According to the World Health Organisation, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 year olds. 10 September marked World Suicide Awareness Day 2019, but the reality of suicide is our everyday normal.
Let me just say that the fact that Ashton asked me to share this part of his story makes me a proud mamma. It is affirmation that we are winning this battle against mental health issues.
We have shared Ashton’s story about him living with ADHD, anxiety, major depression and BPD, but what we haven’t shared is that my son is a cutter. Ashton is a self-harmer, meaning he deliberately hurts his body as a way to cope with stress and also as a distraction when his emotions are wrecking havoc. “The physical pain helps release the emotional pain”, says Ashton. Though the occurrences have been few and far between,
So here is the kicker! Aside from school and exams, I also happen to be one of Ashton’s triggers. He lives in fear of me getting sick or hurt or even the idea that I may die. The fear of losing me would in his mind mean his entire world would come crashing down like a house of cards. It’s a huge responsibility for me and one that weighs heavily on my heart. It’s the reason my health is so important to me. I always pray asking God not to take me until this boy who has my heart is ready to deal with the harsh realities of life in a better way. As much as this scares the shit out of me, I refuse to live in fear. I instead choose to be hopeful and positive.
Self-harmers need to be understood, not reprimanded. They need to unlearn the idea that their feelings are “wrong” and that it is perfectly okay to feel them. Most importantly, they need to learn new ways to manage stress and emotions that they find overwhelming. Ashton is an empath, which means his heart goes out to others. Being an empath means you can actually feel another person’s happiness or sadness in your own body. At times it may even be difficult to tell if your are feeling your own emotions or someone else’s.
Mental health issues and suicide
Suicide is not a mental illness in itself, but a serious potential consequence of treatable mental disorders that include major depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, schizophrenia, substance use disorders and anxiety disorders
Self-harm isn’t suicide
Self–harm isn’t a suicide attempt or a cry for attention, though many believe it is one and the same. Our personal experience is testament to the fact that with the right help and support most people who self–harm can recover. Some studies however revealed that teens had a sharply higher risk of suicide in the months after surviving a deliberate self-harm attempt.
There are several coping skills out there when it comes to mental health issues, but here are the skills that are changing Ashton’s life for the good
- We are blessed with incredible specialists who walk this journey with us and in all honestly Ash loves his doctors and he even loves his therapy sessions.
- Sleep – the lack of sufficient quality sleep is a deal breaker. A poor night’s sleep has a snowball effect with the following day spiralling out of control.
- A balanced healthy diet is definitely vital.
- Reading presents a sense of calm for Ashton and really has become his happy place
- Pets are incredible and have those mood boosting qualities that aid people dealing with mental health issues. Our fur baby Nugget is amazing with Ashton. All those cuddles and kisses from the cutie helps Ashton on a daily basis.
- Daily gratitude journaling is changing his mindset as we fully embrace positive vibes only. I’m a firm believer in speaking positivity into our lives. My life and where I am today is firmly steeped in living a grateful life.
- Exercise, exercise, exercise! I believe exercise is the ultimate solution and is what’s truly saving my son.
Ashton’s Message to You
“If you are someone suffering with anxiety, depression or any other mental health issue … I want you to know that you are not alone. Speak up, tell someone, ask for help. There are awesome people out there who will help you on this journey. I want you to fight for your life, just like I’m doing on a daily basis. We can overcome the obstacles, but we just need to be start with being kind to ourselves” – Ashton (15 years old)