To be fair, I don’t know if it actually always rains, or if my memory just thinks it always rains, but it very definitely rained today and since that fits with my pre-conceived notions of what today should feel like I’m going to go with it.
It’s been fifteen years since the 19th September first meant anything to me. Fifteen years is a long time. It’s so long that I can’t properly remember the person I was back then. It’s so long ago that my friends are different, that my life is different, and that whatever it was I hoped and dreamed of at the time is long forgotten and given up on. I’m a grown up now – it’s all behind me – none of what mattered then matters now. Life moves on, people change, you stop looking for the big answers and start dealing with the little questions one by one.
Today shouldn’t mean anything to me. It’s an anniversary of something that only I remember and that has no meaningful impact on my life now. Like I said, life moves on.
Every year, the 19th September comes around. I dread it for weeks, and then it comes around and before I know it, it’s over with. I try to mark it, but I never manage to mark it well enough because…. Well, because – how do you mark a thing you want to remember but don’t want to acknowledge out loud?
As it goes, the best I can do is to withdraw into my own head for the day. All I can do is make today about today – I can let my thoughts rest on things I don’t otherwise let them rest on – I can stop for a moment and I can let everything that has happened in the last 15 years settle around me.
I’ll wake up tomorrow and today will be over with. That’s the beauty of it, isn’t it? Today doesn’t matter because tomorrow is on the way.
What you’ve lost is less important than what you have. Hope is important.
I wrote this post to mark World Suicide Prevention Day 2016, and it perhaps unsurprisingly, discusses suicide. Please scroll on past if that might put you in a difficult position. If you need help right now – pick up the phone, send an email (feel free to use my contact me form – I’m here, I won’t judge) knock on a door, head to A&E (ER). Take care of yourself xoxox
Four years ago, I wrote this post to mark World Suicide Prevention Day 2012. So many things have changed in the years that have intervened – for me, for the people I love, and in the world – but sadly, one thing hasn’t changed much at all: the figures on suicide around the world.
According to the World Health Organisation an estimated 800,000 people worldwide lose their lives to suicide every year. It’s difficult for me to imagine the human picture behind a figure like that so I tried to break it down – it averages at around 90 people every hour; or three people every two minutes. In the time it hasn’t taken me to write this post nearly 100 people have taken their own lives. For every person who dies by suicide, another three people make an attempt on their life. So, in the time it has taken me to write this post 400 people have found themselves willing themselves out of the world. Sometimes, there are no words for how awful the human picture actually is.
Here in the UK, the picture is no less discouraging. In 2014 (the most recent year for which figures from the Samaritans are available) some 6581 people lost their lives to suicide in the UK and ROI – the highest number of men since 2005 and of women since 2011. Whichever way you look at it, the number of people who die at their own hand in the UK has increased – I don’t know whether that makes me more sad or angry, but I don’t suppose it really matters right now. I am a suicide survivor, and as hard as it is to say THAT is what matters to me right now.
As a rule, we still find it difficult to talk about suicide and that’s a huge problem because one of the best means of defence we have is talking about it.
Here’s what I know:
Talking about suicidal feelings gives you the space to examine them, outside of your own head.
Talking about suicidal feelings helps to remind you that you are never alone with them.
Talking about suicidal feelings gives you a distraction from the actions that are gathering ever more momentum in your mind.
Talking about suicidal feelings helps us to remember – above all else – that it’s okay to talk about suicide.
So – at the risk of repeating myself: I am a suicide survivor, and I am not ashamed. There have been times in my life that I wished not to have life anymore – it wasn’t ever that I wanted to be dead, more that I didn’t want to be alive anymore. The two things have always been, and remain, very different to my mind. The feelings that I had at those times don’t make a lot of sense to me right now but I remember the desperation, and hopelessness, fear and pain. I remember those things in my bones and in my heart – I carry them with me and use them to remind me that whatever happens, and however I feel: my life is worth having. And so I choose to live. I choose it every single god damn day.
Suicide is complex – nobody knows that better than I. But suicide is also, almost always, preventable. There is work to be done and we need to look to each other – to our family and friends, to our politicians, our media, our healthcare professionals – to make it happen. Most importantly of all we need to keep on finding the courage to talk about it, until all the shame is banished and until every single person who thinks they are lost is in no doubt that we are ALL here for them, and that we are here to get them through.
