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Daryl Brown before his suicide attempt. He lost his legs when he stepped in front of a train at a London Tube station (BELOW) last year. RIGHT: He has since returned to SA and has worked hard to lip cope with his depression and disability. GALLO IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES e caffie Daryl lost his legs in a failed suicide bid at a London Tube station. Now back in SA he's rebuilding his life By ALMARI WESSELS Picture: NONCEDO MATHIBELA 1 E'D started planning his suicide in meticulous detail months earlier. He was calm as he walked to the London Underground train station where he intended ending it all on the tracks, and thought, "God, please just save my soul and help this [train] driver." But things didn't go as planned - Daryl Brown survived his suicide attempt on 29 September last year. It wasn't without consequences though as the 27-year-old of Melkbosstrand, Cape Town, lost his legs after the train cut through his limbs. He now has to live with the fact he's responsible for his disability, he tells us when we meet in a coffee bar in the Mother City. After his failed suicide bid Daryl returned from London, where he'd been living, and is now trying to rebuild his life. "It's not like I lost my legs in an accident:' he says. "I'm the cause of my disability. It took me a long time to come to terms with that. But I've also met so many amazing people and had so many great experiences. "I don't regret it because it [suicide] was really what I wanted at the time and for months afterwards:' After the incident he was taken to a London hospital where he was diagnosed as clinically depressed and prescribed antide SUPPLIED SUPPLIED Daryl speaks out about his struggle with depression in order to help sufferers realise they're not alone. Being active and participating in sitting volleyball (ABOVE) has enabled him to adjust to a life without legs. Emergency crews rushed Daryl - unconscious by this stage - to hospital, where he was stabilised and the mangled remains of his legs amputated. Back in South Africa, his concerned parents, Roelda and David, had made contact with the authorities after receiving Daryl's suicide note on the Monday and trying in vain to reach him. Interpol traced Daryl, and as soon as she'd obtained a visa Roelda flew to England to be with him. Daryl finally opened up to his mother, letting out all the deep emotional anguish he'd held back for years. "She never once got angry with me: he recalls. "Never once snapped at me. She was just the most patient and loving person. All while trying to figure out her own emotions and feeling shell failed as a mother: NEWS pressants, which he still takes. He now talks candidly about depression as a crippling condition in the hope of helping other sufferers. After opening up to a psychologist for the first time in a London rehabilitation centre Daryl realised he was neither crazy nor alone. "There are people who understand what I'm going through and who can help me deal with it: DEPRESSION started affecting him in his teens. At Van Riebeeckstrand Primary School in Melkbosstrand he was bullied and it continued at his high school in Table View. "When I was about 12 or 13 I thought about killing myself for the first time: Daryl recalls. "But I didn't ask anyone for help or talk to anyone because I thought depression was an excuse that people made up for not being able to deal with their issues. I thought I was stronger than that: The bullying, he adds, wasn't the only thing that sparked his depression, though it was a trigger. "At that point I'd never heard about homosexuality or being gay." But he'd heard the derogatory remarks being made about him. "At first I thought it was just a phase and that I'd get over it. Then I started to pray to God to change it. I was denying it all the time: At the age of 23 he came to terms with his sexuality and told his parents, who fully supported him. Daryl thought being openly gay would end his despondency but the cloud didn't lift. In 2012 he decided to go make a new start in London, where on an earlier holiday he'd felt at home for the first time in his life. He quit his job as a marketing manager, registered at a British university for a master's degree in international marketing, and packed his bags. But even greener pastures didn't bring relief from his feelings of despondency. In the tough economic conditions he was unable to find a full-time job. "About two months before my course finished it looked as if I'd have to come back to SA and live with my parents: Daryl recalls. "It was a huge step back: In addition his first romantic relationship ended after six months and he decided if he couldn't secure a job within two months he'd end it all. "I felt like a total waste of space. I thought I was going to be a burden on everyone. Also, I thought no one's going to believe I'm depressed. They're going to say, 'Just get over it': Daryl made careful preparations. He gave his landlord a month's notice, told friends in London he was returning to SA and even held a farewell party, closed his Facebook account, and sent a farewell letter to his parents via his mom's office email address - so she'd receive it on the Monday after his planned suicide on a Sunday. He packed a bag and went to the closest Tube station to end his life. It was five days after his 26th birthday. "I didn't think too much about what was going to happen, how I was going to do it. I was very removed from it: He waited patiently until he was alone on the platform. Leaving his bag behind containing a note with his mom's contact details, he stepped off the platform and uttered the prayer he thought would be his last. "I opened my eyes underneath the train: he recalls. "The pain was excruciating but my first thought was, 'Are you kidding me - it didn't work? S**t, now what?' "I closed my eyes, hoping I'd pass out and not come to again. I thought, lose a lot of blood - there's still a chance I might not make it': AFTER eight weeks in hospital Daryl spent a month at a rehab centre where he also was able to speak openly to a psychologist. This was a turning point. "It always felt like there was this immense bucket of water and I was trying to balance it," he recalls. "It felt like it was going to crush me and if I dropped it, it would spill and make a huge mess and everyone would see I was useless. "When I spoke to the psychologist I realised I'm not carrying this alone. It won't crush me; I can handle it. There is treatment that works: Daryl moved in with his parents again and took up contract work with his former employer. He's now a customer engagement manager, a motivational speaker and an aspiring psychology student. He's also an enthusiastic twice-a-week gym user and for the first time has a sense of physical achievement. "Over the past year my priority has been to regain as much independence as possible: he says. "I'm taking driving lessons in a modified vehicle with hand controls. "It would be nice to have a partner in the future but now I'm focusing on coming to terms with my disability and depression as well as building a healthy self-image." He's full of praise for the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (Sadag). "My family and I didn't know anything about depression until we had to deal with it. Sadag puts the information out there. "After my suicide attempt friends said I was saved for a reason - there must be a purpose to it. But I realised your purpose doesn't fall from the sky or hit you suddenly in a moment of revelation. If my life is going to have any significance it's up to me to do something that matters: you.co.za 27 NOVEMBER 2014 21 'When I was 12 or 13 I thought about killing myself for the first time'