My name is Steven Gilbert and I’m 32. I am Birmingham born and bred and a University of Birmingham graduate.
Mental health difficulties began in my late teens. In my early 20s I experienced two depressive episodes, accompanied by suicidal behaviour. I was sectioned due to a manic episode in 2010 and diagnosed with Bi-polar Disorder. In 2015, I was additionally diagnosed with Complex PTSD, a result of Emotional Abuse throughout childhood that continues today. I have experienced the problems associated with accessing treatment, the variability of care within the system, and the role of the police in a mental health crisis. My commitment to my on-going recovery has enabled me to draw on my experiences and skills in my role as a Living Experience Consultant working to improve outcomes for people with poor mental health.
I know that you are feeling all alone and that you are scared. You probably haven’t slept properly in weeks and are exhausted. I know that you believe that the world is better off without you and that dying is the best thing for everyone. I know that you want out of the crushing pain you feel. I know that you can’t see any other way.
I also know that you want to live, but that you can’t live with the ways things are. I know that you have a bright future ahead of you, a life full of love, enjoyment and fulfillment.
I know that you want someone to ask you “How are you?” and for them to truly mean it. I know that you want someone to listen to you and take you seriously- this could save your life. I know that you feel that it is weak to talk about your feelings- talking about them is the strongest thing you can do.
I know that people telling you “Cheer up mate, things will get better”, whilst well-meaning, does little to help. I know that being told “What have you got to be depressed about?” feels like a blow to the head.
I know that there is a reason why you feel the way you do. I know that the traumatic experiences of your childhood caused real damage to your mental health. I know have a diagnosable mental health problem that can be treated and managed. I know that there will be many challenges for you and your mental health, but that things will get easier. I know that you will get the correct medical care and a team that will help you to understand your thoughts and feelings and live life to the full.
I unfortunately know that this will not be the last time you experience suicidal thoughts, but also know that you will build a network of friends, family and people, you haven’t even met yet, who will be there to support you through your darkest days.
I need you to know that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary situation. I need you to know that the suicidal voice in your head is simply a sign that you are unwell and that you need more support and care in your life.
Just hold on.
Fight with everything you have to stay here.
Help is coming.
You are a brilliant individual.
You deserve to live, love, and laugh.
From one friend to another.