I end, as I did four years ago, with some words that mean the world to me – words that have lifted my heart and carried it for me, words that have comforted me, words that have saved my life:
“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”
Lady Chatterley’s Lover. DH Lawrence
Keep your lights burning brightly, my friends. And remember, it’s good to talk.
Love you all lots, like a million and one jelly tots – WeeGee xoxoxo
Since last I wrote a whole lot of time has passed. Some of it has been happy and some of it has been sad and some of it has been other things – things I don’t have a name for yet – things that don’t quite fit into the ready made categories we’ve got set out for them.
Also – I haven’t been eating right. It’s a difficult subject to tackle, and I’ve thought long and hard about how to write about it. I don’t want to end up with some kind of ‘pro ana’ blog on my hands because even at my worst I was never about encouraging that kind of shit. Even at my worst, and most poorly all I really ever wanted to do was leave that nonsense behind.
Still. YOU ARE WHERE YOU ARE. Of all the lessons I’ve learned, that’s the most valuable and important. You can only ever deal with what’s in front of you.
Okay – so what’s in front of me? Lots of meals that I don’t want to eat for reasons that I couldn’t explain to you if I wanted to. But, by the way, I don’t want to explain myself anyway. Take it all with a pinch of salt but I mostly couldn’t give a fuck one way or the other.
Here’s the truth. I’m not as ‘thin’ as I used to be. The trouble is that ‘thin’ is the only thing I’ve ever achieved. The thinnest I was? That was the best I was. The thinnest I was – that was the person I want to be, the person I should be. The thinnest I was – that was the best I ever was.
In so many ways I know that everything I’ve said is nonsense. It’s nonsense and bullshit and airy-fairy rubbish. At the same time I AM WHERE I AM.
Hello, good evening and welcome to my world. My world isn’t exactly awesome but I’ve got tea, a comfy chair, and plenty of hugs if you’d care to stick around for a little chat…..
How’re you doing? How’ve you been? Milk and sugar? Please, have a seat. Me? Oh – well I haven’t been too well lately but there’s no point getting my knickers in a knot about it now, is there?
All things must pass and these things are sent to try us and – I get knocked down but I ALWAYS get up again. I’m fine now. Well no. That’s not quite it – I’m not completely fine but the end is in sight and I’ve just about figured out how to get there. If in doubt, walk towards the light. That’s what I say.
Am I talking too fast? I’ve been doing that lately. I don’t really know why unless maybe I’ve been trying to make up for how slow it all feels on the inside. That would make sense, right? I mean that makes sense in your head as well as my head doesn’t it? I’m not sure I can completely trust my own head yet.
Work’s fine thanks. I’ve been lucky there really. It took me a while, after my last proper job, to find something I could settle into but now I have. I like what I do, and I’m good at it and I can split my time between home and the office which means I get to be useful AND have the doomy gloomies all at the same time. Sometimes it’s hard because my work puts me into contact with a lot of very angry people and it can be difficult to understand why people are so upset about the things they’re upset about when the whole sky is falling down around you. Still, I try not to take it personally and to be honest in reminds me that things could be worse. I mean, the sky could be falling down around me AND I could be very VERY angry about drains as well . Silver linings, you see. There’s always one.
More tea vicar? I’m sorry. I’m incapable of offering a second cup of tea without saying that. Think yourself lucky I didn’t make a pot because then I’d be forced to do the ‘high tea, low tea’ thing while pouring and I’m yet to meet another person who finds that nearly as hilarious as I do……
Mr Awesome Thing Number Five is, well, awesome. Can you believe he’s been part of my life for three whole years?! The guy’s got the patience of a saint, really. I don’t know how he puts up with me but he does and I’m glad he does. When I look back, I think the past three years have been the steadiest and best I’ve had. That’s his influence because he keeps me more grounded than I’ve ever been or thought I could be. It isn’t the kind of thing I say, because you know, I’m not a squishy kinda person, but he is the best thing that could’ve happened to me and I love him for so many different reasons. Most of all I love him because he had the time and patience to let me be me.
Ahem. This is getting a bit serious, no? Why don’t I put some music on… Any requests?
