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Happy May, my friends, and welcome to Mental Health Monday!

Today you’ll read a story by Charlotte, who survived a suicide attempt after her father’s death. It’s a really amazing story that goes to show that you can come back from almost anything, even a suicide attempt. Before we start though, let me remind you of what we do here.

If it’s the first time you’re visiting, Uninspired is a blog to help twenty-somethings be better adults, and a huge part of that is learning to take care of yourself. That’s Mental Health Monday comes in. Twenty-somethings do a million things at once-  school, internships, jobs, businesses, families, boyfriends and girlfriends like HOLY CRAP! With all the giving you do, you have to remember to fill your cup. These stories help you do that.

Mental Health Monday is full of stories like Charlotte’s that instill hope that the life you want is coming. Whether you’re struggling with mental illness or just big life adjustments that come with transitioning to adulthood, there’s an MHM story to show you you’ll get through it. Today’s story is about coming back from a suicide attempt and losing a loved one. In the past, we’ve had stories about anxiety, depression, college stress, and way more. Some stories are educational and some are more emotional, but every post was written by someone with personal experience. Someone who knows what they’re talking about because they’ve been through it.

Before I let Charlotte talk…

…let me remind you about BetterHelp. I partnered with this online therapy service to give you all an affordable, flexible therapy option. Whether you’re grieving or getting past a suicide attempt like Charlotte, or something else entirely, the licensed therapists at BetterHelp can talk you through it. Here’s a link for a 7-day free-trial. You can also download my free mental health resource list below, which includes BetterHelp as well as hotlines that can be used in many different mental health emergencies.

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suicide attempt“My father went missing in January 2014.

A month later he was found as a suicide victim. It was my worst nightmare come to life. My father was my life and the only one in my family who really understood me. I suppose when he left, I lost my family altogether and it left me in a massive state of shock. Life can change overnight and very little can be done to prepare you for it, I know that now. I also know that some things in life can’t be changed, but we can change how we respond and react.

It was a unique experience as I never considered that anyone I knew, let alone my father would ever die by suicide.

I believe that we all tend to think our loved ones will live to old age and die peacefully. As comforting as this thought is, it is not always realistic and we need to remember that. 

I remember so vividly how I felt; I was so numb and it was like I couldn’t breathe. It was like nothing was real anymore; I was not living as I died with my father. My days felt like I was a backseat passenger in my mind; I could see everything but I was not in control. And at night, it was full of terror and fear.

I did not allow myself to grieve at the start; I was too busy helping everyone else and trying to keep the strings of my family together. That included walking miles a week to buy groceries, planning my father’s funeral and planning a house move. Being only 18 at the time, I took on more than I should have. I felt responsible in a wa

y and I wish I knew that by repressing the grief, I was doing myself more harm than good.

We need to cry and let out emotions. It is not a sign of weakness, it just makes us human. Being kind is in my nature; like my father, I am an empath. However sometimes we need to be selfish and put ourselves first. It is one of the things that left my father ill and it certainly pushed me toward a demise like his. I now live by the motto that we need to be selfish while being kind, it turns mental illness into mental wellness. 

My inability to allow myself to grieve and focus on my own mental health led me to falling back into old habits.

As a 14-year-old I was an alcoholic which I did recover from, but after my father’s death, I spent most of my inheritance on alcohol. I spent hundreds of pounds a week alone on my fix, just so I could not think or feel the pain building inside me. Drinking at this level was not only harmful to my physical and mental health, it has also led me to financial regret. he money I spent on refusing to grieve could have bought me a deposit on my house today – I just wasn’t thinking straight.

By April, after my father’s death, I ended up in hospital following my own suicide attempt. My

father’s funeral, though months after he was missing, hit me like a truck. I did not cry before this day but as soon as I saw my father’s coffin, I cracked. I couldn’t unsee it. And I had horrible images of his body in my head that made me physically sick. It hurt me so bad to imagine my father lifeless.

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My suicide attempt was due to the memory of the words said at the funeral.

They said that one day I would see my father again. I wasn’t willing to wait for my death because I wanted to be with him now. I had such a hard life already, and my father was the reason I kept going. He helped me through so much and I couldn’t see a life without him in it. Honestly, I didn’t want to. 

