As part of my campaigning, I was asked to speak at a Suicide Prevention Conference here in Staffordshire this month. I accepted the challenge & as part of my work there have made an accompanying magazine called Hopezine which aims to give all people feeling low or suicidal hope for a brighter future. In case you haven’t got a copy of your own, and would like to read it, I’m posting it online Erica Crompton Hopezine v4 or you can read it below.
Rays of light amid the darkness
Last summer I heard of the sad passing of friends from my childhood to suicide. I’d stayed in touch with both sporadically through Facebook. I do a lot of mental health campaigning, which I post on social media, as I myself am diagnosed with schizophrenia and have attempted suicide. Today I write about living with this condition, and surviving suicide for most quality newspapers including The Guardian, The Mail on Sunday and last year The New York Times. My ‘Hopezine’ is trying to reach out to more people locally however, and I so wished to collect some stories of hope from people who had failed suicide attempts and show how they’re still here and still smiling. I hoped to show that you’re never alone in the dark – indeed if you look closely you’ll find me and others here. There’s always hope to a brighter future no matter who you are or what you’ve been through. I’m especially pleased with the cover art work, and special thanks to the amazing artist Pure Evil for donating it to us. I think we can all feel like one of the Mr Men at times. The trick is, like our cover model, to just keep on smiling. – Erica
By Erica Crompton
It was a ray of light through the curtains. I’d drank a poisonous concoction just minutes before I glimpsed the spring sun, powerfully penetrating the kitsch pink daisy printed curtains in my large bedroom in a flatshare in a rundown part of Birmingham. That light spoke to me when no words could describe the state I’d been in over the last two weeks – funny then that it was also the wordless sun that communicated so much hope to me on that day. In a flash, I’d called an ambulance. I saw in that sunlight my youth. I was 29 years old and I’d seen my situation in an altogether different light after the rain and clouds of the last few weeks had lifted at some incredibly fortuitous timing. When I tell people about that moment they think the psychosis may have lifted but it hadn’t. For the following weeks I believed any written words I read – including articles about Lady Gaga in The Daily Mirror, a newspaper I had previously contributed too – were written in an abstract way to hurt me. But the sunlight at the moment in time when I needed it the most warmed my cheeks and melted away some of the psychosis and all the self-loathing that brings for just long enough time for me to call 999. In psychiatry they call the ups and downs of ‘paranoid schizophrenia’, what I was later diagnosed with, as ‘the course of the illness’. I call it ‘the snakes and ladders of life’. Sure, I am up and down perhaps more than the most. However at the end of the day when the sun is setting, I’m so glad for something as simple as a ray of spring sunlight during a crisis I had one day ten years ago. It saved my life and in hindsight I’m so glad it did for there’s love, friendship and always others to help. After the dawn of a failed suicide, there is sunshine.
Never say never
By Erica Crompton
Having just been diagnosed with a severe mental illness and struggling to hold down a day job, I sought escapism watching Spooks. It’s a TV programme I’d downloaded for after working each day in an office in south east London where I also lived. The days were hard and I enjoyed Spooks so much I found myself falling for one of the lead characters who a quick Google search told me was played by the actor Rupert Penry Jones. The catch was that my evening escapism was just that. The more I watched the more my heart started to ache, for I would never meet Rupert in real life – he was always behind my TV screen. As the days passed I’d soon watched every episode but still dreamt of Rupert and knew I’d never meet him. I just had to get on with my life. As you’ll know London property is expensive so not long after I’d watched all the Spooks episodes I took on a weekend job as an usher at The Unicorn Theatre- a delightful, brand-new space where children can learn through plays. Within 2 weeks of getting the job and doing my training the opening night arrived. I couldn’t believe it – there were loads of celebrities including Cherie & Tony Blair. As I watched the cameras flash at the incoming celebrities I noticed a family of 3 walking towards the scene and recognised the father. It was Rupert! He was coming to the opening night as he himself had a young child interested to see plays. I was terribly star-struck! But just in awe. As everyone took their seats for the first ever play I took my position outside ready to sell ice-creams. Then.. Rupert popped out and asked me where the gentleman’s bathroom was. I will never forget this evening and my thoughts about Rupert previously and when I’m having a bad day or thinking this or that is impossible I remind myself of meeting Rupert. Never say never.
A failure at suicide counts as success at life!
By Alan Hartley
At the end of my School days I left after failing all my A Levels. However, I did get a job and indeed had several good jobs, but none of them lasted because of my incompetence and I went from one job to another before finally losing my job and as a result – my house. At about the same time I also fell out with my Girl Friend. This put me in a downward spiral and there were several suicide attempts with several short stays in a Psychiatric Hospital over a period of years, but the most memorable involved taking tablets. I took a lot, but then I sat outside in the garden at home whilst waiting for the tablets to take effect. While sitting there, in the sun, I was in turmoil with thoughts of what would happen if I failed and survived. This was about 35 years ago and admittedly I have been on medication for Paranoid Schizophrenia ever since, but I have since had some good jobs and worked as an Aquatics Centre Manager, a Sales Representative, a Website Builder and a Self-Published Author. Now somewhat older and in retirement I am doing Voluntary work at a rural centre for Adults with Learning Disabilities and writing for a Local Talking Newspaper. I have many friends of all sorts around me, enjoy playing competitive darts, looking after my allotment and as they say I am comfortable in my retirement with a reasonably sized private Pension fund to supplement my income. I am living in a lovely bungalow that I own and driving a nice little car that is all mine. LIFE is GOOD!
A true story
By a loving friend and writer
Let’s call her Jane. She was in her teens shy and extremely sensitive. She hated the way she looked couldn’t look at herself in the mirror as she thought she was fat and ugly. These thoughts lead to anorexia, a serious eating disorder where people can starve themselves. Jane’s situation got to the point where she could barely stand up, let alone go out. All this made her problems where and led her to suffer further with depression with suicidal thoughts. At a low point Jane attempted to take her life. She was then hospitalised with girls of a similar problems. Unfortunately even in hospital the trauma continued. She had a drip but still found ways to regurgitate. Jane loathed herself and couldn’t stop crying out: “Why won’t anyone understand!” Finally however she had reached a weight that wasn’t life threatening and she started to see things in a different light. Even though the loathing feeling never left. For a long time, Jane still wasn’t eating and she was still restricting her daily calories always restricting herself to the bare minimum! Still, Jane wasn’t confident and still she was suffering with depression, anxiety and other problems relating to how she saw herself. But the story doesn’t end there. Eventually our heroine got a job where she was meeting the public and having to interact with people which made her start to feel more confident. She made some good friends who helped her to talk more about how she felt on her dark days. The new job and friends helped Jane to feel better about herself as these friends didn’t judge her. Instead they accepted her and supported her. Their love was unconditional. Jane got better and better. Isn’t it good to hear that Jane is now a model for clothes is married with children of her own? Jane’s friend who tells us this touching story says: “Such is life: when things seem as dark as they can be don’t give up because you never know what’s waiting for you further down the road.”
Helping others is helping myself
By Nutan Modha
It’s taken a while to finally put fingers to keyboard as I do find it painful to look back. Some on the outside looking in can adopt a variety of opinions on our characters. The newspapers seem to see fit in blowing cases involving the mentally ill like me out of proportion. It is mine and our wish that the ‘Hopezine’ gives those papers a run for their money! The current climate of lone agents brandishing knives on subways, and our streets are seemingly the stuff of terror inducing headlines. With a lack of motivation, bouts of the blues and possibly no work in our future lives, I have found that healing takes time. Much of it involves being proactive, even when you would rather not. Ruminating and back peddling occurs. The illness that takes over your mind, and becomes a fear: rather than the calling; a calling which has been shredded. This wipe-out may as well dishonour the human. We become full of emotion, so much so that we splinter. It’s a time to be brave and if recurrent journal keeping is helpful I’ll give it a go. Never on a PC but in a lovely book. I have kept a diary since I was first unwell in 1993. It’s helpful and a nice way to pass time looking through the years. Getting back on my feet after several suicide attempts has involved helping others at the same time. Starting a group in London for mental health support and also getting work after volunteering. The field of mental health seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days. With papers talking about long and impossible waiting lists. In my opinion, if you stand high enough you can see a legion of us who have survived and are more than willing to lend a hand. As Ron Coleman quoted ‘we’re experts by experience’. For that, I’m certain. I’m also certain that I’m never alone these days – we all suffer and we should all help one another.
Stories of hope from Harplands
Messages of hope from patients who have been there too
- This too shall pass
- Talk to your spouse or a friend, you can’t do this alone – don’t do it
- Depression is like a thick fog around you. Sometimes all you can do is have patience – wait for the fog to lift so you can get your bearings again and put your life back on track
- Know you are someone’s child or friend and think of the pain you’ll leave behind.
- Try to focus your anger on something you are good at
- If your problems are debt related get help with bills with CAB or Starfish
- Try to eat well and know there is hope no matter what your faith
- For family and friends you can get help from the Carer’s Hub
- With OCD it takes many forms such as intrusive thoughts, obsessive washing, feeling someone is watching you, fear of germs and dirt. If you’re feeling like this seek help as soon as possible. You will be prescribed drugs and possibly therapy – there’s help out there, so please find it.
- You are unique. You are special and loved. We believe in you.
- It’s Ok to feel not ok – recovery is possible and achievable
- Don’t give up as you don’t know what’s round the corner
- Don’t bottle it up. You won’t be a burden – share your pain and lighten the load on your shoulders
Nothing’s impossible. The word itself says: “I’m possible” – Audrey Hepburn
Editor: Erica Crompton Erica@medfed.co
Cover artwork: Charles UZZELL EDWARDS aka PURE EVIL Pure Evil Gallery @PureEvilGallery | Http://www.pureevil.me |
Design: Keele SU
Writers: Erica Crompton, Alan Hartley, a loving and kind friend, Nutan Modha, Patients at Harplands Hospital
With special thanks: Emma Rodgers, Lesley Whittaker, Stoke County Council, Patients at Harplands Hospital, Kate Edwards, Natalie Ellis
Whatever you’re going through, you can call The Samaritans free any time, from any phone on 116 123. They’re here round the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This number is FREE to call. You don’t have to be suicidal to call them.