Your piece doesn’t fit their puzzle: Compassion for those we lose to suicide is vital, even if we don’t understand

‘But suicide IS selfish. The person may not be in a healthy state or mind or see any other way, but it is 100% a selfish act because it only ends THEIR suffering, whatever that may be, and brings a whole new level of pain on everyone who loves them. I don’t see how it can be anything but a selfish act. Sorry. I just don’t and I don’t believe I ever will.’

I find it very hard to ignore selfish and ignorant comments. Comments that are thrown out there with no intention to be sympathetic or understanding. Comments that manifested from a sudden urge to make a claim without any desire to study the field. It isn’t necessarily the ignorance that gets to me. We are all ignorant in some way. It is the damage caused by those deluded into thinking they are intellects on a topic without putting in the hours to become educated.

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This was taken in the early hours a few years back, I travelled 40 minutes with my mum and dad to attend an event in memory of loved ones tragically lost to suicide. It was a peaceful morning, the path up to the iconic Angel of the North was lined with candles, the walk leading up to it roughly a mile long. My mother lost her sister to suicide just after I was born, 28 years ago. My uncle also died due to suicide months before this event. I am no expert on suicide, don’t let me convince you otherwise. But to lose both my auntie and uncle in this way and for my mum to lose both siblings, I certainly feel I have an increased perspective of what leads up to such events and a view of how long the fight can be fought.

Many people clearly have a hard time grasping the idea that someone could possibly take their own life. From the hurtful comments emerging from the most recent and tragic suicide of a high profile artist Chester Bennington, this struggle to fathom a desire to end personal suffering leads to much anger and frustration.

People who die by suicide don’t want to end their life, they want to end their pain.

The problem seems to stem, I can only assume, from having a one size fits all mentality about mentality. Our mindsets differ, configurated in many weird and wonderful ways. We all know this, we all accept that our tastes and interests differ, never questioning our friend at the dinner table that doesn’t like peppercorn sauce. Can you imagine how condescending it would be to tell that friend they do in fact like peppercorn sauce because you do? To be unable to understand that your mind interprets things differently to the mind someone else possesses, and for that reason assuming that they must be wrong about their personal preferences? It is very simple to see why this would be highly inappropriate behaviour, and how respect would be lost rather quickly.

As much as our tastes vary, our mentality does towards life and what is thrown our way. Take fear. We are all scared of something, this something could be anything. Some fear heights. Some people have triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number thirteen. I am thankfully unafraid of the number thirteen, however the thought of jumping out of an aeroplane 13,000 feet up terrifies me. Simply taking my fears into account and knowing my nightmare scenarios may be the dreams of others helps me to empathise with those terrified of things I am not. I don’t understand having certain fears but I understand fear.

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Similar to fear, we perceive pain differently. Some have higher thresholds, some enjoy pain, most spend a life avoiding it as best as possible. We hate seeing loved ones in pain because we can relate, even if we don’t feel that pain at the time. The irony in mental and physical pain is that it all originates in the same place, the brain. What makes mental illness hard to comprehend is that it isn’t physical. Unless depression or the various conditions equally damaging prevent people from washing, eating or hiding self harm it is easy for it to go under the radar. We wouldn’t act so selfishly towards non-mental illness or disease. Similar to the restaurant example provided earlier, can you imagine a cancer victim being interrogated whilst in the hospital bed?

‘I’m sorry but I really don’t understand how you are ill? I feel just fine, I don’t see why you are unable to get up without being sick? I can just fine. It’s easy!’

I do not even have to elaborate on how absurd this conversation would be. The invisibility of the pain is what preserves the stigma around mental illness. It is a very damaging circle, on many occasions taking the below forms.

-Person may openly declare they are depressed. They may not but could show signs of a lack of motivation, appetite or desire to be sociable.

-This person isn’t taken seriously despite the intolerable pain felt mentally. People around cannot comprehend what they cannot see or that they do not mutually experience. 

-The person suffering kills him/herself. Unable to cope with life, not seeing death as an easy route but the only route. Similar to jumpers on 9/11, the mind and body takes any route out of pain, even if an event is temporary. 

-The reaction is that no one saw it coming, or that the suicide was totally unnecessary. An act that was purely selfish and inconsiderate.

I cannot stress enough how selfish it is for people to hurl opinions out there without first hand experience. To read an article, a five minute glimpse into the suffering that may have lasted a lifetime and to come to the conclusion that it was cowardly. I struggle everyday to think of how such a horrific event could be deemed cowardly. To hang a noose from a ceiling and knock the stool from underneath, knowing that these very moments will be the last. Tomorrow there will be no more hugs from loved ones. To have family members that have held on for so long before struggling to take it anymore be called selfish is incredibly arrogant. It doesn’t contribute anything of any worth, nor does it make anyone a good person.

