Category Archives: Stories

Chatter.

I heard some interesting quotes today. It emerged from within the context of a conversation between several people, about suicide.

“Be good, do well and right and let the world sink.”

On the contrary:

“Death is not a one person ticket, it’s a group fare.”

Living is also a group fare. So you see the paradox we all exist in.

 

The memory ward… An excerpt from an on-going book i’m trying to write.

Slam. Through a sheen, thick as a hospital curtain, Toby hit hard and cracked knuckles against the blindfolded skull of his attacker. It had been a stunning strike. Adrenaline fuelled, and knuckles resonating from the impact, Toby found darkness, and it swallowed him like a Slag landslide from the hilltops of the valleys. All was black. But then it was sharp white, blue, beige. There was an incessant ringing in Toby’s ears- maybe from the adrenaline, the slap. Flashes of street lamp Orange hounded his peripheral vision, blinking into his eyes sporadically as though having just being lit, at the beginning of an evening. That indecisive period of the street blinkers- as though reluctant to rise from a daytime of slumber, ready for the night shift which lay ahead.


 

Switch.

Bay 4, Ward 6.

There were patients up and out of bed everywhere. Staff Nurse Alice was tending to one of the three out of a possible ten bays allocated to her care that night, and all eight in this bay were up; demented by condition and frenzied by confusion and a full moon. It was about 5am, ten out of twelve and a half hours of the shift down, and Alice was running on that last reserve of adrenaline. The kind of adrenaline which emerges, only to those who have forced their body to smash through the great wall of fatigue, and have nothing left to cover but the final laps of the night’s obstacle course. She had energy enough to focus on beginning the drug rounds, alright. Somehow, the brain has magic tricks saved for enabling Olympic champions to pull through for Gold in the sport of endurance concentration.

Imagine then, the fallout which becomes the athlete who treads the tightrope for an outcome of the whole race, when unexpected flying obstacles are thrown into their track, causing a devastating fall which costs them the race. This happened in the form of an almighty blow to the back of Alice’s head. There was a sudden onset of an electrical thud to the base of her skull, followed by the feeling of a strangely refreshing coolness to the left cheek, and the world on its side. Which is certainly not where Alice had left it.

‘Shit! What the FUCK was that!?’ she heard her own voice yell out, before any chance for professional boundaries to impose their barrier to swearing and maintaining an essence of calm amidst a testing storm. Suddenly she was cheek to cheek with the face of the cold floor, and there were red and white slipper socks dancing around her nose, as if threatening to kiss her. The confused chaos of startled patients, sung like two poorly tuned instruments; battling with the air, were above and around her like a sudden choir.

‘Oh, bloody hell’ thought Alice to herself, and the floor. The problem was, that she should by now have been motivated by the sudden surge of adrenaline, which had taken hold, like it should, for the fully functioning human body. It was indeed there, coursing through her, as if powered by martyring Bee stings. That’s all it was though, all it had become since starting work as a Nurse, most strikingly, however, since starting on Ward 6, in particular. The ‘mad house’ as they all called it, or ‘purgatory’. Like the holding cell for those human shells; which were once the chariot within which consciousness and a person’s soul could ride.

Dementia, however, had somehow managed to capture fragments of a person before their body was necessarily ready to call it a day. As if memories- the essence of a person’s identity, sense of self and understanding of the world they were conscious in- were akin to Iron filings, and Dementia a terrible magnet. It would hover over the person, occasionally passing them by and sparing the fragments, but all too often, snatching up the Iron filings like an impossible black hole.

So, a person was trapped in a kind of Purgatory, in this sense. Since they were no longer completely alive as themselves, but were not yet dead, their mind snorted away like dusty powder, bit by bit, just waiting to die- so as to enable the pieces of mind to catch up and meet the rest.

