World Suicide Prevention Day is a time to raise awareness as Liz’s story proves.
September 2020 could have been completely different for her. This month was set aside in the back of her mind – it would be the time for a second attempt at suicide if she needed to.
Her battle with mental health began when she was the victim of an assault in a local bar. This began a long journey of hate, self-blame, trauma, and insomnia.
She developed an eating disorder – anorexia. This was her way of stopping something similar happening again.
“Things were great until the mid-2000s,” Liz said. “I could never prepare myself for what happened, but I blamed myself for not being strong enough to fight against it. I felt like I just let it happen.”
“My way of fighting it was developing an eating disorder. I did whatever I could to make myself the least attractive I could be. It couldn’t happen again – it just couldn’t. I went on to put on four stone in four months.
“I think, speaking truthfully, that’s the last time I felt happy with me. Being around other people makes me happy – but I haven’t been able to make myself happy. What is life when you cannot be happy with yourself?
“People who haven’t been in that position can’t know what it’s like to hate yourself. The people I have around me are fantastic – but it is me that’s the problem. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever been truly happy.
Liz attempted to take her own life five years after the incident, not long after a holiday to Spain in 2013.
The friend she was with spoke openly about the assault to other people and this started a downturn for the rest of the trip.
She survivied, but deep down it felt like a failure.
“There are two ways of looking at it – to me, I failed. It took a few years to even consider it a second chance.
“I didn’t tell anyone about it when it happened, but when I did confide in my friend about the thoughts and attempt – I was called selfish. Whilst I knew what she meant, I just kept thinking the selfish thing was wanting me to be unhappy.
“My self-esteem was as low as it could have been anyway. Was this all I was worth in the eyes of other people?”
The trauma carried on for years. Liz developed insomnia, could not sleep, and this made her wellbeing dip further. It was November 2019 and time to seek help, but the experience was less than helpful.
Liz said “that’s how serious mental health is. I was still thinking of suicide seven years after my first attempt. I decided if I was going to live on, I needed to be happy, so I visited my doctor’s surgery and spoke to a GP.
“I went through my history with him and explained I needed a way of sleeping. I was hoping I would be given some sleeping tablets, or a referral, or just something. He disagreed and I got no further.
“Anyone who’s struggling will tell you that the hardest part is reaching out. Well, I tried and got no help. The GP that day made me feel both helpless and hopeless. Looking back, it could have been disastrous.
“I rang NHS 111 that afternoon because I was desperate for help and the woman on the line was brilliant. I left that phone call with an idea of where I could seek help and I started going through support services.
Liz is working with the Self-Harm Support and Recovery service at Brighter Futures and is also getting mental health support from other services. She started counselling sessions seven weeks ago and is now in a place of comfort.
“I set myself a deadline and I’ve got to be honest. I decided that September 2020 would be the end of things if they didn’t improve. It was a time of the year where no birthdays clashed, and I thought this would limit the damage. Typical me, thinking of others before myself again.
“I’m somewhere now where I think people can help me – and I can’t thank people enough for that. The ideal scenario for me is finding happiness in myself. I am trying my best to get to that point.
“My advice to anyone is you need to get help and keep fighting it until you get there. If I’d have accepted that visit to the GP and nothing more, who knows where I’d be.
“The last time I felt at peace was in 2013 when I was attempting suicide. I know I can do that again with the right support. This can be done.
“To anyone out there needing to hear this – there is hope. I promise.”
Brighter Futures Self-Harm Support and Recovery service provides support to people struggling with both self-harm and suicide-related thoughts in Staffordshire.
For more information on the service and to talk to a member of the team, contact: 07500 444 116.