Hi, as we all knew, Thursday 10th September was ‘Suicide Prevention Day’. A day where the whole world was united in the sharing and expression of grief over the tragic loss of love one’s to suicide.
Here In New Zealand we lost 685 lives to suicide for the 12 month period ending in June 2020.
I was invited to be a part of a service held at the First Church here in Dunedin. Along will key musicians and a couple key note speakers I was asked to share about my journey with living with a mental illness.
Following below is my 4min speech which I thought you might be interested in reading.
Good evening, and thanks for pausing tonight to hear my brief story, which is still having pages and chapters added to it…
Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the grief that is in the room. I stand beside you as I too grieve the loss of a loved one to suicide. Grief, when handled correctly has helped me process the loss of Sam who took his own life.
Grief is a natural healthy emotion that allows us to fully feel and express what the impact of a suicide has done to our own lives. It brings about a unique healing of the hole that is in our hearts, which will never fully heal. Sam’s suicide will forever leave a scar on my heart.
Grief for me is not a destination, rather a journey that ebbs and flows.
Some days are better than others. It is not a linear process and does not give us the answers to questions we have around the “why’s” in regard to losing a friend, a mate, a family member to suicide.
It is extremely hard to sit with unanswered questions. However, in my case I understand where my mate was at when he made the decision to end the unbearable emotion pain that was consuming his life.
You see on the flip side of having a mate end his own life, I too have been when he was.
Suicidal feelings, thinking and attempts has been a long-time companion of mine.
As a part of Suicide Prevention Day we seek Hope
I am a 46 years old who currently works part-time as a carpenter, loves cycling, watching the All Blacks, reads historical novels, has a 7 year old son and lives with bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder involves extreme shifts in mood, energy, and levels of activity. One day I’m up soaring with the eagles, the next I’m down in the depths of the ocean fighting for my very breath.
Bipolar disorder is a very serious illness to live with and extremely hard to treat. For my own mental health and as a part of suicide prevention, I have been hospitalised over 15 times due to how the impact plays out in my life.
So yeah, I’ve been to some very dark, gloomy places where I was operating in pure survival mode.
At times I could only live hour by hour, such was the emotional pain and destress I was facing, like being caught in a riptide with the weight of my illness pulling me under, leaving me grasping for air.
Lets be Positive
However, on the positive side, my mental illness has taught me a lot about myself and as I allow it, it has also made me a better person.
By that, I mean I’m a better listener…..dad…..friend and have more compassion and understanding for those that are suffering around me.
I have also learnt to take each day as a gift, because to be honest there have been sometimes where I almost didn’t make it.
Life is still difficult at times and that is when I need my ‘support team’ around me, its part of my suicide prevention. I also know that no matter how low I get, that “this tooshall pass” just as surely as high tide follows low tide.
My hope comes in the combined forms of my faith, regular exercise, eating a balanced diet, having healthy relationships, and most important of all, having meaningful conversations with others that walk a similar path.
I would love to hear your story one day.
In closing, I want to thank you for listening to a part of my story.
I also hope it will bring a level of comfort, because the more we talk about suicide and lift the stigma around it the more we can get help, early on to those that need it the most.
We need to share the message that there is HOPE, one meaningful conversation at a time.