"Statistics show that two people die by suicide every day in Scotland.

I am not a number, not a statistic on a piece of paper. My name is Derek, I could have been one of those two – actually I would have been one of those two if it wasn’t for a timely intervention.

In hindsight my health issues started many years ago but back then mental health wasn’t something that was spoken about or easily recognised in many cases.

 “He’s just acting out.”

“He’s being a normal moaning teen.”

“He’ll grow out of it.”

Three phrases that I heard endlessly when I was younger. At the time I never thought anything of it.

And so the cycle began, emotional, upset for hours at the slightest thing, withdrawn, ratty, physically ill and generally just not bothered.

Little did I know that this ‘moody teen behaviour’ is something that would follow me for the rest of my teens and into my later life.

My diagnosis wasn’t made official until I was in my late twenties. I was prescribed antidepressants and sent on my way without any proper support. 

I had a few wobbles over the next few years, but nothing I'd say was major, again I just put these down to the stresses of everyday life.

Then in the Summer of 2012 my life was flipped on it’s head, my marriage broke down, I felt that I had lost everything.  This all sent me in a downward spiral which resulted in me looking to other ways to cope – alcohol, drugs, the resultant toxic friendships which sent me to a place much darker than I had ever been before. I felt there was no way out for me, apart from one. I felt I was a burden on everyone and didn’t want anyone to see me as the shell of a person I felt I was.

My attempt didn’t work, and to be honest I was broken. I had rationalised everything and had came to terms with what I was going to do but here I was back at square one, I was afraid, afraid of being alive.

At the time I was unaware of organisations like SAMH, working so hard to help those who are struggling on a daily basis, but with the help and support of friends and family I went to see my GP and told my story. My doctor was very supportive and I got a full assessment right away. I was referred to the Community Mental Health Team and a clinical psychologist.  I was put back on medication but this time I received tailored treatments for my mental health.

This all happened six and a half years ago. I now have a new partner, we’re planning our future together and I am now fortunate enough to be working with SAMH as a Peer Support Worker, helping people who have been in the exact same position I was in and using my own experiences to help their own personal recovery.   Every day I am passing on the message that there is hope.

Please don’t ignore how you feel (or how your child feels), or put it down to just having an off day. Don’t be afraid to talk. Don’t feel that suicide is a taboo subject, we need to be more open about it and have the conversation when needed.  Don’t be afraid to admit you need help, and no matter what always remember it’s ok not to feel great.  There is support out there for all of us."

Could your Secret Santa start a life-saving conversation?

This Christmas, we’re asking you to do Secret Santa a little differently and make SAMH your Not So Secret Santa.