Alice battled with the acknowledgement that she really, really, did not want to get up off that floor. To lay there horizontal, and just to sleep instead of stand, was such a convincing argument. Especially as the back of her skull began to burn with a sharp flame, where the blow had landed. Above her, however, reality pressed on- surreal though it was- two out of six beds out of the bay were emptied of their contents, and the patients like the linen, sprayed out along the floor. The other beds were beginning to shuffle. Obscenities- muffled by the chewing of blankets and the burial of heads under pillows- were starting to pass between the beds, as though beds themselves had begun their own private conversation of curses among one another. The twist being that none of the beds were actually engaging, in such a thing as a straightforward string of conversation with one another- they were all chattering to themselves, seemingly drunk.

There was medication to administer- drips needed attaching to flimsy cannulas. Bedside cabinets craved the turn of the key to release syrups, pills, tonics and false teeth. For no nurse was there ever such a fine reality known in the solace of the floor.

Alice tried calling for help, she had one Support Worker, June, for the shift, and hoped to the heavens above that she’d be in a bay near enough to hear the cry for assistance, above the mewing of buzzers across the waking ward. As it happened, June was luckily near enough by, to have heard Alice’s call.
In the middle of a slow shuffle, June appeared, moving between bay three, and the patient toilets, arm in arm with a patient in the middle of the corridor, helping her to the toilet. 80-year-old Beatrice was armed with a Zimmer frame, and this was useful for more than just the one reason, of mobilising. June treacherously removed her interlinking arm from Beatrice’s, and managed a split second side jump to the right, leaving Beatrice heading onwards with the momentum of her body supported by the shape and physics of the frame. Beatrice didn’t fall- she kept upright and moving forward, which was the miracle needed to enable June to run to Alice’s assistance in bay four.

‘We’ll have to pull the curtain back across, quickly!’ June observed with an edge of mania whipping up the octaves of her vocal chords. By this time, Alice had used the bedside chair to hurl her bottom half up. The morning meds hung balanced, and resting on a nearby seat. Alice moved determinably, elbows kept supported by the chair arms, knees protesting against the injustice of forcing a torso upright again. Toby was in full swing, and ‘Reg’, who was to Toby, the mugger before his swinging punches, in the altered reality, which had been projected by Toby’s mental state, into the room. Mr. Skindle, or ‘Bill’, was beginning to dance with his own chair, in an attempt to dodge the unsettling volume of sounds confronting him.

‘You get that side, and try to push him back down in the direction of his seat!’ Alice instructed. June obeyed, and using contortionist’s manoevuers, she swished the curtain between Toby and Bill’s beds with her right hand, whilst using her left knee and leg to curtail the flailing Bill from leaving the safety net of the chair.
In that moment, June made a quick decision- the scenario was indeed lively enough to warrant pressing Bill’s bedside buzzer, to illuminate yet another dull orange bulb with its yawning howl, in the hope that there would be at least one other nurse able to see and respond. At the very least, June still had a patient mid-journey to the toilet, and with seconds having passed, anything could have happened to Beatrice’s balance by now. If not to help us stop Toby, she considered, then at least just to take over helping Beatrice to the toilet and back to her bed, next door, uninjured.

‘Are you alright?’ Beatrice suddenly remembered to ask. ‘I’ll be alright when Reg has been sedated, and Toby stops bleeding. You need to try and grab Faye or someone to give me a hand. I’m going to have to fill out a Datix, whenever on Earth I have the time, after running all these IVs.’

Alice continued elaborating to June. ‘That actually really hurt, Bea. Can you run and get Faye or even one of the bloody doctors to come in here, ASAP!?’ Alice almost choked on her own sentence, but with relief, it was already starting to drift away. She could confirm she’d heard herself speak the words. ‘Did that sentence come out in my voice?’; she shuddered in confusion. ‘I think it did, I can hear the words again in my mind like an echo. The echo is my own voice, I’m sure of it…’

June could only hope that Beatrice was managing to stay in charge of gravity, and its increasingly sporadic pattern of abundance, which commonly afflicted many of these patients, not to mention the staff. She took one look down and immediately grabbed any pillow she could find, to slip under Toby’s head as the blood spread, almost tranquilly, across the white slip. She observed Toby’s respirations. ‘Fast, at least twenty-four per minute, at best guess. Colour….’ Here at last, came the justification to act. The colour had drained from Toby’s cheeks, like an artist’s canvas of pinks, crimsons, and greys; as if hit by sudden tragic flooding. This had cruelly afflicted the rich canvas, until it became not an art but a dishcloth; wrung out, the colours were dripping; pale greys and ruptured reds wept outwards and down. Paler and paler. Then glass eyes rolled skywards, and to the left. As if fixed on a hallucination only the fading patient could see.

