Women's Health (UK) - - STRENGTH IN NUMBERS - michelledew­berry.com

‘I have to work hard at be­ing happy’

‘Most peo­ple won’t un­der­stand what it’s like to want to die. I do. Now that I feel well, say­ing those words feels alien.

I grew up with a vi­o­lent fa­ther and I thought it nor­mal for my stom­ach to churn with fear. I self-harmed as a teen, and when I was 17, my older sis­ter died. For the first time, I con­sid­ered sui­cide be­cause I wanted to be with her. But the thought of Mum hav­ing to bury two daugh­ters stopped me. I put pres­sure on my­self to live for both of us.

I was a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­woman by 23 – I only ap­plied to The Ap­pren­tice in 2006 to prove my dad wrong and have an ex­pe­ri­ence my sis­ter couldn’t. But in­stead of cel­e­brat­ing, I had an iden­tity cri­sis. I’d achieved my goal but had no idea what to live for.

It was the start of a dark time. I was lucky to have enough sav­ings to take some time out but, years later, after the end of a toxic re­la­tion­ship, I turned up at my mum’s house and said I couldn’t live with the pain any more.

I had weekly check-ins with my GP, more ther­apy and an­tide­pres­sants. My friend moved in with me, too, be­cause I was too high a sui­cide risk to be alone.

I did get bet­ter, but I’ve had sui­ci­dal thoughts since that episode. I’m now con­scious of my thoughts and en­deav­our to be pos­i­tive. Now I work with peo­ple who are sui­ci­dal and I ask them: ‘Do you want to end your life or end your cur­rent cir­cum­stances?’ It might be long, hard and chal­leng­ing, but cir­cum­stances can change.’

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