So you might ask what qualifies me to create a site about suicide? Well, perhaps like you, I had a number of times in my life where I spent hours, and days, trawling through the web for information on how to best kill myself. On the outside, people would describe me as a pretty normal type of guy. Loving family, good job, success at my pastimes, including national championships at softball and dancing. Good friends, nice flat, classy car, financially secure, tall and in great physical shape. On the face of it, probably the last person you'd think would want to kill themselves. But as you'll probably know, what people see on the outside, and what goes on inside, are often very different.....
In 2002, after already suffering from depression for a couple of years and having thought about, and planned, suicide a few times, I had a disastrous relationship which ended just after my 34th birthday. I felt there was no joy left in my life, never would be, and my work colleagues, family and friends could all cope quite well without me. I had nothing left I wanted to live for, and felt there never would be.
I hadn't managed to get hold of any lethal barbiturates, but had a decent stock of sleeping pills obtained specifically for killing myself. So on Sunday 2 November 2002, having already written and printed my suicide note and got all my financial affairs in order, I went out to buy some Vodka to wash the pills down with. I came home, laid out the tamazepam on the table, then with no hesitation, took every pill I had.
Knowing that the pills alone would not be enough to kill me, I had a black rubbish bag and tape at the ready. I laid down on my bed, and calmly tried to tape the bag around my head. One problem though - I didn't want to feel like I was suffocating! I wanted to pass out then suffocate. Painless. And while I was fiddling around trying to get enough air in the bag to not suffocate, I passed out.
I woke up I don't know how many hours later - it was still light on the same day. Still can't believe I did not stay asleep for longer. I remember throwing up from the Vodka (wasn't a drinker, although maybe it was the quantity of pills), feeling like shit, and being bitterly disappointed I was still alive.
So, with my sleeping pill stash finished, the next best option seemed to be to find a building taller than 10 stories to jump off. Found a block of flats, but no roof access! So went to a nearby hotel which must have been at least 15 stories high. But again, roof access locked. And no windows in the stairwell opened. So I was standing there, in there stairwell, wondering how the hell I could find a window that would open, when my sister rang. She asked if I'd come over and watch a DVD with my niece. Didn't want to, but she talked me round - maybe she sniffed the depression in my voice. In the company of family, the hold that suicide had over me was broken. Which just shows how powerful it can be speaking to someone when you are on the verge.
This site is being built close to seven years after that day. I can't say that in the intervening period I have never felt suicidal again, as I have - many times. My Will has been revised and financial affairs tidied many times. I got a new stash of Tamazepam from a doctor in Australia who did not know of my suicidal exploits, but I knew that to do a good job of killing myself, I really needed to have the guts to shoot, hang or gas myself, throw myself under a train, or find some good barbiturates.
Even within the last couple of years I tried to get hold of some seconal, but my efforts came to nothing. Then I did a course, Broadband Consciousness, and was posed the question: "what do I have to do to feel enough". I'd tried sport. No amount of wins seemed to do the trick - not even winning national or international competitions. I tried dancing. Same story. Career? I had always done well at work, but it was not enough. Charity work? Truth was, whatever I did, or donated, I felt I was playing small and should be doing more.....
Then I had a moment of clarity. It did not matter what I achieved; how successful the charity work; how good a relationship I had. It would NEVER be enough. It was put to me that no amount of achieving, or doing, would ever make me feel like I was enough. What I needed to realise was that I am enough as I am. And boy, does that line of thinking relieve a lot of pressure.
And it was suggested that maybe I should be helping people that have been suicidal like I was, and, with thanks to Richard Wilkins and Liz Ivory for the idea, the concept of Lost All Hope was born.
This paragraph used to talk about how to make life worthwhile - something I am sure we have all contemplated. Why live? Why, when it feels so terrible??? I used to talk about helping people as a reason to live. Which it can be, and it can be so easy to make a difference to someone else - as easy as speaking to someone. But after a few years running this site, and having read so many of your emails and feedback, all I can tell you is that uniting factor of people that visit this site is a lack of love and connection in their lives.
On one level it is so simple, on another, so, so difficult. I was surrounded by people, good people. Family and old friends. Yet could not feel connected to them. I was emotionally repressed, and depressed. Years later I am just starting to learn what I wish I could have learnt when I was young. To be proud of who I am - with all the scars and insecurities; be able to say what I want - and be able to deal with not always getting it; to share with others how I am feeling. I never knew these would take years of effort to do, or how different I would feel when I started to do them. It's a reason to live though.
So please, read on in this site starting with Help me.