She pulled herself into action, yanked the red emergency buzzer away from the wall, and the wail of the alarm caused carnage, and some rhythm to be found within an unknown quantity of footsteps, drumming their way down the corridor, louder and closer by the second.

‘What’s happened!?’ exclaimed Jessica, one of the nurses on shift who had been up in the side rooms all the while.


 

Switch.

‘Attach pads’. The radio was annoying Toby’s brother, sat in the passenger seat of his older brother’s car. ‘Why is it speaking in an American accent!? It’s supposed to be British Broadcasting Company, not chuffin’ Brooklyn Bolton Canada!’

‘Canada is not part of America, Michael, you can’t use Canada for that. California. That’s American, call it Brooklyn Bolton California if you need to repurpose the BBC algorithm. To fit with the America thing, the wrong accent, like you say. I do agree with you though, I want to hear the weather forecast in my own British accent, where it’s actually relevant.’ Toby interjected.

‘Right, I mean anyone could find themselves in this car listening to radio, and thinking, why am I in America! How did I get here, did I just drive? Did I just DRIVE to America?? And that’d send anyone crackers, thinking they’d somehow managed to drive through the entire Atlantic, to make it across to New bloody York, without even realising. It’d fuck anyone’s head up, that. They need to keep it in a British accent, so people don’t start thinking England’s gone and slipped down to the States right under their noses.’

‘Right.’ Toby replied, trying to end the matter. The last thing he could care for today, was the audible and involuntary unravelling of one of his brother’s un-hinged rants about matters so Philosophical, they had to be unhealthy. Toby knew not of any other soul in the world, who could get so carried away- genuinely swept off the landscape of reason and into the distortion of those splintering eyes, of Picasso’s Weeping Woman. He had always felt a strangely sad kind of pride, for his younger brother, who had been born into this world three weeks early, already with an imagination so feral it would blister the heart and mind of their mother.

While it would indeed be interesting, Toby reflected, to venture into the caverns of Michael’s mind for a day, just to see what was actually going on in there, he certainly didn’t fancy having to navigate through his real life behind such a strange screen. Besides, where were the radio presenters who spoke in their more familiar Welsh accent? It was a question Toby snuffed out as quickly as it had floated into his mind. He had not the energy to think about questions, and the like.

‘You’re so… so, s-s-s’ Toby began to respond, but couldn’t find the words to fit.

‘So, what?’

‘Just, I don’t know. Complex. Like a calculator. I never had any kind of clue how the damn things managed to magically summon up digits that were always, always correct, mathematically. But they did. Your mind reminds me of a calculator, Michael. Blasted mystery plastic thing, with its blasted weird ability to, just know.’ Toby regretted that he’d ended the observation with such a positive, definite conclusion. He didn’t want to think that all the endless stories, headaches and conjecture of Michael’s theories were comparable to a calculator. The thought that these non-linear tracks of mind drivel, which grew like Bindweed from between the teeth of his own brother, could be anything as solid and true as a number, was positively hurtful.

They continued the journey, past the point of the cobbled road and into the bends of city buildings, in silence. The part of the journey over the cobbled roads was too noisy to speak over comfortably, anyway. Soon enough they’d get used to the drumroll sounds, they would loiter in the ear like shallow puddles- background noise- as he focused on the steering. The buckaroo. Just had to get through it, and then the road would suddenly hush; ‘shhhhhhh’, it would go, just like a mother. The road would answer, reassured, quiet. And smooth. Horizons were opened and the journey was awake.

You can look at the scene from a greater perspective, so imagine you drop in on this scene while you loom over a large, formidable and ultimately playful map. The map is blue and green, and it is punctuated by dashes of white, here and there. Sometimes this white is bigger than elsewhere, sometimes the white seems to ripen with sheer abundance of having something continuously added to it, constantly. So that it gains weight, and then strangely becomes lilac, into purple, graduating onwards into navy blue, before becoming indistinguishable from the deeply blue sea.

