Just over a week ago I attended a bloggers brunch here in Melbourne. It was the day before Blogopolis and there were a number of interstate bloggers there. After the guest speakers we milled around eating brunch and sampling the brands on offer. Chatting, catching up, meeting new people. At one point during the day Lori stood beside me and handed me a band. I looked at the purple band sealed safely in its ziplock bag and read its simple message. Speak. I popped it into one of my goody bags and continued on with the morning.
It was not until after the conference the next day that I looked at the band again. It was still in its ziplock bag. Speak, it said to me. I held it in my hand like a precious porcelain tea cup. I felt ridiculous being so careful with a piece of rubber. But the word on it was so important, so huge and I knew I needed to do it justice. At that stage I just wasn’t sure how. I held the band and thoughts rushed through my head.
I have known people who have committed suicide. I have been to that funeral. The one where family try hard to contain their sobs to some kind of dignified noise level. As if there is one. I have seen faces of family as they stand with an invisible barrier that no one crosses over, as if suicide is contagious. No one willing to be the first to say I’m sorry.
Death is not something people like to talk about. We say things like passed away, gone, no longer with us. Not dead. Dead seems so impolite a word. So hard and so final. Because it is.
I have watched people I love sink deep under the weight of depression. People, more than one. Male and female. Known they want to take their own lives. Friends I love. People I care about. People who from the outside may have looked like they had it all together. Its a scary, scary place to be I am told. And a calm place too. So very calm and so very scary. So very manic and so very violent. I have been that person who facebook messages, emails, texts and calls home lines leaving voice messages saying you need to call me. I need to know you are still here. I will keep calling until you answer. I love you.
I have felt the tightness of fear and panic at being too far away to get there and smash the door down even though it is what I want to do.
I put the band back in my suitcase. I wrote some notes, and went to sleep.
The next day I was home again. My son was chatting with me as I unpacked from the weekend. We began talking about exercise and I mentioned how good it can be for your mental health. Oh, like depression, he said. Yes I replied. My son looked me in the eyes and said, Mum, I don’t want to die. If I get depressed how do I make sure I don’t die?
In my hand was Lori’s band. Speak.
So, I talked to my son, told him he should speak if he ever felt that way. Speak to me, to his Dad, to who ever he felt comfortable with. That feeling that way was nothing to be ashamed of. That you can get help. That there are special doctors, and medicine that can help. That you can get better. That you can ask for help. That it is alright to say I’m not OK.
I told him that so many men kill themselves because they think it’s not alright to admit they are not OK. That it can be so hard to admit you are depressed. But that all you have to do is reach out to someone. Family, friend, teacher, doctor. Speak.
But that purple band, it means more than that. It is our shared responsibility to speak too. If we think someone is not OK, speak. Reach out. Phone them, email them. But don’t, what ever you do wait. Â At the very least you may feel a little embarrassed, you may on the other hand be the phone call that saves someones life.
For immdiate help call LifeLine on 13 11 14 or the Suicide CallBack Service on 1300 659 467.