I nearly gave up on life but I’m so glad I didn’t

Being able to reflect on my life now from a place of good health and wellbeing I can see how I have often taken life for granted. I can see now that I was struggling with so many aspects of my life which I ignored.

Nine years ago I was involved in a traumatic incident in which I was stabbed numerous times. The injuries were so bad that I almost died. Whilst the doctors were able to stitch up my wounds, nobody mentioned the mental torture I was likely to face after such an ordeal.

Over the following four or five years my life became unmanageable. Unknown to me I was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This is a potentially severe and long-term mental health problem that can involve flashbacks, nightmares, depression, anxiety, anger, and panic attacks.

I was suffering from all of the above but was so numb to it all that I began excessive gambling, and abusing alcohol and drugs. Everything just spiralled out of control and I’m sorry to say that not once over this period did I speak to anyone about my situation.

During this period I couldn’t communicate with my family and when no one was at home I would barricade myself into a room with furniture up against the door until I heard someone coming in the front door with a key. I didn’t want people to see how vulnerable I was.

People used to say to me “Jaysus Kellier you’re so lucky to be alive” and yet I didn’t want to be on this earth anymore. In the end it brought me to my knees. Mentally I had given up. Physically I had done lots of damage to myself as well. After a failed attempt to end it all, I eventually went to see my GP and it just all came out. I cried tears of joy and shame, and all the emotions that I had bottled up for years. All the anger spilled out and that was my first step on my road to recovery, or what I would rather refer to as DISCOVERY. Talking to someone was like lifting a tonne weight off my shoulders.

After a year or so of seeing my GP and doing some counselling I felt that I needed to take responsibility for my own life. An old friend pointed me in the direction of Suicide or Survive (SOS), a charitable organisation whose aim is to break down the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health. They also provide a whole range of educational and therapeutic programmes which enables people to harness their own strengths and provide them with the tools to improve their own wellness.

Over the past two years I have been on numerous SOS Wellness Workshops, Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) programmes, and their Supporters programmes. I have done lots of voluntary work with them and I am training as a facilitator on their WRAP programmes. This has been the most amazing journey of learning, connecting, and realising that there is always hope and that life is full of possibilities.

Life for me now still has its up and downs. I still make mistakes but I am well able to cope with anything that comes my way now, without over thinking, getting stressed or becoming over anxious. Each day is precious me to me now and I talk about how I feel to family members. I realise that it is okay to be vulnerable and in sharing this it is a sign of strength.

It has taken me over four years to understand that talking really does help. Reaching out saved my life. I have changed so many elements to my life because I have had to. I make the conscious effort everyday to make sure things don’t slip back to those dark days. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help, quite the opposite.

My ego nearly killed me. It didn’t want to change and it hasn’t been easy but my journey to discovery has been so rewarding. I no longer just exist. I now live and am fortunate to be able to share with others and hopefully help them in realising that no matter what the challenge, better days are always possible.

If you need help please talk to friends, family, a GP, therapist or helpline service such as Samaritans. For a full list of national mental health services see yourmentalhealth.ie.

More information on Suicide or Survive at suicideorsurvive.ie

Help information

If you need help please talk to friends, family, a GP, therapist or one of the free confidential helpline services. For a full list of national mental health services see yourmentalhealth.ie.

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org
  • Pieta House National Suicide Helpline 1800 247 247 or email mary@pieta.ie – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement) or text HELP to 51444 (standard message rates apply)
  • Aware 1800 80 48 48 (depression, anxiety)

If living in Ireland you can find accredited therapists in your area here:

Keith Kelly
Keith Kelly
Keith Kelly is a mental health campaigner, a volunteer with Suicide or Survive, a husband, father of three, and a big fan of ska music. He is on Twitter @keithkelly97.