There are many scenes just like this, for you to investigate and zoom in on, but as it happens, this is the spot that charmed your eyes and begged to be amplified, via a magnifying glass. The details have already spoken for themselves, but you can see Toby’s car right there, suspended it seems, on a horizontal string, which connects one side of the sky to another. It is the road, to them, but to you, you can see and feel, you can even smell and hear, the depth of that bubble around them. The hills are so green, the sky is so white, it seems like the blue bits are the clouds, but you know from your perspective that the cloud is only a dot. Upon a green, textured and wavering scene.


 

Switch…

Two worlds in one hour

A bell rings. As if suddenly startled back into an on-going moment from his dream, Toby feels the surge of adrenaline sending his pounding chest into a fury, as he recalls he is in the middle of being robbed, again. What had him so distracted, he astonishes himself for allowing such a sheen of vulnerability to envelop him in a moment which requires the utmost attention. The immediate urgency of his situation regains supremacy of his immediate thoughts, naturally, yet the undercurrent of his mind smothers in a self- scolding pit of shame and anxiety, for what does it imply for one’s mind to slip away this easily?

He feels stubborn in his own self reassurance; ‘It never used to be like this, life has never taken so much effort to reign into focus before. The film reel of his life memories suggest nothing of having been anything other than sharp and responsive to circumstances, in fact he recalls been renowned for his quickness of mind, others would remark; ‘Toby’ll be right in there with his counter-strategies before the enemy even knows what they’re planning!’. So, when did this suddenly become a legend of his own reflection, rather than something taken for granted and thus never missed so urgently before?

But right now the musing was merely background music. The charcoal dusted fist of his assailant clenched dry and knotted into a twist which made it look like the man was holding two huge lumps of rugged coal in his hands, ready to smash them together into a flammable gong.

As for the robber, he existed and acted in man’s state of nature- the nasty, the brutish and the short, was in the driving seat. To cut to the chase, Toby knew that his opponent was catatonic enough to forget who he, and everyone else meant. What morality was worth. So indeed, the stranger made his moves towards knocking Toby to the ground (he missed), in pursuit of coin, drink, self-preservation and escape.

What could Toby realistically be expected to do?  He retaliated, struck dumb by his own flash of red fury which anonymised the ‘fellow man’ before him. He struck out, punched and kicked and throttled. In sheer self-defence; immeasurably guilty yet locked into blind fury. Auto pilot.

Slam. Through a sheen, thick as a hospital curtain, Toby hit hard and cracked knuckles against the blindfolded skull of his attacker. It had been a stunning strike. Adrenaline fuelled, and knuckles resonating from the impact, Toby found darkness, and it swallowed him like a Slag landslide from the hilltops of the valleys.

All was black. But then it was sharp white, blue, beige. There was an incessant ringing in Toby’s ears- maybe from the adrenaline, the slap. Flashes of street lamp Orange hounded his peripheral vision, blinking into his eyes sporadically as though having just being lit, at the beginning of an evening. That indecisive period of the street blinkers- as though reluctant to rise from a daytime of slumber, ready for the night shift which lay ahead.


Switch


There were patients up and out of bed everywhere. Our nurse was tending to one of the three out of a possible ten bays allocated to her care that night, and all eight in this bay were up; demented by condition and frenzied by confusion and a full moon. It was about 5am, ten out of twelve and a half hours of the shift down, and our nurse was running on that last reserve of adrenaline which emerges only to those who have forced their body to smash through the great wall of fatigue, and have nothing left but to cover the final laps of the night’s obstacle course. She had energy enough to focus on beginning the drug rounds, alright. Somehow, the brain has magic tricks saved for enabling Olympic champions to pull through for Gold in the sport of endurance concentration.

Imagine then, the fallout which becomes the athlete who treads the tightrope for an outcome of the whole race, when unexpected flying obstacles are thrown into their track, causing a devastating fall which costs them the race. This happened in for form of an almighty blow to the back of Nurse Alice’s head. There was a sudden onset of an electrical thud to the base of her skull, followed by the feeling of a strangely refreshing coolness to the left cheek, and the world on its side. Which is certainly not where Alice had left it.

