“Suicide is painless, but it brings on many changes…”
I’m genuinely very surprised and confused when people tell me they’ve never thought about killing themselves.
The lure of suicide has been with me almost as long as I can remember remembering, including (I literally just has a flashback this moment) when I tried to hang myself from the banister at the top of the stairs in my old house. I must have been eight or nine – around the time my ex-dad left.
The woman from across the street laughed about this. She jollied that I was tall enough already and didn’t need any more stretching.
She was (and still is, as far as I know) a lovely woman, but I remember how much it upset me that she joked when I was obviously hurting, emotionally.
The thing is, I’ve always been tall and I didn’t judge the knotted sheet right and my feet were pretty much on the stairs when I dropped. I ended up with some friction burns around my neck. If I’d been a few inches shorter, or had tied the sheet a few inches higher, none of you would ever have heard my voice or read my words – unless, I suppose, I became a ghost writer? (B’dum-tisssshhhhh)
Here’s what I think: kids shouldn’t try to commit suicide.
It was the early 80s and there was nowhere near the awareness and treatment of mental health conditions, in the UK, back then. I know that now it looks pretty shite – the government have cut budgets so much that people are actually killing themselves due to lack of care – but it was even worse back then. You couldn’t even look up advice on the Internet, because it wasn’t invented until about a decade later.
I remember people would talk about Spike Milligan almost in hushed tones, because he had ‘manic depression’ and occasionally spent time in comfortable hospitals. The stigma back then was pretty savage. That glorious, genius, hilarious mind was almost overshadowed by the fact that he was a ‘loony’.
I did see a child psychologist when I was at Junior School, but I don’t recall any great, positive change in me – though he was a lovely man, who looked astonishingly like Richard Gere, and I had a little fire of hope in my heart that he’d marry my Mum… especially if he had a car!
(My family didn’t have a car, when I was a kid. Or a home telephone. We used to have to go up to the call box at the top of the estate to make, or receive, phone calls. I still remember the number – 60849. It was removed maybe 20 years ago, probably because the kids in the village used to call the emergency services out so much.)
There was a man on a bus, in Merseyside, that I wanted my Mum to marry, too, around that time. (I don’t mean I wanted her to marry both of them.) That guy, a Canadian, was touring Europe, and it’s the only time I saw my Mum flirting – and she was good at it!
I always loved seeing my Mum smile and hearing her laugh. I honestly can’t recall – even though I’d say I have a very, very good memory, what with being a ‘unstable genius’ and all – any affection between my Mum and ex-dad, before he left. There surely must have been lots of affection in the past, what with me being the youngest of five of their children, but all I remember, towards the end, are the arguments… the dark clouds in the house when ex-dad lost all the grocery money at the bookies.
Excuse the swears, but I really fucking hate horse racing! I love horses, but whenever I see or hear anything about horse racing (and my gosh, the names of horses are constantly trending on Twitter) I seethe a bit… internally, rather than at people… because of the damage it caused to my family, and the damage was HUGE.
This is obviously all stuff that mixed up my little-boy-brain. I see and hear things, now, about absolutely tragic cases of young girls and boys taking their own lives, and it really shakes me to the core. I have such empathy with them… I can’t help but feel such heart-ache and sorrow for the depths of sadness they must have fallen into before they reached the confused and deluded conclusion that suicide was the only option.
I want to be part of helping to stop this; suicide is a disease that could and should be eradicated from our Earth… and also on Mars when we colonise it. And Titan.
I know I’ve been a fuckwit now and again (Reader’s Voice: “Now and again? 947 times… so far!”) over the past few years, but I was going through some really heavy emotional stuff and it took time to balance out again… and I am balancing out again, thankfully… and from that balance comes a familiar sense of peace; echoes of the tranquillity that hugged me like an old friend when I experienced my ‘Awakening’ in 2010.
I know ‘Awakenings’ sound like bullshit to people who haven’t had one, yet, but just Google the subject and you’ll find thousands of stories about people who have gone through the same, sudden, spontaneous experience.
Whatever the ne’er-do-wells and naysayers say, it happened to me and it changed my life. I believe that I can help others find that same peace within themselves, because it really is there, even in chaos.
When I was sitting off the path in my local woods, ready to garrotte myself during some heavy bout of depression, I heard a woodpecker and felt the warmth of the Sun on my face in a parting of Cumbrian cloud. That’s all it took to break the anthem of agony in my head. I didn’t kill myself. I went home.
I am older and wiser, now, after my ‘psychological tsunami’, and even though I may not have been quite the full loaf for a while, and felt for a long, long time that suicide was the only choice I had left, I’ve learnt from it all and I need to start writing it down coherently, because I know from chatting with people on Twitter and Facebook and there are so many people who have been through or are going through their own personal living nightmares.
I want to help them. I have a plan, but it’s going to require a little time to come together because of finances and stuffs, but I’ll get there. It’s a damn good plan!
In the meantime, perhaps I can help with my blogging? If my writing were to help prevent even one suicide (I’ve actually been told by around a dozen people who’ve said my writing hit them at ‘just the right time’ and pulled them back from the edge) then that would be splendid.
If any of you are feeling on the edge, you’re most welcome to contact me. If not me, talk to someone else who cares. If you don’t know anyone who cares, get a cat or two?
Suicide is 100% preventable. I truly believe that. It’s time for the last shards of stigma to be swept away and for mental health issues to be discussed without shame or embarrassment. This is something we can actually do; something we’re doing by talking about depression through social media, and by checking on our friends when they seem down.
Also, we need the awareness to check ourselves when we’re really low. Conscious awareness should be taught in primary schools. It would most certainly help a lot of kids in their lives ahead.
That lure of suicide is always going to be with me, I guess… unless I have some major hypnosis or a brain transplant. This may sound contradictive, but the rumination of suicide has been part of my life for some 35 years.
Today, I’m doing okay.
I hope you are, too. If not, please get in touch with someone who’ll listen and help you.
I’m here, too, most of the time.
I wrote this years ago and have posted it before, but it seems very appropriate now:
Head down, undefeated,
the soul gains strength;
Is not depleted.
Raise your face once more to the Sun.
The better days have come.
(If you found this blog helpful or interesting, perhaps you’d like to zip me a few quid or dollars or roubles for a coffee or some oranges, such as you may do when you pass buskers in the street? All donations are very gratefully received. My PayPal is: Paypal.me/LesFloyd)