IT’S a small miracle that I’m sitting at my desk now, alive and writing an article which is about to appear in a newspaper.

Fifteen years ago I could never have envisioned this, or anything at all in my future. I’d reached the depths of despair and a breaking point which is still difficult to articulate. It was in the haze of a dark cloud hampering my senses and my judgement that I, as a teenager, tried to take my own life. Twice.

From the youngest of ages, I didn’t always cope well with the world. Growing up around the stresses and traumas that tend to come along with poverty was not easy. I was a thinker, people used to say. I was always described as mature for my age, but I was a sensitive soul.

Childhood and adolescence was when I first remember weird thoughts emerging; the need to check that doors were locked, electrical appliances were switched off, over and over and over again, every night. Then the focus switched to food. I became obsessed with ideas about diet and weight and perfection. I didn’t know that the anxiety and terror ever present in my mind wasn’t normal, and that these obsessive quests to ‘fix’ myself were warning signs.

READ MORE: Scotland star Charlie Adam backs suicide research

By the time I hit my mid teens, I realised that I was depressed. I understood my mood wasn’t healthy, but there didn’t appear to be very much I could do about that. I felt incredible guilt at the very idea that I might need a little rescuing when there were so many other problems in the world.

Obsessions turned to dieting which turned to depression, and that soon turned to self-harm. It’s odd how the mind makes connections. Somehow I instinctively understood that harming myself would make me feel better. It’s difficult for people to wrap their minds around a statement like that, but it’s completely logical. Injuries cause a number of natural responses in the body, one of which is to flood the brain with endorphins which reduce the sense of pain. It’s why someone who’s just broken a bone might not immediately realise it. The body’s survival system kicks into place, and the pain comes later.

This, in a nutshell, is what self-harm does. In the grip of anxiety, fear, depression or sadness, self-harm becomes a short reprieve. My secret would have seemed crazy to most people, but to me it made perfect sense.

But the latest ‘fix’ never lasted, of course. My troubled mind still could not cope with the world, and the system of short-term coping mechanisms I’d unwittingly created were becoming extremely dangerous. The cycle carried on for a while longer before I first attempted suicide at 16, and then again at 18.

It’s hard not to revisit that past when there is so much discussion about suicide. Yesterday, Dan Johnson, clinical director at the Kibble Education and Care Centre, wrote in this newspaper about the importance of early intervention in preventing suicide, and I agree with him wholeheartedly.

Agenda: We must act early to prevent the tragedy of suicide among the young

Getting to the other side of my teenage years wasn’t easy. After my first suicide attempt, I was referred to a specialist outpatient centre. I attended once a week, and treatments included medication, one-to-one support and group therapy with other teenagers.

I wish I could say that was enough to control the problem but it wasn’t. My self-destructive behaviour continued, leading ultimately to a second suicide attempt. That was my rock bottom, and that was when I started putting the work in to turn things around.

Now an adult, I was supported by local mental health services – incredible, patient people who never gave up when I’d long been written off by so many others. That stability allowed me to strengthen my relationship with my family, especially my parents, who’d gone through their own hell alongside mine as they watched their troubled teenage daughter throw away her education and the opportunities they’d worked so hard to provide.

Those interventions were absolutely crucial, and I often wonder how differently things might have turned out if they’d been there earlier, when my strange relationship with the world began materialising in those obsessive behaviours.

A recent study from Glasgow University delivered the news that one in nine young people between the ages of 18 to 34 have attempted suicide, while one in six have self harmed, and the university this week announced the launch of a new study to better understand male suicide, which is a huge problem – last year, three quarters of Scotland’s 728 deaths by suicide were among men.

READ MORE: Scotland star Charlie Adam backs suicide research

I needed prolonged support, over a number of years, to untangle the nightmarish web I’d found myself in. I gradually became well, and the world seemed a very different place. I had ideas, ambitions and good health. I’ve built a decent life now and I feel a great responsibility to speak openly for the sake of those with hidden struggles today. There is light at the end of the tunnel, trust me.

For support and information, contact the Samaritans on 116 123