It’s been a hard couple of days for lots of us. Millions of people voted for a racist, women hating, imbecile as President. I’ve been on a 24/7 patrol keeping my charity’s social media a safe haven for survivors. Keeping it safe from a tidal wave of men who say women deserve to raped – after I asked people to donate to help women heal from attacks from abusers like Donald Trump. We live in frightening times.
I usually have a pretty thick skin when it comes to personal attacks – you have to when you fundraise for the homeless, the mentally ill and the sexually abused – but the unrelenting hatred just really got to me this week.
And then I lost a friend to suicide.
I know that sometimes when a loved one kills themself, some people’s reaction is to be hurt, and angry. They say ‘how could they do that to their family. I’ll never forgive them’. I understand that. I do.
But I’ve been there. And it’s not that simple.
It’s a state of mind that’s not like any other – it’s hard to put yourself in those shoes. And they’re not shoes you ever want to be in.
It’s just a black hole of despair. There’s no hope on the horizon – your brain is in a state where it can’t see any way out.
You think the world will be a better place without you in it.
You might grieve for your loved ones, but you just want the pain to end, for your suffering to be over.
I’ve been suicidal a couple of times – to the point that I very nearly went through with it.
But I was one of the lucky ones. Something made me hold back and anchored me to this world– my family. Even if I wanted to end it, I knew that my family would want me to hold on.
Then I went downstairs and sat shivering outside, waiting for the sun to come up.
That’s not to say that my friend didn’t love her family any more than I did. I know that she loved her family dearly.
Likely, she was too sad, too overwhelmed and distressed and heartsick for that love to pull her back in that moment of madness.
When someone takes their life, it’s not because they want to die. They just want their suffering to end. And those who have survived suicide attempts overwhelmingly feel one thing – thankful. Grateful to take another breath, to open their eyes, to get another chance, to carry on.
I feel so heartbroken for my friend. For how lonely she must have felt, that all she saw ahead was unrelenting darkness, that she thought the only way out was to end it.
And so, we go on.
If you feel like that, my heart goes out to you. Life can be so lonely, and painful. It hurts. But please, hold on. Tell someone you trust. Ask for help. Go be with your loved ones. Give yourself permission to go to pieces and let things fall where they may.
Sometimes you can lose all hope that things will get better. If you’re in that black hole, if you can’t see a way out, please, just take it from me. One day, you’ll feel the sun shining down on you and life will feel good again.
He rā ki tua – better times are coming
Here are some places you can go to if you or a loved one is feeling suicidal:
Suicide Crisis Helpline
0508 828 865
0800 543 354 www.lifeline.org.nz
0800 376 633 www.youthline.co.nz
Mental Health Foundation