Suddenly she was cheek to cheek with the face of the cold floor, and there were red and white slipper socks dancing around her nose, as if threatening to kiss her. The confused chaos of startled patients, sung like two poorly tuned instruments; battling with the air, were above and around her like a sudden choir.

This ward had been nicknamed The ‘mad house’ by most, or ‘purgatory’ for others. Like the holding cell for those human shells; which were once the chariot within which consciousness and a person’s soul could ride.

Dementia, however, had somehow managed to capture fragments of a person before their body was necessarily ready to call it a day. As if memories- the essence of a person’s identity, sense of self and understanding of the world they were conscious in- were akin to Iron filings, and Dementia a terrible magnet. It would hover over the person, occasionally passing them by and sparing the fragments, but all too often, snatching up the Iron filings like an impossible black hole.

So a person was trapped in a kind of Purgatory, in this sense. Since they were no longer completely alive as themselves, but were not yet dead, their mind snorted away like dusty powder, bit by bit, just waiting to die so as to enable the pieces of mind to catch up and meet the rest.

Alice battled with the acknowledgement that she really, really, did not want to get up off that floor. To lay there horizontal, and just to sleep instead of stand, was such a convincing argument. Especially as the back of her skull began to burn with a sharp flame, where the blow had landed.

Above her, however, reality pressed on- surreal though it was- two out of six beds out of the bay were emptied of their contents, and the patients like the linen, sprayed out along the floor. The other beds were beginning to shuffle. Obscenities- muffled by the chewing of blankets and the burial of heads under pillows- were starting to pass between the beds, as though beds themselves had begun their own private conversation of curses among one another. The twist being that none of the beds were actually engaging in such a thing as a straightforward string of conversation with one another- they were all chattering to themselves, seemingly drunk.

There was medication to administer- drips needed attaching to flimsy cannulas. Bedside cabinets craved the turn of the key to release syrups, pills, tonics and false teeth. For no nurse was there ever such a fine reality known in the solace of the floor.


Switch


 

‘Attach pads’. The radio was annoying Toby’s brother, sat in the passenger seat of his older brother’s car. ‘Why is it speaking in an American accent!? It’s supposed to be British Broadcasting Company, not chuffin’ Brooklyn Bolton Canada!’

‘Canada is not part of America, Michael, you can’t use Canada for that. California. That’s American, call it Brooklyn Bolton California if you need to repurpose the BBC algorithm. To fit with the America thing, the wrong accent, like you say. I do agree with you though, I want to hear the weather forecast in my own British accent, where it’s actually relevant.’ Toby interjected.

For Toby, this was an entire new day, in another era. Where and how the transition from one scene to the next had taken place, it would be impossible to tell. It would also be completely irrelevant, for in this moment Toby lived, and sensed only the surroundings of this reality. The attempted robbery, prior to the new scene, had not even happened yet, not at this age. The here and the now was the truth, and that’s all there was to it.


Switch…

 

The Paradox of Recovering

massive trail of destruction
I’m talking about Depression, and mental illness, in this case.
What is the meaning of all this? How did it happen!?


“Some people have a legitimate reason to feel depressed…It’s weird for people who still have feelings to be around depressed people. They try to help you have feelings again so things can go back to normal, and it’s frustrating for them when that doesn’t happen. From their perspective, it seems like there has got to be some untapped source of happiness within you that you’ve simply lost track of, and if you could just see how beautiful things are… ”
( Source, and must read to this text.)


Once you begin to move away from a situation, and are no longer therefore blinded by the immediacy of it, you reflect. It’s perfectly obvious that humans should do this, once they’re out of the danger zone, we need to formulate a plan and learn how to avoid facing that danger again. It is so important to us that we can trace back to certain events which led up to the danger, so we can avoid them. It’s an essential ingredient to intelligence, and our ability to survive as a species, against all odds.

