We have to talk about suicide

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September is Suicide Prevention Month and I’m wondering why this topic isn’t trending on Twitter. It is such an important subject to talk about. But very few people do. Very few people want to engage with the fact that people kill themselves. How often are victims accused of being selfish, crazy or psycho?

This image sums it up perfectly:

image

Suicide is a subject close to my heart  because I almost reached that point a few years ago. I blogged about this in a previous post: Celebrating a year of living.

In South Africa, where I live, there is a suicide nearly every hour. This figure could be higher because many incidents aren’t reported. According to the World Health Organisation, South Africa has the eighth highest suicide rate in the world. Suicide is also the third greatest cause of unnatural death in the country.

 

People should talk about suicide. If someone tells you they are suicidal, believe them. They aren’t joking.

 

 

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My one wild and precious life

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Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it is just about un-becoming everything that isn’t really you so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.

I’ve been stuck inside all day. It has been pouring with rain since early this morning. But later this afternoon it cleared just enough to go outside for a bit and watch the beautiful stormy sunset. The clouds were all wispy with delicate shades of orange and yellow. I watched the clouds move slowly across the sky. They don’t seem in any hurry to get anywhere. They just move along slowly in the direction the wild takes them.

While I was standing outside I thought that this is actually the way I feel about life. Like the clouds I am in no hurry to get anywhere. Where would I rush to anyway? I am quite happy with a calm life. The more important question for me is what I plan to do with my one wild and precious life? This is a question I constantly ask myself since I came so dangerously close to losing my life.

My answer to this is simple: all I want is to be happy.

It don’t want to exhaust myself chasing status, money or that promotion or fancy job title. I have no need to impress anyone. I don’t want to be busy all the time. I don’t want to be “hectic” all the time. None of these things will make me happy. People often think this approach to life means you “have no ambition”. But it has nothing to do with that. I can think of no better goal in life than to be happy – and if I’m doing what makes me happy professionally and personally I believe I’ve achieved success in life.

I think the glorification of busy is probably one of the biggest afflictions of our time. We live in a world where people are always busy, always on, rushing somewhere, running late, checking emails, clutching their smart phones, checking in to everywhere they go – the gym, the mall, that anniversary dinner. People just need to stop. Check out. Slow down. Ask yourself – does any of this make me happy?

This is the thing for me – I don’t want to miss out on the things that make me happy. Those important moments in my life that no amount of status or money can give me.

I want to leave work on time to fetch my son from school. I want to enjoy the sunset and a glass of wine with my husband on the patio and talk about life and our dreams – not stare into my computer screen answering work emails. I want to walk in the park and look at the trees. I want to notice the seasons change and watch the roses in my garden bloom. I want to enjoy an evening with my friends. I want to make Christmas decorations with my son and not give any thought to whatever needs to be done at work. I want to sit on the couch with my son under a blanket and drink hot chocolate.

What I’ve learned is that it is up to me to set the standards for my life. I have to decide what is important to me and unashamedly stick to what I believe. I have to set my own boundaries otherwise someone else will set them for me. And this won’t be for my benefit. Do what you know in your heart is right. Don’t dance to someone else’s tune.

The road to recovery – it isn’t about the easy days

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Source: Interesting Engineering

Source: Interesting Engineering

Doesn’t the road to recovery from depression, anxiety and PTSD feel like this sometimes? What I know is that “recovery” isn’t a place you can get to. It is a journey and sometimes there will be really big potholes in the road. What’s really important is to trust the process. I read about this concept all the time – it must be the universe trying to tell me something ;-). Allow life to unfold. The late Jeff Buckley says “life has its own rhythm and you cannot impose your own structure on it – you have to listen what it tells you.”

I saw this the other day and I think it is true:

Anyone can do recovery on a good day. Recovery isn’t about the easy days. Recovery is fighting through the worst days and coming out the other side. You’ve worked incredibly hard to get there. Don’t throw it all away. Keep pushing through.

Happy Spring Day!

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Happy Spring Day! My beautiful friend Robyn sent this thought to me this morning (my friends are going to stop telling me/sending me stuff…a lot of it ends up on my blog!).

When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.

By Ernest Hemingway, reminding you to indulge in the start of the season with those who make you truly happy. Or else with nobody at all.

I love Spring. It is a time of new beginnings, renewal, colour and an opportunity to appreciate everything that’s beautiful. Being truly alive is quite wonderful and a privilege that many people never get to experience. I have so much to be thankful for this Spring. I didn’t think I would live to see another Spring…and now here I am. I am grateful for my life and all the people who make life worth living. ❤

Second chances, a cup of tea and a conversation

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suicide

Isn’t this story just amazing? I saw this on my Facebook feed this morning and the story has been on my mind the whole day.  Suicide is a subject that is very close to my heart because I was there a few months ago. It is a very scary place to find yourself in – to be so lonely and completely desperate that you see no other way out.

Whenever I hear about someone who has taken their own life, I always wonder about the circumstances that brought that person to the point where they are so desperate that they see no way out. Was there no one they could talk to? Did anyone listen or take them seriously? What if they had someone, like the man in this story, who took the time to listen? That’s quite a story to tell, don’t you think? A second chance at life, all thanks to a cup of tea and a conversation.

I remember that night when I contemplated suicide. I just wanted out. I had no interest in life anymore and the war within me was just too much. My my mind was racing with all kinds of thoughts: would it work, how long would it take, what if it doesn’t work. This isn’t something I talk about often – it isn’t exactly the greatest conversation starter –  but it was a significant moment in my life. The turning point. I knew something was really wrong.

I am so grateful that I got a second chance at life. In that moment I realised that my suicide would destroy other people and cause so much pain and I didn’t want to do that to anyone. I didn’t want my son to grow up without a mother, either. When I gained some perspective (weeks later after intensive therapy) I realised that I didn’t want to end my life – I wanted to end the pain. And there were so many better ways deal with that pain.

The bravest thing I’ve ever done was continuing my life when I wanted to die.