Saturday 7 March 2015

Suicide Silence: Stole

I was scrolling through Facebook last week to find that a girl I knew had posted an R.I.P message but didn't say who it was for. I messaged my brother to see if he knew since he still regularly attends religious events and would have some idea of what was going on.

He told me it was one of the sons of my high school best friend's bus driver. He had taken his own life at 15.

I'd kind of known him from the times I went to my best friend's house and he'd been on the bus or from wandering around school. It was hard to believe he was gone. I could only imagine what his family and close friend were going through.

I remembered being that age and contemplating suicide myself. I hated nearly everything about my life and didn't see the point in living if I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was in love with a guy that I knew would never be able to love me back, my parents were too busy with their own emotional turmoil to notice how much I was suffering with life in general, I wasn't any step closer to achieving my dreams and I was just tired of everything. I got sick of fighting to stay alive and just wanted to give up.

The only reason I went to school was because of 4 boys in my class. My crush was one of them, but he wasn't the highlight given the number of times he'd (albeit unintentionally) broken my heart. They were like One Direction, just musically-challenged. Every day I would go to school just to see what they'd do. On the days when they talked to me I went home feeling invincible and like nothing could bring me down, which usually changed the moment I got home and my parents negativity slapped me in the face. On the days they ignored me, I went home wondering if anyone cared or would miss me if I ended it all.

It was crazy to think that a group of 4 boys could have such a powerful affect, but then I think of boy bands and even solo artists like Justin Bieber. So many people take the piss out of them because it's the 'cool' thing to do, but I remember reading one girl talking about when her sister starting listening to JB, she stopped cutting herself and for that she was immensely grateful to him.

While the circumstances surrounding his death aren't known to me, or possibly haven't been religious public knowledge, I told my therapist that I could understand what it was like to want to take your own life.

My 9th grade English teacher told us during one of his classes that suicide is the most cowardly and selfish thing you can do. He made us read, write and repeat it until he was convinced the message had sunk in. Looking back on it, I think that was a premeditated warning of things to come. At the same time, when it comes to mental illness, it's kind of a different ballgame. I can see how it can be seen as a selfish or cowardly act, but I can also understand how you would be driven to feel like it's the only way out.

In the documentary 'I Am A Girl' which I watched just recently, Katie, the Australian girl, talked about her battle with depression and said that when you're in that mindset of feeling so low about yourself, you honestly believe that you're doing everyone a favor by ending it all because you feel like such a burden to them.

That's kind of how I felt. So invisible and insignificant, as if something happened to me and I disappeared, no one would notice or care. It doesn't matter how many times or ways people try to convince you otherwise, if you're certain or set on believing that you have no meaning or purpose in life, I don't think anyone or anything can change that for you, especially if you're not willing to let them or it.

Mum, with her mental illness, spent most of her time asleep. When I got home of an afternoon she'd usually be resting on the bed until dinner time. The worst part was, I didn't really know how to distinguish between my mother as a person and the illness that took over her, to me they were one and the same.

Dad, struggling to deal with the cards life had dealt him, spent most of his time in the study avoiding everything because it was too hard otherwise. I only realized later in life that most of his negative words or actions towards me were just him trying to process everything and I was an outlet of sorts. I know he meant me absolutely no harm, I was just the only person he could open up and talk to about it even if I was too young to really understand it all.

My brother was similar. He and I didn't really talk much growing up and everyone in my family just did their own thing at home. There was very little sense of family or community within our family unit, it was like we were just biological housemates with familial titles.

Music for me was the biggest saving grace imaginable. There was a song for every mood, thought or feeling. Most of 10th grade was spent listening to Evanescence's 'Fallen' on repeat. Almost every day after school I would come home, put the CD on and fall asleep in a cocoon of their sound.

I also loved bands like Three Days Grace, Papa Roach, Breaking Benjamin, and particularly resonated with Simple Plan's 'Welcome To My Life'.

I was sure I had depression, possibly because mum had and I figured that if I slept nearly as much as she did, I must have it too. I didn't have it diagnosed, or rather didn't diagnose it myself and inform the doctor until after I finished high school and felt intensely emotional every single day.

After getting a mental health care plan sorted I started the process of seeking counseling and found the therapist that I still see to this day.

When I found out about the guy from school and how he'd died, I put a status on Facebook trying to reach out to people who may be affected by negative thoughts, confusion or mental illness. Speaking from personal experience without making it personal seems to be that much more effective and sincere I think.

"To anyone who's ever felt alone, unloved, unwanted, insignificant, confused, neglected, undeserving or just made to feel like they shouldn't exist. Whether you're feeling immense pressure from others or the world around you, you don't know what you're doing, who you are or where you're going, I promise you, you are not alone. Every negative thing people have said to you or made you feel has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Never let anyone dull your shine or take what's rightfully yours away from you. If you feel like you're trapped or don't have a choice, voice or opinion, find something that makes you happy and hold onto it with everything that you have. Life goes on and it will definitely get better if you believe it will. Whatever you do, don't give up because you'll miss the best part and that's something you'll never be able to get back. When you look back on your life after all you've been through, they will be some of the most valuable years because they made you who you are and ultimately helped you get to where you are today."

Life gets everyone down at different times and if, like me, you feel trapped, lacking purpose and meaning, it's up to you to do something about it.

One of the things dad has said to me over the past few years that mum's condition is that people who are mentally ill are the only ones who can do anything about it. They need to recognize that there's a problem and then be willing to seek help. Mum didn't see her illness as anything serious despite taking various medications for it for significant amounts of time. This left the rest of us just trying to keep up with her for the most part.

A final note: if you feel the need to talk to someone, even if you think that no one will listen, that you're problems aren't important, or even that no one could possibly understand. I promise you there is someone out there who will, you just need to be willing to take the first step. Acknowledging that you aren't okay and there is a problem is a huge thing, but it's also incredibly brave and noble. Admitting that you are in fact human and there's things that you need help with IS NOT A BAD THING! It's incredibly admirable.

When it comes to matters of life and death, don't stay silent, don't let your life be in vain, don't let people's attitudes towards you dictate how you live your life or the thoughts that go on in your head!

If you're ready to talk, try one of the numbers below to get started. It could be the best thing you'll ever do for yourself.

Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Help Line (under 25 years) 1800 551 800

Kaan Pete Roi

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1800 273 8255
Kids Help Phone (under 20 years) 1800 668 6868

Samaritans 08457 90 90 90, 116 123 (free call for Republic of Ireland residents)

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