world suicide prevention day

hey peoples.

Hope this blog finds everyone well. I am always honoured that people come by and read the stuff i have to say. I hope you have enjoyed the last couple of blogs, about Greenbelt. just to let you know, I have a third and final Greenbelt blog to post, which will come in the next few days.

However, today I want to write about something else. Because today, 10th September 2010 is World Suicide Prevention Day.

I am sure, that there are lots of blogs out there being written about today, and about this topic, so my thoughts may be nothing original or new /different or profound, however what they are is something personal to me.

I am no expert on this topic (or any other for that matter) and so all I have to go on is experience.

The experience of losing someone I loved, respected and had a lot of time for to suicide, and the experience of being in a place myself that felt like the blackest of black holes and no way to climb out of it, other than to think the best option was to die.

I was a young teen when we got a phone call, and my stepdad answered it. I knew then that something was wrong. He sounded serious. He often does, but it was a different kind of serious, and as he walked into the lounge, I knew in my heart that something had happened. As soon as he said A’s name, I put the pieces together, and knew. I don’t think I actually heard my stepdad telling me what had happened through the tears. Turns out, that A had felt he couldn’t go on any more. That was my first experience of the thing they called suicide. At that point, A was someone I trusted. He had been my youth leader for some time. Someone who hosted BBQ’s, who listened to my teenage woes, who talked me through issues when they were too much for my head to deal with. And to be honest, when i was that age I was a bit of a self absorbed. So much stuff was going on in my home life, with my brother being very unwell and a drug user, and issues with my biological dad as well, I kinda looked up to A, to be there, and had no real idea of what was going on behind ‘his smile’. The first I knew all was not so well was when he was admitted to hospital. for help. It didn’t.

I cant profess to know what was totally going on in his head. What his thoughts were. I cant profess to really know how his wife felt, and how his children coped, being very young and now beautiful young adults themselves, but dealing with the loss of a father they can only have a few memories of, as they were so little back then. I cant profess to know how his close friends felt.

The only thing I do know is that, for A, at that time, there was no other way out. None. It was his way out.

It was mine too …

April 2008 – I even remember the date exactly. My life had slowly fallen apart, over a period of a few years. I was physically unwell, and mentally in a mess. I was trying to hold on to little strands of hope, and every time I thought I had hold of one firmly it was snipped away, cut in half, broken.

I once wrote, on this blog, about feeling like a vase, being broken, into tiny tiny shards of glass. And each time glass was broken, I would think it couldnt break any more, but it did, until eventually it was a dust. Eventually, so broken there is nothing left.

Thats how i felt. thats how it was.

Its very hard to explain, because I dont know who is going to be reading this blog, and what your views are. Its hard to describe to people just how much pain and torment you can be in. Its hard to put across, that actually, there really is sometimes no way out.

I didn’t know where to turn. i couldnt see a turning. a right, a left, a forwards, or even a backwards. I couldnt see anything.

Well i lie, i could see something, it was hell. It wasnt something I could just ‘pray’ myself out of. It was not something I could just ‘get a grip’ out of. It wasnt something i could get out of without making sure I went to sleep, not to wake up again.

And , so to that end, thats what I chose to do. and took enough of the stuff I did to make sure I didnt.

Thing is , for me, I survived. Thats a whole different blog/story in itself, for another time. But i survived. It hasnt been easy since, but two years on and life is moving in a different direction, I am learning to live again with the help of some lovely super people, learning to love again, learning to smile again, and although the process is long, and sometimes very tiring, rebuilding life. and thats a good thing.

As part of that process, the last few months have seen me become more involved in supporting people with issues I myself have experience in. It involves chatting to other survivors of child hood abuse, it involves speaking out about stuff, it involves having a voice. And sometimes thats exciting, sometimes its scary too, but an important thing.

Thing is, the way I see it, is that its important that peoples perception of issues are challenged. Especially, issues such as suicide.

Its important people are not afraid to talk about it.

Its important for people to know we’re not freaks, and neither are the people who have gone before us and have not survived.

Its also important to acknowledge the pain and heartache suicide causes.

Which is why I have rambled on above.

To this end, today, on world suicide prevention day, at 8pm, in just a little while in my time zone, I shall be lighting a candle, in memory of those we have lost, those who have survived, and those who are affected by it.

I hope you are able to join me, and if you read this when the time has passed i encourage you to say a thought, or a prayer, or something in your own time.

Also, if you are struggling, the samaritans number is  – 08457 90 90 90 –  please give them a call, and i urge you to seek help.

