Suicide – speak up before giving up

Following is a story. It may well be fiction, yet many of us know only too well that it is borne out of an uncomfortable truth.

It is a truth we do not want to become familiar with and a truth we need to eliminate.

If there is one reason to justify my participation in March With Me 2017 it is this. If my taking part can inspire directly, or through the work of Love Me Love You, to stop even one young person from taking their own life and leaving a trail of devastation behind then it will have all been worth it.

No one person should travel their journey alone.

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Imagine this.

You come home from school one day.

You’ve had yet another horrible day. You’re just ready to give up. Finally, once and for all, give up.

So you go to your room, close the door, and take out that suicide note you’ve written and rewritten. Over, and over, and over.

You take out those razor blades, hidden from sight. You cut yourself. For the very last time.

You grab that secreted bottle of pills. You take them. You take them all. For the very last time.

Laying down, holding the letter to your chest, to your heart, you close your eyes. For the very last time.

A few hours later, your little brother knocks on your door to tell you dinner is ready.

You don’t answer, so he walks in.

All he sees is you laying on your bed. He thinks you’re asleep.

He quietly creeps back to the kitchen, not wanting to wake his best friend. He tells your mum you are sleeping.

Your mum goes to your room to wake you for the usual family dinner.

She notices something is odd. Something is not right.

She takes the paper from your hand. She reads it. Disbelieving, she reads it again.

Sobbing, she tries to wake you up. She’s screaming your name.

Your confused brother runs to tell Dad that “Mummy is crying and sissy won’t wake up.”

Your dad runs to your room.

He looks at your mother; crying, holding the letter to her chest. Sitting forlornly next to your lifeless body.

It hits him, what has happened, hits him like a dagger through the heart.

He screams. He screams and throws something at the wall.

And then, falling to his knees, he starts to cry.

Your mum crawls over to him

They sit there, holding each other. Crying.

Life will never be the same. Never.

 

The next day at school, there’s an announcement.

The principal tells everyone that you had died overnight. He tells the whole school about your suicide.

It takes a few seconds for it to sink in.

Once it does, their world and everyone goes silent. Everyone.

Everyone blames themselves. Everyone.

Your teachers think they were too hard on you.

Those mean, popular girls, they think of all the horrible and hurtful things they’ve said to you.

That boy that used to tease you and call you names? He can’t help but hate himself for never telling you how truly beautiful you really are.

Your ex-boyfriend, the one that you told everything to, the one that broke up with you? He can’t handle it. He breaks down, starts crying and runs out of the school.

Your friends? They’re sobbing too. They are wondering how they could never see that anything was wrong and wishing they could have helped you before it was too late.

Your best friend? She’s in shock. She can’t believe it. She knew what you were going through, but she never thought it was this bad, that it would come to this.

Bad enough for you to end it. To take your own life. To take your life away from her, from your family, from all of your friends.

She can’t cry. She can’t feel anything. She stands up, walks out of the classroom, leans against a wall for support and  sinks to the floor. She begins shaking violently and screaming hauntingly. Yet she could shed no tears.

 

It’s a few days later, at your funeral.

The whole town came. Everyone.

Everyone knew you. That beautiful girl with the bright smile and bubbly personality. The one that was always there for them, the shoulder to cry on. The strong one.

Lots of people talk about all the good memories they had with you, and there were a lot, a hell of a lot.

Everyone is crying. Everyone.

Your little brother still doesn’t know you killed yourself, he’s too young. Your parents just said you died.

It hurts him. It hurts him a lot. You were his big sister, his hero and his idol. You were supposed to always be there for him.

Your best friend, she stays strong through the entire service, but as soon as they start lowering your casket into the ground, she just loses it completely. She cries despairingly and she cries desperately. She does not, cannot, stop crying for days.

 

It is now two years later.

Your teachers have all quit their jobs.

Those mean girls have eating disorders now.

That boy that used to tease you cuts himself.

Your ex-boyfriend doesn’t know how to love anymore and just sleeps around with girls.

Your friends all go into depression.

Your best friend? She tried to kill herself. She didn’t succeed like you did. But she tried.

Your brother? He finally found out the truth about your death. He self-harms, he cries at night, he does exactly what you did for years leading up to your suicide.

Your parents? Their marriage fell apart. Your dad became a workaholic to distract himself from your death. Your mother was diagnosed with depression. She just lays in bed all day, as if paralysed.

People care. People really care. You may not think so, but they do.

Your choices don’t just effect you. They affect everyone. Everyone.

Don’t end your life, you have so much to live for. Things just can’t get better if you give up. They can get better if you speak up.

 

Please if you feel like this, as if there is no way out, before you do anything else, speak up and start the conversation. With anyone. Me, a special friend, family, a teacher, a coach, a doctor… ANYONE.

There are far too many young people killing themselves today. Young people with so much to offer, and with too much to leave behind.

Help can come from an unlikely source. Anyone can help you, don’t be afraid to tell someone. Anyone. It might just save your life or another’s.

#MarchWithMe2017 #lovemeloveyou #youth #mentalhealth #wellbeing #suicideawareness #suicicdeprevention #younglivesmatter

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Depression: The Confronting Moment of Realisation

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Lonely, scared and alone

A beautiful Wednesday morning.

You are in a foreign country.

With friends, but alone.

You have seen the most breathtaking monument to love ever built.

People everywhere, but you are alone.

You join the hustle and bustle of the hordes heading to work.

A horde of the masses, yet still you are alone.

From nowhere, with no warning, you begin to cry.

First a trickle, like a slow leaking tap.

Then, as you wonder why, the dam wall bursts and a torrent of burning tears is streaming down your contorted face.

The storm continues unabated for some time and you are none the wiser.

Still alone. But now you are scared too.

