Our Voice - Rebecca, one of our Youth Ambassadors / by Richard Bentley

At the age of twenty, when I look back at the readiness I was given to step out and deal with what life has to throw at me, I weep. I weep for child me – not past me, but child me. Physically, intellectually, I am as I should be, yet what the last six months have confirmed is that emotionally, five year old me with no strategies or ability to take care of myself mentally without utter reliance on others remains inside of me, screaming for help.

Granted, I am diagnosed as mentally ill. Together with my psychiatrist a further diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (the emotional equivalent to a third – degree burns victim) is awaiting to be discussed next month. This, undeniably intensifies the scream of that baby five year old but I strongly believe she (or he) exists within us all.

You see, take the scenario of us as the small perfectionist little children that we were, colouring in: If a mistake is made, if we’re distressed or unhappy with the way something appears or feels, the simple solution is to just rip the page out and start over without anybody really noticing any damage. If done enough times, the book does become a little worse for wear but ultimately it lives on and our discontent is brief. This is just the way the world works according to our younger selves.

If you’ve ever personally experienced mental illness, watched somebody battle it or even undergone any hardship which has knocked you for six, you will know that this childhood past-time resolution is NOT a metaphor for life.

When your world feels as if it’s falling apart, you can’t simply ‘rip out a page’ of your life, scrunch it up and pretend it never happened – entirely unaffected. In fact, when everything’s crashing down on you, throwing the whole book to the fire seems like the only way.

And just like that five year old girl ripping the pages out, leaves what remains behind unaffected; your mind is completely successful in convincing you that your actions too will bear no harsh consequences.

But of course, your mind is wrong.

Hence, Suicide being regarded as a ‘selfish act’. Hence the stigma.

As uncomfortable as it may make us feel, as taboo and deeply saddening the topic, it is important to say the word. It is important to speak up because if we don’t, more and more desperate people are going to slip through our fingers leaving a rollercoaster of emotions for those left behind.

The stigma that surrounds suicide is nothing but a de-medicalisation of mental illness and this HAS to stop.

I was fortunate. Not braver. Not stronger. But fortunate. When I am feeling better, I will re-attend University. My plan now is to study Social Work so I can help people in their time of need. But so many have had opportunities like this wiped from them cruelly and unjustly through taking their own lives.  Samaritans receives on average 600,000 calls a year from people thinking of taking their own lives. This can hit anybody and when it does, it hits like a ton of bricks. It traps, isolates and terrifies. It is powerful.

But so is our voice.

Speak about mental illness and one day it’ll stop being taboo. When this happens, the rate of vulnerable people taking their own lives will fall.

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