I LOVE that song. I can’t remember how I came across it but it’s on pretty much every play list I make because it makes me feel happy in my heart. Anyway…..
No gossip to impart I’m afraid. I think the biggest thing on my radar at the moment is the forthcoming EU Referendum. Has anyone outside the UK even heard of the EU referendum? I don’t know, but it’s a pretty big deal in UK politics and that makes it a pretty big deal for me. Sadly – I am contractually and legislatively bound not to express an opinion on the EU referendum until polls close, what with purdah and all. That’s the worse thing about my new job – although maybe some people are glad to have been spared my usual political rants on various social media platforms. (There’s no need to agree quite so readily, really) This, I guess is the reality of being a civil servant in 2016: the pensions aren’t what they used to be and you can’t be a keyboard warrior when you want to be a keyboard warrior more than at any other time in your life.
Oh – I didn’t mention Gryff, my cat, hasn’t been very well. Nothing major as far as anyone can tell but he did lose an awful lot of weight for a while there which completely gave me the creeps and made me want to put him in my handbag and take him with me everywhere I went and feed him cheese and tuna and crisps (which he loves almost as much as I do). I didn’t put him in my handbag at any point – not least because that would have meant taking my life in my hands to get him in there. Nevertheless I did feed him crisps and cheese and tuna at every possible opportunity and he’s almost, but not quite, back to his usual grumpy self. What do you mean he’s getting old? I don’t want to ruin a perfectly good friendship but …how very dare you?! And anyway, even if he is getting old that cat is going to live forever because I’ve decided. Let’s change the subject.
More tea vicar? Shit. I’ve done that joke already – haven’t I?
Our shower is playing up. Total pain in the arse and way beyond our considerable combined intelligence to fix… anyhow, I thought I’d mention it because if I wind up dead in the shower with either hypothermia or third degree burns you’ll be able to attest to the fact that it really was just a horrible accident and not the result of some kind of foul-play. I’ve been watching Line of Duty recently, you see, and I’m on my guard against fit ups and double bluffs and horrible deaths that may, or may not have been an accident.
This is just getting weird now, isn’t it? And boring. I’m sorry. Let’s wind this shit up.
I’m glad you stopped by. It’s been nice to talk about my life without getting lost in all the nonsense that goes on in my head. Sometimes I forget that no matter where I get to, my life keeps on going and that there is ALWAYS more to me than the mental shit I contend with. Onwards and upwards eh? Onwards and upwards….
Take it easy, chicken. And stop by again soon. It’s good to talk.
Love you all lots like loads and loads of jelly tots,
Here we go again then, eh? September’s over and done with for another year and I’m still here, putting one foot in front of the other, managing to survive and wondering how I keep on managing to pull it off……
Last month was all about going easy on myself, and, to a certain extent, letting myself get away with things that I wouldn’t otherwise let myself get away with. But that was last month – this month is all about taking hold of the boot straps and pulling myself back up as best as I can.
I’m still feeling remarkably short of time mostly, I think, because my brain is busy. Generally speaking, I prefer a busy brain. I have a fear of what I have come to know as ‘spare brain’ because when my thoughts aren’t gainfully occupied they tend to wander off in dark directions. This, I think, is why I’m at my happiest when I’ve got lots of different projects on the go.
At the same time, every once in a while I find my brain getting a little too busy what with this project and that project and the other project and A MILLION AND ONE IDEAS and a couple of obsessions thrown into the bargain. Looking at it with my sensible head on, I think I have a tendency to over compensate during ‘difficult’ times because I’d do anything to avoid the ‘spare brain’ thoughts taking over. In the end of course, I overwhelm myself with all the ideas, or run out of energy, or more usually, I get overwhelmed and exhausted at the same time.
Of course recognising that this is happening is more than half the battle won because when you can see what’s going on you can take steps to stop the bad stuff coming down the tracks. As it stands, I know I’ve been a little over focused on distracting myself from, well, myself, for the past month. I’ve detached myself from much of the real world and I’ve connected myself with as many activities as I could manage to care about. On the one hand it worked because here I am – safe and well and not lost in misery. On the other hand it can’t go on forever because, whichever way I look at it, I know I can’t hide forever.
