Back from the brink

TW: This post discusses depression and suicidal intent.

It’s been almost two months since my last post, so much for my daily blogging plans ūüėÄ !

I laugh, but in truth I have been very ill.

There is a lot that I’d like¬†to say and I hope to do this in a series of bite-sized posts, rather than in one overwhelmingly massive missive! These posts may appear daily, weekly, alone or in clusters. Who knows? I’m taking life one day at a time, and doing what I can each day. All I can say for sure is that I will be blogging, now that I’m able to function again.

I am happy that my capacity to function is restored to me and to be making progress, slowly but surely.

It was a strange feeling as I started to come out of the depths of the depression, to be able to feel something other than that I had to die.

I have a lot of knowledge about mental health and mental illness and I’m very self aware, but I became so ill that I lost all perspective.¬†I am naturally relentlessly positive and have boundless enthusiasm. I’ve previously described myself as ‘a bit¬†Tigger. Depression takes that from me. At its worst, it strips me of all¬†capacity to function and to see anything other than suicide as a realistic option for me.

Glad though I was to emerge from those terrible depths, as the days progressed and my mood began to improve, I became aware just how bad things had been and I had to start to process the knowledge that I’d been dangerously ill. I hadn’t been able to¬†wash, dress myself or clean my teeth. I either barely ate or ate poorly. I struggled to¬†engage with anyone or anything. I couldn’t engage with my crisis plan or crisis support, for to do so seemed utterly futile. I experienced¬†feelings of self loathing that I had thought were long behind me. I could see only that I had to die.

Indeed I did plan to die. I am immensely grateful that one friend became¬†worried enough to contact my GP … on the day I planned to make a suicide attempt, although she wasn’t aware of that. It took persistence on the part of my doctor, repeated telephone¬†calls and voice mail, before I could find the capacity to answer the phone to her¬†that day, but all that¬†gave me pause. Our eventual conversation was difficult but helpful and led to her visiting me at home the next day, as I was unable to get to the surgery. A new path unfurled before me. Things were going to change.

 

 

 

 

Euphemisms: Where’s the harm?

TW: Mention of #suicide in relation to #suicideprevention.

I love language. I love it all, from accent to puns, colloquialisms to sesquipedalia.

I read Linguistics at university – essentially the science of language. I’m no expert, but language fascinates me no less. I love to write and I like to write about language, among other things. Its usage particularly interests me, since I find communication equally fascinating.

Euphemisms are common, certainly here in the UK where we do love a good euphemism.

We’ve so many euphemisms for death alone that someone’s probably published a book dedicated to them. But isn’t it all a bit¬†Voldemort? As¬†J.K. Rowling’s Dumbledore said, “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.”¬†

I wrote recently about the question of whether language usage could impede suicide prevention. Listening to a GP speaking to a patient, during an episode of the current series of fly-on-the-wall medical documentary series GPs Behind Closed Doors, I was taken aback when I heard her ask,

“Have you started thinking about doing something silly?”

Say what?

Silly is … clowning around; blowing raspberries; playing with water pistols; a whoopee cushion.

We need to talk about suicide. We REALLY need to talk about suicide – but do euphemisms help or hinder conversation? Statistics declaring suicide THE biggest killer of UK men under the age of 45 hit the headlines this week, thanks to Professor Green. That is not news to be taken lightly. I’ve twice been bereaved by suicide. I’ve experienced suicidal thoughts more times than I’d like to remember and ten years ago I attempted suicide. I am far from alone in that.

I’d argue that¬†the euphemism ‘doing something silly’ is harmful. I think it trivialises suicide, infantilises it even. Doing something dangerous, yes; doing something desperate; definitely.

However, what matters most in terms of suicide prevention is that we are talking. Silence kills.

Perhaps euphemisms are very useful in helping us to communicate around difficult subjects? I would generally rather people were more direct. I think that leaves less room for misunderstanding, and helps to normalise speaking about the thing, such as death or more specifically suicide, itself.

Thanks for reading. I love a good discussion and I’d really love to hear your thoughts. Are¬†euphemisms generally helpful? Should we be more direct? What about in terms of suicide prevention?¬†You could comment on this post, or tweet me @heartsetonlivin .