Journey to Mental Health Recovery

Overcoming the Darkness: A Journey Through Mental Health and Survival

Published about 1 month ago • 2 min read

A Personal Struggle: The Battle with PTSD and Depression

A few years ago, I decided to stop taking my medications for PTSD and Depression. The side effects—weight gain and feeling like a zombie—had become too much to bear. For the first six days, I felt like my old self again.

But then, everything came crashing down.

Sitting on my back doorstep in the dark, I felt as if I had been hit by a bus. The crushing weight of despair was unbearable. In my darkest moment, I attempted suicide.

Thankfully, I survived. But the pain and thoughts of death lingered for years. What drives someone to the brink, to override the instinct for self-preservation?

1. Mental Illness

Mental illnesses like depression and PTSD make individuals vulnerable to suicidal thoughts. Approximately 60% of those who commit suicide suffer from a mood disorder. However, not everyone with mental illness attempts suicide. The statistics show that only about 2% of outpatients and 4% of inpatients with depression die by suicide.

I was diagnosed with PTSD from my job as a police officer, which led to losing my job and plunging into a dark depression. Despite my suicidal thoughts, I never took that final step. Clearly, mental illness is not the sole factor in suicide.

2. Hopelessness

Hope is a powerful force. Without it, despair takes over, making it feel impossible to escape unbearable pain. Most suicidal individuals don’t want to die—they want the pain to end.

Having spoken to many people with suicidal ideation, I’ve learned that the tragedy lies in seeking a permanent solution to a temporary problem. You are not alone or abnormal for thinking about suicide; everyone has a breaking point.

3. Feeling Like a Burden

Depression makes you feel the pain of those around you, leading to guilt and the false belief that your death would be a relief for your loved ones. However, the reality is quite the opposite. Suicide leaves an indelible scar on those left behind, causing rejection, shame, stigma, and immense guilt. Your loved ones will blame themselves and might even blame you, creating a cycle of pain and anger that never truly heals.

4. Isolation

A robust support system can significantly reduce the risk of suicide. I was at my lowest when I stopped communicating. Bottled-up pain can be torturous, especially when faced alone. My family’s support, particularly my evening walks with my mum, played a crucial role in my survival.

5. The Compounding Effect

Most people can handle one tragedy at a time, but multiple crises can be overwhelming. Many people who consider suicide face several devastating events simultaneously, leading to a sense of drowning in pain.

Finding Hope and Reaching Out

I survived thanks to the support of my loved ones and the staggered nature of my personal tragedies. Medication also played a vital role. It’s a common myth that talking about suicide will give someone ideas—it won’t. Open, honest conversations about mental health are crucial.

If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out for help. In the UK, contact Samaritans at 116 123 or email In the US, call 988, a suicide and crisis lifeline. In Canada, contact a crisis responder at 1.833.456.4566. In Japan, call the Tell lifeline at 03-5774-0992. For other countries, Google “suicide helpline” along with your country name.

Crisis lines provide immediate support, helping you navigate through the toughest moments. Remember, it’s okay to struggle and ask for help. Your life is valuable, and there are people ready to listen and support you.

Talking about mental health is essential. Let's break the silence and support each other.

Journey to Mental Health Recovery

Leon Macfayden

Schizophrenia and PTSD survivor sharing my journey to recovery. Join over 800 subscribers learning to improve their mental health. Every week, I share personal stories and effective tips to help you and your loved ones live the life you deserve.

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