Monday, January 6, 2014

So here goes nothing....


In June 2011, I walked out of hospital after a suicide attempt and I haven't looked back.
I still remember how that day looked.
It was a beautiful June afternoon, the sun belted down on my mam's car and I took one final look at St John of God's in Stillorgan, Co Dublin - a place which had become my home for over a month.
That was a week before my 22nd birthday. 
I walked back into college with my head held high, spent two more years working on my journalism degree and strutted out with one of the highest marks handed out that year.
Less than a week after finishing my studies and I was working for a national newspaper.
For the first time in my life I felt proud of myself, I was successful.
Fast forward nearly 19 months and here I am contemplating taking my own life again.
I don't know how I got here but here I am. 
I have everything anyone could ask for - great friends, a wonderfully supportive family, the respect of this industry I'm in, a penthouse apartment in Dun Laoghaire, iPad, iPhone, new car and and what should look like a bright future.
But I can't see that - all I can feel is how sweet and peaceful death would be right now.
The balcony 10 feet behind me seems more tempting than taking a shower in the morning, than walking into work with an exclusive under my arm or texting the girl I'm currently seeing.
My role in life has always been to make others feel happy. I'm the joker, the friend, the pal who'd never see you stuck.
I'm that sad clown, a cliche wrapped in another fucking cliche, sitting in a living room typing in the dark.
I never thought my mental health was that bad - even when I was placed in a locked ward as psych staff took my belt, shoe strings and lighter.
Even the cold thud of a dead lock clicking into place as I watched my family tearfully walking out of my hospital room couldn't open my eyes to the reality.
But there it was in all its painful glory.
When friends came to visit me I would smile and crack a joke pretending to be oblivious to the fact I was surrounded by some of the sickest people I had ever met - and I was one of them.
It would be months later that my friends told me I was speaking complete gibberish to them.
It was only then that I copped something wasn't really right.
In a strange way, it validated me. I was confused as to why I was put in that hospital. I knew deep down there was something seriously wrong with me but I couldn't accept it.
But back to the now. 
I'm writing this as someone who is ill. I'm not looking for sympathy, it's just something which needs to be out there, that it's ok to tell the world you're not ok.
I'm not going to work tomorrow, I'm going to see a counsellor. I'm going to beat this little prick in my head who's trying to tell me I'm not good enough.
There will be many of you out there who don't understand how it feels to go through something like this.
That's not to sound high and mighty or what not, it is what it is.
But then again there are those who will know exactly the excruciating pain I'm feeling right now.
There's one way I can think of explaining it.
Imagine having a negative thought about yourself, be it your appearance, intelligence, whatever.
Now imagine it sticking with you all through the day pounding you every chance it gets. It's relentless in its ferocity, its cruelty.
You can't think of anything else. 
It tells you you're worthless, it mocks every positive thought you try and retaliate with, it shoots down any thought of getting better.
And you can't get rid of it.
So, in my case, I drank. I drank to try and rid myself of the constant waves of negativity crashing over me, washing out the good of the day.
But then that will stop working and you'll be left drunk and alone, hating yourself even more.
The day I tried to kill myself in April 2011, I found myself in the corner of my room with a bottle of whiskey balling my eyes out.
I began drinking socially again after six months off it. I drank not because I wanted to forget but because I enjoyed it.
But now I'm doing it for the same old reasons. The most important thing is that I've caught it in time.
The recent Donal Walsh documentary on RTE opened people up to talking about mental health.
Here was a terminally ill young man telling people to cop on and not take your own life.
To be honest, it infuriated me. 
Suicidal ideation, to many, is a terminal illness and something which can't be fought with medication.
If you're set on taking your life, then you're going to do it.
But there are support structures out there designed to pull you from the brink
It's in no way black and white. 
You don't see how much you're loved, you don't see the pain and hardship it would cause your family.
Even now I'm racked with guilt over my own attempt. My mum is a shell of the woman she was, constantly worrying about me.
My sister thinks I'm too ill to live a regular life and my friends are now texting me after a night out telling me 'to ring when I get in'.
Everybody's worried about me - and I guess they're right to.
The stigma of mental health in Irish society may be loosening its grip, but the guilt of having tried it will always remain.
I don't want to be known as  'that guy who tried to kill himself'.
In fact I'm that funny, intelligent and caring guy who actually wants to know how you're doing.
There's a part me that wants to just delete this entire message and go to work tomorrow and pretend everything is ok.
But I'm sick of living a half life, one that's just going to knock me on my arse as I try and plough ahead.
So this is a moment for me to take stock, lay a solid foundation, take a breather and then move forward once again.
This is not a cry for help, it's more of a success story. I've spotted the danger signs and I'm fighting back. 
I'm not going to let this darkness define me and let it win.
I'm stronger than that.
So for anyone out there who's thinking similar things, I'm pleading with you to tell someone; family, friends, the Samaritans.
This is because I'm one of the lucky ones, I've survived suicide.
You only get one go around.
To be honest, I'm feeling a hell of a lot better after writing this.
Take her handy,
Garreth MacNamee






















