Don’t forget to shout…

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. It’s a wet, grey day & my mood is bleak, so it seems like an apt day to talk about suicide. Although, to be honest I want you to do more than talk about it.

Suicidal ideation impacts the lives of more people than you would imagine (1 in 5). It’s not rare for a person to reach a point where they are so desperate that they just don’t want to continue. In my experience those thoughts are insidious. Once you have seriously considered ending your life, it enters the sphere of available options. So, whilst I absolutely do not want to die; I can’t deny that occasionally at really bad times ‘kill myself’ would be the last entry on my list of possibilities. What makes it a remote last resort rather than an actual risk is a combination of factors. People love me, I love them, there is joy & purpose in my life. The only reason I can recognise & enjoy those factors is years of intensive support from mental health professionals. I am grateful for the people who stood by & helped me access the treatment I needed because without that professional intervention, I would certainly be dead.

World suicide prevention day

So, yes, I do want to us all to talk about this. I want to break the taboo. I want people suffering to not be silenced by shame. It is important that you listen to loved ones in trouble. It matters that you care, but what is even more important is that there are effective mental health services to seek help from. Talking & listening isn’t going to save anyone unless it’s backed up by solid treatment. In short, we need better mental health services.

There is no point in asking people to reach out for help when none is available. A cup of tea & chat with a friend is nice, but it will not solve the underlying issues that lead to suicide. We need to be able to offer people more than a 6 month waiting list for a hand full of CBT sessions. When your loved ones tells you they want to die, you should be able to take them to a dr & get them immediate help. Instead the current response is often no beds & here’s a crisis team number.

I want you talk about suicide. I want you talk about mental illness. I also want you to do more. Don’t vote for people who will continue to decimate the NHS. Find out how the mental health services are performing in your area. Write to your Mp/Msp about provision of those mental health services. Sign petitions. Write to newspapers. Share your experiences. Do everything within your power to raise the profile of mental health services. We are failing really vulnerable people everyday. We beg them to ask for help & then tell them none is available. If you really want to help those struggling with suicidal thoughts, you have to do more than talk. We have to fight to give them another credible way to end their pain.

Actions speak louder than words

Find your MP here.

Find your MSP here.

Check your MP’s voting record here.

Advertisements

For your babies…

I’m sitting on the sofa trying to be still because my baby nephew is asleep on my shoulder. He just shifted a little, gave a big sigh & squeezed my arm with his chubby fingers. I can feel his breath on my neck & smell his milky breath. I’m in heaven. This is as close to complete contentment as I get.

I’m exhausted. My back hurts. My knee is throbbing. Yet, I feel happy & at peace. Soon he’ll wake. At first he’ll be confused. He always wakes up suspicious, checking all around him. I think he forgets where he was when he fell asleep. Once he has his bearings his face will break into a big smile. He’ll look at me like he is utterly delighted to discover I am here & I’ll melt for the millionth time.

I feel the same swell of love with all niblings. At the weekend I listened in wonder as my 2yr old nephew sang me the whole alphabet. My heart almost burst as these two beautiful boys played together. Bigger cousin being so gentle with his smaller counterpart. Baba giggling & crawling, so eager to play with his best friend. Every new skill he masters is wonder. I still relish every time he says Auntie Lynsey. The pride & excitement never wears off.

Earlier I FaceTimed his big cousin. She’s 8 yrs old & nearly as tall as her Mum. I remember her being this size like it was yesterday. I’ve watched her grow & learn, loving every single stage. Gone is our baby girl. My Muffin now wants to share her thoughts on cubism & send me animated gifs representing how her day went. Her report card not only applauded her academic achievements, but noted how she goes out of her way to be kind. She’s incredible. They all are. My siblings make good babies.

I am so honoured to have the to opportunity to help mould these precious little lives. They bring me a joy that cannot be replicated. Every smile & giggle & kiss & ‘I love you’ make all my struggles seem void. It is easy to be overwhelmed by what I don’t have. Life is bloody hard, but it feels ridiculously easy when I cause a smile to light up their faces.

Perhaps the next best thing can be enough. You have to take your wins wherever you can find them.

Cold water surrounds me now…

I’m having one of those days when my emotions feel like they might sink me. It’s like all the feelings I usually keep in check have escaped & flooded the room. It’s hard to breathe or concentrate on anything other than keeping my head above water.

Luckily, I’m a strong swimmer. I know the worst thing one can do when in rough waters is panic. I need to take deep breaths whenever possible & focus on getting to dry land. All of which means sunday hit me a little harder than I expected. Mother’s Day always gives me pause, but this time last year I was pregnant. Now, here I am, still childless. Still trying not to lose hope. It does feel hopeless at times. When all the hurt & negativity bubbles up it is hard to see a point. What am I doing? Where is life taking me?

That is when I have to reach for reason. I must force myself to get sickeningly, happy clappy. In short, I count blessings. There are many & if it doesn’t make you cringe too much, I’m going to share a few.

Love. I have love in my life.

I have many beautiful little people.

Potatoes. Boiled, roasted, chipped, baked, in scones! A world with potatoes can not be all bad.

I have a very big & very comfortable bed.

And someone I like rolling around in it with.

I’m smart. I’m funny. I’m pretty fucking tough.

I was lucky enough to be born in a place that offers me safety.

I adopted the very best puss cat.

I have access to quality healthcare.

I got to be young in the 90’s.

