Salmon Surfing Rocks Chapter 3 Health Part 1

Be KIND.  Don’t JUDGE. …Can you do that? It’s free to do, and rewards can be invaluable.

ASK then LISTEN. Be COMPASSIONATE…….can you do that?

It’s free, and can be priceless.

If the whole world practiced these skills on a daily basis, what a different world it would be. It’s a beautiful day today, let’s each of us make it better for ourselves and someone else.

The “ROCK” which I share next, I OWN totally. I was, and still am, totally responsible for the events and NO ONE else was at fault, or to blame. 

There are times in life when sh*t really dumps and hits the fan. On my surfing journey I hit a set of rapids with lots of rocks. Bouncing around, over these rocks, was extremely uncomfortable, and I came through battered and bruised, only to be slammed into the biggest rock of all, head first and at speed…….

 

Depression and Suicide

I have faced death, by my own hand, for I am a suicide survivor.

These are taboo subjects and little talked about, unless in “safe “ and trusted company.  In my view, we should be openly discussing and acknowledging the fact that these issues exist for a lot of people, to promote greater understanding and maybe stop preventable tragedy from happening if possible. So I’m going to open the conversation and tell my own little known story matter of factly and truthfully.

 

I had my first suicidal thoughts at 13 years of age. I get the feeling many adolescents do. Mine always got worse in the winter. Short dark days and long dark nights, miserable weather and all the stuff that adolescents have to endure and deal with……so many expectations,  unanswered questions and parental control of their lives . (If you have adolescent children keep a watch out for signs)

Each year the thoughts were a little stronger, but as I dealt with them year on year, I just thought they were a normal part of life. I learnt to function and cope despite them, but I would never, ever,  talk about what I was feeling. It was my secret, because if I admitted my thoughts, I gave them power, and I believed at the time, that would have made me a failure.

Bullying was certainly a factor and I was an easy target. But also high expectations and pressure to perform.

It wasn’t until my mid thirties when I turned up at my doctors in tears that I was actually made aware that these feelings were not normal. My doctor asked me, did I have any suicidal thoughts and I answered “yes, but that is just normal. Everyone does.” To which she replied “No they don’t, and no, it’s not normal”

I was then diagnosed with severe endogenous chronic depression, and put on medication.

I came to accept it was just part of me, part of my psych, and as a creative person, it served a purpose. It allows us to be who we are. I believe highly creative personalities do suffer with a depressive side, as demonstrated by the high number of deaths, overdoses and suicides of actors, singers and artists. 

Over time, and unrealised by me, my meds stopped being effective, and suddenly I found myself unable to work in my profession, financially vunerable, and also dealing with depression so severe I could not get out of bed. Yet I still had to function. I still had to earn a living and find a job. I still had to put on a mask and “be ok”.

Depression for me wasn’t feeling sorry for myself. It was like I had a 50kg weight on my chest. I had to think through a head filled with cotton wool, and I had a “dementor” (* Harry Potter) in front of my face, literally sucking my personality and life force out of me. My memory was affected, I couldn’t think straight and plan. I kept losing things and forgetting. I nearly walked out of a shop with something in my hand I hadn’t paid for. And I hurt all over. ( Chronic pain) on top of that I had drug resistant high blood pressure and was putting on weight. Feeling a complete and utter failure my self esteem was at an all time low.

I remember thinking “ Why do I have this extra, GRINDING, daily battle to get through,on top of everything else, just to be able to get up and deal with my painful and flawed reality, just to be able to function and deal with todays days sh*t.”

It literally felt like a living death and I was exhausted. But, get up I did, day after day after day until………

In order for my personality to survive, which I liked (fun bunny, good sense of humour and cup half full sort of creature as my friends knew me to be), I had to kill the depression  ( which I saw in my mind as being a totally separate entity) I knew what this meant and what I had to do. I felt that I couldn’t inflict an empty soulless failure of a human being on my family and friends, and I couldn’t go on fighting anymore, I had nothing left.

In my mind at that time, at least the memory of me would be retain the fun bunny me, the essence of who I truly was.

It was a rational and carefully planned decision to suicide.   With the knowledge I had I couldn’t fail. To fail was not an option as I would be facing my other nemesis.  

It all happened according to the plan. I gave myself up to the universe calmly, with a deep sense of inner peace and relief , and waited.

 

Even now I can’t explain how I am still here, but I believe it wasn’t my time, and I have a purpose to fulfill.  Death doesn’t scare me in least anymore, nothing does, and I no longer have that knawing depression.

If my plan had succeeded I wouldn’t be living the extraordinary life I am leading now or experiencing the joy of having got to be where I’m truly meant to be.

Writing this is part of my purpose, paying it forward if you like. If I can open one conversation, which saves one life, then part of my purpose is fulfilled. Be vigilant, look after your friends, check in on them, and be kind. Do not judge people who suffer with depression. It is very real but often goes unseen, being hidden in the closet. It can affect anyone at any time, with devastating consequences, and it is not failure to admit you are suffering. In fact, I would say it shows great strength of character and bravery. And as I keep saying, “ When you feel at your weakest is when you can grow to become your strongest”

I certainly did.

I have never looked back. I made a decision to survive and thrive , to not give in ever. The day after I left hospital having been detoxed, I was in an interview for a job (which I didn’t get by the way, but it wasn’t the right one for me anyhow)

I am extremely lucky…..I did not suffer any health consequences of my suicide. But I have seen the consequences dealt to others, being left in a living hell. Brain damaged, unable to walk , talk, or do anything for themselves . The horrific consequences of a lack of oxygen, following well meaning attempts at being rescued and resuscitated. Helpless and in full time care they have inflicted untold pain on themselves and on their families, who also have to live with the aftermath.

I have also seen the consequences of suicide after a friend and colleague ended her life at the age I am now. She was beautiful and vivacious. Life and soul of the party. A very able and respected practitioner. And yes, we knew there were difficulties, but were absolutely unaware as to the depth of her own personal torment and reality.She put on a brave smiling face. She left behind a young family and devastated community.

I wish she was still with us, but I empathise with why she did what she did. She will always be missed and remembered with love, for the person she really was.

I also know of many people who have been close to the brink, and sometimes it just takes one friend,  one hug, one phone call, or one courageous person to share their own story for a great outcome, and stopping a devastating one. Please if you are suffering TELL SOMEONE. WHERE THERE IS  LIFE THERE IS HOPE........and there is a solution and things can ONLY get better.

For EVERYONE ELSE BE KIND, LOOK, ASK and LISTEN…….can you do that?