54 comments:

  1. Your sensitivity is the source of your pain but also a beautiful sense of poignancy and timing. Hard to remember, but remember this feeling, whilst intense will pass too! Don't feel guilty for your feelings, you don't need to justify them. Best of luck, truly

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  2. I know what it feels like and I also know the strength with it takes to expose something like this to the world. I look up to people like you and admire you for your courage and strength in sharing your experiences. I too have been there and I only wish that one day I could use my story to help others like you story will undoubtedly do!!

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  3. Great blog posting. Best of luck.

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  4. Thanks for sharing, hope you can get well and please know that your message WILL provide help and hope to others

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  5. Beautifully honest, well written and above all, well said - even though it doesn't matter how you said it, it just matters that you did.

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  6. This is incredibly honest and powerful. I really hope you continue to feel better, and you will get the help you need. It is such an important subject and you have described it so brilliantly - I hope a lot of people will read this. Thank you for writing it.

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  7. I did hear someone say once that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Either way, your article is great. Thanks

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  8. Thanks for sharing, best of luck.

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  9. Beautifully written Garreth...so generous of you to share. As I read I could hear that 'cold thud of a dead lock' as I left my gorgeous 16 year old brother in St. Pat's hospital...eleven years ago. Thankfully he's still around...sometimes battling through the days. Take care.

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  11. Like looking in a mirror!!!!!! Well Done for speaking out!!!!! Felt every last single solitary word of your heart felt writings!!!! It's OK to not be OK, Keep Moving Forward!!!!! Timothea Corcoran, West Cork.

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  12. This post resonated with me on many levels, and even though i don't know you i feel absolutely comfortable calling you brother. Reading this window into your life and past has been very powerfull and i feel honoured to have read it. When it comes to life one thing i'll say is that it takes courage to enjoy it, and i sense a lot of courage in you from reading this. You are very intune with the world around you and you have a great mind, one that the world needs. What is happiness i once asked myself, and i learned that it's the spark you become when you conquer anxiety. I look at life problems the same way as i would look at a mountain that i have to claim. You must stare it right in the face and not fear it, you can't go around it. Because behind that mountain there is another mountain, one that is twice the size of the one you're facing. Climbing this one will make the next one easier to get over, so climb this one and always be thinking about the next. You will start to get good at it, but what makes us strong is never easy never forget. One day you will see someone struggling to get to the top of their mountain, and you stop for a second and lift them up. Because we are in this together and you will only get if you give. All of this can be achieved, but it takes courage to enjoy.

    Thank you for your post, i'll leave you with some music that was passed down to me by somebody. I hope you do the same one day Brother. - Much love! Glen Byrne from Dublin. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFLdIGNUKuw

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  13. What an incredibly honest baring of your soul. Though older, I have been in St John of Gods and felt the hopelessness and still have the good and bad days. If your brave writing helps even one person (which though you may not know, it undoubtedly will) you can take great credit for your generosity of spirit. Well done!

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  14. Keep writing it down and sharing it! The good days and the bad... You're brilliant!

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  15. I am amazed by your honesty. I have never considered taking my own life because my father did exactly that when I was only 12. I have experienced the devastation that the people left behind experience. It is one of the worst things to go through. But I would say it has made me stronger in a way. I have experienced other horrible things in my life and knowing what it feels for the other people i just couldn't make that step. But i did something different last year. i went and got help. I went through one year of therapy and it was the best decision I ever made. I can only strongly advise you to do the same. I hope you will get better and get the help you need. I wish you lots of stregth

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  16. What a powerful,honest piece of writing. Thank you for sharing. After losing my brother to suicide four years ago,and having an idea of his anguish in life, I share your anger at the platform Mr Walsh (R.I.P.) was given to spread his message of "Snap out of it" . I wish you every success in your counselling and for future happiness. Thanks again for sharing a very moving and sincere piece.

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    1. I think that's a little unfair on Donal Walsh. That was not the message he gave.

