So I was 13 at the time. And that was the first time when I tried to end my life.
It's actually tough to reflect as a younger person, just what that felt like, keeping it inside.
I think it became normal. And I know that's not indifferent to what a lot of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and families feel now.
My goal or our goal as kids was to stay together with our mum as much as possible,
despite whatever things were happening at home, despite having days where we'd
wake up and there was no food because the money had been spent on alcohol.
My love for my mom and my family was what held us together, and staying together was part of that. So I knew that if I shared the stuff that was going on that that might not
be the case where we stayed together. So I did, I learnt early on not to talk about things.
My mum did have a lot of times of self-harming. Finding her was hard. I was 10 when she did die by suicide. And even then I think the enormity of that didn't sink in. I lived with my grandmother for about a year or so. And over a period of time, through illness, she passed away. It was just tough, me losing what was the next most significant person in my life, my grandmother, who was always there for me, was really hard to deal with.
Everything kind of culminated to a point where, again, I just felt like nobody cared, that I was alone, and that there was no point in being here anymore.
Fast forwarding to my early twenties. I did seek support at a women's center, and they didn't have anyone available. I was on a waiting list. Fine. There was some incidents that happened, again, all based on relationships that were important to me that led to me trying to end my life again.
I really felt the stigma and the shame and what I thought was weakness in talking about those things. It's interesting 'cause, in fact, what I realied is that there's incredible courage and strength in being able to share that.
I went back to the women's center and said, "I really need to talk to someone." And I got the same response, but I just said quite loudly and really strongly, "I tried to end my life on the weekend. "I really need help." At which point, there was an escalation within the service where they were able to book me in to see someone the next day.
I actually met someone who changed my life for the better. And her name was Chris. She was able to walk me through and work with me on a journey of understanding myself. The fact that a lot of what I was experiencing was normal. Chris taught me about this strategy of riding a roller coaster, and understanding that when I'm feeling so bad that that pain peaks at the top, but that if you can sit in that pain, it might be an hour, it might be longer, but that eventually it becomes bearable and manageable. And that was really, really helpful to me when I was feeling very unwell.
I'm so glad to be here because I have my daughter. She's about to turn 14. If I didn't make it through, if I wasn't here, then I wouldn't have the pure joy of her in my life.
Find someone. It might be more comfortable being a stranger or someone that you don't know, or you might have just that one person who you feel comfortable in saying, you know what? I'm not okay.
I completely understand that feeling of not wanting to be here and how intense that can be. What my advice would be is to understand that it doesn't stay that way all the time.
I want you to live. I want you to know that you're not alone and that you being here is going to be so much more powerful than you not being here. Many of us care about you
and we love you. Even if we haven't met you yet.