*Trigger Warning. I will be talking about some dark times and suicide in this post so please if this is a trigger for you do not read any further*
This is a tough one to talk about. Even the word suicide can upset a lot of people however I thought I might share this as I think it is something we should discuss. Over the last few years I have been exposed to suicide more and more especially in the veteran community so here I go.
I have had people I know take their own life, attempt to take their own life, and contemplate taking their own life. To be in this mindset you have to be in an extremely dark place and I know as I have been in this dark place before. It is not nice and you feel helpless, angry, sad, tired, frustrated, exhausted and so on.
This isn’t something I am saying easily and even as I write this I continue to pause to try and figure out what comes next. This post is extremely hard for me to write as I know there will be those that are close to me that will read this and be upset about it. Especially since nobody knew how I was feeling back then. I am in a better place these days and have been seeking the appropriate help and continue to do so – so for all that I am thankful and hope that no one thinks any less of me for sharing all of this.
You really never know what someone is going through. I found this out the hard way when I found out a good mate of mine had attempted to take his own life. This was a complete shock to me as we always chat and are very open with one another. So when I found out about this I was in extreme shock and I felt bad that I didn’t pick up on it earlier. It just goes to show how easy it is to disguise these symptoms from people, even the ones you are closest with have no idea what is going on inside your head.
We all go through our own battles and deal with things our own way. One of the key things I have noted over the years is that fake smiles are so easy to put on, and with the power of social media people only ever show the best of their lives and no ones ever talks about the negativity or feeling down or being angry as this is not what society wants to hear. Why is this? I mean if people would just be open about how they are feeling with their mental health, maybe there would be less suicides and maybe people would realise that it’s ok to talk about your feelings and not hold everything in. I think people are too concerned with what others think of them. I won’t lie, I often dwell on this and wonder what people think of me, so I do get it and know all of this is easier said than done.
So what are you supposed to do with all these feelings we are suppressing?
Well what I did and others that I know is we just pushed them down deeper and deeper and deeper until we forgot about them for a period of time. This might work temporarily but it does all come to the surface eventually. The thing about pushing your feelings down deeper and deeper is that eventually they will erupt and come out. This happened to me and when it did I ended up in the hospital for a period of time; it was not a nice headspace to be in and I felt horrible. It is not healthy to hold your feelings in and it can make you extremely sick.
Us as humans could all do with venting and talking to someone. We really need to make this a common practice. We need to stop the stigma that you are somehow weak if you talk about your feelings, and this particularly goes for men.
Here are some things I have noted over the years from my own personal experience and when I deal with others.
• Males that are suicidal tend to not show it or even bring it up. If they are going to do it they will act on it without warning.
• Ex-service men that are suicidal will have a fit of anger or rage and then act on it.
• Very rarely will the men that are going through their own struggles broadcast it out to the world.
• Men will try and suppress their true feelings with alcohol or drugs to try and numb the pain.
• Some of those in physical pain will have enough of it and want to end it all.
Now the above dot points are from my own personal dealings from over the years. I have had a range of people reach out to me in various states of mind and I have managed to talk some out of suicide. I have managed to put people on the right track and seek the help they require. These aren’t dot points from a study that has been done, just purely my own personal experiences.
This part will sound bad. However, I think it needs to be discussed as well. Over the years, I have dealt with some pretty serious situations in relation to people and their mental health. I have also come across people that broadcast their mental health issues all over social media in the hopes it gets them attention and sympathy. Now I understand you need to take any mention of suicide seriously but when you have seen these people time and time again do the things they do for attention you can’t help but wonder if this is an act? Or are they being genuine?
I figured this one is a real touchy subject as we never know what someone is going through but when all the evidence points to an attention seeker what are you supposed to think? I have seen it where people claim to have severe PTSD and openly admit they are not able to be in crowds, or be around people, or even go to the shops then the following weekend you see photos of them out in town on the cans! It often makes me wonder….
Myself personally… I didn’t tell a single person how I was feeling for so long as I was embarrassed about it all and ashamed so I didn’t want anyone to think less of me. That all changed when I started seeing my good mates hurting and I mean they were hurting. They were struggling with their own demons and not knowing what they should do. They didn’t want anyone knowing what they were going through and were really concerned about it all. So this is where I thought bugger it, I will be extremely open about my own mental health in the hopes these lads will see it’s ok to not be ok and to be open with your mates and the world and the fact you don’t have anything to be ashamed of.
The reason I share all of this is in the hopes it can help even one person and maybe save a life. If you are reading this please know you are not alone through this journey. You have support and IT’S OK TO NOT BE OK.