Instead of questioning how someone could leave a family behind, it would be much more progressive to open up to the possibility of mental anguish so unbearable that they have to do so. Anything else is just a failure to empathise with those that had nothing but love before disease got between them.

Compassion will always be the way in this world of unknowns. Don’t ever let disease get between you and the person that may have once held the door open for you, it would be tragic to be the person that closes it on them.

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When we lose our heroes

I woke up this morning with my thoughts on the sad news from yesterday. I have been thinking a lot about those we consider heroes, whether it be a parent or partner, pet, philosopher or performer. What is hard to deal with is when these seemingly immortal and incredible people leave us much earlier than expected. How!?

It wasn’t too long ago that I typed up a quick post with lyrics to In The End by Linkin Park.

Time is a valuable thing, watch it fly by as the pendulum swings. Watch it count down to the end of the day the clock ticks life away…

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Whenever I think of the word time, or utter it in conversation, my mind heads down the path of this song. In a way it is a healthy reminder that time is not something we can put on hold. We can let it slip by or we can ride that wave as best we can and be as active as possible whilst riding it. One day our feet will lose grip of that surfboard, we all fall into the sea but some travel a big distance before doing so.

When we idolise someone, they seem invincible. Perfect. They can also be taken for granted, as if they have always been around and always will be. When their time runs out and they are no longer around, we see them as human again. Not someone that is perfect but someone with flaws that strived for perfection with incredible effort. To me, a hero dying is like a Spider-Man removing his mask. The human is revealed and instantly relatable. The flaws and imperfections, the illnesses and fears all become visible. I don’t mind my inspirations being human. If anything it motivates me to strive for similar success.

The problem with a high profile death is that we only get a glimpse of their life, the success and the wealth. The suffering isn’t always in silence but out of view. For some, a suicide can be a selfish act. If their Wikipedia page states they are currently touring the world and earn this much from record sales, they must be happy, right? Can we claim to know the lives and the apparent state of mind of a person we have never met? Of course not. To assume would be incredibly arrogant. 

My family has been affected on more than one occasion by depression and suicide. Maybe this is why cries of selfishness are so offensive to me. I know the daily struggle that can last years and the instant opinions from complete strangers that form conclusions with 100% conviction. It is much more respectable to admit we cannot know the mind of another person than to be so wrong whilst believing we are so right.

The comforting aspect for me is that no one ever dissapears. They are always here, the cells are no longer assembled in the way they were to create such art, but they flow by us everyday. That I find truly mind blowing.

Reality through the rain

The camera doesn’t care about human interests. It doesn’t care about the things we have placed on the highest pedestals. It has decided to focus on the code ’12N14′, deserving the most attention out of everything that can be seen here. 

For it to disregard a building that has so much relevance in history is a little inconsiderate. To be fair to the device, without the backstory it doesn’t know any better. In an alternate universe, the poles could be a huge part of society. A story involving a civilisation built by a Lord and his giant chopsticks, placing beings on its home planet, 12N14 of course being the planets coordinates, like sushi from a conveyor belt. People in this world are brought up to dance around these black poles daily if they expect to be accepted by society.

Or, it is all down to focus and this post has been meaningless. Not that I find any conversation meaningless, there’s always something to take out of anything, anytime. 

It beats doing nothing on a rainy day.

I hope my day improves…

I didn’t have the best start to today. I stared at the empty shampoo bottle that I forgot to replace- again when I stumbled into the shower. I got out and ready, eagerly awaiting my peanut butter and banana on toast. No bananas.

Off to the store I went.

Pie and a pint… Ultimate comfort food? Enjoying a quick bite and blog before work parts us once again.

Headphones on, the cheap plastic pair that I have to wear whilst I look for decent pair that I lost one day before flying to Spain. I plodded along to the relevant aisles. I grabbed what I needed and walked to the checkout, a choice of three very busy tills as the additional seven or eight checkouts were not being used. I haven’t actually seen them in operation, they get as much use as that elevator in The Big Bang Theory. I’m pretty sure they’re props, too.
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Aisle 4 it was. As I was just about to place the items onto the conveyor belt (I decided five items were not enough for a basket) the shampoo slipped from the loose grip I had of it. The lid didn’t just fly off it snapped in two, the floor at this moment seeing more shampoo than my hair has in the past 48 hours. 

I was that annoying customer delaying everyone. I was wearing my headphones surely doubling the annoyance, a millennial clearly distracted by music making me incapable of even the simplest of tasks. ‘Sorry about that, I’ll pay for it at the till?’ I asked as the assistant cleaned up the mess.