I’ve seen the sunset on a beach in Corfu, cuddled a koala in Brisbane, watched fireworks from castle ramparts in St Malo, walked in The Beatles footsteps in Hamburg, ice skated in a snowing Central Park, got so wasted I lost one shoe in Amsterdam & so much more.

I have sung beloved babies to sleep.

Watched them take first steps & their personalities unfold.

I have a roof over my head.

Food in my belly.

Some really cool shoes.

And plenty to look forward to.

I don’t have everything, but what I do have adds up to enough. Life goes on. Life is good.

Go gentle…

This year World Mental Health Day has intersected with Baby Loss Awareness week resulting in lots of media/online talk about both subjects. Obviously, this presses pretty much all of my buttons as my mental health has historically (& currently) been so interconnected with my losses.

I believe society’s discomfort of miscarriage increases the distress experienced by those who live it. Feeling that I could not talk about my loss certainly compounded the trauma of my first miscarriage. There is a massive crossover between mental illness & baby loss, I believe part of that is how we treat people who have to deal with either issue. I also believe that making really simple changes in attitudes would allieviate so much pain. Miscarriage & infant loss will always be horrific, but if we allow people to openly explore & process those losses long term mental illness can be avoided. Or at the very least recognised & treated. 


Miscarriage  & other types of baby loss affect many people. We can all help make their lives easier by following these straight forward suggestions.

1. Acknowledge the loss.

Many people feel so uncomfortable about this kind of loss that they simply don’t acknowledge it. I know that this often comes from a good place, one might fear upsetting a grieving parent or intruding on their privacy.  I get that, but trust me, the silence is worse. If you know that someone has miscarried a simple ‘I am sorry for your loss’ goes a long way. Having people recognise that you have suffered a loss is massive. Too often those of us who have experienced miscarriage are  left feeling that our child only existed for us. Having people in your life affirm that the life you carried was real & had worth is extremely valuable. 

2. Really listen. 

Asking someone how they are, sending love etc is a good gesture, but if you really want help, listen to their response. When I lost my first baby what I really needed was to talk about it. I desperately needed to express how I felt & what I was struggling with, but never felt it was ok to do so. Burying those emotions compounded my trauma & led to a complete breakdown. If someone needs to talk about their experiences, please let them. 

3. Respect the grief.

When you have a miscarriage you grieve. Your grief is not only for the baby you have lost, but also for the life you have been planning. Grief is a very personal thing, everyone does it in their own way & on their own timetable. Wether that involves a memorial service, commemorating an anniversary, a tattoo or even never speaking of it again, please respect that. Don’t judge or rush.  Be supportive of whatever your grieving friend needs . There are no right or wrong ways to heal, even if you feel uncomfortable with someone’s chosen expression of grief. Just be kind & remember it is not your journey.


4. Don’t hide baby news.

I understand the urge to shield loved ones from pain. Certainly be sensitive, but share & celebrate your baby news. I can guarantee that although it may sometimes be painful I never want to dampen anyone’s joy. Losing a baby is hard, but it does not prevent me from being thrilled for other people. Any tears I have to shed will be done in private & are only my concern. I want all good things for everyone that I love. I absolutely adore the beautiful little people my siblings & have friends have been blessed with. I have never met a person who had suffered a loss who felt any differently. 

There you have it. Four straightforward pieces of advice that may lighten the load of someone who is suffering. All you have to do is swallow your discomfort, listen & be respectful. Surely, that’s not too much to ask? 

This week I have been mostly…

Feeling jolly. Yup, I’ve been rocking the Christmas tunes. In my continued quest for a joyuex noel I’ve been playing all the xmassy songs that give me the good feels. 

Ok, let’s get cheesy. Mariah is so not my style, but who doesn’t love her festive offering? I have been singing along & thinking about someone dreamy since my school days. Some of those objects of my affection make me blush to remember. The song, however, remains untarnished. 

You know, I’m not even entirely sure that Mull of Kintyre is a Christmas song, but I always play it at this time of year. Now, maybe it’s because I’m Scottish or perhaps it’s my soft spot for Paul, but it swells my heart. It’s a song that makes me think of home & family & love. I suppose that’s what Christmas means for me.

John Lennon’s Christmas isn’t your standard merry track. It does, however  have that ‘make you think’ quality. I think this tune was probably easier to love in my youth when accomplishments stacked up with ease. These days when I think about what I’ve done in the preceding 12 months I often worry I’ve come up wanting. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be Xmas with John & sadly his message remains salient. 

I have saved the best for last. Not the most original choice, but one that is dear to my heart. The Pogues & Kirsty McColl’s bittersweet tale of love in the big apple hits my spot. That chorus fills me with seasonal warmth & those lyrics, oh the lyrics.

‘ you took my dreams from me

when I first found you.

I kept them with me babe

I put them with my own 

can’t make it all alone

I’ve built my dreams around you.’

They’re almost enough to make me consider kissing Shane McGowan. 

Snow is falling…

I’m diving into the festive spirit this year. Love & sparkle & food & presents are exactly what I need. I’d like to finish this dodgy year on a high point & so, I am immersing myself in all things joyous. 

First up, my nails. I don’t mind telling you my normally pretty talons have been looking a tad shabby of late. Not anymore; they are now shiny & bejewelled. How can my joy quota not be upped when I have diamontes shimmering on my fingers.

  

Unfortunately doing your nails whilst incredibly sleep deprived can sometimes make your snowflakes go a wee bit spider webby. It matters not, they’re still cute & I am one step closer to Santa.