A mum who tried to take her own life by throwing herself off a motorway bridge has spoken out about her experience in a bid to end the stigma around mental health.
The mum-of-two, from Greater Manchester, describes the darkest moment of her life in her own words to promote greater awareness of stress, depression and anxiety.
The woman, who has asked not to be named, survived after jumping off a bridge over the M6 in 2011.
“I was on my way to psychological appointment that morning and something just snapped. My friend was driving and I asked her to divert towards the motorway. I said I needed to stop to drop something off somewhere.
“I got out of the car, ran and jumped off the motorway bridge. It was quite impulsive.
“It was as though I felt nothing. I don’t think I particularly wanted to die or never see my family again. In fact I never thought of the consequences. I just wanted to end the torment in my head. It was those tormented thoughts 24 hours a day. It’s indescribable when you’re going through that.
“You’re so low and helpless. You feel completely isolated, like there’s no escape from it. I had been poorly for three months before it happened. Things had gone from bad to worse.
“When I jumped I was totally conscious. I remember hitting the floor. The first thing I could feel were all my teeth loose in my mouth. All of my bones were shattered. A lady came to me and I must have passed out. I remember the ambulance man being with me.
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“I was cold and shivering from the shock. When they lifted me onto to a stretcher the pain was indescribable. I don’t remember the three weeks after that because I was put in an induced coma.
“It’s important that people realise there was no one more loving and caring than me. I cared about everyone and loved everyone to bits. And that’s what my family really struggled with afterwards. If I loved them why would I do something like that to them?
“But when you’re in such a dark place you’re not thinking rationally. I threw myself onto fast lane of the busiest motorway in the country. You don’t know what you’re capable of doing, but your mind is very powerful and at that point I felt there was no escape from those thoughts.
“It really aggravates me when people say things like ‘what a selfish bugger’ or ‘what a coward’ when people do or try to take their own life.
“When you’re in that situation you aren’t thinking straight at all. I find it really hard not to get involved in the threads on Facebook when people are making those kind of comments. It was a life-changing event for me and my family. It’s difficult when you see the impact it has had on them. To be honest it has been a battle for us to try and reconcile.
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“It has affected us all in different ways and we’re working on it. But I am here. I’m alive and not in a wheelchair.
“Since then I have wanted to try and end the stigma around mental health. I’ve had people I know walk past me since it happened and them never ask me how I am. If I had recovered from cancer, they would have stopped and asked.
“In the months leading up to that day I had been suffering work-related stress, anxiety and depression. I don’t feel there is enough help out there for people with mental health issues. I don’t think people listen to families when they are asking for help. And we were helpless. I was passed from pillar to post [in the healthcare system]. I had spells of reactive depression before but I had never tried to take my own life.
“I had a good life too. I had everything going for me. I had a successful job, a successful marriage and a loving family. However I was really struggling at work at the time and was worried about losing my job.
“I really believe that there needs to be more understanding and leniency in workplaces when it comes to mental health.
“Since then I have done recovery talks about myself to try and give people hope. I want people to see that it can be done and that it is possible to move on from such a dark place. I try to give back to the NHS whenever I can too. If reading this or listening to me helps one and gives them hope then I’m happy.
“As hard as we try, we will never be the same after that day. It changed our lives forever.
“When I jumped a lorry driver jack-knifed his vehicle to miss me. His brave action saved my life. I will probably never know who he is but I owe him a huge thank you.”
Helplines and websites
Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@.
Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.
PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn’t have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information. http://www.depressionalliance.org/
Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts. Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying. http://studentsagainstdepression.org/
The Sanctuary (0300 003 7029) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year, for people who are struggling to cope – experiencing depression, anxiety, panic attacks or in crisis.