Months later, you realise that is the moment the black dog had really sunk his teeth into you. He had probably been there a while, lurking in the recesses of a challenged mind, waiting to reveal himself and make his mark.

For some time I was swimming happily in the mighty Egyptian river, you know the one… denial.

I was fine, what could be wrong with me?

I didn’t need to tell anyone how I felt…

Alone and lonely.

Anxious and worried.

Vague and forgetful.

Slow and weak.

Scared and afraid.

A fraud and a fake.

Useless and worthless.

How could I talk to anyone else about these feelings?

… when I could not even be honest with myself.

Those feelings repeated. Every day.

I had to do something. I had to talk.

So I talked to the only one that mattered, the only ‘person’ I needed to… that little voice in my head. The one that kept telling me that I was alright, that there was nothing wrong with me.

The incessant and annoying little voice that boomed louder than Pavarotti. Telling me to stay stum because ‘they’ would think I was a nutcase, that I had lost my marbles.

Newsflash… I was troubled in the mind  and the marbles were long gone. I had depression you stupid, ignorant voice.

It would be 4 more years, 4 more long, dark and lonely years, before I found the courage to tell my family that I was suffering from depression and anxiety.

It was my cathartic moment, one in which I am sure I exorcised some of the demons that had plagued my mind for years.

The realisation that it was OK to talk, to share my fears, my failing and my feelings, brought forth more tears.

Quiet unseen tears of relief.

I was going to be OK.

I am going to be OK.

I might even be OK here and now.

#RUOK?   #stampoutstigma   #itsoktotalk   #mentalhealth   #conversations   #suicideawareness #health   #wellbeing   #MarchWithMe2017

If you are struggling, please talk to someone. Anyone. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 155 1800, MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978 or check out beyondblue.org.au for more resources. In emergencies, please call 000

 

It’s Time… STAMP OUT STIGMA

Cancer is an insidious disease.

It took my mother when I was a young child. I didn’t get to know my mother.

It took my father when I was a grown man. That broke my heart.

In its many and varied forms, it has taken too many and many too soon.

It eats away until there is nothing but a shell.

It strips away the dignity of even the most dignified.

It tears at the hearts of families, it robs young, innocent children of their youth, and often their life. It breaks people’s hearts.

We openly talk about cancer and have constructive dialogue about what Jack Dancer is doing to our children with leukaemia, our fathers and brothers with prostate cancer and our mothers and sisters with breast cancer or…

Cancer is not something to be ashamed about, it is not something to fight on your own.

We rightly spend billions of dollars on cancer research and the search for a cure and to reduce the pain and suffering so many face day to day.

The death rate of cancer in Australia has fallen by more than 16% in the 30 years to 2013. We should rejoice in this and continue the fight.

Mental Health issues are debilitating and devastating.

It has taken mothers from young children.

It has taken fathers from grown men.

It, too, has taken too many and many too soon.

It nearly took their father from my children.

It eats away until there is nothing but a shell.

It strips away the dignity of even the most dignified.

It tears at the hearts of families, it robs young, innocent children of their youth, and often, too often, of their life. It breaks people’s hearts.

We have kept mental health issues hidden, we have shunned those experiencing them.

We have stayed silent for so long about what mental health issues are doing to our children with eating disorders, our fathers and brothers with anxiety and depression or our mothers and sisters with bipolar disorder or PTSD or…

Mental health issues are not conditions to be ashamed of, they are not something to fight on your own.

We rightly spend billions of dollars on mental health in the search for causes, treatments and cures.

The suicide rate in Australia has risen year on year (bar one) since 2010. We should be doing more and increasing our fight.

This is not good enough.

We need to do more.

We need to Stamp Out Stigma.

This is not me putting cancer and mental health as combatants, rather I am highlighting the similarities the impacts have on us and the starkly differing perceptions we hold about cancer and mental health.

There are differences too, stark differences…

How many people are shunned because they have cancer?

Now think about those with a mental health condition.

How many people tell no-one they have cancer?

Now think about the silent sufferers of mental health issues.

One last fact… did you know that more people die from suicide in Australia each year than in road traffic accidents?

Where are the TAC style adds showing the trauma left behind by those who could no longer cope with the torment and suffering they grappled with? Where would the funding come from? What would we show? How could people watch and not turn away?

It’s time!

It is high time we stamp out the stigma associated with mental health and begin to understand it in all its forms.

Not sure one little blog post is going to make a world of difference?

It won’t.

Not on its own.

BUT, if it is just one of the conversations that are being started right now, we can work together to change attitudes and perceptions and start to Stamp Out Stigma.

AND I challenge you to do your bit… If you know someone who is suffering from a mental health condition, and you do, put your hand up and share this post with the hashtags stampoutstigma and mentalhealth (and any others you wish to add).

It’s time… STAMP OUT STIGMA

#stampoutstigma #mentalhealth #suicideawareness #health #wellbeing
#MarchWithMe2017

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The Black Dog Has Been Sleeping

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Where does the time go? It seems like only yesterday I was posting about the new year and January has left us already.

What I have found interesting is that when writing a blog about my thoughts and experiences on mental health, quite a few people seem to worry when you don’t write regularly, or when you say you are going to.

Rest assured, I am alive and pretty well.

I have about 3,273 ideas for posts running through my head at any one time and working out which to share does my head in… more than usual!

So, what do we have coming up (order to be determined on a whim)…

  • The philosophy that is helping me
  • Lessons in goal setting
  • Sharing some of my goals
  • We are writing a book
  • One Boy’s Story – my adoption story  written over 20 years ago
  • Other popular pieces from earlier blogs and more

So, I will be back soon to give you more thought provoking and hopefully helpful and/or entertaining writing.

Cheers,
Sean