I’ve learned that hiding has its place: sometimes, in fact, it’s going to be the only thing for it. I wasn’t ready for the anniversaries that September brought, nor was I ready for the heartache that came with them. Hiding was a better response than unravelling or jumping off an impossibly tall thing. Hiding was the right thing to do LAST MONTH. But last month is over now and I have to stop hiding because I really didn’t ought to be making a habit of it.
That’s my long and rambling way of saying that things dipped into a strange and not entirely healthy little hole for a little while there. But there was a good reason, and I’m letting myself have a little dip because its way better than a ginormous dip that ends with me deciding jumping out the window is a good idea. For now it’s all about building my routines back up, and getting my connections back in place and looking after myself. Because everything is easier when you look after yourself…..
Meanwhile in other news I had my hair cut this weekend which confused Mr Awesome Thing Number Five because he genuinely couldn’t understand why I was delighted that it looked EXACTLY the same as it did before. Nothing else to report save that I have recently fallen in love with this guy’s songs and, since I can’t stop raving on in real life I might as well rave on here. Check it out – it’s beautiful:
Hope you’re all fine and dandy. Thanks for reading my ramble of a post. I’m working up to something more coherent, promise.
Although it probably seems otherwise to the untrained eye, I didn’t really stop blogging – I just stopped publishing my posts. I don’t exactly know why, by which I mean the hiatus was never intentional. For every single day where there was no post, my thoughts were full of How do you eat an elephant?
In many ways things have been exactly the same. I still spend my time filing my little notebook up with ideas, I still fall asleep turning the ideas over and over in my head, I still march through life trying to find the words that will make it make sense outside my head. In short, I’m still telling the story of myself to myself – day by day, week by week, and sometimes, of course, just hour by hour.
In other ways, things have been entirely different, not least because I’m well. I’m grounded, more interested than obsessed, capable of insight and, perhaps most importantly of all, happy and contented with the place in the world I’ve landed and the person I’ve managed to become. I know what my strengths are, and I recognise the things that hold me back. I’m prepared to say ‘no’, step back and take charge of things for myself. When there is pressure in my life its because I put it there – the agenda is entirely my own. I’m not selfish, but I’m not selfless either and I’m not ashamed to say that it’s taken me 35 years to figure out where that balance lies.
Since last I wrote, there has been life. I got engaged* and finally decided what my ‘career’ is all about. I started a new job, made new friends and made new promises to myself. There have been births and deaths, but no marriages. I’ve read one hell of a lot of books and rediscovered my passion for indie bands that nobody seems to have heard of. I’ve watched all four seasons of Game of Thrones, despite swearing I never would**. I’ve reached a point in my life where money doesn’t really matter and know how lucky that makes me. I’ve completed a crossword almost every day and decided that life is too short for suduko.
Its just life, and it marches on. I don’t dread it anymore.
My difficulties are ‘recurrent’*** and I won’t be well forever. I know that. I also know that my difficulties are not occurring at the moment and, if life is only a series of moments joined together to make a story, I’m going to make the most of the moment I’m in. Like I’ve always said, I love stories – with their beginnings, middles and endings – and the moments of calm you find in them.
I used to think it was all about happily ever after, that it would only be okay when it was okay forever. As for what I think now? I think its okay right now and I’m content with that.
Love you all lots, like jelly tots,
* I know, right?!
** High brow, it is not and misogyny it very definitely is. A right ripping yarn though….
***Grammatically, I think it should be ‘recurring’ but who am I to argue with the white coat people?
Since last I wrote I have mostly been being disassociated. That’s not necessarily the way I would describe it, but you know, sometimes you have to put your trust in the White Coat People because at least they’re trying to make you better.
If I had to choose a word, I’d be forced to break the rules and choose three because I DON’T CARE and that’s the only way I can think of to put it. Christmas: I DON’T CARE; new job: I DON’T CARE; my life is infinitely better than it ever has been*: I DON’T FUCKING CARE…… (granted, that’s four words)
All this not caring is difficult to explain. I can say the words and people seem to understand what I mean but I can’t seem to make them know how it feels. I can’t help thinking that I’m just supposed to shrug it off, that somehow what I’m feeling isn’t real or if it is real that it’s just something that everyone feels and that everyone somehow manages to get over. This is the news: I can’t get over it. Trust me. I’m trying.
