Two steps forward, one step back.

When I was in severe crisis one month ago today I contacted three  people who I knew could help me. I knew these people were my lifeline. I spoke , at length , to all three over the first weekend I was released from a psychiatric unit. I begged them to help me to be understood and to help my family and friends to find answers.Although I am a keen writer, I was in so much crisis that I asked one friend to help me explain myself. I felt nobody was listening. I am and will be forever grateful to Maria, she has helped me face my beast.

The lady who wrote this piece below is Maria Dillon, someone who has some understanding of me but also someone who has walked the walk. She has a great self awareness, and she also is very much aware of others. She is so in tune with life that I aspire to be like her. ,

“Sometimes in life we find ourselves day to day just doing the best we can to get by, and trying also to convince the world we have everything under control. As a partner, parent, sibling, child, colleague or friend, we attempt to reassure others all is well. However, underneath bubbling away is a rising tide of impending doom, anxiety and the darkness rising slowly.

Only we feel it and often we ourselves deny it happening. It rises slowly within over time as we learn to mask it to the outside world but when it finally floods us, our cry for help is like a tidal wave suddenly hitting others. A moment comes when it simply feels we can let go, a relief in thinking we can finally be free of this demonic weight that drags us continually down. We take our moment and nothing else matters… Yet here in this moment. for those of us lucky enough to gain a quick awareness, we instinctively scream out for help. That basic desire to keep living gains super strength, and we do what it takes to shout out, to escape the stranglehold of death.

Everything after becomes a blur…all energies are poured into us to revive us, we’re bombarded with 101 questions, we see the horror on our loved one’s faces. Shock is all around. We’re in a spotlight, stuck trying to not only answer others but answer to ourselves. All the why’s, how’s, how long, what happened?

Yes, what did happen? For many that answer may take years to work out and maybe never come. For others being there before, it begins to feel like a shuffled dance. Two steps forward, one step back. We’ve been here before, we know this scene only too well. Strangely, unlike that first time, there’s a gained ability to bounce back quicker. The haze begins to lift and a new clarity gives us an insight into just where we’ve been lately. When you’ve danced in the darkness and made a deal to cross to the other side, only then can you understand just how precious life is. How thin the line that keeps us connected can be, how precariously easy it can be to break. Within a shorter time is a rush, a great need to let others know just how delicate that cord that keeps us alive is. So here you stand loudly with a message for others…no matter what, choose life.  Reach out, shout, scream, kick, whatever it takes…just fight to hold on.

Problems we face suddenly can dissipitate when the enormity of life within us is threatened. Am I a victim?? Do I play that role?? Yes, but only because I have endured the trauma of facing no longer being alive. There’s a heavy mixture of both shock and elation and now I face a new chapter once again in life, of self discovery and healing. Can I help others??  Always, even if my story only helps one other person then my experience will have had a positive outcome. I am living proof that there is always hope, even at our lowest point. I reached out, so can you. “



This letter is my opinion, and it is your opinion what you think of it. I have respect for your opinion.If you understand it then the message is loud, and very emotive and clear. I am trying to save my life after trying hard recently to take it . If you don’t understand or believe it, then say it to me and I will help you understand me. If you care , that can happen. I need help please.

Sometimes, as humans, we can underestimate the power that our mental health has over us. We also do this with our physical health and in doing so we pay an ultimate price. The price varies according to the strength of the underestimation and as importantly, our understanding of it.

Physically the price could be a twisted ankle because we underestimated a height, an infection because we underestimated a cut, an abscess because again of underestimation of toothache.  Mentally too there is a price, because we can underestimate the strength of our mental health, and the mental health of those around us. We all misunderstand and estimate badly at times.

I did and I paid the price, and so too did those who have had to try and come to terms with me. I understand the emotions that can be stirred up by the smallest of misunderstanding, the pain, anger, the disbelief, because I am going through it with you. I too have those emotions. We all have, we are human.

We all have a part to play in helping each other, if you want to have good relationships with family and friends especially, this is important to know and understand if you want to reach out. We can support each other. We ALL need to reach out, some to save and some to be rescued.

