Glasgow Man Who Tried To Kill Himself A Month Ago Says Isolation Has Helped Him Recover
A young man who attempted to take his own life just one month ago has said going into self-isolation has helped aid his recovery.
Dylan Candlin, from Glasgow, attempted suicide at the beginning of March, around about the time people started to acknowledge the seriousness of the ongoing outbreak.
From the outside, Dylan had all the elements of a happy, healthy life, with good career prospects, a large family and a valuable social circle, but he dealt with a number of issues beneath the surface.
Speaking to UNILAD, Dylan explained:
I think it’s safe to say that not one person I know would’ve looked at me and had any idea what was really going on.
Dylan’s issues weren’t based so much on personal insecurities, but more things that were out of his control, such as witnessing other people’s negative and harmful behaviour.
He described how he often ‘sees the world in a bad place, as if it’s on fire’, and the outbreak only heightened his fears as it spread across the globe.
After attempting to take his own life, Dylan was taken to hospital where staff worked to save him. He was later told by doctors he was lucky not to have sustained serious brain damage or to have put himself in a position where he couldn’t live life the same way.
In the weeks since his suicide attempt, Dylan focused on his physical and mental recovery and found support in his family members. He has undergone counselling before, though personally didn’t find it helpful. However, he does acknowledge the benefit of speaking out about mental health and issues you may be struggling with.
[After the attempt], my first step was to do absolutely nothing. Physical recovery takes priority I think and having the space to figure out exactly why you did what you did.
Of course, my family were very positive, including my parents who took the time to talk and gave me the space to think when I needed it.
In terms of mental recovery, I’m still finding what works best for me… Of course, you need to talk and speak out.
A friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in years took an enormous amount of time to talk to me even before I made the attempt. She wasn’t embarrassed to reach out and spoke honestly. I appreciated that tenfold.
You need people around you that are understanding, who genuinely care and who can sometimes be brutally honest as well.
In taking the time to recover, Dylan has been somewhat self-isolating even before the government really started to urge people to stay indoors. On the first day he planned to meet up with his friends, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced all pubs, clubs and restaurants were to be closed, and Dylan has been isolating again since.
While many people across the globe have found self-isolation to be frustrating and challenging, Dylan welcomes it as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime free reset button’.
Suicide prevention charity Samaritans spoke to UNILAD about how self-isolation can impact our mental health and addressed some of the best ways to utilise this time as a positive.
A spokesperson explained:
We know that human and social connection are vital for our mental health, and that uncertainty and change can also affect our mental wellbeing.
There are a lot of unknowns right now about the immediate and long-term future, and the latest government guidance for us to stay at home means that we won’t have the physical, social contact that some of us are used to.
The spokesperson continued:
We do know that if feelings of loneliness and isolation persist over time, it can pose a significant risk to our health and wellbeing so it is essential that we look after our mental health and don’t lose the power of human connection.
Our ability to adjust to our circumstances does influence our mental health and wellbeing, so while we can’t always be in control of what is going on around us, we can work on how we think about it and what we do.
Paying attention to how we are feeling and prioritising our needs, whether it’s a physical or emotional need is hugely important. Also the simple act of showing others that you care and doing what you can for others can have a great impact on your own wellbeing.
For Dylan, social distancing measures have come at the ‘perfect’ time as they are allowing him to take the time to ‘re-evaluate’ what is important and ‘plan ahead for when the world is back to normal.’
Dylan has acknowledged that not everyone has the luxury of being able to see self-isolation in this way, as he does not have to worry about running a business, paying bills or working on the frontline. He described the situation as a ‘double-edged sword’, but added: ‘my hope is the world comes out of it a little bit happier or more appreciative.’
The 20-year-old has filled his time by going running, playing the guitar, doing housework and keeping an eye on the news, though he is careful not to spend too much time on social media.
The mental health charity Mind points out spending too much time on social media, where there is a constant influx of news and communication, can be overwhelming, and recommends putting your phone down for a while to help avoid becoming anxious.
