21-years-ago today on October 10th, 2000 (which ironically has now become World Mental Health Awareness Day), I woke up in a hospital having suffered heart failure following a failed suicide attempt. You see, I had grown up through my teenage years with a multitude of traumas (too graphic and triggering for people to read on here) that made me feel abandoned, alone and helpless and I just wanted to end the pain I was going through at the time.
It was following that suicide attempt, my second in successive years that I finally sought out therapy to work through some of the many issues I was going through at the time and started to process what I have subsequently gone on to call The Shitty Committee. Over the years I have continued to struggle with The Shitty Committee be it in my professional career, my personal life, my romantic life, when my brother took his own life in 2015 and many other areas, but through the continuous effort to work on myself through therapy, personal development books and courses, training to become a therapist, coach and NLP practitioner.
You see going through that dark period of my life and having hindsight on my side, I am now able to see so many lessons that period taught me.
The first lesson, is the importance of self-compassion. Growing up can be so difficult for so many, and the external influences that can make us feel awful inside, can then be compounded by the negative stories we tell ourselves. I have learnt how to be compassionate to myself over the years, to know that who I am is enough, to know that my imperfections are what make me perfect as an individual and that I need to speak to myself like I would speak to a friend when going through a hard time.
The second lesson is the importance of saying no. I always thought I was bad at saying no, but what I came to realise is that I was great at saying no, but the person I kept saying no to was to myself. You see I was a people pleaser and always doing what others wanted even if I didn’t and that often lead me to feeling bad inside and sometimes resent them. However by now being self-full and honouring my needs, I say no to things that do not serve me or what I need to live a more fulfilling life and as a result I feel much better.
The third lesson I am still working on is the importance of not going through everything alone. Due to the multitude of traumas I have been through in my life, I created a limiting belief that other people won’t help me when I am in need, due to some people in my life not being there when I needed them the most. It has often been the crippling loneliness that has lead me to the dark places I’ve been to in my life, yet I realise to live a happier more fulfilling life, to be successful in business, to grow in life, you need others around you to support you, inspire you and lift you up.
The final lesson and one that was really compounded by my brother’s suicide in 2015, is that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The feelings do pass over time and you do day by day begin to feel better and though it may not feel like it, I have to remember it is always darkest before the (beautiful) dawn. Whilst losing my brother to suicide in 2015 was one of the hardest things I’ve been through in my life, it taught me a valuable lesson that tomorrow is never promised to anyone and has made me live every day like it is my last.
I’ve since been to all 7 wonders of the world, jumped out of a plane, run a marathon, launch a mental health charity with the founder of Movember and the singer Adele’s agent, and today to coincide with World Mental Health Awareness Day I have released my book ‘The Shitty Committee’. None of this would have happened, if 21 years ago today my suicide attempt had a different outcome and I am grateful that I have been gifted with the opportunity to live and learn from that experience.
To anyone who may read this, if you are struggling, please know the dark days will pass, and that you are a beautiful, special and unique person and the world truly is a better place thanks to you being in it.
Jack Williamson is a therapist, coach, philanthropist and author of ‘The Shitty Committee’ (a witty and inspiring self-help book)