It is difficult to know when the right time is to reach out, when you are in crisis especially, therefore fear prevents from asking. A fear like no other, a fear that those in crisis, can  understand. We then make a decision based on irrational thought and fear combined.

The reason most of us stand back when a fast car is coming down the road, even though the shop we want is on the other side, is made subconsciously. There is a lot happening so in milliseconds we make a decision that prevents us taking that step. We don’t put that foot out because we have a good idea that we will be hurt or even killed. We do this because whatever is on the other side, will still be there when the car passes. Which is why so many pedestrians are killed on our roads. They, or the driver, underestimated and misunderstood, and paid the ultimate price. A major traumatic event happens to family, friends and local communities are traumatised by this and it takes a long time to overcome such a trauma but support is there in many guises. A life crisis awakens lots of emotions, magnifying them at times. As a community we rally around the family of those who have had a loss or injury and we make their lives as comfortable as possible.

This too happens to those who are suicidal; they see the gap and the car but still take that step because the only thing that is in our minds is to cross. We want to cross because we are tired, in pain and we feel that the other side of the road offers us a release from our mental health. It is the best possible cure over there I have to get it no matter the cost. We don’t have the strength to do anything else, even though warning bells are ringing, people are calling us back, hands come out to grab us, and underestimation does not play a part, so we ultimately pay the price. At that moment everyone is in crisis.

Then we start to question and try to come to a better understanding of events that ultimately we, as family, friends and a community have paid the price for.

Did we not shout loud enough?  My arm was outstretched; did we put it out far enough? What if I was on the other side of the road, would they have listened to me? What if I went to the shop instead that day? Why? What? If only? How did it happen? I would have rathered it was me! All this comes with the journey we have now begun, the grief and the loss of a loved one. This is a difficult journey now that you have begun, it can be as difficult as the journey that has brought you here.

You must go forward now but with supports, we are still on a journey, our final destination is there. We might have to revisit the past at times, but the future is where the answers can be found. You need to find the right answers and gain an understanding of each other in order to survive as a person, a family and a community. If you don’t understand, for whatever reason, then you ultimately pay a much larger price.

I write this to those living in crisis, because I am there, I have seen both sides and I am paying a price, as you are. I know now what to do; I now recognise the hands and recognise the voices that were always there. I know where the best and safest place to cross, so too do many others but we must make people more aware. We have to make sure that those in crisis have supports; even a simple hello can make a difference. If you are walking with another then make sure you understand each other, if you are walking alone then know that there are many who will walk by your side.

Remember too that some people cannot read, write or understand problems, due to physical or intellectual illness. If I was blind you would offer your elbow and tell me that you are doing so, if I was deaf you would ensure that you talk face to face, otherwise communication or understanding cannot take place.

Try to understand those that walk by your side, daily, weekly of always. If you do then we will be on the right direction to coping with crisis.

I write this, my last piece for a while, as I now embark on a private and personal journey with my family and friends, of understanding and estimation. I will meet lots of people on that journey and if you really care, then reach out in some way, shape or form. Open the power of understanding that is innate in all of us. It’s ok too if you do not understand, but it will just keep a crisis alight while others are desperately trying to help. It’s not easy but we can do it together.

I have many letters after my name, not educational in the sense of State examinations, but because of people’s estimation of my mental health. I live with my mental illness every day and need supports, please help. Do not underestimate my cry for help, I am shouting from the rooftop. You all have so much to offer me and each other.


Gerard Collins

Out of the blues.

I had 16 years without a suicide attempt and used many interventions in that time to lead as normal a life a I possibly could. Life was good for me, even though I deal with manic depression daily. Last Monday week I took an overdose with the intent of dying and was only released from hospital last night, mentally well but drained physically.

I write this short piece to warn you that it can happen anytime, it can sneak up unawares on you and disable you quickly.I am very grateful that I cried for help and was answered, some don’t get that chance. Look after yourself, remember you are not alone but may need supports. I am using those supports .