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From Ruin To Renewal: Battling Mental Illness And Suicide

Rebuilding one’s life after a suicide attempt is akin to painstakingly reassembling a shattered piece of crockery

From Ruin To Renewal: Battling Mental Illness And Suicide
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A person’s journey to the point where they contemplate ending their own life is a deeply painful and exhausting experience. Each moment of the day becomes a relentless battle between the will to survive and the overwhelming sense of despair.

Reflecting on my life, I can now see that crawling back from that point is equally, if not more, challenging. Rebuilding one’s life after a suicide attempt is akin to painstakingly reassembling a shattered piece of crockery. It has taken years of relentless effort, an enormous amount of energy, countless hours in therapy, consultations with several doctors and numerous exercises to regain my footing. Throughout this arduous journey, I clung to even the faintest glimmers of hope. Only recently have I learned to view myself as a whole person. Throughout my life, I have grappled with mental health challenges. I often liken my past to a shattered mirror, a collection of fragmented pieces of myself desperately seeking hope. Despite the turmoil, I have proven to be a resilient individual, forging ahead. It was only in 2015, when I received a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, and later in 2019, when complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) was added to the mix, that these fragmented pieces of myself began to coalesce into a more coherent picture. I had a mental illness, but I wasn’t broken or morally deficient. My family has been an unwavering source of support throughout this ordeal. They made every effort to understand what I was going through and to assist me in any way they could. My husband, in particular, has been a stabilising force in my life and the source of my newfound self-worth and capacity for love. Following my bipolar disorder diagnosis, I was prescribed mood stabilisers and other psychiatric medications. These treatments were immensely helpful, and I was fortunate to have a compassionate psychiatrist who listened to my concerns and addressed my symptoms with care. Nevertheless, the path to recovery was far from simple. Days felt endless, and nights even longer. Depression and anxiety often consumed me, leaving me fatigued and physically aching. There were times when I struggled with an unhealthy relationship with food, and I felt isolated. One fateful night, at 2 am, I found myself overwhelmed by dread and hopelessness. I turned to a bottle of wine and inflicted harm on myself. As I sat on the cold floor, despondent and defeated, something deep within me urged me to reach out for help. The strength of that inner voice compelled me to get up and call my father. I did not succumb that night; I survived. When I awoke the following day, I faced a pivotal choice: did I want to continue living, or should I follow through with my earlier intentions? I chose life. And so, my journey toward healing began anew.

The path has been far from easy, marked by ups and downs, but I have transformed my pain into a powerful purpose .

A Journey from Despair to Renewal.

With a renewed sense of purpose, I embarked on a journey from darkness to light. I decided not to suffer in silence any longer and vowed to be a beacon of hope for others as well. I began openly discussing my mental illness and my ongoing recovery, becoming a compassionate listener and a safe harbour for anyone seeking solace. Both familiar faces and strangers reached out to me, sharing their own stories of struggle, and in those connections, I found a sense of belonging that had eluded me for so long. Recognising the importance of professional guidance, I sought help from an exceptional psychologist who guided me through the labyrinth of suffering and the dissociation that came with CPTSD. Together, we addressed maladaptive behaviours and cultivated healthy coping mechanisms and inner resources. I learned to self-soothe and regulate my emotions, and my psychologist taught me the invaluable skill of reaching out for assistance when needed. Trust, once shattered, was gradually rebuilt. My personal journey inspired me to extend a helping hand to others grappling with emotional distress. I decided to chart a new career path in psychology, beginning with enrolling in a diploma in Counselling, thanks to the unwavering support of my loved ones. The following year, I set my sights on completing my Masters degree, and a year from now, I will proudly bear the title of a psychologist. This path has been far from easy, marked by its share of ups and downs. I’ve had to let go of certain things along the way, but in return, I’ve gained so much more. I’ve transformed my pain into a powerful purpose.

Despite the lingering stigma surrounding mental health in our society, I stood firm against the shadows it cast on my illness, and I encourage you to do the same. Remember, you are important, and your well-being matters. It’s high time we allow the light to penetrate those dark corners. We must expand the safe spaces and dismantle the shame and dishonour associated with mental health and suicide. Among the ruins of despair, treasures often lie hidden, waiting for us to unearth them.

(Views expressed are personal)

Sneha Kher is pursuing a career in psychology

(This appeared in the print as 'From Ruin To Renewal')

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