Dylan pointed out there’s also nothing wrong with enjoying a bit of down time, saying:
I’m trying to use the time I have to do things that are productive, whether it’s small things like going on a run every day or bigger things like starting to learn another language.
I think a lot of people, including me, feel guilty sometimes for sitting about and doing nothing but there’s only so many things you can do to fill up your day, so I’m just going to continue to try and keep a balance and hopefully keep that going past the lockdown.
As well as figuring out ways to fill time by himself, self-isolation has allowed Dylan to reconnect with some of his old friends. Before the outbreak, he’d find himself going weeks at a time without contact, explaining it’s ‘easy to blame the people closest to you when everything’s falling apart, even if you have no valid reason to’.
However, he opened up to his family and friends following his suicide attempt and found it ‘made it easier to talk to them on a basic level’. In turn, he reached out to older friends he’d long lost contact with and started being as social as possible with more people over the phone – something he ‘probably [hasn’t] done consistently for a few years’.
Samaritans stresses the importance of staying connected in what can otherwise feel like a lonely time, pointing out it’s normal for self-isolation to affect your mood and encouraging people to ‘talk about [it], however you can, via video messaging, over the phone, texting or over the garden fence.’
The charity explains on its website:
Whilst we are physically isolated, it’s more important than ever for us to feel socially connected, so try and reach out to people to talk, and try to be there to listen to others.
Dylan believes social distancing measures have led him to be more appreciative of everyday life, and he believes others will feel the same.
It’s just natural when your daily routine or hobbies or whatever else is taken away from you and you don’t know when you’ll get it all back.
I know I appreciate the essential workers more than ever and I’m glad they know that everyone else does too with the support and attention they rightfully deserve.
My mum works in the NHS and comes home every day to tell me what’s going on. It sounds brutal and draining but they’re getting on with it the best they can, so I feel a responsibility to do the same.
Dylan is aware that what works for him and what has aided his recovery might not apply to everyone who is struggling, but he recommended using this time to put things into perspective, where possible.
Yes, things could be better, but they could be a lot worse and they can and likely will get better soon.
Be selfish about who you open up to at first and gradually start talking to more people as you go along. Hopefully, those who you talk to are inviting and will give you their time to help you through but remember it is still their time. Be thankful for them and that will reciprocate. Don’t confuse this with feeling like being a burden.
I’ve found that there’s a fine line between being too dependent on others and being too dependent on yourself. Never suffer in silence but know that you are equipped to live with yourself and that you are capable of putting methods in place that can help you cope.
Go a run or a walk if you feel closed in and make the time to set yourself up for when life goes back to normal. There’s only so much we can do with what we have but I think that works for me.
Samaritans told UNILAD everyone who has attempted to take their own life will feel differently and may experience a ‘range of emotions’, but the charity stressed the importance of remembering there ‘isn’t a right or wrong way to feel’.
The spokesperson continued:
It can take time to feel better physically and emotionally, and it’s normal to feel concerned about how to stay well. Talk to someone you trust about it, think about what you’ll do if you’re struggling and if you have suicidal thoughts again, and put in place a safety plan.
Try to stick to a routine, avoid drugs and alcohol and use your support network to help keep yourself safe.
Samaritans volunteer Darran Latham credits the service for saving his life after he struggled with alcohol and made an attempt on his life.
Some people may prefer lots of contact after something like that, but I quite liked a little privacy and my own space. Afterwards I felt pretty embarrassed, but I was given enough space by professionals and my loved ones to come to terms with what had happened and to know they were there if I needed them.
I felt better with a little space because I felt able to gain control of myself and my feelings.
The world may feel like a particularly uncertain place at this time, but it’s important to remember that the things that ground you, like friends, family, hobbies and interests, are still there.
Engaging with and focusing on the most important things can help create a more manageable atmosphere, and in turn create a positive experience out of an otherwise tough situation, just like Dylan managed to do with self-isolation.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123.
It’s okay to not panic about everything going on in the world right now. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing. For more information from the World Health Organization, click here.