The other night I was left with no other choice but to phone the Samaritans, for the third time in my life. It was past 1am again, I was at breaking point… the emotions were too strong I actually felt I would explode – obviously I wouldn’t have, but that’s the point where things are most dangerous for people like me…. that’s often why we engage in destructive coping mechanisms, to try and bring the emotions down, for fear of what will happen if we don’t.
I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t call them. All I know is I sat with the phone number in my phone for about twenty minutes, hesitating… talking myself out of it and then back into it by letting my feelings in. All the other possible coping strategies were whizzing around my mind and I realised none of them would work. It was basically phone the Samaritans or end it somehow.
As usual I didn’t know what to say at first, but I told them how alone I feel. I told them about losing my best friend because of my illness. I told them about losing my only other friend to suicide. And then I broke down.
She said how sorry she was about that. She then very quickly asked if I had contemplated suicide myself. And it’s the first time I’ve been completely honest about my feelings and intentions. I straight away said yes. I was still in tears, so I don’t remember everything said, but I told her how suicidal I felt before losing my friend six months ago and that now it’s all I think about. She asked if I had a plan. I said not a plan as such, but that I’m looking at ways to do it…. that I’m closer to having a plan than I’ve ever been before.
At one point she asked something about in three years time can I see it being better…. I was honest and told her I can’t see me being here by then. I don’t think I’ll be here in a year. I didn’t tell her I can’t even see me having another Christmas, but that might just be my immediate feelings anyway. I am struggling with the thought of Christmas this year.
When I talked about my grief, she pointed me in the direction of help for that. She also said that people who lose someone to suicide are at a higher risk of taking their own lives too. I was already aware of this – that’s why I’ve needed people to support me in the aftermath, as I was already suicidal and my mental illness puts me at a higher risk of suicide anyway, without adding the effects of losing someone to it. She also said that the grief associated with a suicide is totally different to ‘normal’ grief, in that it’s more complex. Again I knew that. But it was helpful to hear it said by someone else…. it was validating of what I was experiencing. I wish the people in my life were aware of all this and could do more to help me. Maybe I wouldn’t have got to the point I had to choose between this phone call and death.
At one point I was talking about the anger I felt at my friend. I said it wasn’t hateful anger…. just anger at the situation I guess. She then said something very insightful and true…. she asked if perhaps I envied my friend. And I said yes. I said I wish I could’ve gone with her.
I have never been that honest about suicidal feelings… for fear of what would happen as a result. But these people are very respectful. She even said to me that they want me to stay alive, but it’s my decision what to do with my life, and they’ll have my back whatever I decide. Even at the lowest point if I should reach that moment, I can still have them on the end of the phone. That made everything feel very real…. like there really is the possibility I will end it in the not too distant future. It scared me. But I liked how they weren’t forcing me to stay…. there was no judgement whatsoever. She said she was pleased I made the call.
We talked about how my family would feel if I ended it. I explained they’re the only reason I’m still here. But I told her I almost resent them for it, and I feel trapped…. because I have to stay alive in order to not hurt them…. but it means me living in pain and a world I just can’t survive in. She said I need more reasons to live than that… otherwise it would cause me to resent the only people I have left and could make things worse in the end….
I talked about my Godchildren and how they used to be a reason for me to live. She wondered if I could be enough of a reason myself … I said no. I told her how much I hate myself… and how losing my best friend, along with everything else that’s happened, has completely dragged my self-worth through the floor. I don’t currently see myself as worth continuing to live for.
She asked if I hadn’t lost these people from my life would I be considering ending my life right now… I said probably not as much, no. I said if my best friend hadn’t abandoned me, she could have supported me through the suicide of my other friend, and I could’ve survived it. And if that friend had not taken her life, I would have a friend now…. everything would be different…. I wouldn’t be this alone. The reality is it’s these two major losses in the space of a couple of months…. my two longest friendships of 13+ years…. gone… leaving me with nothing and nobody. That’s what has ruined me and brought me to this point of suicidality. Everything would be different, and I’d be able to live if both or even just one of these things hadn’t happened. That’s why after my friend’s death I reached out to my former best friend, as I wanted that resolved… I wanted her support and friendship…. I couldn’t cope with both things – even hours after hearing the news I had to not have both losses. She texted me a couple of times with support, but then disappeared and I’ve not heard from her in six months. That was it. I had to face both losses, even though I couldn’t. I didn’t have a choice. She didn’t want our friendship back. A traumatic loss and me being left alone to cope with it, feeling suicidal myself, was not enough reason for her to care and fix things with me. It’s how little she cared, that she could wash her hands of me so coldly. That’s what damaged me. It’s taken an already complex kind of grief and complicated it even further. My friend’s suicide gave me that feeling of how stupid it is to not be friends with my former best friend – that life is too short to hold grudges…. I honestly felt we should and could sort it out at that point. I wanted to let it all go, as some things mattered more. Now I feel more rejected than ever…. it was at least the third time I’d tried to open the door again, and had it slammed in my face. I’m a glutton for punishment. I get the message she’s done with me now, for good. She’s too busy being friends with the person who hurt me before and came between us three years ago…. Anyway….
We talked about grief and mental illness and how people struggle to empathise if they’ve not been there… and how they can be afraid of saying the wrong thing, so they leave it alone and say nothing at all. I told her I wish they’d just say something, like ‘I hope you’re okay’…. ‘How are you?’ … ‘Thinking of you’…. something to make me feel I’m not invisible.
We talked about my mental health – how long I’ve been struggling. I said 18 years…. I went on to explain the reasons it went downhill in the last couple of years. I said I’m the worst I’ve ever been. When I was a teenager things were bad, but I didn’t have real problems – I said I don’t know what my problem was back then…. she said something like ‘teenager’s prerogative’ – she gave me a couple of moments of humour to pick me up a bit.
We talked for 48 minutes… the longest call to them I’ve ever had. It didn’t feel like 48 minutes. Time goes quicker in the middle of the night though! I told her that although it didn’t fix everything – it doesn’t change how things are – it made me feel less alone in that moment.
I got through that night without hurting myself or worse. I also didn’t have to use my emergency medication. I just made the right choices for once in my life. I’m still struggling. The night times are the worst. Hopefully if it happens again I’ll make that call again. Things really aren’t okay at all right now. The feelings that led to me needing to make the call, they are still there right now…. I have to contain them as much as I can. But it’s very difficult. One person could do something to end all this pain and trauma for me. But they don’t care. They never did and never will. They’ve moved on. They are responsible for where I am now and what happens to me. They broke my spirit. And the only people I have left to try and save my life are the Samaritans.
I don’t even know the name of the woman I spoke to that night. But I truly thank her for giving her time to just listen and support. Two things other people just wouldn’t give me. This total stranger answered the phone in the middle of the night and talked to me, about all the things I’ve needed to talk about for the last six or so months. Whatever happens in the future she helped me so much that night, and I can’t repay her for what she did. The Samaritans are like angels – we just have to call out to them when we need them.