I know that I’m going to get through this mostly, I guess, because I’ve got through it before. I also know that things aren’t nearly as bleak as I think they are because I’m still out there in the world putting one foot in front of the other. I suppose what I’m saying is that it doesn’t really matter whether I care or not – all the things that are going to be will be and I’ll be there and I might still feel the way I do now or I might feel a whole lot better.
The sun will rise, the tides will ebb and flow, life will go on, and things will be. It doesn’t matter whether they feel good, or bad, or indifferent – because sometimes just being is the best you can hope for. And the best you can hope for is very definitely enough.
I’m trying to set myself targets at the moment – nothing big of course because I DON’T CARE and because it’s important that I don’t ‘overwhelm myself’. Little by little, bite by bite and all that. I’m also trying to connect myself, or re-connect myself, with the things that I care about: books, politics, music, blogging…… Here we have a blog post which is a target met, a pat on the back, and another step forward. Whatever happens, I’m planning on taking another one every single day.
As is traditional I’ll leave you with a song, for the sake of fun, and for the sake of a smile, and for the sake of songs that lift your heart – because those are the songs that matter the most.
I’d love to tell you the story of the last three months – you know, start at the beginning, flesh out the middle, and take great pleasure in getting to the end. Sadly, it isn’t going to be as easy as that, not least because I’m not entirely convinced that the end is in sight.
Truth told, I’m not completely sure when it even started. That’s the thing about unravelling: it happens so silently, so slowly, and so subtly, that you really don’t have a cat in hell’s chance of spotting the first stitch getting picked unloose. The fact that it happens RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOUR NOSE is just your broken brain’s way of ADDING INSULT TO INJURY.
There I was, bowling along in my little life quite happily thank you very much. I’d moved in with Mr Awesome Thing Number Five, I’d started a new job, and I was making a whole lot of progress with that whole being alive thing that had proved so difficult for me in the past. Let’s not make any bones about it: life was good.
And then I was struck down by a severe and chronic case of AWAKENESS. In hindsight, maybe that’s where it started.
I’ve written about my propensity for insomnia before – many times before, in fact. Insomnia is as much a part of my life as the sun setting and it’s been that way for as long as I can remember. Which is really just to say that I’m not going to lay the current bout of the doomy gloomies entirely at its door. But you know, being awake for all but three hours a day FOR WEEKS AT A TIME hasn’t exactly helped matters.
And then there was the winter. Or, more accurately, there was the clocks going back.
If winter was nothing more than five months of shitty weather punctuated by the useful distraction that is Christmas that’d be just fine and dandy by me. It’s the shrinking hours of light – the getting up in the dark, pootling around all day in the dark, coming home in the dark, the fact that the WHOLE OF YOUR LIFE IS DARK – that does for me. Thing is, I can make things dark enough for myself. I don’t need the actual dark filling up the corners I didn’t manage to get to.
And then there was the fact that, and I’m loathe to say it, I miss my old life.
I can’t bring myself to write a whole paragraph about that one. It speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Basically what I’m talking about is nostalgia. Mostly it breaks my heart.
I’m going to call time on this instalment – I’m finding it exhausting and I’m frustrated that my words ran out so soon.
I’m reminded that there were times in my life when I approached the EVERYTHING in increments. Out of bed. Kettle on. Cup of tea. Shower. Clean Pants. Endless trivial tasks, one after the other, and every one of them an achievement.
Life by increments.
It seemed so pointless to me at the time but, hey – it worked. There’s no reason that finding WeeGee and her voice can’t work that way too right? Little by little, step by step, bite by bite. After all. How else am I supposed to eat the elephant?
Stay tuned for the next exciting instalment of WeeGee losing herself and then spending AGES trying to find herself again…..
Meanwhile in other news Frank Turner has a new album today which gives me the perfect excuse to indulge.
Nothing else to report today save that I love you all lots and lots. Like lots and lots of Jelly tots.
