Some would keep this type of story locked up away from others, but I’m here to share.
As some of you would have seen, I wrote a cryptic message on Facebook a few weeks back.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t a cry for help, but a legitimate goodbye. It was followed by four very thought-out and serious suicide attempts. I really thought I had exhausted all resources and was tired of all the curve balls life had thrown me throughout my life.
On my last attempt, I ended up in the Intensive Care Unit of the Mental Health sector in Auckland hospital, Te Whetu Tawera.
As far as mental health goes, this is where you go when you’ve hit rock bottom.
I felt like I was in Alcatraz, locked away constantly, crying and looking around me at the other patients talking to themselves, pacing around rooms, throwing cups of coffee at walls, and smashing through windows when they couldn’t get back inside.
Surely I wasn’t one of them; I was telling myself, I’m just depressed. “I don’t belong here”, I would constantly tell anyone who would listen.
I was in under the Mental Health Act, which means the only way out was by playing ball, working with the vast team of Doctors, Nurses, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, OT’s, Social Workers and various other mental health workers. To let them, to help them, help me.
I did belong there. It was exactly where I needed to be.
This is where the story flips. After a week in ICU I was transferred to what’s called an open ward. This is still a monitored and locked ward. But where your freedom is drastically expanded.
I was allowed to use a razor again in the mornings to shave. I was allowed my belt again to hold my pants up, and I no longer was restricted to boots because my shoelaces for my other shoes weren’t a threat to my safety. The little things, eh?
In that time in ICU I started to really think about my situation. I have major depression that I was diagnosed with years ago, yet I didn’t address it. In the ICU, I was abstaining from all the self-medicated alcohol I had for years been numbing myself with. I had been making poor decisions.
I sat with other patients who, I’m ashamed to say now, I would probably make conscious efforts to avoid.
I talked to a guy my age about the voices in their head, and listened without any judgement.
I let the young Portuguese girl, who was so quiet and shy at first, paint my nails - to find out she wasn’t quiet after all.
I danced to Elvis with a man outside and chain-smoked while we talked about his wife who was ignoring him. (She died a long time ago.)
And I took the man who constantly scared me shouting FAGGOT at me in his manic state for his first espresso when he got discharged.
I shook hands with the girl who smelled a bit funny but looked so lonely, because for God's sake, it takes two seconds to use hand sanitiser after.
And I also made friends that I will now keep in contact with outside of hospital.
It made me reflect on my life. How I treated myself; how I treated others. Empathy, intuition with a clear head, mindfulness, and appropriate medical treatment, all of a sudden became a massive part of my life.
An important part.
I’m a lucky man; after four weeks of intense care and a safe bubble I was stabilised to a point where I was discharged. With continued outpatient help, I will be stable, treated and able to live a full life again. I will have my down days, but I now know how to treat these days with the appropriate actions.
Unfortunately, for some of these people this is not the case. They will be stuck in their state indefinitely.
And that’s an eye opener.
We are so so lucky to have the Mental Health Act and services that our government have in place. It has infinitely changed my life. I think that, after four attempts, it’s fair to say that now is not my time.
Look after one another, and most of all, look after yourself.
Take it from the guy who saw only death as an option, but now sees the world as his own shiny oyster.
If the content on this website is distressing or triggering, or, if you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, we have provided in contact details below for you to speak with a professional. If you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call the police immediately on 111.
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor (available 24/7)
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
•WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757