Tuesday Tales: The gifts of the past decade – Donna Thistlethwaite

I can’t believe it’s been a decade …. This Friday marks 10 year since I leapt off the Story Bridge with the intention of ending my life. It seems like a lifetime ago. I feel like a different person and in many ways I am.

Each year the anniversary of the bridge has passed by uneventfully … sometimes without me even noticing. This year I feel compelled to acknowledge the last 10 years and the lessons that have come from my suicidal crisis.

Let me start by saying how incredibly grateful I am that the universe had different plans for me on 12 August 2012. On that day I couldn’t imagine recovering from the mess I felt I’d created, let alone foresee the purposeful life and important work that I get to do now.

So what gifts (lessons) came from my crisis?

  • No matter how bad things ever get, suicide is not the answer. Suicide is a permanent solution to what is generally a temporary problem. We can author new chapters of our life. Our best days can absolutely ahead of us. There is so much we can do to improve our life.
  • If you’re ever struggling speak to someone about what’s going on. Don’t try to go it on your own. When we are struggling our thoughts can become irrational … we can make up stories that can be harmful and even life threatening.
  • Failure is an event not a person. Don’t personalise failure. Take the lessons it offers and know that it doesn’t define you.
  • None of us is perfect and every single one of us has done things that we’re not proud of. Forgive and accept yourself … plan for how you can do things differently in the future.
  • Don’t believe everything you think. Our minds can be our best friends but they can also work against us. What we focus on grows, whether that’s positive or negative. If you find yourself trapped in a negativity spiral, question your thoughts. Check in with others on what they’re experiencing. Focus your thoughts on what you do want rather than what you’re fearing.
  • Build and invest in your relationships. Connection is a protective factor for mental illness and suicide and it makes life a whole lot easier and more fun. Make time to catch up with your people, it’s an investment in your wellbeing.

While it wasn’t a deliberate plan, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate being alive than camping with a bunch of our beautiful mates this weekend. Nature, friendship, chats, campfire, games, love, connection, starry skies … pure heaven on earth.

Thank you for your support and encouragement as I continue to share my message of hope. I honestly believe that together we can reduce mental illness and help people to know that life can be an amazing adventure and we should never give up until we are thriving again.

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Donna Thistlethwaite is a Brisbane-based speaker and trainer specialising in mental health and resilience. She is an accredited Mental Health First Aid Instructor and Resilience at Work Facilitator with a passion for suicide prevention and for helping individuals, teams and organisations to THRIVE. You can find out about her next Mental Health First Aid courses here.

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