Real Life

The day I decided I didn't want to die

In the latest from our One Day series, we speak to Irma Schutte, 38, from Raglan, who descended into addiction after tragedy struck.

By Ellie Hooper
Irma Schutte
Irma Schutte

When I was 30 years old, I had one of the worst years of my life. My older sister, Marie, committed suicide, and eight months later I lost my mother to cancer.

Warning: Story contains elements some readers may find upsetting

In the wake of this, I self-medicated. I drank, I took hard drugs. I did everything I could to stop reality from hitting.

Living in small town Raglan, it wasn’t exactly cheap or easy to get hold of the drugs I so desperately craved.

Meanwhile I was still managing to get up and go to work as a homeopath and health practitioner – telling other people how they should live their lives – when I had no idea how to live mine. I felt like a fraud.

During those years I fell pregnant to a man I thought was my soulmate. But my body was so ravaged, and the doctor found I had fibroids in my womb. I was advised to have a termination, which I did. It was gut-wrenching.

Days later, the man I loved ended the relationship – he couldn’t handle it any longer.

Irma in the depths of her addiction
Irma in the depths of her addiction

My addiction deepened. I locked myself away from the world and became dependent on a mix of alcohol and sleeping pills. By the end I was drinking whisky and wine every day and rarely left the house.

But one day in July 2015, I hit rock bottom.

I’d been awake for four days. It was 6am. The supermarket didn’t open for another hour and a half and I was flat out of booze.

I was sweating, shaking, pacing around my flat like I was going insane. I went into suicidal psychosis and I was planning to end it all. My plan was simple – pick up booze, drink as much as I physically could, and then get into the shower and end my life. I’d also planned to drop my dog off at a friend’s so that he wouldn’t be alone after I was gone.

For some reason, I decided to pick up the phone. That phone call saved my life.

‘Debs - I need your help. I’m not Okay’ my trembling voice said to the friend I had known for nine years.

Irma is now bursting with health
Irma is now bursting with health

Debs said very little. She listened, and then she turned up at my door immediately. She took one look at me and wrapped me in her arms and just held me there. It was the first person to hear me say out loud ‘I think I need help.’ Her hug was the most human, comforting and beautiful thing I’d ever felt. I still get a lump in my throat thinking about it.

I finally surrendered and within days I was in rehab. After a month, I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I began to realise I was worth something and I didn’t need substances to make me feel whole.

I returned to my yoga matt, my veggie patch saw more of me. My skin cleared, my depression and anxiety subsided.

It hasn’t been an easy road. But now I am tee-total and so happy. I no longer feel like a fraud and I don’t feel dark any longer. I realised that my addiction was a way of putting off coping with what life had thrown at me. Now I live in the light.”

If you are worried you might have an addiction to drugs or alcohol, you can call the Alcohol & Drug Helpline here for confidential, non-judgemental advice and support. Alternatively, book an appointment with your GP to talk about your concerns.

If you’d like your story to be included in our #OneDay series, drop us a line at hellowomensweekly@bauermedia.co.nz.