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  17. I have no words for expressing myself what a brilliant writing from the deep of someones feelings. Thanks very much for sharing what it happended to you. Miriam

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  18. Thank you for this very sincere blog. I am in a similar situation myself presently and find that it can be very good to write things down. I also know that the writing can help combat the stigma and encourage others to speak out. I have encountered both through my own blog. I can sympathise with the torture of understanding how many good things there are in life but still not being able to feel that any of it really matters. I have recently taken enforced time off work because my friends were worried that I might attempt suicide and I have been referred to counselling for the second time in less than a year. I think it hurts to hurt others with it most but that can be a motivation for recovery. Keep writing, especially when you find some signs of recovery. You might be surprised how many people you might help

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  19. Well done to you and others here about being so open about this. Keep up the good fight.

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  20. Im in the same place but I don't know how to

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  21. thank you. you make me feel not so alone. thanks

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  22. It's your life, and your death. Do what you feel you must do. It's not about whether everyone else will be happy. That's not what life is about. We're not supposed to run around looking after others and neglecting ourselves, that just creates the mistaken expectation that others well do the same and fulfil or needs for us. Not gonna happen. If death feels right, only you know. If trying to find a way to live feels right, only you know. Because nobody can tell you how to feel. Don't let them.

    I'm also glad to see that someone else is just as angry as I am about Donal Walsh's attitude towards suicide. He was facing death through physical illness, not mental, so he had no right whatsoever to tell the mentally ill how to deal with their condition no more than a depressed person has the right to tell a cancer patient how to deal with their cancer. All it did was give suicidal people more reason to hate themselves, which is the last thing a suicidal person needs. It's so callous to be angry with someone whose very life depends on compassion.

    You have my compassion and my respect. You know what's right for you, and you should have autonomy. Living out of guilt is no way to live. Good luck with your choices.

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  23. Wow your really inspiring :) So honest this gives so much hope for people to hear this. Nice to hear it from a person who is fighting it. You write so well so easy to read..... I just read all your other blogs when I should be asleep :) keep up blogs.... I just got motivation from your ones from last year thanks :)

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  24. I always found Emily Dickinson to describes depression perfectly:

    I felt a funeral in my brain,
    And mourners, to and fro,
    Kept treading, treading, till it seemed
    That sense was breaking through.
    And when they all were seated,
    A service like a drum
    Kept beating, beating, till I thought
    My mind was going numb.

    And then I heard them lift a box,
    And creak across my soul
    With those same boots of lead,
    Then space began to toll

    As all the heavens were a bell,
    And Being but an ear,
    And I and silence some strange race,
    Wrecked, solitary, here.

    And then a plank in reason, broke,
    And I dropped down and down--
    And hit a world at every plunge,
    And finished knowing--then--

    You'll know you mind, its depths, strengths and weaknesses more than most of the people around you... there's a strange beauty in that darkness.

    Be Well Friend x

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    1. I've lived that poem more than once. Amazing how many planks in reason can break yet you can still somehow scramble back to sanity with a lot of time, counselling, meditation, medication & support from family & friends.

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  25. Also, you may find this interesting.. http://www.ted.com/talks/andrew_solomon_depression_the_secret_we_share.html

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  27. Have you read Hermann Hesse's "Steppenwolf?" If not, you need to. If you have, you need to read it again. Not every suicide ends in death. There are the living suicides, the walking suicides, those who know they belong on the trash heap of life, but exist nonetheless. It's not the happiest life, for certain, but we are resigned to the fact that we're not like everyone else, won't know their happiness, and that will just have to be OK for us.

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  28. Reading this really moved me. Thanks for helping me to better understand what it feels like to be in this situation and to know there is hope.

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  29. MArianne Wilkinson 'a return to love'

    Interesting world view. We are all connected.

    Thanks for your honesty it's refreshing and beautiful to hear.

    Take care
    A

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  30. I work for a charity supporting people who are vulnerable to homelessness for a variety of reasons - including their mental health.
    We'd like to share your candid insight and statement that 'it's ok not to be ok' via our Facebook page.
    Thank you for the courage you've shown in writing and publishing this article.

    You're right, it is OK not to be ok.
    There's hope.
    Dee

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  31. Great article Gar- It shows greath strength to be able to talk about it- and hopefully it will help others in the future- Aodhán

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  32. That was both an excellent piece of writing and a wonderfully courageous act. The stigma surrounding depression is abhorrent, and every person that shares their experiences with it is a step forward. If Garreth's story strikes a chord, don't feel you have to knuckle under day after day until you've forgotten what it's like to actually feel happy. Helplessness and despair is something that creeps over you very gradually, until you feel that nothing you or anybody else can do will change things. It's most definitely OK not to be ok. Take that day off work, and go talk to your doctor.

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  33. "It's okay not to be okay" can I steal that? So cleverly written, pinpointing what is so hard to say and express to others, to gain their understanding when they have no way of knowing the pain. In a very selfish way this piece comforted me because it tells me other people can fall for no apparent reason, I thought I was the only one who had no reason, no right to but yeah I guess it just comes down to being very ill. Take care, stay strong, that's the hardest, being strong when you just want to give up.