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greenbelt – blog 2 – my angels

Greenbelt runs something called ‘Angels’, and thats the name given to people who give to the festival on a regular/monthly basis. Thats a great thing to do for some people, and I think it makes up something like 15% of their income, so is a good thing. However, I do happen to believe that there are many many Greenbelt Angels out there, regardless of whether they financially give every month or not. I know, actually there are thousands of them, people who give up their time to volunteer, people who have come to the aid of others, people who have dished out food and hot drinks to folk in need over the weekend because a)they’ve run out of gas b)tents blown down c)other reasons. They are people I have been hearing about all over Greenbelt 2010, for example the guy who came to the aid of a stranger who fell with plasters and walked her to the medical tent, its the people who welcomed a guy who was camping alone and ‘adopted’ him for the weekend as it was his first Greenbelt. There are lots of other stories, I could go on … but I wanted to, in this blog talk about a few of the angels who appeared for me over Greenbelt 2010, which made it an altogether better place to be.

While writing this blog, I am listening to Foy Vance, who wrote and sings a song called ‘Indiscriminate Act of Kindness’. Its a really beautitful song, with stunning lyrics. You need to check it out. But its a story, about a girl, and a guy who does the girl a favour, and expects no pay in return. Its about an act of indisciminate kindness.

I hope, everyone at some point, in their life time is at the receiving end of an indiscriminate act of kindness, I know for me, and my journey of living I have been , many many times. They can be huge things, which I have experience of, and they can be little things which I have also experienced through the last twenty something years. (this song moves me to beyond, and I may well write more about it at some other point)

Anyway, back to Greenbelt 2010. This year I was helped out by some angels, who displayed acts of kindness, they didnt have to.

Starting with a guy called Andy – thanks andy – I managed to rope Andy into meeting me on the Thursday, so I could borrow his air bed pump. After learning my lesson of having no air in a bed, I was adamant I would make sure that didnt happen this year, so before the weekend i put out a little advert on a greenbelt forum to see if anyone had an air bed pump I could borrow. As it happens it was raining when I arrived, and Andy, having worked a night shift was there to greet me, and then spent the next 30 minutes or so, in the rain, helping my drag all my luggage/tent/stuff around the site trying to find a friend and somewhere to plonk myself to set up. Turns out I didn’t even need to use his airbed pump, but he was such a gracious guy, smiling and chatting all the way, as i kept apologising for him getting wet. I suggested he perhaps regretted offering to help me out, to which he replied ‘i dont often regret things’ and smiled. What a star eh.

The second people I wanna mention, are my friends. Some really beautiful people. Who I love to pieces. Who have meant the world to me, and have been around by my side through my deepest and darkest times. They have sat on the phone and listened to me cry, be hysterical, teach me about living life, and it not being all bad, and when I stay with them, welcome me everyday into a new day. They are so super lovely. They are one of my small handful of peoples that I know throughout the weekend I can ring, and they would be there. The very fact I had those people in place, I think gave me safety, but an ability to know I could also just get on with enjoying the weekend. I was pretty blooming busy anyway all weekend. I didnt get to spend enough time with these people, which I am sad about, BUT they came by fairly early one morning, and whisked me away from the site for a couple of hours, for some tLC and shower love. It made  huge difference midway through an amazing but very busy/challenging weekend too, so thanks again.

The other people I’d like to mention, are the guys who helped me pack down on the Tuesday. Angels who appeared at the very right time, and who also smiled all the way through helping me out, despite the fact I then made us miss the shuttle bus (we did get a taxi though which was far nicer). These guys are people I have known a few years and generally meet up with at GB every year. Tuesday morning I was a wreck. I was exhausted. Hadnt slept well, and had had a bit too much wine the night before, so my head hurt 😉  I had no idea, having recruited Andy at the beginning of the week how to get my stuff out of the site. Several offers came in, from people, but whom I didnt wanna keep hanging around waiting for me. My body ached, my head hurt, and I pretty much wanted to sit and cry, having bravely said to one couple, friends of mine, that they should get off as i had no idea how long i’d be and i didnt want them hanging round for hours on end. As it happened, these angels who appeared, helped me pack, put down my tent, and got me and my stuff to the train station. They were amazing, and made my going home journey so much easier – so thanks to you too!

