Pooky is the director of the children, young people and schools programme at the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, a member of Connecting with People Expert Reference Group and a member of The Department for Education Advisory Group to Develop Peer Support. She is a passionate ambassador for mental health who loves to research, write, speak, teach and her enthusiasm is backed up both by a PhD in child and adolescent mental health and her own lived experience of anorexia, self-harm, anxiety and depression.
In this moment of unbearable pain, it feels impossible to take another step – unless it is the one to end it all – but please don’t. As you stand, contemplating whether to go on or to stop, you are basing your decision on a series of truths that need testing. You cannot test these truths when you are gone. Let me help you test them now with the unprompted words of others you will hear in the months following this moment.
Truth? You believe that you are a bad mother
“You are the best Mummy in the world. I wish every little girl could have a Mummy like you.” One of your daughters tells you this whilst half asleep, climbing into your bed seeking solace from nightmares.
Truth? You are a bad wife
“I rarely look at couples and think that perhaps they have something as special as I’ve been blessed with, but I look at you and Tom and I see that bond. He’s as lucky to have you as you are to have him.” These were the observations of a very happily married friend who you love dearly.
Truth? You are a bad friend
“You are the best friend I could ever hope for. I love you”
The words of a beloved friend as she speaks for the first time of her pain.
Truth? You are a bad colleague
“You were incredibly inspirational in the meeting the other day, and really set the right tone and direction for what we need to do.” The reflections of a dauntingly well-qualified colleague after your first time of meeting.
Before you make an irreversible decision, the truths on which you base it need testing.
You are a scientist and currently you have not gathered enough evidence to make this decision. Step away, live another day and begin to allow those who love and respect you to help you test those truths.
It may take years before you can hear words such as those above and believe them rather than feeling that surely they speak of someone better, more deserving. I write this a few months on and still you don’t believe them - but you have hope. You hope that with hard work, perseverance and by taking things one day at a time, that one day you will believe them.
And wouldn’t that be a wonderful life - one worth living?
Walk on… Please.