If we ventured into some unknown territory, for example, and found that we were not prepared for the climate, or the presence of new predators, we would reflect that maybe it would be wiser to bring different tools, perhaps a bigger group for safety in numbers, etc.

But sometimes, trying to understand how you came to be in such a threatening place, is not as crystal clear and quantifiable, as we would prefer. Sometimes you can’t explain it, to yourself and/or others. This is yet another challenge, dealing with not knowing. Because when you can’t pin point a particular cause, it’s frigging scary, and damn frustrating.


“We’ve all heard the typical sentence of “how can he be depressed, he’s got everything one could ever wish for”. Unfortunately, clinical depression can affect anyone, sometimes without any triggers if the person is particularly vulnerable to it.”



This above quote is extremely fitting to my own conundrum, now. How, despite being so lucky in all you have around you, can you actually find yourself so depressed that you no longer want to live!? I am a lucky one- I have a wonderful partner who I adore, and I have the most fantastic friends surrounding me. I have a roof over my head, don’t (usually) have to go hungry, am in good physical health, have a job which I genuinely enjoy. All the right things in life, so I should want for nothing. I feel so guilty, for having obviously lost sight of all this somewhere along the way, and become a shadow of my real self.

“It’s disappointing to feel sad for no reason. Sadness can be almost pleasantly indulgent when you have a way to justify it – you can listen to sad music and imagine yourself as the protagonist in a dramatic movie. You can gaze out the window while you’re crying and think “This is so sad. I can’t even believe how sad this whole situation is. I bet even a reenactment of my sadness could bring an entire theater audience to tears.”

But my sadness didn’t/doesn’t have an obvious purpose.

My friends have all reminded me about everything I have going for me, which is well-intended and completely benevolent. But in reality, I suddenly find myself feeling even worse, because I somehow ‘didn’t deserve to breakdown’ in such a way, ‘I don’t have half of the stresses which other people have to contend with’, so why, why, why, have I overreacted to circumstances in such an intense way?

I knew before my mental health even started to slip down the slope, that I had everything around me to cause ‘happiness’. I never stopped knowing that I had all of these things, even (and especially) when my mind was at it’s utter lowest. This is why it is so hard to understand mental health, and to accept it as what it is. The whole meaning of being ‘mentally unwell’, is a testament to the fact that it doesn’t make any sense.

When you know, but cannot physically feel, the reality which exists, and therefore you cannot believe it. You can’t see it, because the emotions which we normally take for granted, are all fused and out of order. The neurotransmitters in your brain are behaving completely paradoxically- They are far from balanced or proportionate to real events.

Where normally, for example, Dopamine triggers a physiological change of state- feeling fulfilled, physically experiencing the urge to smile, to laugh, to move. Usually, Dopamine can be relied upon, particularly after exercising. It is the ‘reward’ chemical. Similarly, Noradrenaline commands your body to respond in certain ways- rapid heartbeat, sweating, suddenly experiencing a surge in energy so intense, it is near impossible to contain, which is why it’s so reliable for ‘flight or fight’ circumstances.




When communication between external and internal events, becomes contradictory and totally out of sync within the brain, that, my friend, is ‘mental illness’.
That is why your situation becomes such a confusing and nonsensical place- because it is a paradox.



This is the difference between mental health, and mental ill-health. We can all relate to being depressed, or anxious, in the usual and healthy way. Where there is a trigger, and the emotional state is just the appropriate response, kind of way. So no wonder it is so imcomprehensible to both sufferers and observers of mental illness, no wonder you cannot ‘justify’ it.

Please don’t ask me to explain ‘the reason(s)’. I’m sick of feeling sorry for confusing and worrying everybody, including myself. Now that I am finally beginning to ‘see’ again, I can’t let the guilt stage get me. The guilt for upsetting my friends and loved ones, and for alienating people. I feel perfectly bad about that already, so I don’t need any ‘help’ with this particular area.


DEPRESSIONTWO45

Allie Brosh‘s blog, Hyperbole and a Half, NEEDS reading. She explains her own experiences with depression, in a perfect way. A way which constantly reassures me that i’m not just pathetic, and in a way that sheds some light onto the illness, for other people who haven’t experienced mental illness in quite the same way. It enables much more understanding, which is really useful as someone on the outside looking in, say if your friends/loved ones ever come down with inexplicable ‘Fluenza of the Mind’, shall we call it?

