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12 March 2017 | Special Report

I have attempted suicide twice in my life. - Maame Awereba

Maame Awereba
I have attempted suicide twice in my life.  - Maame Awereba

I have attempted suicide twice in my life. The first time I was 10. The second time I was 19.

I have not really talked about this part of my life publicly although I constantly speak on other aspects of my childhood that weren't pleasant either. So just a little back story, my parents got divorced when I was very young, my grandmother somehow managed to always blame me for my mother marrying my father whom she disapproved of even though I was born after they got married. I had a doting mother, there's really nothing I had to ask for, she provided everything and one would say I had a privileged life.

However, that was really not the case because the divorce had caused a rift between my mother and dad so huge that I had gotten lost somewhere in the middle and after a while communication with my father became limited to birthdays and sometimes Christmas for a long time.

From a young age I was constantly told by other family members that I was a mistake, or if anything went "wrong" in my mum's life I was told it was my fault, that I had tied her down, she didn't want to remarry because of me. She was miserable because of me (in retrospect that was a lie). Basically, it was really nothing positive from anyone except my mother.

And after a while, I started believing those people over my mother because, in my mind, she was only saying nice things because she's my mother. At 9 I started being sexually abused by someone close to my family, it lasted for close to a year. By the time I was 10 I was an emotional wreck. I was withdrawn, sad all the time, I lived in my head, and it was a dark place for me. I was crumbling under the weight of all the things that were happening in my life. One morning I stole a bag of pills my aunt kept around the house whenever she was in town.

Being a nurse, she always carried a mini pharmacy with her. I took a total of 44 pills that day. A combination of sleeping pills, antibiotics, pain killers and even vitamins. By the time I got to school I could barely stand. And after that, I was rushed to the hospital. That was the first time I tried to take my life, and to be perfectly honest when I woke up and realised it hadn't worked it deepened my depression because I felt exposed.

Over the years I took a downward spiral. I desperately wanted my daddy around, but the feud between my two families seemed to drag on and I got dragged into it. It strained our relationship and I always felt as if it was my fault. In retrospect, I realise it's because I was always told it was my fault. My mum tried as much as possible to shield me from the venom seeping from the tension between my two families.

Especially from the things my grandmother would say. I'll tell you this, reading saved me through that time. I drowned myself in books and mum being a bookworm herself had a vast array of books from which I could choose. When I was done with hers I started saving to buy my own books. I lived in those books for a long time.

I prided myself on being logical Then I did on being emotional which allowed me to suppress my feelings for long periods of time. At 15 I was heavily into pan-African books, literally drowning myself in African history. At 17 I had my son, forward 2 years. I was 19 And had gone out with some friends after exams. I was raped, left basically bleeding from the mouth where I had been beaten and half-naked.

After that, I was literally breaking up inside and found all the bottled up feelings from the past 9 years coming to the surface like a volcano. At this point, I felt like my skeletons would come to haunt my son. I felt like the world would be a better place for him without me because I didn't want my sadness to infect him so to speak. I had gotten so used to looking down on myself that even though I now had people around me who gave me nothing but positivity, I still felt as if everything about me was bad. In retrospect that was all bullshit. Even in a depression, I was dope on my good days but obviously, I couldn't see that. I started having suicidal thoughts again.

A few times I slept with a knife under my pillow contemplating using it on myself. Luckily, one afternoon I had a conversation with my dad, paternal grandmother and my uncle that possibly saved my life. They don't know that but until this day, that conversation has been a turning point for me.

I told y'all this story not because I wanted to. I was shaking while typing tbh. But because I want people to know that strong people aren't just born. We are made. It took me 19 years to realise my strength. 19 years with all the ups and downs I finally found who I was. And started to become who I am. But even in becoming the Awereba you know today, I keep in mind that not everyone can be like me.

Not everyone will handle it like I did. Not everyone has an out. And that is why we cannot and must not underplay or underestimate the lengths people will go to just to escape this life. Honestly most of the time it is to victims just an escape. Maybe if we all became an escape for someone we might save a life. Like my family saved mine.

My father and I rebuilt our relationship in my teenage years, and although it hasn't been all easy, safe to say he is now my best friend, brother, and father all rolled into one. #ProudDaddysGirl #ProudMummysGirl