Just the other day, someone was kind enough to remind me that it had been 12 years since I was discharged from hospital, after a suicide attempt. 12. Freakin’. Years.
Y’see, I had been homeless for 6 months prior to that and, when I left the hospital, I had managed to get a place at a local hostel – a place for women fleeing abuse and the like. It was another 6 months after that placement, that I was accepted into the Foyer Federation, in Manchester – a place for 16-25 year olds who had come from “problematic” backgrounds with “safeguarding issues”, that did not fall into the government NEET areas (Not in Employment, Education or Training).
Why Did It Take So Long?
Well, we have a lovely, lovely, neoliberal government that believes that those on the streets must simply be too lazy to get a job or not want somewhere safe to sleep at night (cause those are the only explanations, amiright?). In other words, they didn’t know what to do with me. I wasn’t seeking work, as a full time student, I didn’t have a family I could just go and live with, and there were areas of concern for me going back to my old place. The idea that this couldn’t all be sorted as though it were some kind of simple misunderstanding blew their minds.
Hell, you try being a young teen and being told that there was nothing they could do because your case fell between the cracks. There’s nothing quite like being told you need to stay at a “crash pad” where you share rooms with less-than-favourable characters who do less-than-favourable things around you and to you. In short, the suicide attempt was clearly directly linked to my environmental issues.
Still, depression is depression when it comes to how it’s treated, so I was promptly put on meds and told to crack on. And I’ll admit, I am massively oversimplifying the whole experience – but it has been 12 years, so the finer details don’t really seem to matter all that much at this point. There are a lot of things I really do remember, very clearly, however.
I remember a young and over-enthusiastic nurse, who forever forgot his notepad and was always scrawling over his hands and arms. He’d go home every day looking like he belonged in a Daily Mail article about body modification. He was the dude who referred me to CBT, where I learned to frame things in a way that allowed my mind to cope with the sheer unfairness and frustration of it all.
There was a nursing assistant who helped me cure my boredom, by making obstacle courses out of pieces of furniture on the ward – and then we’d all race each other on the spinny chairs (which were soon confiscated by a grumpy senior ward nurse). She hugged me when I got A*’s in my college results, to a chorus of “you’re not supposed to do that – give her a hug from me. Quick, before [staff nurse] sees you!”.
There was my college counsellor who, when she realised I was considering dropping out of my courses, would pick me up from the housing association every day and drop me off at college, to make sure I continued studying. We would later send each other cards as I made my way through my first degree. Then came along my keyworker, who would take care of me and the 60 other kids in the Foyer, and still always made time to remember when and where your exams were, and be sure to ask how you did and whether you had done enough revision. She leads that place now, and it’s about damn time.
The thing is, 12 years ago I would never have thought that I’d be making a living by writing, that I’d be doing a Masters or would have a comfortable home – never mind the fact that I have a kid and a business.
Looking back, I never had any idea what I wanted or needed to do to make myself happy or get over all the shit that I had gone through. I just knew I had to keep pushing on until I made my way through what was happening. And I did – admittedly with a lot of tears and, oftentimes, losing it a little with people that did not deserve to be shouted at or be on the receiving end of my tantrums.
You Might Be Able To See What I’m Getting At, Here.
2020, thus far, and even prior for many people, has absolutely sucked. It’s hard not to look at the news every day and want to mentally vomit up every negative feeling. Especially with every connotation of bad news being highlighted over and over, either through social media or the classic varieties. It’s hard to consider what your life is going through right now and truly believe there is a day when it will get better – but I promise you it will.
There is going to be a day, 2, 5 or 10 years from now, where what you’re feeling in those moments of despair seem so far from the perspective you will have. I can’t give you the gift of hindsight when everyone’s journey is so unique – I can only display my own – but I can tell you that working hard, standing with others, and communicating will keep you pushing through what you’re going through, right now.
My journey isn’t over yet – and neither is yours. And I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can both achieve in the future.