Mental Health Week: What I wish I knew when I was suicidal

For Mental Health Week, HerFamily's Kat O'Connor opens up about her struggles with suicidal ideation.

I did not want to make it to my 25th birthday. I was ready for my life to end. My mind felt like the worst place to be and I was riddled with suicidal thoughts. My head was plagued with panic, fear, anxiety, and dread. It was a haunting and dark time. I don't want to sugarcoat it because that would be unfair to my past self and everything she faced.

I couldn't see the good in continuing my life, but I was constantly told that better days were just around the corner. But that is so hard to believe when you've reached such a low point. Thinking about happier days feels a little ridiculous when your mind is full of suicidal thoughts. It felt like my life wasn't valuable or worthy enough to continue and I didn't think that would ever change.

I told a handful of people about the suicidal ideation I was dealing with, including my therapist. It took a lot of time, effort, and pain to break those thoughts down. It took even more time to heal the damage they did. Recovering from mental health issues is not easy. You can't just stick a plaster on and make it all go away. It's so cliche but recovery is a rollercoaster. You will have both good and bad days. Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower described it perfectly: "So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be."

"My past self would have felt stronger if she knew this when suicide felt like the only option."

Sometimes I wish my past self could travel into the future and see the days, moments, and memories she was clinging on for. The happier days that were worth sticking around for. I wish I could've seen the day I went to see Fleetwood Mac with my Dad. Or the day I graduated from college. Or the day I found out my best friend was engaged.

But what I really wish I knew about was the bunch of little moments that helped make life feel richer and worthy. These moments aren't momentous or lavish. They're small, everyday moments that most of us ignore. They're not what we strive for or share online. These are normal, quiet, and mundane moments, but if you gather them all together, you realise just how special they are.

Moments like seeing my nanny knitting at home after spending weeks in the hospital or hearing my Dad singing along to the radio. It's silly things like catching a bus before it starts to rain or bumping into an old friend in the city. It's the smell of sea air, seeing bright pink peonies in a florist, hearing your little cousins sing along to Encanto, and the first sip of coffee after a late night.

They're the moments that very rarely make it to Instagram, but they're the ones that became most important to me as I recovered. Your mind changes a lot when you reach such a dark place. It's like it shifts and your perspective completely transforms. You start to notice that these menial moments make life feel more valuable. My past self would have felt stronger if she knew this when suicide felt like the only option. I wish she could have even just glanced at what was ahead.

If I got a preview of my life, I would've realised it actually was worth holding on to. I may not have known it back then but now I know it is always worth continuing your story.

If you're suffering mentally you can contact Samaritans on 116 123. You can also text HELLO to 50808 for mental health support.