This ‘Celebration of Life’ post has been a long time coming. Every year I procrastinated because I wasn’t quite ready to make the statement I’m about to make today, on 4th June 2017.
It’s time for more authenticity. The world needs more of that. Because authenticity brings people closer together. And we need more of that too. Pretty desperately actually…
The mental health crisis in so called developed countries is getting out of hand to the point where many people of influence (most recently Prince Harry, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge) are coming forth to share their stories and trying to find ways of helping in what is becoming an epidemic of people feeling stressed, anxious and depressed. Mental health issues are painfully real and people lose their lives, or at the very least quality of life, daily because of it.
So here I am sharing my story as someone who has successfully surfaced on the other side of the mental health battle.
And as an important note to anyone suicidal right now: This message is meant to serve as an empowerment that you can find another way, not in any way to copy my grossly negligent actions! So please, hold on with all that you’ve got because your life truly does depend on it. There is a way, there are options, always. Somewhere, somehow…
“It was around 10pm on 4th June 2001 and I was done. I looked back at my life of 19 years and decided that if THIS is what life had to offer I didn’t want it. I refused to continue with life as it was. Did I want to die? No. But I sure as hell wanted to sleep for a few years until things looked more promising. I was deliriously tired. Tired of what seemed a continuous uphill struggle. Tired of a life of bullying and exclusion. Tired of a life in a country that values what you have and what you do more than who you are and how you feel. I texted my best friend goodbye. I knew there was a good chance she wouldn’t see my message in time. I was fine with that. This wasn’t just a cry for help. This was a deafening scream for freedom. “Let me be. Release me. Don’t judge me for not fitting in”.
It was never my choice not to fit in. I was such a flamboyant, eccentric and very bright little girl when I was three or four. I had so much fire in my belly. And the minute I went to Kindergarten where I faced continuous intimidation and harassment for the next 11 years, my light was dimmed. It’s hard to keep shining in a hostile environment, surrounded by bullies, where my day was ruled by fear and my night was ruled by anger because there was nothing I could do to turn my situation around. I was just a child. A child that grew into a teenager full of anxiety and depression. I was in the middle of an apprenticeship at the local bank. Due to severe depression I was unable to perform as well as I should have done and they ended up giving me an ultimatum, that if I didn’t turn my situation around within two months, they’d let me go. There was no way I could have lived up to their many demands. I could hardly get out of bed! So here I was taking the tablets one by one. All I kept thinking was that it’s ok now. Everything is fine. No more fighting. No more proving myself. No more being hurt. Just no more. The level of peace I felt in that moment was so liberating. I put my life on the line. If I was supposed to leave this planet now was the time, or so I thought. I was arguing with the Universe and protested that this was no way to live. But it was ok now. And as I felt the peace I fell asleep.
I woke up in Intensive Care surrounded by my loved ones. How did that happen? Surely a miracle. My best friend had her phone on silent all night. She woke up in the middle of the night to look at her phone apparently for no reason, just to find my messages. She’s the one who saved me by calling an ambulance. Ok so obviously I wasn’t meant to go. But what was I supposed to do? From the hospital I was transferred to a psychiatric unit. After 4 weeks they were ready to release me. I wasn’t ready at all. As I felt unable to survive in this world I just tried it again in the closed part of the unit (further details would be too graphic and therefore unnecessary). I might as well. I would die anyway out there. For the first and only time in my life I felt that choices weren’t mine to make anymore. I felt that death was just what will happen, not something I chose.
I ended up being discharged from the psychiatric hospital five days after my second attempt and ended up sectioned a few weeks later until I was then transferred to a live-in therapy programme for three months.
For the next several months I kept struggling with the concept of living and saying yes to life. It was grim, dark and miserable. I abused my body through self-harm, alcohol, cannabis and medication I could find. It is nothing short of a miracle that I haven’t sustained any long-lasting damage to body, mind or spirit considering what I put myself through. This is just proves that we can really come back from anything.
