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16 May 2015

This time of year is always difficult. These few days leading up to May 16th always overwhelm me with emotions I’m now so used to keeping under wraps.

4 years ago, a good friend of mine commuted suicide at the age 18, she was a friend from hospital. She was such a bright light and an incredible, amazing girl but unfortunately, she was very ill with both depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. The mind is a cruel thing, as is depression.

But I’m not going to talk about her, her life and her story are hers, and my memories with her are mine, but what I am going to talk about is the impact that suicide can have on those close to you.

Death is devastating. The idea of death terrifies most, and the idea of someone close to you passing is almost unbearable. And it is. It has now been 4 years and there is not a single day I don’t think about all the people I have lost.

See, I understand why she did it – because it wasn’t her. I too have been in the grips of severe and life-threatening depression and it can seem at times that there isn’t a choice. It’s an illness that consumes your mind and body, infects every part of your life. But it can get better.

People often get angry when someone attempts or succeeds suicide – I’ve often heard the word ‘selfish’ thrown around, often accompanied by ‘how could they do that to their friends and family?!’ But the truth is they don’t, depression does.

That’s not to say that anyone should let it. Life can and does get so much better after depression. There will be tough times, there will be trials, there will be highs and lows but ultimately they’re experiences that you can only have if you’re alive.

4 years ago, in fairly close time proximity to one another, I lost two friends – and it was their deaths that spurred me on to do something – to make a difference. I don’t feel, nor want, anyone to go through the pain of losing someone. Help needs to be found sooner, help given needs to be better. There is so much that needs to change – but it’s not going to change unless we step up and do something about it.

So I ask you, on the 16th May 2015, talk to a friend about mental health, or heck, talk to a friend about an invisible illness. Let people know that they don’t have to suffer alone.

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