The power of a little ribbon

Back in April I took an overdose... Did I want to die? I'm not sure. Did I want to hurt myself? Maybe. Did I want help? Absolutely.

A few years ago I went through a really rough patch, self harming daily, contemplating taking my own life and indeed taking attempts to take my own life. Did I want help? Yes!

What's the difference between then and now? While many years ago I did get help, albeit it took time for me to find the courage to open up and actually ask for that help. I felt ashamed, guilty, scared, and overall I was worried that I would be looked upon differently by society. And in many ways my worst fears became my reality when after my first suicide attempt some friends retreated, they didn't want to be friends with a crazy person! This year, this year I spoke up and got help.

This year things took a turn for the worst back at the end of January. I was coming to terms with a slight change in my appearance due to double jaw surgery, I was feeling the pressure of college especially with it being my final year and I was struggling to figure out who I was, everything was changing around me and I wasn't quiet up to date with the changes. What was different this year compared to 2011? This year I recognized my need for extra support but it was much more than that, there was an overwhelming sense of acceptance by society.

I spoke up, I went to the doctor, I got support from adult services, and slowly I started to explore this current relapse and tried working on getting back on top of things. Things take time, I know that now, and so when I reached breaking point in April and took an overdose I understood that as my turning point, in many respects I needed to hit rock bottom in order to move back up.

Some may say that I was brave asking for help, that I showed courage and strength and maybe I was but for me there is one single thing which has lead me to be able to seek support and that is the break down of stigma. You see stigma is a funny thing, there is so much of me that wants to break down stigma and tell people how I’m feeling but then it too creates fear, fear of judgment, isolation, exclusion and rejection. How can I let me desire to break down the stigma overcome my fears? Is breaking down the stigma really worth the possibility of facing judgment, exclusion, isolation and rejection?

We have reached the end of May and with that we see Green Ribbon month has come to an end, but that’s the thing, this campaign has such an impact that it will continue to echo throughout society every day! Each year for the past three year the Green Ribbon campaign has been working to break down the stigma of mental health, breaking it down so people like me feel empowered to ask for help, for support, for guidance and a chance to enjoy life again. Back in 2011 I felt alone, isolated and wouldn’t even dream of asking for help now in 2016 I would be the first person to put up my hand and say “I need help” Why? Its simple you see when I walk out the door and I meet people were the green ribbon I automatically get a sense of relief, I feel somewhat accepted by society and I know that I am not alone, I know that I can get help and I know that it is ok not to be ok. You might ask how can I feel all that because I see a small green ribbon? Well I relate it to the marriage referendum. My brother spoke of how he felt accepted by society when the Yes vote came through, I feel accepted by society when I see people openly willing to engage in conversation. With every green ribbon which I see proudly displayed on a persons jumper I cant help but smile as without that little green ribbon I would not have asked for help and my many suicide attempts would have been more than just attempts.
© There's Always Light at the End of the Tunnel. Design by Studio Kiwi.