I was very fortunate immediately after my suicide attempt. I knew that I couldn’t be alone and I knew that I couldn’t remain silent. Yet, I wasn’t sure if I had a place to go to or the ability to be open. That’s when a series of fortunate events made themselves felt in my new life.
The first event was a period of silence. The ceaseless chatter in my head, endlessly denigrating, endlessly negative, was unexpectedly silent. For the first time in months, if not years, I had clarity of thought. It was glorious.
The second event was equally unexpected. My parents opened up their home to me. To many, this might seem to be the proper parental response to a child in need. But it was an atypical response in my family. We’ve never been overly “touchy-feely” so to receive such an emotional response was profound.
Additional events unfolded: the hospital counselor introduced me to the concept of mindfulness; Bell was running it’s 2015 Let’s Talk campaign on television; the federal government was introducing its depressionhurts.ca website; I had been given the name of the Canadian Mental Health Association; and, my parents’ doctor agreed to take me on as a patient.
None of these events are exceptional other than in their timing. They all came at exactly that time when I was faced with the need to be more open about my circumstances. Just when I needed to be open, a campaign was underway encouraging people to be more open about mental illness. Just when I need to understand what had happened to me, a website was being advertised that could give me answers. Just as my mind had regained clarity, I was introduced to a concept that could, and has, helped me to change my styles of thinking. Consider that at my lowest point, I was introduced to an agency that has always treated me with compassion and kindness, neither of which I gave to myself.
I recognize my good fortune and I celebrate it. But even more, I honour it by extending a helping hand to fellow sufferers through my writing, my participation in group and my work on recovery. I share my story but even more, I try to share the tools that worked for me in the hopes they will work for someone else.
Of these tools, by far the most significant is my writing. Writing is a mindful exercise. While you write, you are totally in that moment searching for just the right word or turn of phrase. While in that moment, the distractions of your past or your future are set aside.
Mindfulness is another key tool. I’m still learning the ins and outs of mindfulness but I can tell you that accepting my thoughts as being no more than thoughts has been a paradigm shift. The thoughts within depressive episodes seem to be so real, so definitive in their judgments. But they are only thoughts and, as such, can be let go.
I was, and continue to be, the recipient of a series of fortunate events. They have propelled my recovery and, I hope, will allow me to help you with yours.
About John Dickson
A lifelong battle with Major Depressive Disorder resulted in a suicide attempt. That attempt taught me the danger of being silent about my personal struggles with mental health. I've had to learn to be more open about my struggle. I now choose to reach out with the hope that someone will be inspired and end his/her own silence. I'm a dad, a blogger and a new convert to the power of social media.