Close your eyes

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Close your eyes and count to ten. The advice of the adult to the child as they learn to cope with the world around them. When being a grown up arrives we realise we should have got them to keep counting until they were ready to open them again. We know that ten seconds is a lifetime to a kid but it’s not enough for the adult mind.

I want to close my eyes and keep counting until the melancholic voice in my head stops; until the tears that are fighting to get out stop; until I feel human again.

It’s not anger I’m trying to make disappear but myself. I want this version of me to disappear and seeing the world in these dark and menacing shades begins to taint the more colourful days as memories cast a shadow over everything. I only want to see in colour not the monochromatic emptiness I can see today.

I wondered why I feel things are getting worse as time passes – the manic depression is changing pattern, not starting when expected or stopping when it should either. This depressive phase has been lurking around like Eeyore’s raincloud now for more than two weeks and I can’t seem to move from under it.

You yearn to feel human again Рto emote something other than indifference and in something other than a monosyllabic grunt. I hate what this illness is doing to my head and my life. It is shouting down all the positives and happiness and hope and leaving me with the only option: to close my eyes.

You want to power down; to hibernate until the shadow moves on. To only have positives in your vision and if that doesn’t happen then close out the view to stop it from being tainted. The problem is I know it’s not just what I see, but all my other senses are damaged by it too.¬†Music loses its impact. Songs that make you feel good are drained of heart and foodstuffs lose all flavour.

Looking out the window at the fog is an apt metaphor for my current state with very little in front of me being clear or even visible. In my head is a soup of “to do” lists, marking, paperwork, prep and home life. There is an inability to pinpoint things as they swirl around in a miasma behind my eyes. Life from this angle is sad, lonely and helpless.

I don’t write this looking for pity, but to see if by writing it down it helps alleviate the heaviness and confusion I feel. Instead today it just compounds the feelings. I see the misery I’m inflicting on the world and wondering why anyone would read such a miserable outlook on life. I hope that I can look back on this in a couple of weeks and begin to understand how best to prepare and protect myself for inevitable return of the black dog – at the moment that seems unlikely.

JD

To be or not to be

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Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. It seems such a sad thing to devote only one day a year to but I understand the need to raise the awareness of such issues. 

My experiences with suicide have been varied with people I have been close to attempting or succeeding to kill themselves as well as living with a mental condition where your own mortality is a constant thought. I don’t pretend to understand it, no one can really see the world through the eyes of another individual, but I can tell you how my brushes with it have had impacted on my life. 

In my experience where others have taken or tried to take their own life there has been anger and bafflement at why they would do something so stupid. How could they have even contemplated such a drastic solution to a potentially temporary problem? I’m not going to name names because it adds nothing to the story, but you look at them in a selfish way and wonder how they could do that to you. How can they put you and their friends and family through such a terrible time? 

I always saw suicide as something a younger person did. We’re always told that younger men are the main demographic for taking their own lives, but like any condition it’s a more complex issue. The main experience I had was of an older person who tried to take their life and it tore me up to think that an adult could behave like this. I was still young enough to see the generational difference in this light that I was a child compared to this adult. Only with maturity and hindsight I now have a better understanding of the situation they found themselves in. 

You see mental illness was the reason behind it and now I have been in those dark places too, as recently as this week. I don’t want to scare anyone but the thought of driving off a road or just closing my eyes and putting my foot down has often crossed my mind. The possibility of escape from this misery cage I can be trapped in seems so far removed sometimes that death does seem like a sensible option. It’s a fleeting thought because I know that it is not the answer and with so many people I love and can talk to it would be the wrong thing to do. 

And I think that the key is in the openness I have with my illness; nothing is hidden as I try to speak about it honestly at home, to friends and family, at work and here online. I don’t let the issues get bottled up or gain momentum. I not only have a personal support team around me, I know I have professionals who will help me if I need it too. 

I know not everyone who contemplates suicide has these things around them. I’m also more than aware that it’s not always mental health that causes the self inflicted ending of life. Physical problems, pain, guilt or just because are all possibilities too. 

So I suppose the question on a day life this is, “What can I do to help someone who may be suicidal?” Simply be there, be prepared to listen and don’t try to solve their problems for them. That thought of having those who love them around them and open to their concerns may help in stopping the ultimate reaction. 

On a sadder note, if you do all that and something still happens – be prepared to accept the decision was beyond anything you or anyone else could have done. Sometimes the decision to take your own life cannot be understood, explained or stopped. 

If you are struggling, remember there are people who can help you. Just ask.

JD