I do not think I would have resorted to a suicide attempt if I had allowed myself to grieve and had someone to talk to. I did not have any support so I ended up in a very bad place. Talking to someone is so

hard, but opening up and letting those feelings out allows you to be honest and find comfort as well as support. 

Life has not been easy these last few years.

I had to walk down the aisle without my father. My future children will never know the man they would have called Grandpa. However, I am at a place now where though my past is a part of me, I don’t resent it. I cannot change it, but I can choose to not let it define me. I allow myself to cry about my dad, I allow myself to miss him, but most importantly, I don’t bottle anything up, which I like to think would make my father proud.

In grief we will all make mistakes because our minds are not at their best, but it’s ok. It is important though, when you lose a loved one, to stop comparing yourself to others. Grieve in your own time and way but don’t bottle it up. If you talk about those feelings and let them out, there is less of a chance you’ll have regrets in the future. Talking really makes a mile of a difference. 

I am in a good place now. I do not abuse substances or self-harm and I have not had another suicide attempt. Plus, I am happily married in a little house with my fur babies. Though I do wish my father could see me now, I achieved so much and am content with my life simply because I accepted the idea that moving on just means learning to live this new life. I allow myself to feel happiness and do all the things I wanted to because even though I still miss him, I learned I do not have to die with my father. In fact, through all of the work I do today, I allow my father to live on and tell his story and help people. It’s like a therapy for me.

So, to recap:

Try not to be so hard on yourself and do not bottle up emotions. You do not always need to be strong because grieving is not a weakness, and neither is needing time for yourself. If you can allow yourself to be “selfish” and talk about the pain you feel, you can avoid falling into bad habits and choices from which it’s much harder to recover, like a suicide attempt or alcoholism.

No matter how you grieve though, life will start to get easier and you will feel happy again, I promise you that. So please do not give up.”

Charlotte's father went missing in January of 2014. A month later, he was found as a suicide victim. Read how this led to Charlotte's own suicide attempt, and then ultimately her recovery.

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Today, we’re super lucky to have Jem from over at Little Adventures sharing her story about suffering from chronic depression.

Before we get started though, let’s talk a little about what Mental Health Monday is about. Some of you may be familiar with the series, but for the newbies, I wanna make sure we’re all caught up.

Uninspired is all about helping twenty-something women live passionately now, even while we’re building our futures. That’s why it’s so important to talk about mental health! Our twenties are this wild free-for-all where we haven’t quite figured out the logistics of who we’re going to be, or how we’re going to set the stage for the rest of our lives. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how exhausting that can be. It can be so exhausting that it causes people to need medication for anxiety or chronic depression. If we don’t talk about how common these things are, and if we don’t talk about people who have successfully gotten through it, these people might lose hope.

So, why don’t I just write the Mental Health Monday posts myself? I am a grad student in marriage and family therapy, after all. I’m a prime candidate to answer all your questions about the mental health field.

Well, lemme tell ya.

I only have one personal experience. And unfortunately, my personal experience is highly textbook-based. When I tell you guys that people survive being depressed, and they live happy lives even through anxiety, I want to show you examples. Not textbook examples. Real people. So I got some real people.

I’m so grateful to everyone who has volunteered to tell their personal stories for Mental Health Monday. This series is helping people– just look at the comments. Jenn from the postpartum depression and anxiety post from July was able to help a brand new mom find hope. Nour’s post from June about overcoming social anxiety for a job interview gave some seriously actionable advice on what you can do to calm down in an important social situation. Today’s story is going to give you hope that even when you have chronic depression, even when you’re lying in a hospital bed after attempting suicide, you can come back. You can come back and live the life you’ve always wanted.

Each Mental Health Monday I feature someone with something to teach about mental health. This week I have Jem's story of suffering from chronic depression.

Bonus!

Chronic depression plagues lots of my twenty-something readers. Like I said, you’ve got a lot on your plate right now. And while these Mental Health Monday posts can be motivating uplifting, or informational,  they’re not always enough on their own. For that reason, I’ve compiled this list of mental health resources that I’m offering you for free. It’s full of hotlines for lots of different situations, as well as online counseling options through BetterHelp. BetterHelp is a great option for people who are struggling but don’t have enough time or money to visit a therapist’s office. Check it out and get a free 7-day trial with this link. And don’t forget to claim your list below!

