I tried to take my own life when I was 16. At the time, I was lost and confused and sick of feeling lost and confused. I had made peace with the fact that I wasn’t prepared to be alive any more and I accepted that what awaited me was unknown.
I was struggling with an eating disorder, I had lost my friends. Most importantly, I had lost the art of being alive.
I remember hearing people saying how important it was to be present, how important it was to be fully aware of your surroundings. I lost my cousin to cancer and believed that no matter what was surrounding me, be it positive or negative, he was gone so what good was anything else?
Mental illness is never straight forward. I’ve spent years trying to educate myself on the ins and outs of it but I’m still learning everyday. I’ve learned that good outweighs bad, always. I’ve learned that food is a friend, not an enemy. I’ve learned that it’s okay to have a bad day and even more okay to let people know you’re having a bad day. People are not mind readers, as much as we believe we are.
I’ve learned that human nature is more complex than being happy or sad, good or evil. Our brains are the most complex creations on the planet that don’t have specific guidelines or instruction manuals. We live, we learn, we experience.
I remember spending endless nights in bed, crying because I wasn’t where I thought I should be. I was crying because I was surviving and not living, I was crying because I was crying. I was crying over things that happened me 10 years ago, things that happened me 10 days ago. I never allowed my brain to stop.
Human beings as creatures are social. We thrive on being part of a society. As far back as history goes, human beings have stuck together. We group, we team up, we work together. Humanity needs strength and we have found strength in numbers.
The root of my problem was loneliness. I had convinced myself that I was alone and the world had turned against me. I had no strength, I had no numbers. Looking back now, I don’t even know how I managed. I had the weight of the world on my tiny shoulders.
Fast forward seven years, brings me to now. I’m 22 and wiser to both the world and myself. I look on the world with positive eyes and take time to appreciate what’s around me. I cry a lot, but that’s okay because I also laugh a lot too. I drink lots of water, I listen to lots of music. I have a collection of beautiful cameras that I take lots of beautiful pictures with.
I may not have an account full of money, but I have created a life for myself full of beautiful people. Seven years ago, if I had followed through with my plans to end my life, I wouldn’t have this.
This week I went to Dublin to do work experience in the Irish Independent. My cousin works there so I reached out to him for career advice. I was able to have coffee with him, catch up on family news and stories, spend the morning exploring the Independent building. I was able to speak to experienced photographers and make contacts. If I had followed through with my plans to end my life, I wouldn’t have done this.
I spent the evening with two of my most treasured friends, talking and laughing and enjoying each others company. We talked about life, we had a pint. We were together. I looked at the two of them at one point and smiled at how much I love them.
If I had followed through with my plans to end my life, I wouldn’t have them.
Right now, typing this, I’m on a bus to see more of my friends. I’ve broken down my walls and allowed myself to feel comfort in knowing that there are people that love me. I used to think I had nobody in the world. Now I know I have everybody, I just need to let them in.
I’m proud of myself, which I think is important. I don’t believe in the phrase “self praise is no praise.” I’m able to look back on the last few years in a constructive way. It didn’t happen overnight but all good things require effort.
Stick with it, trust yourself and don’t be afraid to say no. More importantly, don’t be afraid to say yes. It’s important to remember that we all make mistakes.
Life isn’t a test run, we’re not here twice. Everyday is both a school day and a blessing. Treat yourself with respect and keep your head up. Remember you’re not alone and that no matter how bad things are, they get better. Set yourself a goal, no matter how small it is and work towards it. Be kind, be patient and be honest.
Love yourself just as much as you love your friends and family.
Change is always possible, you just have to let it happen.
If I had followed through with my plans to end my life, I would never have experienced all the wonderful things life has thrown my way.
I would have never seen my sister make it out of hospital. I would never have moved to Galway and meet some of my friends and I wouldn’t appreciate the glory of being alive.
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