight was an early one. I didn’t sleep the night before. I just sat in my house feeling numb. Wanting so much to be able to cry, scream, fall apart even. But it didn’t come. I just felt empty.
I arrived at the airport. Got onto the plane. I watched blankly as tired parents frantically ran around trying to control their excited children. I looked on as loving couples snuggled up on the benches waiting for their flight details. Families, couples, friends, all travelling together. What was their plans? Who knows? I know that not one person knew my plans. And if they did would they even care? Of course not. At that exact time, in my head, no one cared at all. I was, after all, there on my own. I had asked everyone I knew, even some people I didn’t particularly like, to come with me. To save me from myself really. No one could or wanted to come. For me that was a sign. My confirmation that this was for the best. No one would miss me. Not longer term.
I arrived in Tunisia. The heat was already unbearable. But as I travelled to the resort on the coach I remember feeling absolutely blown away by the bleak desolate towns and villages we passed through. I have never been to a country which was so poor. So run down and had clearly suffered much devastation over the years. It was eerie. Everyone on the coach commented on it. Strangely for me this was further confirmation that I was in the right place to do what I had planned. This was clearly a place of suffering. No better place to end it all.
Reaching the resort I stayed on the coach until the end. I was in no rush. I watched as families, loved ones and friends rushed off, wanting to get out into the fresh air and sunshine. What did I have to rush for. I was the last off the coach. I checked in and went to my room. A room which had a double bed and two single beds. Not what I had booked. But yet another reminder I was there alone. I went out onto the balcony.
What happened over the next 48hours I don’t remember clearly. I didn’t leave my room. I had crisps and biscuits with me and enough T bags from home to get by. I had my Samsung tablet linked to the hotel WIFI. And spent my time on the balcony searching the best ways to kill myself.
Side note: I don’t recommend anyone ever do this. Wow. What a dark dark place the internet can be.
I was drawn in completely with every page I opened. There were tried and tested ways discussed in detail. Forums you can enter and chat in real time about what is less painful and more effective, which was the quickest or slowest way to do it. With each method discussed I felt hope that soon my pain would be over. I can tell you that at this time, my head was the darkest place I had ever been, and the only thoughts was where and how I could get the tools I needed to do this.
I still couldn’t cry. Despite feeling everything so deeply, there was a block on my tears.
There was absolutely no doubt in my head. I had felt so much pain and sadness that there was no other way. My emotions were suffocating me. My heart physically hurt. And selfish as it sounds, I wanted it to stop. I wanted it all to stop and I wanted so badly to feel something other than pain.
I wrote notes for my children and for my best mate. I wrote a note for my sister. Each of them full of apologies for letting them all down. For being unable to carry on. I struggled to find the right words to explain to them my reasons, my feelings. I got through many sheets of paper. So many ripped up and thrown away. Finally though, it was time.
Almost 3 days after arriving in Tunisia I had my mind made up. I knew how I was going to do it. I knew what I needed. I ventured out of my room to find a shop
I made it to the front reception where there was a group of English people I vaguely recognised from the coach journey. I did my usual thing of putting my head down, don’t make eye contact, just get past them without being noticed. I failed. One of them stood in front of me, a broad smile on his face. I tried to walk on but he made a point of starting conversation. Something about the journey from the airport and the others approached me joining the conversation. I politely replied and strangely found myself caught up in the discussion and my plan of going to the shop were slowly pushed to the back of my mind. We talked about where we were from. The flight, the journey on the coach, the weather. Our rooms. All very normal boring stuff. But it was bringing me into the present, out of the dark place that was my thoughts. They invited me to the bar and although I initially declined part of me wanted to go, not to drink or get drunk, but just to not be alone….i’ll go to the shop tomorrow…
I didn’t go back to my room that night. I don’t know if the group I was with sensed anything was wrong. But they stayed with me all night in the bar and on the beach. My thoughts were still of my plan, but it was no longer urgent. Each day that passed I made plans to get to the shop. To get what I needed to end it all. But first I was going to give myself some space away from home. In the sunshine and fresh air. I could end it all before I was due to go home..
I had my birthday there. I entered the restaurant at the hotel and the whole room went silent and a cake was brought out to me by staff and everyone sang happy birthday. My table had flowers on it and a beautifully arranged napkin. I was genuinely overwhelmed. The group I had made friends with had set this up. I actually felt good. Day 5 of my trip and I finally felt the darkness lifting a bit.
The last day arrived. The coach arrived and collected us. I was sad to be leaving. But there was now a new emotion. A feeling of failure. I had planned to end my life before having to return home. I hadn’t done that. I now had to go home and struggle all over again. I cried. I tried not to. But I couldn’t help it. I cried on the plane. On the drive home. Once I got home I was consumed by the dark feeling all over again. But now I was home I knew I couldn’t let my children find me dead. I coudnt put that on my friends or family. In a different country it didn’t matter. Not at home. So the very next day I had a meeting with a colleague and talk turned to my holiday. And I was so overrun with emotion I cried and couldnt stop. I told him my plans and how I done my research and now felt such a failure for not following through. I admitted at this stage I needed help. Professional help.