Trigger warning: sensitive content discussing suicide. Return to news & features here.
The creator of both the artwork and text in this post has asked to remain anonymous.
“I’ve struggled with my mental heath for a lot of my life, and it got really bad when I went to uni. I started to struggle with suicidal thoughts as well as the other symptoms of anxiety and depression and felt completely alone. For me, one of the hardest things was feeling like I wasn’t actually worthy of help – I thought about how lucky I was so have an amazing family, fabulous friends, and was able to study my favourite subject (music) at a fancy university. It made me feel like my mental health struggles weren’t valid and that I shouldn’t go to get help and take someone else’s place- anyone who’s tried to access mental health services will know the ludicrously long wait time to get seen. When I finally got the courage to apply, the years of hiding my feelings and putting on a happy face meant that I wasn’t taken seriously, and GPs thought I was just sad from moving across the country (which, regardless, depression from a particular event is also entirely valid).
It wasn’t until my first suicide attempt in third year that I was referred for CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and put on medication (in my case we landed on sertraline after a period of trial and error with other meds). I attempted suicide again about two years later during my master’s, after ‘failing’ an extra-curricular project that I’d spent months on. What really got me about this was that I felt like I’d wasted other people’s time and had nothing to show for it. My mind spiralled and I ended up thinking that everyone else would be better off without me and if I couldn’t succeed at this project, how am I going to market myself and build a successful career as an opera singer?
The difficulty of building a career in the arts is a constant source of worry for me. There is no security, no guarantee of ‘success’, and for me, I find it hard to separate my own self-worth from what I produce. If I fail at an audition, I feel completely worthless and that I will never succeed at any audition, entirely ignoring any other factors that could have played into the panel’s choices. I started the year hopeful and ready to blast off CVs to companies around the UK for auditions, something I still did, only to receive either no responses, or companies apologising that they’re not holding auditions for the foreseeable because of the pandemic. For me, I’ve had to work incredibly hard on blurring the lines between what I deem to be a failure and what I think a success is to try and make my supposed ‘losses’ hit less hard. As I said earlier, I’m incredibly fortunate to have a wonderful support network in my partner, friends, and family, but there are also loads of other resources and support you can access. Here are some links I’ve found useful or have heard about from others that are helpful to them:”
https://www.papyrus-uk.org/hopelineuk/• https://www.supportline.org.uk/problems/suicide/• https://youngminds.org.uk/…/feelings…/suicidal-feelings/• https://www.themix.org.uk/get…/speak-to-our-team/email-us• https://www.samaritans.org/• https://www.thecalmzone.net/