SARAH wipes away tears as she bravely relives the feelings that drove her to the brink of killing herself.
“I did not see the point in being here any more,” says the 30-year-old mum.
“I thought I was worthless, useless, and it wouldn’t matter if I went.
“I thought my family would be better off without me because I caused them so much upset and hurt and losing me would just be a drop in the ocean.”
Sarah was in despair after her college workload piled up, her grandad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she suffered a serious injury.
At the point of seriously considering suicide, she finally told her worried parents what was going through her mind — and they set her on the road to recovery.
Ten years on, Sarah — whose full name is Sarah Barnes-Cannadine — has bravely come forward to tell her story in support of the Be The One campaign, which urges people considering suicide to speak up and encourages everyone to look out for signs someone may be in emotional turmoil.
“It all came to a head for me in February 2009,” recalled Sarah (pictured above). “I think I had been ill for some time actually but did not know.
“I was studying on a really full-on course and my grandad was battling cancer, which ended up being diagnosed as terminal on my birthday.
“I also suffered quite a severe ankle injury and I was a competitive runner at the time, so that was difficult.
“I lost another member of my family that year as well.
“It was like the culmination of a lot of things really. A lot of stress and a lot of pressure.
“It got to the point where I couldn’t cope any more.
“I didn’t sleep, I didn’t eat and I couldn’t concentrate on anything.”
Sarah took a break from university and moved back in with her parents in Rotherham — but things didn’t improve.
She said: “I drank a lot at weekends, binge drinking, until I got to the point where I thought: ‘This is just too hard and too painful and I don’t want to do it any more’.
“At home, I was catatonic.
“At other times, I was horrible, really nasty, especially to my sister,”
“I had had suicidal thoughts leading up to this but not really said anything.
“I told one friend one night after a drink: ‘I just don’t want to do it any more’ and she realised I actually meant it.
“But I never said anything to my parents until my mum was due to go away for the weekend and I had made a bit of a plan of what I was going to do.
“That morning, I said to my dad: ‘If you don’t take me to the doctors today I’m going to do something silly because I don’t want to be here any more’.
“I think what happened was I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and didn’t recognise myself.
“I was extremely thin and gaunt.
“For a split second, I saw someone else in the mirror and flashed back to how I used to be — I shocked myself how far I had gone.
“If I hadn’t told my dad, I think I would have done it.”
Sarah’s dad Keith took her to the doctors immediately and a visit from the crisis team followed that day.
She sent her mum Janice away to the birthday party as planned and her dad kept an eye on her.
“I stayed at home in my room, looking out of the window,” she recalls.
“I just wanted to be alone.
“My sister was 17 at the time. She knew I wasn’t right and I was the worst to her, she took the brunt of everything.
“She kept saying: ‘She’s not well and I want my sister back’.
“It took me a long time to get anywhere near normal.”
After a false start with an NHS counsellor, Sarah accessed counselling at university and made an instant connection.
“That made a huge difference,” she says.
“I’ve had times over the years when I’ve had other episodes, but I can say I’m well now.
“I know it’s a war and it just keeps raging on. Each episode is a battle that I have won.
“I know when it’s building up again and I have somewhere to turn.”
Just days after her near miss, Sarah had a tattoo featuring a gladioli flower — a reminder of her late grandfather’s favourite bloom — and the Japanese character meaning “strength” inked on her wrist.
“I needed something on me that would tell me ‘No’ when I was feeling low,” she said.
“Now it’s a reminder of everything I’ve been through and the strength I’ve shown.”
Sarah has also rebuilt her relationship with her parents, of whom she said: “They both saved my life”, admitting: “I don’t think I would be sat here having this conversation so I owe an awful lot to them.”
Now a mum and in a loving relationship, Sarah was keen to share her story and encourage others to speak up.
“I’ve asked why would my story matter? I’m just a normal person who’s had normal struggles and didn’t cope with it,” she said.
“But I’ve been assured that’s what would make the difference.
“If I can save one person, then I think my experience, even though it’s been a negative, can be a positive.
“If this is what you’re going through, just tell somebody.
“The first people I would tell is your family — many people don’t.
“You may think you’re doing them a kindness...but just tell them and let them be there for you, even if it is just for you to shout at.”
To find out more about the Be the One campaign - how to help and how to get help - click here.
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