Plus, she tells it with pictures. Way more effective I think!
Hyperboleandahalfblog

hyperboleandahalfhyperboleandahalfdepression1hyperboleandahalfdepression2

Top tips for people in dips

This post will constantly be subject to additional tips, as they are acquirred through the process of living, and learning new survival mechanisms. Please feel free to add any of your own tips in the comments box!

Mental health- it is completely synonymous with physical health. The mental is the physical, and the physical is also mental. So just to get this straight, everyone alive has mental health. Therefore, everyone alive exists in a constant flux of good health, poor health, and the bits in between. Mental illness can happen to anybody. Just as illnesses like Flu, or Tonsillitis, impact on our livelihoods, due to a dip in ‘good health’, so too do Mental Health afflictions affect us. Some perhaps, more than others, but all the same, any stigma needs to be stamped out, before anyone can engage with this post meaningfully, and benefit from it.


Crisis- how to save yourself from suicide

Speak
Write it down, tell someone, send out your distress flares before you become unable to ask for help (because by that point, you’ve already finalised your decision, haven’t you, so if it’s going to be a success, it will have to be a silent one).

Call 999
I know that in reality, this piece of standardized advice doesn’t necessarily give you any answers. In the middle of attempting to take your own life, or before you begin to, ringing 999 doesn’t instantly throw itself at you as a plan of action, does it!? But you always, ALWAYS, need that one extra sleep, just one more day, to actually know you want to do this. For real.

Change your surroundings
So if you can get yourself to a safe place for a night, even if it’s completely the harder thing to do, then you can think again. Also, actually ending up in A&E with ‘Suicidal Thoughts’, isn’t at all uncommon. You won’t be the first, and you won’t be the last person to go there, believe me. It’s through A&E that there is a guarantee (unless you make a dash for it) you will have to be seen by the Crisis Team at some point, and thus help speed along referrals for proper mental health intervention and recovery.

But you can change your surroundings in other ways of course. Go to a friend’s, or a random place, wherever you can. Because you need to remove yourself from the area in which you were imagining, plotting, and preparing for a suicide. You can still go back to it, but you need to escape that area, and put yourself in a different area, for at least the time being.

Get lost on purpose
Even if you are literally on the way to the place you have decided to die, take a new route. Know that you can still get to where you want to be, to finalise the act still, but you may as well go an unusual way, so as to see just a few more scenes before you can never see them again.

This saved my life once. I drove out to the place, and I had a CD on in my car. I had the ropes, the scalpel, the cocktail and the note. But I took an obscure route, and during this journey, I managed to realise that now was not the time. Plus, it was already getting dark, so by the time i’d reached my destination, i’d not be able to see what I was doing properly anyway. So I had to find my way back, and thus had to think outside of ‘the plan’, to figure out my bearings, and which roads looked most likely to take me back home.

Pointless Walking
Even better if you can get lost while walking. Going for a pointless walk, or even the last walk of your life, it will never fail you in it’s ability to allow you to think of other thoughts. Take you to ‘imagination land’ or whatever you want to call it, whilst simultaneously exercising and therefore stimulating endorphins and those neurotransmitters- sweet Serotonin and Dopamine- which seem to have gone AWOL, pre-walk. They will at the very least, give you some form of release from the emotional trap you were in before you started walking.

Music is truly a saviour
Get a sound happening. Any sound. Music you know you enjoy, or might enjoy, or perhaps suddenly realise: ‘I guess I may as well listen to that before I die”, when it comes to venturing into a new realm of sounds. Listen, dance, sing, do whatever you need, just let the music have a say first. It is truly a magnificent drug.

Play an instrument
If you have the luck of knowing how to read music, and have an instrument to hand (remember, your vocal chords are an instrument too!), then play it. Make yourself play it well, and concentrate on reading the notes, follwing the rules of timing and intensity, if only to challenge yourself. It will distract you.

