you might have guessed from the title that todays post is slightly less light hearted than most of the others.
This week in National Suicide Prevention week and today is National Suicide Prevention day.
How sad and how apt that this year it falls on the second anniversary of the death of one of the most loved people in mine, and my families life. I will just call him G.
Two years ago today I was sitting on the floor of our little home in Surrey, marvelling at the fact that I had become a mum. We had actually become parents. We did it. Yey us!!!
I was utterly wrapped up in warm cosy loveliness of cards and gifts and balloons and love.
I was actually writing ‘Thank you’ notes, much as i have done this evening, whilst our tiny baby slept next to me in her moses basket.
And then the phone rang and it was all shattered.
Now, that bit isn’t the really important bit. The fact that my birthday will now always mean that it is X years since the day we drove down to our family home for the funeral.
It is now X years since G missed out on meeting our baby by 5 short days.
It is now X years that we have been missing him and wishing he was here.
What matters really, is the fact that people feel so sad and low and utterly desperate and confused that they see no other future for them aside from ending their lives.
It means that they literally can not bear the thought of trudging through life for one more minute and they jump under a train or slash their wrists or take a handful of pills or… Or, or, or.
It might also mean that they were crying for help in the only way they could think of and help did not come in time.
The harsh reality of a ‘successful’ suicide bid, is that you can rarely know for sure which is which.
Suicide is dreadful for the loved ones left behind. Wondering why they weren’t enough to make them want to stay, wondering if they could have done or said or behaved differently. Sadly, sometimes the pain of mental illness feels so suffocating, so all consuming, so bleak and never ending that no one else quite comes into the final equation.
The words depression, mental health, bi-polar and self harm are often bandied around and, thankfully, they appear to be becoming less taboo which is brilliant. But, there is still such a lot to learn and open up about.
It is tricky because you can’t see depression.
It doesn’t look like a broken leg, it isn’t treated like cancer or diabetes or any other life altering illness and people can be unsympathetic or unbelieving. Many, many more people can be kind and supportive and empathic but it is scary putting that information out there. Alistair Campbell puts this all far more succinctly than I do in his article here.
Hi, I have depression is not an easy thing to say…obviously people are unlikely to come out with it like that, even I recognise that it sounds weird when said in such a way!
But, that fact probably means that you ain’t feeling too full of ego so the following questions are likely to swill around your brain in the early hours when you can’t sleep…
Will people think I am a weirdo
Am I a weirdo
Will people think I am weak
Am I weak
Will people think I should pull my bloody socks up and think about people with real problems
I should do that. God, I am so pathetic/stupid/worthless etc etc (delete as applicable until the witching hour is over and you have lived through another night possibly day dreaming about self harm).
Doesn’t sound like a walk in the park does it?
Better than chemo, worse than chemo. It is pointless to compare. They are different illnesses but they are still both illnesses and need to be treated as seriously as one another. Campaigns like Time to Change are working hard to improve our levels of understanding.
We now know that many ‘privileged’ people have suffered, and are suffering with depression. It does not discriminate.
In fact, approx 4,400 people commit suicide each year in Britain but over 10 times that number attempt it.
Stephen Fry has spoken openly and honestly about his attempt at suicide, his bi-polar and how he is now trying to manage it. Have a read of his blog post here.
So, what can we do?
Well- it depends, if you are feeling low and I don’t mean in a sort of
Oh god, the baby has been sick in my hair again
kind of way, I mean in a sort of unshakable low mood where nothing can hold your interest, your appetite alters (either increased or diminished) you either can’t sleep or always want to sleep and you feel sort of detached, like nothing properly matters to you, please speak to someone.
A friend, a doctor, a helpline, anyone.
Please do not suffer in silence.
You are special and unique.
You are precious and important and feelings like this can pass and be worked on.
Suffering from an episode of depression doesn’t mean you will always be depressed.
There is help and there is hope.
If you are worried about someone you know, there is lots of information and literature available so you can be clued up on how you can help.
I think that MIND is particularly good.
As is The Mental Health Foundation. You can find a variety of informative podcasts on their website which are useful.
Try to be around for them.
This can be very tricky. You don’t want to be OTT, you very likely have your own stuff going on keeping you busy- ah ha, there’s the old baby sick in the hair again. They may be avoiding social situations, calls etc but, if you can, let it be known that you are there for them, to listen, if ever they need you.
Don’t tell them to cheer up for pity’s sake. That is a total no no.
Listen and love them and, make sure you take time to offload to someone too.
As a wise woman I once used to go and speak too (cause I was a mentalist too once) told me..
You can not pour from an empty jug.
So don’t knacker yourself out trying to help and then become poorly yourself. Not helpful.
Lots and lots of love.