The last people I want to write about, in this blog anyway, are a couple who I have ‘tweeted’ with for a couple of years or so, i think. We met last year, for all of a few minutes, to have a hug and say hi. That was it. This year, I had the privilege  of meeting them and some of the people they were camping with for a coffee. Such lovely people online and in real life. I really enjoyed the drink they bought me, as I had no cash. What a way to scrounge a free drink (thanks for that). However, they became my greenbelt 2010 angels, on the last night. Monday night. After a very busy weekend, I was exhausted, a bit emotional because someone had just said something nice to me, and having not cried all weekend, it was due right?! Anyway, I was behind main stage, and ‘officially’ clocked off, after a manic day/weekend in fact. I walked out on to the field of the main stage, where the sun was just starting to come out/shine out brightly (maybe it was before, but I hadn’t really noticed it’, and for those of you who know the layout, i stood on the right hand side road. Alone. My phone, earlier that day had probably had a fit at being so overused it died. Properly. I was using someone elses spare phone, but had no phone numbers. Couldnt get in touch with anyone, no idea where people were. So, at that point, I think it hit. I had spent all weekend working, grabbing quick coffees here and there with friends, and then when I had the evening free, nothing to do, I couldnt find anyone/contact people, was a total billy no mates. At that point, with the tiredness mixed in, tears fell. Couldnt help it. And then my pocket vibrated (my phone). And a text came through, from someone, didnt know who saying ‘i’m behind you’. At that point I had a spin round, searched for a familiar face, and there, right behind me as they said, were my tweet friends. I went over, and got lovely hugs from them both, and a thank you for volunteering, which set me off with the old tears again. So lovely. And the really other lovely thing, is that they, and the friends they were with accepted me into their little group for the evening. So I sat, and watched, in the sun Foy Vance. Who by chance was on the mainstage, having graciously stepped in to take a slot after being asked due to someone pulling out last minute. I had wanted to see Foy Vance last year but missed due to volunteering, and likewise this year, so it just felt like a really fitting moment, that finally, I was sitting listening/watching him perform, with some people and just chilling. Really lovely, so thank you twitter people for loving me at that moment when i really needed it 🙂

I have more to say about Greenbelt 2010, so I think it’ll have to be in a third blog, as for now, I think I have said enough, other than to just say a huge thank you to all you quiet, background working, lovely angel people out there.

Greenbelt – Blog 1

Those of you who used to follow my old blog space will know that the last time I wrote about Greenbelt, I was unable to get it all into words in one post, without it being a mega essay, so did a series of GB blogs. I think this year will be similar. I am struggling to sit and write about ‘Greenbelt’ in one go, so shall be doing it in parts again.

this post, however I think is the introduction. For those who dont know what Greenbelt is or does, or means to be, it kinda mentions that. Then i’ll crack on with this years highlights 🙂

Greenbelt is, for me, a really special time of year, as I know and am sure it is for many other people too. Its kind of like the end of one year, and the beginning of another. Its my new year. Forget beginning of Jan, for me the time to take stock, to reflect, to think, look back, try to look forwards, move on and lots of other stuff is August Bank Holiday. Its at a racecourse turned into a festival site. Its a place, that when set up, a friend of mine once called ‘Gods Playground’.

Greenbelt is so many things for me. Its the place I first started to explore life as a ‘survivor’ … its the place where I was able to join a group of other people who all got together to support each other throughout the weekend, and its the place where I found some safety in a world that felt unsafe. Its the place where I first cried my eyes out until they ran dry, with someone sat beside me offering me tissues and a lighter for the ever many ciggies i kept lighting. Its the place I felt accepted, without condemnation and judgement.

Its the place where a few years ago I sat in the middle of the arena field area, trying to participate in a service by ‘Grace’ and which was communion. I was alone, and sat with a group of random people I had just joined, and whom took me ‘in’ so to speak, because every time I attempted to say something within the hour, I just cried. Those peoples patience was unending. They took me as I was. Which sums up Greenbelt for me. Its takes me as I am. (incidentally it was during that service, that I still have a rainbow coloured windmill from as a reminder – that I felt for the first time in a long time life might be worth living – gb that year fell just four months after my OD, so life was still very raw at that point)

Its the place where I have turned up broken, so totally, yet have found some peace. Its also the place, where I have turned up in a different moment and been able to contribute something to it (i hope!).

Its the place, where friends from everywhere descend. Its the place where friends who are so close and know me inside out are, and the place where those friends are ‘there’. Its the place where I know people are at, and if i just rang one of the handful of folk this apply to, they would be there, whatever time of day it is. Its a place where people I love are at.

i could go on and on … about what greenbelt is … and actually what it is above, is personal to me.

greenbelt is many other things, its talks, its music, its about peace, justice, issues. its about faith. its about people.

if you have never been, dont know what i am rambling on about check out http://www.greenbelt.org.uk

sorry if the above is a ramble, my next blog will be about some of my highlights.