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  34. Respect. Best wishes for another recovery, very articulate, you have many reasons to be proud. Hope that feeling returns soon x

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  35. Respect. Best wishes for another recovery, very articulate, you have many reasons to be proud. Hope that feeling returns soon x

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  36. Your honesty and courage is an inspiration to everyone I hope

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  37. I understand. I was locked in Joseph's in "The God's" (for my own safety I now realise) for a month in February 2011. Had been back in early 1994 too but it was much worse this time. Mad as a March Hare (Psychotic Deprtession). Though at the time all my literally insane thought processes made perfect sense to me, if only my friends who visited realised that I was in a Parrellel Universe etc etc.I don't have the balls to do what you just did. Well maybe I have grown a small pair now here thanks to you! Keep going. we need fluent speakers like you Garreth to shine a light on this Darkness. Have you discovered www.blackdogtribe.com yet? it's worth a look. Stay Well my Brother In Arms...

    Respect
    Des

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  38. Inspiring and I hope you keep fighting that "prick in your head"

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  39. Trying again - I posted once but it vanished into the ether. Anyway, keep writing, keep writing, and then write some more. It's helped me so much over the years, and following a stint in the psych unit of UHG (5 weeks earlier this year) I started blogging about it (http://sunnyspellsandscatteredshowers.blogspot.ie/) It has been the single most powerful thing I've been able to do for myself.
    I completely understand your frustration around the Donal Walsh interview - suicidal ideation is not a choice, you can't just switch it off. The guilt we already feel for thinking such things is only compounded by hearing how selfish it is. He got people talking which is fantastic, now people need to understand the reality of mental illness as well.
    I'm glad that you have such support around you and I hope that you find your way out of this soon. Look after yourself.

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  40. What an incredible piece, written with such honesty. I think its this type of honesty and openess that will make a difference to all of those suffering mental torment. I just visited a friend yesterday whose daughter died by suicde. What absolute devastation and raw grief for a family!Gareth,well done to you! Keep talking andwriting (what a lovely writer you are) every good wish for the future. Always remember that you are precious x

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  41. Fair play Gar, great article. Suicide is a huge problem in Ireland and the more people that speak out the better

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  42. fair balls - and i strongly recommend giving up the drink permanently, it'll never be your friend

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  43. Raw and amazing. Here. I run a yoga studio in Stoneybatter. On the other side of the city. Come and have a class gratis on me. A bit of meditation. To empty your mind. It can feel blissful to stop rancid thoughts. I found it to be an amazing tool to help when life just gets unbearably shit. It's called The elbowroom. Ask for Lisa. It saved me many moons ago.

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  44. http://cooncash.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/2013.html Wrote this a month or two past. Your blog has me reading over some of my own. I am trying to harness the belief that life is great even when it doesn't feel that way sometimes. Anyway, I have had a major slip since writing this one but I am slowly finding my way back to this positive attitude. Do it for yourself

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  45. I'm from Athy, my aunt and cousins are in Dun Laoghaire. I grew up with a bipolar father who nobody would admit (least of all himself) was ill. He still didn't when I last broached the subject ten odd years ago.
    I have Borderline Personality Disorder and fought against suffocation by the black dog for almost 15 years before I was diagnosed. I've been sewn up in A&E and unconscious in an ambulance. But not for a long time now. Now I'm married with three kids living in Canada, oh - and I just got an ipad ;-) You can find me blogging at expatlog.com.
    Suicide still knocks at the door, but knowing I couldn't do that to my kids, however worthless I might be, stops it stepping over the threshold.

    Mindfulness has been a huge help to me (I'm not on any medication or under any treatment - I finished my therapy (CBT) eight years ago).

    There is hope - you and I are proof of that. Stay strong and stay with us.

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  46. I wasn't okay for 12 years. Everyday was a a firefight with the negative voice in my own head. A fight that the voice would win daily. I had something called Pure Hypnotherapy over the summer. (2013) Hypnotherapy, CBT techniques and reading books to understand my own head has changed my life. The Pure Hypnotherapy was the catalyst into good mental health. It may have saved me. My head is no longer a battleground. Just saying. Best wishes.

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  47. Im glad you fought this ... I see it a lot in my line of work and see the sadness. Please be kind to yourself x

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    1. I know its not over, but keep fighting the good fight :-)

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  48. I read this in the Huffpost Lifestyle section and want to applaud you for your bravery. I have one thing I wanted to share...read Paulo Coelho's Veronika Decides to die. Its so amazing that it made me want to try and connect people to each other and most importantly to themselves :)

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