There Is A Light At The End Of The Tunnel
Posted 10 September 2020
Phoebe, President of Hull University Union, discusses World Suicide Prevention Day.
CONTENT WARNING: This blog post discusses the topic of suicide and self-harm.
Written by Phoebe, President of the Students' Union.
I have started this post more times than I can count. My fear: that this will resonate with no-one; that it will help no-one. My hope: that those who have been, still are or may one day find themselves in the pit of depression, find some comfort in my story and realise that they are not on their own.
This is only temporary.
Your experiences do not define you.
You are stronger than you think.
Better days are on their way.
You’ve got this.
You are loved.
Heard it all before, right? I know I have. For anyone struggling with their mental health, reassurances like these are commonplace and only rarely do they ever result in any major change in mood. There is a lot to be said for having a positive outlook on life and seeing the bright side of things but, needless to say, this isn’t at all as easy as it sounds. Sadly, these positive words will only affect those who are willing to listen to them and for the longest time, I wasn’t ready to hear those words because I simply didn’t believe them.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day and for many today will be an incredibly difficult day. As a society, there is a lot of work to be done to break down the stigma attached to suicide and the conversations that are starting to happen are a glimmer of hope that we’re getting there. This growing awareness is incredibly important, but the conversations I’m more bothered about are the ones that are happening with our friends and family, with the people who seem okay.
Life is hard. It’s so hard and for most of us, doing anything more than existing will present challenges but for some even staying alive feels impossible. For some, just getting out of bed is a win. For some people, shaking the feeling of utter helplessness and loneliness is so much of a challenge that they’d rather not be here. These people can be constantly surrounded by friends, eternally busy and they can be the bubbly and happy faces that you see around campus. I know this, because I was, and in some ways still am, one of those people.
I haven’t had the easiest life and there are lots of things that led to me becoming depressed but during my first year is when I began to feel suicidal. It’s hard to explain how things can ever be so bad that you lose all hope in the world and life ever getting better, but they can be. I was deeply unhappy. I couldn’t sleep, I barely ate, I hardly ever went into University and I was always thinking about when I could next be alone and hurt myself. I destroyed potential relationships, put solid friendships to the test and pushed away anyone who loved and cared about me. I completely isolated myself from the world and I bottled up everything I was feeling and didn’t talk to anyone about it. When I eventually told someone how I was feeling, they said, “there is light at the end of the tunnel”. I didn’t believe them. How could there be? How could things ever get any better? How would the pain of remembering everything that had happened to me ever fade? Talking to the first person was hard. Talking to my friends and family was even harder but I was more astounded by how many people were willing to listen and how many people seemed to understand. When you feel suicidal, it’s hard to imagine ever feeling happy again, and the horrendous reality you live day-in-day-out feels so permanent. I didn’t believe them but I did let them try and convince me.
It’s been 525 days since I last tried to take my own life. That’s 525 more days on this scary, weird and wonderful planet that I wouldn’t have had, and I’m grateful. I’m grateful that I failed, I’m grateful that I’m still here but I haven’t forgotten. I will never forget the excruciating pain that was every single day. But I do want to live, and in those 525 days I have achieved so much more than I ever could have imagined; I’ve finished my degree which seemed entirely unlikely for about 3 years and I became your President of the Students’ Union.
I now think that there isn’t an end of the tunnel, I’m still in it but I like to think of it as being not that badly lit. I don’t know if I’ll ever be completely the same as I was before but what I do know is that I’m glad I’m here because in amidst all of the difficulties that life throws at us, there are some really incredible moments and I’m glad I’ve been around to experience them.
If you’re struggling and need support, please talk to someone.
Useful links and helplines: