**Trigger warning: This post discusses mental health issues and suicide. Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.**
I drove to a popular tourist spot almost an hour away from my home knowing what I was going to do. I had no feelings about it.
Pulling up and locking my car for the last time, I didn’t even glance over at the stunning clifftop that was my destination. Instead I was headed to the gelato store across the road for a large scoop of my favourite flavour – peanut butter.
I was 50 cents short.
Letting out a sharp laugh I ran across the road and went back into my car to retrieve an extra 50 cents and then ran back across the road to pay for my final indulgence.
I walked towards my destination, looking like any tourist out for the day to see the sights. I started eating my ice cream. It was completely tasteless.
A little stirring of unease was in the pit of my stomach, not over my decision but over my ability to execute it perfectly. I knew the spot, I knew the method, I knew the reason.
I climbed the stairs and took in the view.
I took a photo, ice cream in hand and texted my husband. A goodbye? A call for help?
Have fun hon, see you soon.
He really had no idea what I was planning to do but if he just knew how much pain I was in, if he felt what it was like to try and get out of bed each day, move my limbs, use my brain, think and make decision, then he’d want this for me. Peace.
My son’s face flashed in my mind and I quickly pushed it away.
I was looking for a particular spot where someone whose story I’d followed for years had lost her own battle with depression. I read stories about her and watched documentaries about her several times a week.
When I wasn’t thinking about her I was watching the movie Helen. In their flat, dead eyes I saw myself.
I just couldn't do it anymore.
When does depression begin? What causes it? Who knows. Who cares. All I knew was that living was painful. I wasn't coping. I was completely unqualified. All of the professional help I'd sought hadn't helped at all, in fact it had made things worse.
I don't want to talk about my mother.
I don't want to revisit my childhood.
I don't want my therapist to cry when I share stories of pain and fear and abuse.
People keep smiling at me. Can't they just get lost? I'm walking up and down the cliff walk looking for a bin in which to ditch my tasteless ice cream and people keep fucking smiling at me.
I stare back, considering for a moment trying to move my lips into what I assume will resemble a smile, but I can't even do that.
My mind won't go to the place it is trying to go.
What about your husband?
What about your children?
What about your family?
I don't care, I don't care, I don't care.
I just can't do this anymore.
I've always lived my life under a dark cloud and have spent my life battling through it to find happiness and success. Success I had achieved however I can safely say that this feeling of happiness, of pure joy and contentment, is completely foreign to me.
I can look at my life through a strangers eyes and see how incredibly perfect it is and how blessed I am, so why can't I feel it? Isn't the whole point of having this amazing life to be happy?
I'm not a good wife to my husband.
I know I could do better and every day I feel I have let him down in some way. I have secret debt that is eating away at me. I am dishonest about my spending. He looks at me with admiration and I just want to slap him and say, "You are such an idiot. Don't you see me? I am a mess!"
I'm not doing a good job as a mother and it was my son's recent diagnosis with a mental disability that sent me to bed for two weeks and triggered this latest episode.
But how can this flatness, this barrenness of feeling, be called an episode?
Calling it an episode suggests it has a beginning and an end but I know this has always been with me from a young age when I first considered ending it all because I just couldn't cope.
Maybe it was my childhood devoid of nurturing and love.
Maybe it is a chemical imbalance.
Whatever. I don't care anymore. I have spent years trying to figure out why I am the way I am and I'm really tired. I just want it to be over.
Today is the day I give myself the gift of freeing myself from endless moments of pain. There are phones everywhere urging people in distress to seek help. I have a mobile phone. Why do I need one of those special phones? Why are there so many of them?
Surveillance cameras. What a joke. What, do they need to witness it? Are they going to come and stop me? Please don't, I hope they don't. I just want to be left alone.
That woman just smiled at me. Stop making eye contact! If I stop looking at people they'll stop smiling at me with that knowing smile, like they are trying to take my hand and pull me off the clifftop.
Who the hell do they think they are? What do they know of my suffering? If they knew even for one moment what I felt like every day of my life they'd want this for me.
Why is there such a stigma attached to losing a battle with depression. Don't people understand that I want to be free?
A man smiled at me. It was a kind smile. They are all kind smiles.
Why can't they just leave me alone.
Shit. A family. A little boy.
Don't smile at me, don't smile at me, don't smile at me.
He's cute. What a cutie. My son is the same age.
My son, my son, my son....
My daughter, my daughter, my daughter...
My husband, my beautiful, incredible husband...
I'm crying now but not out of sadness. I'm angry. Now I can't do it. My children are in my head. My family is in my head. My opportunity is lost.
Another day. I'll do it another day.
I drive home and walk through the door.
"How was your day," my husband asks. He knows I've been struggling and he knows I've been trying to get help. So I blurt out, "I was going to kill myself today," and he just grabs me and hugs me and hugs me and hugs me.
"What do you need me to do," he asks.
"I need to sleep," I say, "and keep trying. I don't want to, but I will."
That was a year-and-a-half ago and I look back to that time like looking back to an old friendship. Depression was never my enemy. It was never my friend. It was just me.
Now it's not.
The smiles of those strangers saved me that day. I can remember every single one. The woman in gym gear. The older couple. The family. The little boy. With each moment of eye contact and each kind smile I felt myself being pulled back from the decision I had made.
I owe my life to them.
That's how easy it is to save a life, give a stranger a kind smile.
I am so incredibly grateful to be here. I've received professional treatment, crawled and trudged through each day until they started getting better and the sun came out again and I know now that I will continue to fight to be here for the rest of my days. Whatever it takes.
Saturday 10 September is World Suicide Prevention Day. In Australia more than 2500 people die each year with latest figures (2014) telling us that 2,864 Australians took their own life. Research also tells us that some 65,000 people attempt suicide each year. ‘Connect, communicate, care’ is the theme of the 2016 World Suicide Prevention Day (10 September). These three words are at the heart of suicide prevention and complement the efforts of our friends on R U OK? Day (8 September) to raise public awareness about the importance of having a conversation and, most importantly, how.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues call Lifeline on 13 11 14.