18 months ago I jumped off a 53 ft bridge. I thought it was for the best, for the good of all involved, as I was just going to let people down. I’d had enough. I couldn’t cope. I hadn’t spoken to anyone and thought that I should be able to cope with life as it was- I couldn’t and very quickly came up with the solution.
I really shouldn’t be here, but I am. Looking back I can’t believe how lucky I was that day. I had and have a million reasons to be grateful, but my mind had spiralled out of control. In that state I mistakenly thought
that it would be a good thing for my amazing wife, my beautiful son and my loving family to be free of my own perceived ineptitude. Personally my own internal anguish would be over.
I have lots of people to thank for still being here, but initially it involved the Police, Ambulance Service, Fire Service, Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team, Great North Air Ambulance, the RVI Main Trauma Centre, the staff who had to be with me on suicide watch and all the ward staff who got me physically back on my feet.
2 days later, dazed, battered and amazingly not too physically broken I was at home. However, with the enormity of what I tried to do and the impact it was still having on myself, and of course my family, I descended into just as fragile mental state again. Looking back it’s like talking about someone else, but I can’t explain how awful it was at the time. The feeling of worthlessness, now mixed with huge guilt meant a further attempt could have easily happened. Phone calls to The Samaritans, May Tree and finally to the Northumberland Mental Health Crisis Team got me through. I can’t thank them enough and the Crisis Team talked through two options; either visiting each day, or a voluntary “sectioning”. For the good of all involved we decided the voluntary "section” was for the best. Firstly I went to Shoredrift Ward in Sunderland and then, when space was available, to Walkworth Ward in St George’s Park, Morpeth. I was really scared going in, as they looked to be pretty intimating places, but I can’t thank them enough. They provided a safe and stable environment that helped me make the first steps forward. I was there 2 weeks and the care they provided was first class. I met some wonderful people (patients and staff) there and for me it further helped break down stigmas of others with mental health issues.
Getting home, St George’s and the Crisis Team further helped my family and I put things in place so that we could move forward. As a teacher
in a small community, I felt like everyone knew and I didn’t know how I could ever move away from being “the one who jumped off a bridge”. My anxiety was overwhelming and crippling. However, I still attended St George’s for art therapy (lots of talking) and the Crisis Team supported me. This in turn, became the Community Mental Health Team at Hawkhill. I hit the gym every day (including Christmas Day!). I read lots of self-help books. I tried to meditate. My school were amazing. People were overwhelmingly kind. I stopped drinking- I didn’t trust my mind as it was, so could not trust it with the added haze of alcohol. I took my anti-depressants.
More than anything, my wife was there. She is a truly amazing person, far more than words can portray. Her Dad committed suicide when she was 5. Her sister was killed when she was 18. Then I did this. She carried me through, with love, encouragement, her steadfast backing and I love her so much. Our son, had only just turned one and she shielded him from all this disruption. He is amazing and | can see so much of her in him.
My Mam and Dad were ever the loving parents and gave me unwavering love and support. My twin brother Ian, friends and family helped me realise that people do really care and I had worth.
In time, I began to have faith in myself and got back into routines. I gradually got back to seeing people. I went back to work. Staff were so kind and students were accepting as ever. My worst fears did not materialise in the slightest.
I’m not “fixed”, I will never take my mental health for granted, but feel sure that if I continue to hold mental health in the highest regard, I will live a truly happy life.
Amongst the stuff I’ve read this quote stuck with me- “Nothing has happened in the past; it happened in the Now. Nothing will ever happen inthe future; it will happen in the Now” (Eckhart Tolle).
I try to live life in the now. If I’m worried about something, I talk about it, I do something about it or I have to accept it. Worrying achieves nothing. Easier said than done, but I’ve made a lot of progress.
Overall, I hope that if someone reading this is feeling desperate they can get help. Reach out, as help is out there. On a waiting list? Ring the Samaritans, speak to a friend, go for a run, read, meditate, get outside, loose yourself in sport, or music… again, easier said than done. For those feeling ok, remember prevention is better than a cure, so don’t sacrifice mental health for anything.
I'm not ashamed of what I've done, but I really wish I had sought help first.
So, I’m running the London Marathon for several reasons:
1. To raise awareness and get the message out there that people need to talk, they need to get help.
2. To raise funds for a worthy cause- so that others can get the help I have. The Samaritans are such good listeners and each time I spoke to them, I felt lighter. I hope that help will always be available to all.
3. In dedication to my wife Jo Jo, my son Wilfred and new daughter Beatrix. My Mam, Dad and brother Ian. I’m so sorry what I put you through and shall be forever grateful for still being in your lives.
Jo Jo- I owe you everything.
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