Conversations about suicide - Narelle's story

S1: I had experienced a number of traumatic events throughout my life, but I think when my mother passed away in 2002 and it set in motion a number of symptoms that led to that diagnosis of depression. And so, I went to a psychiatrist and I got good medication and did some cognitive behaviour therapy which I found very helpful.

S1: But as life progressed and other challenges came up my symptoms increased in severity. And when in 2008, I experienced a very major episode of depression and I was admitted to a hospital for two weeks and it was during that time that I started to think about taking my own life.

S1: I'd always been quite hard on myself, and I had wanted to have a family, and a career, and I felt that I hadn't reached those goals. So, it was during that time that I was staying with my friends and they had gone to work one day that I decided that I I was going to end my life. But while I was sitting on the floor in the kitchen and feeling totally bereft and empty and full of pain that their little dog came into the kitchen and she sat down beside me and she put her head in my lap.

S1: And I realized at that point in time that even if there was no one else in the world that cared that that little dog cared for me right then and that moment. And when I thought about it a bit more carefully, there were people who loved me and there were people who cared and that who would not want me to take my own life at that point. So, after a little while I made a phone call and I got some help that day and I spoke to someone and my recovery has taken quite a number of months and years.

S2: I wonder if you can tell us about going to hospital. I know that's been an experience for you on a number of occasions.

S1: Yes, well, the first time I was admitted to a hospital for an episode of depression, it was very scary. But, in many ways it was very comforting to be in an environment where there were so many helpful doctors and nurses, social workers, occupational therapists. There were lots of people there to look after me. All I had to do was concentrate on getting better. Staff there were just fantastic, always ready to have a chat and a laugh with you. And some of the people that I met there, I've stayed in touch with along the way and we've been a support for each other back outside in the real world. I think it's important to surround yourself with people who are going to be positive and who are going to not treat you any differently to anybody else. Just because you've experienced mental illness doesn't mean that you're a freak, or you're weird, or you're crazy or whatever.

S1: When I was feeling suicidal, I was pretty good at hiding it. And while people may have understood that I was depressed, they may not have understood just how bad and low and hopeless that I was feeling. So, people who are feeling suicidal may not come out and tell you that they're feeling suicidal. But, I guess it's important that if you notice a change in somebody's behaviour, somebody that you work with, you can just ask them, "Are you feeling okay?" "Are you doing okay at the moment?" "And if you're not, can I help you and make a medical appointment for you or take you to the doctor? Take you to speak to a counsellor or a psychologist?"