Up To Our Necks In It

I wouldn’t normally reproduce a friend’s Facebook status on here, but this has been with me all day.

Thanks Nige, for letting me reproduce this post from yesterday:

We were just driving over the Tasman Bridge and I saw a young lady climbing over the rail. I said to Rachael look she is going to jump. Took eyes off her, back onto road as we passed. Then I looked in the mirror and I saw her fall. Please, if you are feeling this way, seek help.

There’s a picture of the Tasman Bridge at the top of this post. It’s a beautiful bridge and this wonderful shot was taken by my good mate, Stu the Lens Genius.

Sadly, it’s also a place of sorrow for some families. I’ve driven past a guy being talked down off the bridge. Thankfully, I’ve never been in Nige’s position and driven past as someone jumped.

There’s nothing you can do to stop someone if they’re determined to jump and you’re driving by. The bridge is five lanes of moving traffic and there’s nowhere to pull over. The footpath is elevated from the road, with a fence making the physical barrier even more pronounced. Getting to someone quickly would not be a simple thing.

Nige’s FB post stuck with me today for a couple of reasons.

First, I can visualise exactly where he was and what he saw. I drove over that bridge nearly every day when I was living in Hobart.

The other reason is because today was a particularly shitty day. I had 5 big things happen today. Two of them – the things I had control over – turned out well. The other three turned out not so well. They turned my head inside out, in fact. They were beyond my control, my influence. They were things that I wish I could make better, but I can’t.

I’ve never felt anywhere near the level of desperation that that young lady felt, but I have endured my own little battle with the black dog over the last few years. It’s not fun.

Sometimes you know what’s causing it. Sometimes you have no idea. Sometimes you want to punch the crap out of someone/something. Sometimes you just want to lock yourself away and not face anyone ever again.

Sometimes you’re fine. For me, that’s most of the time. I can do my job, make decisions and engage with the people around me. And sometimes the choice between milk or fruit juice is too much to bear.

That sounds irrational, I know. But that’s how it gets sometimes.

I’ve been fortunate, I guess, to have what I would call a pretty mild case of depression. It relates more to my circumstances than the chemical imbalance that afflicts so many people. I can easily find myself dwelling on the things I don’t have in my life rather than taking satisfaction from the things I do have. I get overwhelmed by perceived obstacles, expectations or tasks.

Sometimes, the stuff that other people blow off pretty easily, that’s stuff I take to heart. Politics is a big one. I don’t get depressed because the side that I support might lose. I get depressed because I see, quite vividly, the dangers ahead for those less fortunate who have to fend for themselves in a dog-eat-dog society (which, sadly, my home country seems to be heading towards).

In lighter moments, I like to blame J.D. Salinger for this, but I know I’m just wired that way anyhow.

Sometimes stuff builds up in your mind and you’re powerless to stop it. It just takes over, no matter what you do. You can spend time with friends or family, get some energy and positivity in your life. But the anxiety, the darkness – it’s all there waiting for you like a retarded friend.

Sometimes I’m convinced that it’s like an addiction, as if the only way I can feel contentment is if I’m fighting something. Fighting to be at peace – an oxymoron of ‘murican proportions if ever I’ve heard one.

See, there I go again.

The strange thing about all this is that if you ask me what’s missing in my life – what do I think I need to be happy? – I’m not sure I could tell you. I could tell you what’s in my life that brings me times of happiness – my work, my family, my friends, music. But I can’t identify the missing piece that might bring lasting happiness. It’s just…… missing. Is it emotional intimacy? Personal vulnerability? Feeling part of something bigger?

I don’t know. I really don’t.

——

A message to those who might read this and get concerned – I’m OK. I really am. 100%.

It’s just that Nige’s FB post resonated with me today. I feel so bad for that young woman and her family. I understand a little about feeling overwhelmed, about feeling dark, but I’ve never ever been even close to that place. Even with the challenges I have, there’s way too much to live for. I just feel so much for her, crossing that line.

This piece is simply because I wanted to work it through. Writing about it helps sometimes.

——

I have friends who have been through depression. I have friends who are still battling with it. I can offer no solutions, other than to say you’re in my thoughts and I wish I could be there more often for you.

I wish we could be there more often for each other.

——

You may also like

7 Comments

  1. I would like to say some words of comfort but I can’t find any. It’s such a sad world. I feel bad for the girl and her family. Tragic events of this kind are just too numerous for anyone to be happy all the time.
    Although I have never met you in person Swade, I see you as one of the most balanced persons I know. Please stay that way.

  2. Wow…my heart breaks for that unfortunate woman and her family. So many people are struggling day to day, in “quiet desperation” (…with a nod to Roger Waters). I’ve struggled with depression in my life but never with utter hopelessness. For that I thank God every day. Not to get “religious” or anything, but prayer gets me through the tough times. By the grace of God I haven’t hurled myself into Boston harbor during the dark days. Stay strong my friends! And Steven, if you make it back to Boston for Swedish car day one of these years, I do owe you a pint or two. Your writing via Trollhattan Saab and SU over the years meant the world to me! Keep forging ahead…

    Mark

  3. I feel for the woman, her family and her friends. I’ve always felt suicide is the hardest death to mourn. I’ve known three suicides well enough they knew my name and I knew theirs. None of the three were especially close to me, but those who were close have been devastated for life, really. ‘Why?’ is difficult to answer for those left behind.

    I, too, have suffered more than my share of depression and I’ve recently come to grips with how my own mind works through a mix of ancient wisdom and modern interpretation. It’s been a relief to have knowledge that works. The ‘positive thinking’ self-help stuff never really washed with me. I suspect many feel the same.

  4. Suicide by a child must be one, if not the toughest things to deal with in life. I’m hoping the parents and relatives of this young woman will come together to support each other in the time of need.

    To anyone struggling emotionally I can strongly recommend a book by Steven Hayes called: Get out of your mind and into your life.
    It is the most impressive work on human thinking I’ve ever come across. You can get it as an audio version online. For example at: http://www.audiobooksnow.com

  5. I known a couple of people who committed suicide, one very well, one was the sister of a friend of the family. Of the one I knew personally there was warning signs, I and the rest of her friends just didn’t see it as we were so young at the time. Its the curse of youth, not seeing what’s in front of you.

    Thankfully the next time I saw the signs I was able to give their family the heads up that something was amiss and they were able to intervene in time.

    The other, the mother is now realizing all the signs she missed and I don’t think she’s really going to recover from it.

    What I learnt from all this is that people who really want to do it, will do it, and you have to help pick up the pieces afterwards. The bigger challenge is spotting those who are two minds about suicide and to try and get them help.

    2016 felt like a totally crap year and 2017 is looking to move in the same direction. What I keep telling myself is that there is hope out there because otherwise millions of people wouldn’t be in the streets marching and simple acts of kindness can change someone’s life. Oddly enough I found reading this book a help over the last few days. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16130537-the-humans

  6. Thanks for your thoughts and experiences, folks. And to those of you who have emailed me privately about this article.

    For those who are wondering – I’m fine. My worst period was a few years ago. Today I have the occasional down day, but no more than anyone else, really.

    The post was more to raise awareness that depression is not unusual. Care for those around you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *