black letters paper cut out on a furry surface

Source: Pexels by Tara Winstead

11th March 2023 was the ten-year anniversary of my suicide attempt. I’d love to tell you that it was a triumphant celebration of life with champagne and dancing, but I’d be lying.

Instead, it was popcorn, a bunch of films, and chilling out. That still sounds pretty decent to the alternative though. You know, the whole permanent death thing. While I don’t necessarily feel that I’m the person to lecture people on the lifestyle choices they need to succeed in life – on the grounds that I haven’t succeeded – I do feel I’m in a position to give a bit of insight. So, here we go!

It’s not the coward’s way.

Do you realise how hard someone has to try to overwrite the brain’s self-protection codes? It’s not necessarily Robocop-style text on a screen, but rule number 1 of the brain will always be SURVIVE. To attempt to take your life will always be an effort in cognitive dissonance. This is why I will never call it cowardly – because it takes a lot of effort and willpower to try. But…

It’s not the right way, either.

I mean, come on. Obviously. This article was never going to be pro-suicide. You know the old expression – it’s a permanent solution to a short-term problem. I’m extremely lucky to not have done any damage to myself and come out unscathed. Others aren’t as lucky. But truthfully, if you’ve arrived at this moment, you aren’t thinking properly. You’re spiraling, thinking the worst possible things over and over – going down the proverbial rabbit hole.

Well, how do I get through the darkest moments? Or help someone through theirs?

Well, the most important thing to do is seek help. Help is a good thing. Help is what Michael Jordan had when he won the NBA championship – he didn’t do it alone. Help can take various forms – your local GP, or A&E (especially if you’ve attempted to take your life). There are various crisis numbers in your local area if you give it a google. The NHS website contains plenty of useful information:

Why should I carry on?

This question is harder to answer because it depends on the person. Even for a pessimist like myself, however, it comes down to a sense of optimism. That life can and will be better. It might not necessarily be a case of winning the lottery. It might be simple as having friendships and familial relationships that keep you going. Perhaps holding your niece or nephew for the first time. It might be finding a job that gives you purpose. Ultimately, the reason to carry on is unique for everyone.

What about you, Mr Writer?

I know that if I had succeeded, then I wouldn’t be about to finish university with a degree in creative writing and music. I wouldn’t have met my nieces and seen them grow up. I also wouldn’t have finished reading The Walking Dead comic books. I’ve been very lucky to identify the love and support I had from my family. My attempt forced me to come to terms with my depression and anxiety which had often fuelled my behaviour.

Every day is a school day.

I am not perfect. Ask my ex-girlfriend. If mental health is a video game, it’s less like the original Mario where it’s all linear progression and no moving backwards. If anything, Mental Health is more like Farming Simulator. You grow some crops, you harvest the crops, you sow the seeds or whatever. There’s no end game. There’s just the simple act of working hard each day. Some days will be better than others.

I owe everything to my family for helping me through this. I owe everything to each tutor who has guided me through university. I owe everything to the friends I kept and cherish their victories like my own. I am not the bastion of positive mental health, the perfect specimen of humanity, or a role model to all.

I am human. I simply carry on. And I hope you decide to carry on as well.

Published by AJ Toothill

Creative Writing and Music student with the Open University. Fond of writing in a comedic tone known as 'Absolute lunacy'.

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