Thursday, 26 January 2012

Black Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday...

January feels sad. 
Everywhere I look people are struggling with black moods and depression and I know better than anyone just how hard it is function in the dark.
My past is no secret, the post below has sat on my blog for quite some time but following a few conversations I've had with people this week it felt right to revisit it.
If you are struggling, I hope that it gives to the strength to carry on.

Mine is not a standard birth story but it is one that I have been trying to write for the last seventeen years, unable to know where to begin.
For the people who know me now, as a wife, mother and successful business woman my words may be even harder to take in but after seventeen years of procrastinating here is the story of my birth.

The morning of Thursday 5th May 1994 began like every other day except that was the day I was going to die.

I had suffered in silence (mostly) with an illness so sever that it was about to erase me and at the same time leave an innocent little boy without a mum.

Of course with hindsight, I know that I'd been suffering from sever post natal depression for the three and a half years since I gave birth to my son when I was little more than a child myself.

I'd travelled a long, dark and unhappy path in those three and a half years. Littered with excessive excess and fraught emotions. Living on tinned tomatoes and toast so that I could buy nappies and baby food.
But it was too much for me. 
Even though I was in constant contact with my family I was living on a fragile deserted island and I couldn’t take anymore.

That Thursday morning I dropped my boy at my sister’s house explaining that I had a few errands to run. I kissed him, held him and willed him to be strong.
I drove my fathers car into the city and parked it where I knew it would be easily found and made my way to the top of the car park.
The fine rain had turned into that horrible wet drizzle and the street below me was mostly void of shoppers. I stood there looking, thinking, crying. I was so angry with myself, with the world, with all of the people who could have helped me, that should have made me better.
I felt weak, useless, pathetic, a nothing.

One side of my head was screaming JUMP, JUMP, JUMP but I was scared. Really scared, really, really scared.
I realised that I couldn’t do it. I didn’t have it in me. I was so useless that I couldn’t even do this, the one thing that could make it all go away. I couldn't even end it.

And so I jumped.

The irony is that I didn’t manage to end it, I even messed that up. 
I've since been told that I'm the only person ever to survive jumping the 75ft from the top of that multi-storey car park

I was conscious and able to give next of kin details to the paramedics that came to save me and then things get a little fuzzy. I remember the pain and a strange floaty feeling as I looked down seeing myself lying on a trolley, as the electricity shocked me back to life.

Then it was a week later. I'd spent twenty hours in theatre as three surgeons tried to put me back together again. 
My leg injuries were explained to me by a doctor;
“Imagine if you hit a Crunchie bar with a hammer,” he said. “That's what you have done to your feet.”
I was numb.
Then came the spinal surgeon – totally lacking in bedside manner.
“Well young lady, what a totally selfish and stupid thing to do. You do realise that with your injuries, you will never walk again.”
I was devastated.

Irony number 2...
I was a dancer. I'd been dancing all my life. I danced through school and on to post sixteen dance training. I won a coveted place in the National Youth Dance Company. I was a dancer – full stop. It defined me. It made me me.

So here I was. In hospital and not only wasn’t I dead but I was now facing life in a wheelchair too.
For the medically interested, I smashed both of my feet into a million pieces and my right ankle too. I landed so perfectly that my spine did its primary job as a shock absorber and crushed four of my vertebrae in the process. (All those hours of ballet training kicked in and I landed in a perfect plie. 
Of course I should have been dead. But I wasn’t. It took me a long time to come to terms with what I'd done to myself but it simply wasn’t my day to go. 
I'd been given another shot at things and although my progress has been slow and painful I had to decide to make a better life for my boy and me.

Over the years journalist friends have tried to coax my story into print but my fear of being judged and condemned for what I did has always kept my silence.
In truth, I've been selfish by keeping my story because do you know what?

I can walk. I can cycle, I can swim, I can work, I got married, I had babies (3 of them!), I have a business, I have friends, I have love and more than anything I have hope.

My recovery has been long and painful. I have screamed and cried and I live with the ongoing pain of my injuries and the pain of not being able to dance every single day. But if I did have the ability to go back to that morning, I would take the very same route.

I know now that I was given a chance that day to right all of my wrongs.
Sure this is a condensed speed blog version of my story but in its brevity or entirety the result is the same. A personal triumph over adversity – my rebirth.
If you know anyone who is suffering from PND or any kind of depression, please, please try and reach out to them. They would never admit it but they could really do with your time and attention. And if you think that you have PND, please, please, please tell someone how you are feeling. It may just save your life.


  1. I remember first reading your story and I still cried reading it again, because I feel for you when you were there at the top of the car park. I've never tried to do that but I did self harm and after a nasty relationship broke down and had an abortion at the age of 17 years old I ran away from home and skipped my college exams in hope to find somewhere to die. It was my Media Studies teacher who rung me and offered me a helping hand. She knew what had happened to me and I'm still grateful for all her help during my 3 years in college when really it wasn't her job to do that.

    Depression sucks, but thankfully it's more well known and doctors don't just go "oh shut up" or "here just take some pills and get on with your life". There's more to it now and getting great help with my PND as well as my mental health.

  2. wow. I am certain that sharing this story will help many...

  3. Helen, things have changed but I know that there are lots of people out there who don't feel like they can ask for help. They have to. x

    Mrs B, Thanks for your comment. I hope so.