‘No you will not!’ She replied in a mildly aggressive tone. If anyone was walking by I’m sure they would have assumed that I had asked if I could kick her whilst she was on her hands and knees from the delivery of her response. 

And at times like these such a response is justified. If a response is good willed, awesome. Customer service isn’t always smiles and face stroking, in fact it can seem a little more genuine to me.

My taxi driver Dave

Meet Dave. Every now and then I will grab a taxi into the city when I am either late or in a lazy mood. Sometimes, I will get one specific taxi driver and today, it was him. Opening the passenger door felt like eternity.


You know those same conversations you have with someone that doesn’t remember you? Groundhog day, a bad case of déjà vu for the whole journey. It starts with Dave asking me if I like football. I do, however if I say I do, I know I won’t get a word in edge ways for the next 15 minutes. Thankfully I have been in this situation before. I am prepared.

‘Erm, not really, I never get the time to see the games, I am usually working’

This didn’t work. 

I still didn’t get a word in edge ways. In fact I managed to take this photo of St James Boulevard, the road leading up to our stadium which you can see above, hidden behind some modern high rise hotels and student accommodation. He had no idea I took the photo…

I feel I could have stuck my head out of the window and took a selfie without him realising. The longer the conversation/ lecture went on, the more he convinces himself I must like football. I know I do, but I told him I didn’t. Isn’t it funny how people can be so into something that they choose that you like it? I am not mad, I find it hilarious. I was chuckling to myself most of the way.

He is a nice guy and what can I say, I would rather a friendly taxi driver than one that was miserable. I don’t need those vibes from people, however a little more variety in conversation would be desired. I wonder what it would have taken to not have listened to a one way conversation about football… 

What if I told him I hated it? That it was the last thing I would have wanted to talk about? I honestly don’t think this would have made much difference.

‘Well that’s a shame, I was going to ask how you felt about our most recent signing. Did you know that he…’

Oh Dave, you beauty.

One year older

We all get that one unique day a year, one that we get to celebrate our lives with others. Some love it, some would hold it back if they could. We don’t get to choose this day, it just depends on when we were brought into existence. It is crazy when I think about it, that we celebrate seeing that day disappear onto the horizon and live long enough to us cross that line again 365 days later. I have done so for a 28th time whilst I was in Spain, yay!

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That is a heck of a lot more than a lot of people have been able to, I am grateful for that. I heard recently that we shouldn’t be afraid of aging as some people don’t ever get the chance to. 

I heard this reading an update from the parents of a young boy that live close to me, he is terminally ill and a huge fan of Sunderland football club. He has won the hearts of people nationwide and in my city of Newcastle, traditionally huge rivals of Sunderland. His name is Bradley Lowery and it seems, very sadly, that the 6 year old doesn’t have long left. His footballing hero, Jermain Defoe, regularly meets him for cuddles and chats. Very sad, however I wanted to post this as a reminder for us all that each birthday should not be met with a fear of getting older but the appreciation that we get to reach an age that so many did not. To be born at all is against incredible odds, to keep going like we do is truly remarkable. You could say that young Bradley has already achieved what so many of us have not, he has met his idol, travelled to Disneyland and walked the England football team out onto  the field. It’s not the age that matters it’s what we do with it.

I also feel lucky to have mine smack bang in the middle of the year. I know at least two people with birthdays on Christmas Day, one opens presents on the 24th.

If we could choose our birthday, when would it be? The middle of the summer holidays? In January when not much seems to happen? I think I will keep mine where it is 🙂

Missed opportunities

I wanted to post a little earlier than usual today due to a huge roar of thunder. You know the ones you can almost feel as well as hear. The ones that put your windows and underwear to the test.


I was still half asleep when I climbed over my bed and to the curtains, looking out to horizontal rain that I can only describe as painful had I not been sheltered. I love this kind of whether but for a different reason. I was hoping to have a beer outside as I did when I took this picture a couple of days ago, I don’t think today will be the day.


Sadly I didn’t stay awake long enough to watch the whole show. My body wouldn’t let me. It is sobering to think that I can only wake up when my body says so. I fall asleep when it says so too. I only came into existence when someone else’s body said so, that’s really crazy. My atoms were always out there somewhere, not organised enough to form a consciousness. The storm today was incomprehensibly small compared to the ones I have missed over the billions of years before my existence, smaller than the ones happening right now throughout the universe.

I shouldn’t solely blame sleep with this in mind, being awake doesn’t help much either. As I have posted previously, all we can do is stare and wonder. We know some of what goes on up in space, this isn’t enough to grant our senses the ability to focus on it.

It is frustrating to know what we cant see but it is pretty amazing that our species is developing tools that overcome this. Thankfully the future looks brighter than the skies today.