Life for me in my early twenties was like being inside a tumble dryer. I can’t describe it any better than that. It would always feel as if I had worked through one set of life problems only to have it all thrown back on top of me in an endless dry cycle. You’ve heard my bereavement story and my depression story. This is my suicide story. I’ve only attempted it once, but even now, 16 years later I can still see it on my doctors notes. It still sits there like a permanent black stain on an otherwise clean record.
Let’s start from the day I spat in the male Psychiatric Nurses’ face. He was a big man, tattoo’s all over his arms and an angry face. I liked this man strangely enough but he had a frame like he was a guy you shouldn’t mess with. He had me pinned down and was trying to tell me to calm down. You see there was something inside me. I can’t explain it really but the blood was gushing through my veins and I just wanted to smash up my sleeping bay. A bay sleeps 6, or back then it did. I punched, I kicked and threw stuff. They pinned me down, helpless I was, and calmly he was trying to tell me to calm down. I spat right in the middle of his face. Right sir, you’re off to “Stratheden”. I am not putting up with this shit. “Stratheden” for anyone that was wondering; is terminology in that ward for the Intensive Psychiatric Care Unit wing of Stratheden. Only time I had ever been in a straight jacket. They gunshot some calming drugs into my bum before manhandling me into one of those jackets. To protect them and myself. And I was whisked off to what was to be the most eye opening experience of my young adult life.
Being checked in was more like a prison than a care unit. The nurses, or guards as I liked to refer to them, I thought would have been better placed in a strong man competition or the police force. These guys were built like tanks and were hardened to the job. I expect they were fit for purpose. I later realised there were some people that were placed in that ward under police sentences. A plea of insanity perhaps? I’m not too sure; we never really talked about what we were in for. Only medication; we loved to discuss our medication.
Surprisingly extra curricular activity in this ward was top notch. Even although most rooms were locked and you were only allowed in under supervision or with a family member there was never any shortage of staff to come and take you to play football, full table snooker, golf, jogging and to the gym. The other stuff we did was quite amazing. And the sleeping arrangements; those were lovely too. We had actual beds that were like back in your house. I guess they knew the importance of creature comforts.
Anyway. There wasn’t much good about being in this place. The people were awful; I can remember once a new guy being registered with us and immediately after processing he got his willy out and started to taunt the female nurses with it. “You’re gunna get some o’ this”, even more surprisingly was her reaction. Instead of ten nurses piling on top of him she just told him to put it away and acted as if nothing had happened. Shit – where was I?!
As you can imagine I was in there with clinical depression, psychosis and a range of other mental health issues so life in there was quite taxing, it wasn’t easy. I can’t remember the run up to the suicide, what made me want to do it but I can remember the ward was securely shut down. It was hard to suicide on that ward because there was not much to do it with. Regardless I found somewhere. When you’re determined you find a way. I can remember the run up to the day when I had planned to do it and being SO much happier. Life’s troubles and ward troubles seemed to be non-existent. It was great
I had planned it out thoroughly. And to the finest detail. There was a small smoking room in the back that was barely used and there was a sofa and a chair there. There was one small window at the back with the tiniest hook – the hook was almost invisible because it was a contraption for the window. I was going to use my shoelaces to create a noose and tie it to the hook. Use the sofa to barricade myself in and then I’d go and hang myself. I had it all planned out to the finest detail. The guards would be busy giving meds at the time so I can just slip away without anyone noticing.
A strange thing happened to me that night. I started to think about who would miss me when I was gone. There was my Mum who would be devastated, and my Aunties. My Gran and Granddad and my friends. It was quite hard shoving those thoughts out of my mind because they were coming like a steam train with the brakes knocked out. I couldn’t stop them. What about Mum? What about your family? What about friends? I tried hard to shut them out. Funnily it was the first ever positive thoughts I had in a long long time.
I remember barricading myself in to that room and making the noose when the time came. I sat there, watching the door. No-one came, no-one gave a shit. But I knew that anyway. I tested the strength of the rope. Perfect, it would hold all of my weight. I started to feel happy. Happy that my problems would be over and the burden that I had placed over everyone else would be ended. They could get on with their lives. I sat. Ready to jump. Ready to choke myself until I suffocate. I was no expert at noose making so I knew I would be swinging there for quite a while. I thought. I wondered how horrific it would be for me before the peace came.
And then a beautiful thing happened. Amazing actually.
I started to wonder about my age and the life that I hadn’t lived yet. I was 22 for god sakes. I was a baby. I was barely out of nappies and here was me ready to end it all before I even gave myself the chance. The things that I could have done, the people that I could have met and the places I could have seen. The thought sent shivers down my spine. Then I started to think about my Mother, the woman that brought me into the world; the shrill shrieks of pain, anger, anguish and emptiness all rolled into one. I could hear it. I could hear her devastated standing over my lifeless body. Her only Son, dead, at 22. It would have destroyed her.
I was 22. I had barely lived yet. I was going to take a chance and see this damn decade out at least. I was going to take myself to college and get educated and get an amazing job. Find love and have children. I was going to take life by the fucking balls and destroy anyone that was going to try and take that off me. Fuck yeah. I was the man. I was going to kick the shit out of this life.
I stepped down, unbarricaded the door and sheepishly told one of the staff what I was about to do. A great shame fell upon me. Realising that in a fit of helplessness I was going to end it all. I remember talking to the Nurse in charge the next day. He laughed at me and told me there was no way I would be able to do anything of the sort in the hospital. He asked me to replicate what I was going to do. When I showed him exactly that he must have shat his breakfast out because he took no time in confiscating my shoelaces and placing me on a constant watch. For those that don’t know. Constant watch is where someone is with you all the time. Even in the toilet.
So that was the only time I’ve ever really attempted suicide. And I didn’t attempt suicide because I managed to talk myself out of it at the last minute. But It was a definite nearly. And I look back. If I had gone through with it, I think of all the people that I have connected with since. It’s a great shame, they’d have missed out on a wonderful person and vice versa.
I have literally helped 100’s of people since that day with my work and my words. This is why I exist now. This is my passion. What is yours?