  4. It's pretty hard to say something that will sound remotely sensible, because unless you've been in this position yourself, no one can possibly understand what you were feeling when you jumped.

    Experiences like yours put our lives into perspective.

    God bless.
    CJ x

  5. Thank you for sharing! I cried reading it! I hope it helps others. If it wasn't for my parents realizing i wasn't "me" then i don't think i would be here today.Back then just knowing that someone else had felt the same and been ok would have made a difference, knowing your not alone. Again thank you :)

  6. Wow. What MrsB said...

    Hearing you came through, survived, to build a new life will give hope I'm sure.

    What a powerful post.

  7. You are such a brave woman for posting this and for coming as far as you have. You are a true inspiration and I know you will help others who are suffering just like you helped me. Hugs and there are so many people there for you x

  8. Oh wow. Made me cry. Big hugs to you. I did and am still suffering from PND. I tried to end it by taking all my anti-depressants and self harming. Keep strong xxx

  9. Reminds me of my third favourite Who song, behind blue eyes:

    No one knows what it's like
    To be the bad man
    To be the sad man
    Behind blue eyes

    No one knows what it's like
    To feel these feelings
    Like I do
    And I blame you

    No one bites back as hard
    On their anger
    None of my pain and woe
    Can show through

    But my dreams
    They aren't as empty
    As my conscience seems to be
    I have hours, only lonely
    My love is vengeance
    That's never free

    You just never know what's going on behind peoples eyes, and the more you think about it, the more terrifying it can be. I'm glad you've shared this Sian, it shows you're in a very different place to where you were all those years ago.

  10. I just want to wrap you up in the biggest hug and tell you just how strong I think you are.
    No wonder you can't wear stilettos!! (Thinking back to the She mag shoot).
    A huge credit to you for sharing such a story, it will help so many others. You're still here because someone had a job for you to do in life - and you doing pretty damn ace at it too x

  11. That it has taken seventeen years to write make me think that it must have taken more courage to write than to jump; more courage to live with the results than to try again. I'm so glad you did have that courage: there can never be too much hope in the world. Your story, I am sure, will comfort, help and heal.
    From one PND sufferer to another, thank you.

  12. Oh Sian, you made me cry, and it's not just my pregnancy hormones. I had no idea... well, I cannot even imagine what you have been trough, but really think that things were meant to happen like that and there is definitely a reason why you survived and made such an unbelievable recovery. I am very happy I ahve met you a few times, and the next time I see you expect a huge cuddle from me ;) Mirka @Kahanka

  13. Mirka, I'm sorry I made you cry. Thank you for your kind words. x

    Domestic Goddesque, Talking openly about things is still the most difficult thing to do. Thanks for your comment.

    Babygenie, I told you I wasn't kidding about the shoes! Thanks chicken. xx

    Alex, That is a beautiful song, thank you for your support here and on Twitter.

    Julie B, Stay strong yourself honey. x

    Susan, xx

  14. You know how I feel, it's great to share these things.
    Hugs and love x

  15. Oh Sian...what a strong, courageous woman you are to pull yourself around and become the woman you are today!! You have come so far from being told you could never walk again....and even further from that helpless woman at the top of the car park. You are such an inspiration and I am sorry you had 3 and a half years of struggle that led you to your breaking point. Thanks for sharing your amazing story. xx

  16. Wow! What a powerful story, what a wide range of emotions. Thank you so much for sharing. If it helps even one person then the effort it must have taken to write it will have been worthwhile. Thank you.

  17. Thanks for sharing such a story. I am so thankful for your ending. You are a great lady and it would have been a large loss to the world if that day had been different. I am suffering with PND. I am ashamed to say my family have known for months and think I am making it up for attention. If it weren't for my disabled son I am sure I would not be with them. I only hope the cloud eventually starts lifting and I can smile for real again and not cry hidden away. Thanks for sharing xxx

  18. Wow, what a story of courage and life and all it brings. I lost two members of my family to the darkness of depression this year, your story is inspirational. Thank you for sharing and helping educate everyone on the power that depression has on those who suffer from it.

  19. Sian, you are incredible. I had no idea of all of this til recently, and I am in awe of how far you have come. Sharing your story is another sign of the strength you have now. Huge hugs and utmost respect to you, I'm sure it wasn't easy.

  20. @innocentcharmer
    Honey, I have just seen your comment and I really feel for you. Is there anyone you can talk to to get help?
    Hang in there. x

  21. Oh Sian, I wasn't sure this post was really about you- what a horrible thing to go through, but also a beautiful, miraculous rebirth. I hope that it will help others to turn to help rather than face a ledge. I'm so pleased your pliƩ saved your life- you're an inspiration x

  22. Holy fuck. I know that's a totally inappropriate thing to say, but I kind of can't get past the great big HOLY FUCK in my brain right now. I have to confess, since Cybermummy I've had a great big crush on you and how amazing you are at just about bloody everything, but this, this awful story had just made me...I don't know, I don't even know how to say it. 

    You are SO brave for sharing this and I feel totally inspired by your honesty. As someone who has been told that they wear their heart on their sleeve a bit too much, this has just made me realise that there's no such things as being too honest about things like this and I really hope your story helps a lot of people. 

    Masses and masses of respect and love to you xx

  23. Jayne, Your comment just made me choke on my wine! Thanks honey. x


Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. Appreciated as always. xx


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