I met up with a fella I knew from Uni yesterday.
We played rugby together back then.
We met by pure chance in France on the same cycle trip as each other about 12 years ago, having not seen each other for 20 odd years, and we met a few times after that. The last time I saw him was just a few weeks after I was paralysed. He came to see me in hospital and I remember thinking how nervous he seemed. Yesterday I mentioned that, and he confessed to having been ‘ shitting himself’ seeing a mate who had so nearly died and was now 30 KGs lighter and forever disabled.
Not having ever read this diary he didn’t know much else about what happened next either. I skipped through the more significant bits, including my very very nearly successful suicide, and we talked a lot about depression. It’s very trendy now to have mental health issues, and at least publicly it has lost its stigma. In reality though it hasn’t. People are still really uncomfortable with it. Those that don’t can’t relate to those that do, but those that do can relate very well. Unless you have experience then it’s not something you can appreciate properly. I had no clue until my injury and the aftermath, I have to say.
I didn’t know a lot about my buddy’s ‘ history’. He told me about his violent father, who beat him, his sister and his mum. He told me how he eventually got to an age and weight when he could fight back, and did when he heard his father took it a step too far by raping his own daughter.
After giving his dad a taste of his own violence, he left home and never saw him again ( hearing more recently of his death ).
Perhaps his childhood traumas were responsible for his depression in adulthood, despite an extremely financially successful career and 2 kids he doted on. When he told his wife he just had to leave her, it went badly, and cost him everything he’d ‘ built ‘. One child sees him a lot, his other refuses to. They are both now adults. For many years he pondered suicide, but meeting a brilliant lady seemed to be his salvation. He quit his lucrative career and now does something he enjoys, for far less Money.
We talked a lot about depression. Let’s face it, I’ve had my moments, and he was visibly shocked when I described what I’d done to myself in 2017, particularly when I described the scene I found in my bedroom upon my return from hospital. Tbh it was hard to believe that someone who had left that much of his blood in that room could still be alive. It seems like a long time ago now, though isn’t really. I said that by and large I don’t feel down anymore, though sometimes I have fairly acute but short lived feelings of not wanting to be here.
Listening to all the Caroline Flack stuff reacquaints me with the mindset that only seriously suicidal people can know, and I imagine that most of those people don’t actually survive to talk about them. These days they call the people that seem to push you to do it the Haters. Some of those Haters do it ‘ actively’ and others push you passively by not making any attempt at all to help save you. Inaction can be as damaging as more obvious unpleasantness.
So if you know someone that you think is very down, if you do care at all then do something to help them. Please don’t do nothing, is my advice to you. Tributes after they are gone are inexcusably insufficient.