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“I have been suffering from chronic depression in varying degrees since my early teens.

I’m very open about the basics of my experience with depression, but I don’t tend to discuss it in great detail. I’m used to talking about the fact that people bullied me. And the fact that there’s a large history of chronic depression in my family. But there’s much more to it than that.

Bullying led to many scars that I still carry with me to this day. Lack of self-worth, self-esteem, and confidence are some, along with the core belief that I don’t deserve anything. I’ve fought hard to change these beliefs, and they don’t inhibit my life as much as they used to, but they’re still there, lurking like some creepy stalker hiding in the bushes, waiting to approach. Bullying is evil and cowardly, and children can be so cruel, not realizing the long-lasting effects their actions can have on someone.

In addition to this, all the women on my mother’s side of my family have been suffering from chronic depression. As a matter of fact, we recently learned that my maternal grandmother had her children taken from her for a month while she recovered from a breakdown. No one spoke of it until after she died. I’m glad we now live in a time where  we talk about mental heath. Even if there is still a stigma, we don’t brush it under the carpet as much as we used to.

When I was at my worst a few years ago, the inside of my mind was a hell I couldn’t escape.

There was this large back hole constantly hanging over me that sucked the joy out of everything. There was an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and despair. Nothing could lift the fog I was living in– I was drowning and saw no way out. The worst feeling was the emptiness– I felt like a shell of myself, not really participating in life. My chest felt heavy all the time, I was constantly having irrational thoughts, and my motivation was at rock bottom. Even eating seemed too much effort. My only way of coping was to sleep. It was an escape from reality, and if I slept, the next day would be closer. One step closer to the end where I could finally free myself of this awful burden I carried.

One day, I’d had enough.

The strange thing is, I don’t exactly know what led to that decision. Nothing out of the ordinary happened that day; I was just tired. Tired of living, tired of even existing, tired of being tired. So, I took matters into my own hands.

I took pill after pill hoping each one would make more of the hurt, more of the despair, everything, go away.  I thought I was a burden to everyone around me, too. To me it seemed everyone would be better off without this moody, irrational, empty shell of a person sucking the happiness out of their lives. I was texting a friend as I took the pills and with each message, my words were more and more jumbled. I don’t remember much of what happened next, but I was told he broke the speed limit driving through town to reach me. He got me to the hospital, and had to carry me through the doors. They took me straight in and put me on a drip. Apparently, I’d gone blue.

When I woke up the next day, I saw my parents. They lived six hours away, and they’d driven the journey to be by my side and I felt so ashamed that I’d made them worry. Lying in that hospital bed, taking in the things people had done to save me and support me, was a turning point. No one realized how low I’d sunk, because I never talked about it with anyone. Now that I had the support of my family, friends, and therapy, I could begin the long, hard road to recovery.

I started taking a cocktail of pills.

Often,  I felt worse, and they’d change the cocktail. About a year of that, and I once again decided that I’d had enough. Only this time, instead of having had enough of life, I wanted to take it back again. All the pills made me lethargic, nauseous, irritable, and a whole host of other unpleasant things. Through sheer bloody mindedness and against my therapist’s advice, I threw all my pills in the bin. As I was on at least seven a day, and I didn’t wean off of them, I went through withdrawals. I was sensitive to light, had constant headaches, was even more irritable, the nausea increased, and my body ached. Honestly, I don’t recommend that method at all. But, I got through it.

Eventually, I found myself again.

I found myself through friendship, exercise, and proper nutrition. Not long after I came off the meds, I found roller derby, and it saved my soul. Through derby I formed those positive relationships, found an exercise I enjoyed, and found a release for my emotions. I gained confidence in myself because I was able to see that I am capable and can push myself beyond my limits. My suffering from chronic depression is one of the main reasons I am so passionate about friendships. Without my friends, I don’t know where I’d be now. And laughter really is the best medicine. Talking things over with someone close is invaluable, and that’s something I have only learnt in the past few years.

I will always have chronic depression floating in the background. But as long as I look after myself, and am aware of my warning signs, I can keep it under control.”

This Mental Health Monday, think about the people who love you unconditionally, and spread some love yourself. You never know who is suffering from chronic depression, or who you could be saving.

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