January 2017 update
It has been eight months still my last blog, which feels like a long time but at least has the advantage of making it easier to reflect on the highs and lows that have happened in that time.
I was pretty much ready to move job - indeed, thought I was going to get an offer in March. But March turned into June, June went to August, August to September - when I was actually interviewed - but since then, neither a yes or no.
Which perhaps would not have been so bad if it hadn't coincided with a very tough year in my own job. My company was not bringing in any new clients, and the summer was deathly quiet. I literally ran out of work, to the extent I used annual leave to take odd days off when I had nothing to do. Which sounds great, except for someone that can't cope very well without a plan and structure. A day off at home with no-one to spend it with is my idea of hell. I played golf and generally got frustrated and angry. Or I just curled up at home and got very depressed. I would have much rather been doing a new job that was more engaging after 16 years in my current role. I was starting to think I was capable of so much more.
In the Spring I had a batch of dates - somehow when I am in a place to date I seem to get lots of possibilities all at once. One a I liked a lot. She was tall and gorgeous and lovely. We seemed to get on so well and we had a great laugh -we had another date lined up before the first one ended. But after a few texts she cancelled and said she was not ready to date. Which I took as a polite way of saying she did not find me attractive after all, and went into a downward spiral from there. Which wasn't pretty.
I picked myself up though and dated the other girls in the batch, none of which came to anything which was really disheartening - how hard is it to meet someone??? I think I had five dates in the space of a few weeks - you'd think one would work out. Let alone my own relationship issues, everyone else seemed to have so much of their own stuff going on no wonder it is so hard to form good relationships as you get older.
So I was bored at work, playing golf terribly, and my love life was barren. I wasn't the happiest of people. I went on a holiday and came home early as I felt lonely and down. I ended up using the time to go into a dating agency and choosing some more women to date, and would you believe got on well with one of them. Four months later we are still together.
I can't report that relationship suddenly transformed my life and made me boundlessly happy and well adjusted. I occasionally meet someone who says they met their partner and knew quickly that they were right for each other. The only people I meet who seem perfect are the ones who don't want to date me. I guess that way the fantasy of their perfection always stays intact.
Reality for me is coming to terms with imperfection. Being able to cope with playing golf badly is particularly hard when I know I can play so much better. I get frustrated to the extent I still want to break clubs over my knee - I can barely contain my frustration and anger. Yet what golfer does not play badly? I could give up, but 30 years on I still play, and every winter look forward to the weather being warm enough again to play.
So I am having to work on my expectations around golf, and how I cope with playing poorly. Relationships are no different. I stopped believing in the perfect woman ages ago, although part of me still thinks that if I was to get a tall gorgeous, toned girl from yoga I would be so much happier. Meanwhile my reality is being with someone who really cares about me, who I like, who accepts me despite eating loudly, not liking holidays and being a moody bastard sometimes.
The truth is, overall, I am better for having this lady in my life. But it has taken quite a few courses on how to relate, six years of therapy, and a few relationships that have not worked out, to be able to make this one work OK. To me, there is a definite skill of being in relationship. Of being able to show who I am and how I feel - good and bad. Being able to sort out and negotiate the differences, as there is always plenty of that. Certainly much easier to not discuss them, but where's the connection in that? Being able to accept someone else despite them not being a picture of perfection. Knowing at the same time I am certainly not. It is still a challenge, that's for sure.
Very recently I got an email from someone whose life was falling apart. Triggered by an ex-girlfriend falling for his friend. But the extent to which this person's life unravelled was significant, as it had done in the past. It really made me aware of how important it is to be able find a way to cope with life's challenges. For me, more male friends has definitely helped, as has actually being able to talk about how I feel to them and my therapist. And starting to realise that it is not realistic that life will go my way all the time, and that part of life is dealing with the bad stuff it throws at you.
It is 14 years since I tried to kill myself. It feels like a lifetime away. I still don't know the meaning of life. I just know it serves me better not to try and think about the answer. The more I focus on the present, the better I generally feel. For me, and I suspect for many others reading this, there will not be some "secret" to life that will make it feel OK. Often, life feels like a struggle, and sometimes hopelessly so. I just graft hard and try to get to OK. To have more of those days where I wake up and feel life is allright. Occasionally, it even feels good in short bursts. That'd not to say it is a s good as I'd like it. By no means. But it is better than it was. I'll take it.
There is no question that life does have an ebb and flow, and isn't all bad. Although I am sure that anyone in a dark place reading this will struggle to believe that. Even I do sometimes. But we should believe it anyway.
Please read on in this site, starting with Help me.
Or read about other peoples' experiences after visiting this site in Your stories.
To read more about my journey, see my previous updates on my blog.