My goodness, it’s been a while – so long in fact that I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve gone and forgotten all about me. I’ve been absent for months and months, for lots and lots of different reasons. In the end though, if I had to sum it up, my silence has really come about because I realised that some things in life deserve your absolute and undivided attention……
The last time we spoke I’d just moved to my new flat and, I think, I was getting ready to start my new job. Neither of those things seems very new any more. Such is the nature of time I guess but I’ve been surprised by how quickly I’ve settled in to things. I used to have one life and now I’ve got another. In many ways, it really has been as easy as that: things change, life moves on, WeeGee does her little thing. Yadder, yadder, yadder.
Of course, WeeGee doing her little thing is never REALLY easy. You know me of old and you know that I ALWAYS have to do things the long way round. I think I’ve learned that I’m a master of ‘keeping up appearances’, of being okay when I’m really not, of holding it together when everything starts to unravel. I suppose what it’s really all about is contradictions. I can be absolutely fine at the same time as being absolutely not. Increasingly I think that I’m the only one who knows the difference even though I’m the last person you’d trust to be in charge of stuff like that.
Let’s cut a long story short – if haven’t already cut it too long. The thing that needed my absolute and undivided attention was little old ME. I needed to take time to work out how it all felt, and what it all meant, and how on earth it was ever going to come together. Maybe you remember that I spent a long time figuring out what being ‘me’ was all about when I moved to Surbiton. I guess this past few months has been about me doing the same thing for the next chapter.
I shouldn’t hide it – there have been some pretty grim moments of late, because that’s just how the difficulties I have manifest themselves. My alien brain has been in over drive and it feels like a small miracle that I haven’t jumped out of any windows. Then again, I’ve learned to take my miracles wherever I find them.
There have been new meds. I tell you something, when it comes to the doomy gloomies they’ve been an absolute chuffing miracle – mainly because for the first couple of weeks I felt so UTTERLY NAUSEAUS that I couldn’t even think about the doomy gloomies and ever since then the raging heart burn has been pretty effective in keeping my thoughts focused on other things. Maybe it’s worth mentioning the couple of days when everything was AWESOME. Because that was AWESOME…..
I feel like I’ve checked in to say ‘Hey! Everything is just as wibbly wobbly as it was before’ but I haven’t really. I think maybe I’ve checked in to say that it’s been just as wibbly wobbly as its been before but that all the things I’ve learned up to now made it significantly less awful than it once would have been.
I think perhaps that you have you have to learn to live with yourself, and I think perhaps, that despite the mishaps, that’s still what I’m managing to do. Is it perfect? Well no, its mostly mental. But day by day I’m learning that there is a way to content yourself with that.
Meanwhile in other news it’s going to take me at least three million years to catch up on all the blogs I know and love and another squillion to discover all the new ones. Bear with me….
Since last I wrote I have mostly been being busy. I have also mostly been being without broadband – for TWENTY WHOLE DAYS. I swear to god you cannot begin to imagine how TRULY AWFUL that actually was. I spent days and days of my life trying not to be sarcastic to the tech dudes on the phone, but they were TOTAL freaking idiots and they were VERY VERY lucky not to get a poke in the chuffing eye….
Anyways – I’m back online now*, I’ve written my highly sarcastic email of complaint, and I’m starting to run out of busy so I decided that now was as good a time as any for a little update from WeeGee land.
I suppose the headline is that I’m all moved in and pretty much settled here in the new place with Mr Awesome Thing Number Five and, to cut a long story short, it’s AWESOME. Don’t get me wrong, the unpacking was a right royal pain in the backside, and there are still a few stray boxes kicking about but, you know, it feels a lot like home and he and I are rubbing along quite nicely together. We’re a pretty good team when all’s said and done.
I won’t lie – all this living together stuff is making for one heck of an adjustment. I knew I’d gotten used to living by myself, and I knew living with Mr Awesome Thing Number Five was going to be a HUGE change and a HUGE challenge. I’m working hard to mitigate, to make allowances, to compromise. I’m also working hard to look after myself and to give myself the priorities and space that I need. The thing is, it feels like working hard is worth every single ounce of effort it takes at the moment. Put simply – I’m having to work at life right now but life is good regardless.
It’s been a while since my last post and I’m a little rusty at this blogging lark so this was only ever going to be a short one. Will it do?
I’ll be back again in no time at all, just you wait and see. In the meantime, here’s a pretty little song: