Friday, 11 January 2013

February 2012 - February 2013.

As most people are aware, I'm open with my mental health problems. Very open, in comparison to most people I know. And whilst it occasionally has it's problems, for the most part I haven't had anything bad come of it- although of course this may change whenever I want to get a 'proper' job and employers start Googling me, but whatever. Anyway. 

In the last few weeks, I've had more than a few people come to me (friends, acquaintances, sometimes people I have on Facebook after meeting them once or twice) looking for advice/support on various mental health issues. Anything from where to go in terms of looking for counselling services in their university, to asking how I manage to remember to take medication everyday. It is whenever things like this happen that I remind myself that for all the negativity that comes with being so open about these problems/issues/illnesses/whatever/etc. I have, if it means that people I don't know can ask me about the aforementioned things, it has to be worth it. 

And this leads me to the actual point of this post. Almost a year ago (sometime in February, but I can't remember the date- oddly I can never remember the dates of these things) I tried to kill myself again. I took a lot of tablets, and quite frankly it's a miracle my liver managed not only to withstand it, but come out relatively unharmed. I seem to be one of the lucky ones, seeing as after a couple of attempts like this, I haven't seen any long term damage. Then again, I'm still only 20. Seven years isn't a long time, maybe I'll experience future health problems as a result of all of this. But, similarly with my smoking, I don't worry about that sort of stuff right now. Making it from one day to the next is enough, for now. 

Right now, unfortunately, I am not in a good enough place to say 'I am glad I did not die'. I know that it is a good thing. But right now, I am not very well. It would be hypocritical to say that I am entirely happy and optimistic about the future, when I am not. I am functioning, to a degree. My stability fluctuates. I have to keep forcing myself to eat because I keep forgetting to be hungry. Sometimes I still need to push myself to get into the shower, to go outside, to leave my room. And I'm attempting to write three essays in the middle of this, too. But no matter.

These things have happened in the past year. They would not have happened, had I been successful. 

NUS and NUSUSI have been huge for me. It sounds wanky and cliched, but particularly in the last few months, these organisations have been a lot more for me than 'just' a student movement. The last few months have been terrible university wise, but I was able to try to keep focused on the fact that whilst my degree is apparently my biggest priority, whilst I'm in university I can also contribute to something much bigger and much more important than myself- trying my best to help the millions of other students in the UK and Ireland. I know both organisations have faced their fair share of criticism from all over the place since I've been involved, but despite our differences (whether they be political, or on how best to do x, y or z.. etc.), I know that I amongst a wonderful group of people who are united in the same cause and are throwing every piece of themselves into it. Meeting these people at events and meetings and committees and protests and conferences just makes it feel all the more worthwhile. I feel privileged and blessed to be involved with such wonderful and talented people, and so grateful for the lifelong friends I have made as I've gone along.

I finished my first year of university. I managed to NOT try to kill myself a few more times at the end of the academic year; which was by no means an easy feat. I had my heart broken, and subsequently learnt from it, even though it was easily one of the hardest things I've gone through. I moved into a wonderful flat with a best friend and remembered what it was like to have a home again, once the misery that was halls was over. I became friends with some excellent people, people who now count as best friends, as family. I travelled; I've been over to London a few times, I've been to Bristol, I've been to Berlin. I've discovered some more wonderful writing, some more incredible poetry. My room is covered in postcards and pictures from trips, galleries, museums, little bits of inspiration I've came across, birthday cards. I've found new music to listen to, I've played music with my family, I've taken up practising in the music rooms at uni. I remembered what it was like to be well enough to learn and to read and do all the things that I'd forgotten I could do, because being ill clouded any hope I had of ever feeling like my former self. I've had a visit from a wonderful friend during the summer I met on the Internet a few years ago, and we have become close friends since. I've had drunken nights in ridiculous clubs and hilarious mornings after, I've had days sitting in the sun doing absolutely nothing and nights spent sitting up till 3am playing board games. I've had few, but significant, moments when I am doing nothing, something ordinary and everyday and suddenly feel overwhelming grateful for this life I've been given. I've turned 20; I've made it to my twenties when I thought I would kill myself before I got there. I've embarked on a number of art projects, some completed, some lie unfinished. One is up on my wall. And even though I don't specifically look at it when I'm feeling particularly bad, I know that when I made it I wanted to remind myself that eventually this pain will be in the past. Eventually it will be behind me. I may suffer from health problems for the rest of my life, I may always remain on medication, I may be in therapy for a long time- but the hardest years, the loneliest years, they have to be behind me. They have to be because I can't believe otherwise. I would drive myself crazy- waiting for the next slip up, waiting for the next bout of depression or incident that lands me in hospital. The worst has to be behind me because there is nothing sadder than a 13-year-old child trying to kill herself. The worst has to be behind me because whilst no amount of art or writing that I produce as a result of being ill will ever make it worth it, I have been fortunate enough to meet some incredible people I am lucky enough to call friends. And people make it worth it. Or rather, they make it sufferable. 

Above all, I've survived. And I've gotten through. And I'm on the other side, despite how cloudy and uncertain it may be. And in the end, that's what matters. 


  1. I have to say, I'm overwhelmed by your bravery Aisling. Mental health issues is something that is close to my heart and by writing this post you have managed to pull away some of the stigma of depression to the people who read this. What an immensely self less act. I wish you health, hope and happiness for 2013.

  2. Aisling my friend, I think this is a wonderfully insightful piece of writing. Keep it saved.. someday it will be good to look back at :)

  3. Beautiful <3 I advocate to so many right now, especially with the new year, that we have to look on what happened and slowly whittle out the things we do have, not what we don't.
    Thank you for all your support <3
    Gem <3