Some thoughts on World Suicide Prevention Day
I know it’s a difficult topic and it’s ok if you can’t read it because it triggers too much pain 💛 - things will get better
It’s World Suicide Prevention Day today, and so it’s important to me that I honour my brother Eoghan, who died by suicide at the age of 14, 24 years ago.
People with ADHD are far more likely to die by suicide. We are constantly exposed to micro aggressions, prejudice, judgement, and our lives can feel out of control, especially when undiagnosed and unsupported.
Just to put that in perspective, it is estimated that people with ADHD are five times more likely to attempt suicide. According to a University or Toronto study, 23.5% of women with ADHD have admitted attempting suicide, compared to 3% of the regular female population.
Eating disorders are a regular co-morbid, as is depression, anxiety and self-harm. It’s hard, really hard, although it does get easier when you accept yourself and learn to navigate your own way. We will start working on that in my next newsletter. It’s already written so it will be soon.
Anyone who has experienced this singular life-changing heart wrenching pain of losing someone to suicide (no words are strong enough) will know that this is with you every single day.
In truth, that’s ok, I am happy that Eoghan is in my thoughts so much. I would never want to forget him. I am the oldest and he was the youngest, with 3 siblings in between, and we were so alike in every way. I had pictured a life where we would live together, I thought in San Francisco. Life didn’t work out that way.
It took a long time, but I can think about him now without feeling crushing pain. I still feel pain, of course, it’s a process, it takes a long time, and we are all different in how we process emotion and pain. What we do have in common is that we all experience it.
If you are suffering too, you will get to another side, I promise you. Not where you were before but you will have fun again, and laugh spontaneously and have enthusiasm for your life and everything in it. The pain increases your empathy and emotional gamut, and enriches you in ways you would never imagine. While we would never choose it, it is where we are, and so we must accept it. That’s the challenge.
Allow yourself to experience the pain. Get therapy (it’s the best thing that I ever did). If it doesn’t work out the first time, try again. You deserve it, and we don’t all connect with everyone. It’s normal and human and totally ok.
I see a lot of social media posts telling people to talk, telling people to reach out. I know it is meant in kindness but that is now how things are.
Depression doesn’t look like sadness most of the time. It is emptiness, it is exhaustion, it is burning rage. It is a sense of disconnection, of hopelessness, of forgetting who you are, of living an endless repeating incredibly painful day.
It is our responsibility to keep an eye on those around us and respond to the changes in them appropriately, and their pain. We didn’t know and it haunts me, but I also know that often most people don’t know.
We are community, we have a responsibility. And we need to honour those around us, whether we know them or not. We need to embrace difference, the world is so much better with it, besides. Someone is different to me? Great! I want to know all about it. Sit down here with me and tell me all about it. People’s stories are the best thing.
So maybe that person lives in a way that you cannot relate to? Difference is certainly not something to be afraid of. We need to respect each other. All of us deserve respect and love. Love is not just romantic love either, it is care and kindness and affection. It’s the everyday little things that come with being open and accepting people.
The word depression distances us from the reality of the experience. It’s essentially down to pain and often trauma, and sometimes biology, yes, but often society and us, yes all of us, are the problem.
We need to let everyone be who they are. More than that, we need to celebrate them. Especially if they live on the fringe and they know that.
If someone’s life choices make you uncomfortable, that comes from you, and you need to free yourself of that by interrogating it. It will be a freedom, trust me. Because it’s your problem, not theirs.
Now I know that sounds harsh. None of us are perfect. I have made many mistakes and I will continue to. Be less afraid of making mistakes and understand that most people are forgiving. It will all be ok.
In terms of people in our lives who are hurting, we just need to be aware of them. Real true living awareness, where we spot changes that are subtle. Depressed people are often the sunniest person in the room, or know very well how to make themselves invisible. You might notice that they start cancelling arrangements, are suddenly too busy to meet up, that they overreact to small things.
When a friend confides in you that they are depressed, never shut that down by saying that everyone experiences that. Hold space for them, and listen to them, and honour how they feel. It’s hard, but you are more than capable. Teach yourself some breathing techniques to calm your nervous system and teach them too. These are simple and powerful techniques. Go for walks in nature with them if they are up To it too.
We need to stop projecting all of our stuff on to these people in our lives. Our people, yes ours. All of our fears, our own pain, anything that becomes a barrier for us in terms of reaching out to them. Because it is down to us, not them. It’s never simple, it’s never easy, but together, we can pull each other out of most things. Remember this is not about you, but you can help.
Tidy their home for them, do the wash-up, help organise their bills, do the laundry. Accompany them to the doctor. Ease their fears and let them know they are not alone, Order a takeaway and sit in silence with them while you both eat. Fill their fridge with food. Cook for them. Just be there, and if they really don’t want you to be, respect that, but let them know that you are always available and check in regularly.
For any of you who have been in the space, and I have been very open about my own mental health struggles over the years, know that most people are good and that they do care. You have my empathy and understanding, trust that everything comes around and that it will be ok.
Live your life in your truthful authentic way. For every one of us it is different. We live in an oppressive society that crushes difference. Living your truth is the only way to live. We can change that oppressive society, and we will. Every person who makes the change, makes things better.
Very few people start their lives in their truth and maintain it. We are usually told from a very young age that it is not ok. It is though, it is more than ok. It is powerful, it is beautiful, and it is what you deserve today and everyday.
There is always time to redirect yourself into your joy, through the pain. We have to go through the pain. As psychiatrist Stanislav Grof says, experiencing an emotion is the funeral pyre of that emotion. Even if you think you are not dealing with it, you absolutely are, every single day.
It’s never too late for a fresh start and a new direction. Today is the perfect day.
If people around you now can’t appreciate that, know that there are a lot of people in your future who will love you for you who are. And you will love them too. It’s ok to leave oppressive people behind. I would say it is essential. They might even change, I have seen it happen.
Step into the light it’s where you belong 💛✨