My story isn’t even that amazing when I see others coming back from severe injury, trauma, abuse or thriving without limbs. The power truly lies within and it NEVER leaves. I just wish everyone would know that which took me years to discover!
The Universe was there again nudging me. It had my back so much more than I could have ever dreamed…
Fast forward to December 2001 and I visited a friend of mine. As I knocked the door, a man I never saw before opened the door. He spoke in English, British English actually. My favourite! Not only was he English, he was also a professional drummer who has worked with high profile artists over the years. So this man was synonymous for my two biggest (at that point abandoned) dreams in life: England and Music! I always wanted to live and work in England. I decided that at age 12 when I first visited this beautiful country. It was love at first sight! Now aged 19 the dream all of a sudden seemed a lot closer and was revived in style. And it came out of nowhere. I landed on my feet. From the minute I met this musician I stepped into a whole new world I didn’t know existed.
We can’t look for what we don’t know exists, that’s what I learned. But we can walk through life with our eyes wide open to ensure we don’t miss opportunities along the way. So here I was learning about new styles of music I never heard before. I thought myself music production that added to my years of experience as a piano player. And before I knew it the decision was made to move to England with my newly found friend.
I had no qualifications at this point because my suicide attempt ended my apprenticeship. I had no money. All I knew was that if I wanted to survive in this world I needed to find my place. And my place wasn’t Switzerland, my home country. I knew it had to be England. So in September 2002, aged 20 and hanging by a thread (my mental health was still far from stable at that point), I left for England, leaving behind three quarters of my possessions.
I started off as a Data Entry Clerk and worked my way up over the years to a Duty Manager position. After three consecutive redundancies I finally got the hint from the Universe that I had served enough time in the corporate world and should pursue bigger dreams. Interestingly my mental health only stabilised for good once I left the office. I was highly functioning throughout the years and haven’t self-harmed since 2002 or attempted suicide ever again, but every now and again I would be eaten up by depression and anxiety. The rollercoaster ride didn’t stop when I arrived in England. The drama actually intensified over the next few years. I think I’ll save the rest of the stories for a book. Too much happened and some of it pretty traumatic. However, just being in the right place to start off with, the place of my dreams, a place that accepted me for exactly who I was kept me strangely grounded. Adding to that was a blossoming relationship to my dearest mum, which kept getting stronger and stronger since I left Switzerland, a tightly knit network of friends that grew rock solid over the years and finding the love of my life. Oh yes and then there was music: the balance, the outlet, the self-expression, the passion, it’s me through and through and will always be my first love. Up to this day I am heavily involved in music as a producer, composer and musician.
Ok so here I was in November 2014, facing my last redundancy. I laughed it off by then because I finally read the Universe’s, by now not-so-subtle, hint. It took me three redundancies to listen! What I only understood when I changed career was, that it was my soul yearning for true expression that caused the ongoing mental health struggle. I decided that it was time to help people properly, not through Customer Services, but by being of Service. I am now a qualified ITEC Level 3 Massage Therapist, a Level IV Reiki Master Teacher / Practitioner and a Certified BodyTalk Practitioner. For the first time in my life I have achieved qualifications. Whilst it is exciting and fills me with a sense of pride, I have learned that there are some things we cannot get qualified in through studies. Survival and simply living life and navigating through its challenges isn’t mentioned in any curriculum. I have overcome years of bullying, two suicide attempts, months of self-harm, toxic relationship, addiction, anxiety, depression and only recently low self-esteem.
I have seen the other side of the coin, the shiny one. The one that will never make me lose faith again. My heart goes out to yours, whatever situation you find yourself in. You don’t need to have it all figured out today or tomorrow. It’s ok not to know where you’re going. Most importantly keep living to give yourself the best chance of seeing that other side of the coin too. It’s so damn worth it! <3
Picture: By Joseph Shepherd