Find an animal
Get your pet, if you have one. Go out and find a field full of Sheep, or anything, and just watch them do what they do for a little while. Know that they aren’t thinking about you, and your desire to die- they are just getting on with it in their own way. But animals are theraputic just to watch, or to touch, and they are wise beyond words for transmitting their silent reflections.

Medicate
Now here’s a controversial one. There will be countless screams of ‘you can’t advise someone who is that vunerable to go and take medication/drugs of unpredictable side effects’, or whatever. Drugging yourself is definitely not ideal. No shit, Sherlock. But if you are about to take your own life, then the outcomes of both dangerous decisions are not ideal. One is final, the other perhaps not.

If you know of a thing you can take, or get hold of, which will change your state of mind, then get it. I know I should not advocate the misuse of drugs, or doing things which are ‘illegal’ (more on that subject matter later), but mind altering substances can save your life, too.

Obviously, there will most likely be a comedown. Once you’re free of intoxification, your mind will indeed be vulnerable. You may feel worse, even. But you will still be alive, and live that extra day before you do it. Try and allow yourself to change your mind.

At least plant some seeds before you go
I mean, it’d be almost rude not to. You’ve benefitted from the Oxygen needed for Respiration all the way through your life up until now, so you owe it to the plants and trees, to at least give them more life, before you take your own.

Amazingly, the planting of these seeds is a perfect way to self-soothe. Gardening, soil, seedlings and engaging with nature, is theraputic and distracting beyond mere words of my testimony. You can perhaps say to yourself, ‘i’ll let this seed sprout up above the soil, and help it become strong enough to plant it out’, before you end that opportunity. Gardening saves lives. I genuinely know this.

Lash out
Preferably, not against yourself. I don’t care if you have to punch walls, smash plates, scream at the top of your lungs and/or run for your life. Physically do SOMETHING. Please don’t hurt others, but please make sure you engage in something physically relieving (or challenging), if it can stop you from the act of Suicide.

Dance it out
Again, humanity’s most loyal and beloved friend, music, comes into the play here. Listen to some rhytm, and then close your eyes, and let that rhythm lead your body into shapes and movements like it is a puppet, played by a sound.

In the words of Friedrick Nietzsche:
“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”

Seek out words of wisdom

“Kiss a lover,
Dance a measure,
Find your name
And buried treasure.

Face your life,
It’s pain,
It’s pleasure,
Leave no path untaken.”  – Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

Stories from anyone’s mind

The cold was stifling my ability to think, to wake, or to dream. I lay there, wrapped in a cocoon of duvets and blankets- I had all the necessary luxuries in life that one could need for comfort and survival. One of the lucky ones, out of the world, as a whole.

But still, I lay there, shimmering in my own unblanchable flesh, feeling chilled through to the bone. Cold was something i’d gotten used to then, a constant state in which I had to endure or forget. Functioning like a ghost, you crack on.

I remember a point: walking back from one place in town to another, with an old friend. We were talking, I think the conversation was trivial and non too demanding, but interesting. Enough for me to mentally curse the hands of mine, which had gone beyond numb, to physically exhausting in their ice. They were distracting me from the conversation, which was a low moment for me, because it was the first undeniable evidence, that at functioning, I was failing. Failing to even hold a conversation, trapped by the price i’d had to pay for commanding and distorting my own body.

I’d become too emotionally attached to the artwork I was trying to create. The point at which the artist becomes the victim of their own insatiable will to manipulate imagery and colour, in order to spill out of themselves, a never ending flow of constant change, and perceives it as ‘progress’. There comes a point, at which every painter has to make the decision that the final piece is indeed final, and it is time to soak the bristles. Hang up the apron, stand back and let the landscape be.

I was stuck in the mud of my own addiction to crafting. I’d actually stopped painting, drawing, singing and making, in the external sense. All of it came to a halt, when I embarked upon the new project of internal consequence; depriving and diluting my body, in an effort to sculpt it into a new shape, a shape of shocking contour, freakish distortion, and many many edges. There could never be too many edges. I got lost in my own little ‘treasure hunt’, to find more jutting edges, new lumps, new angles and their contrasts to bone.

It was, upon reflection, an abstract mission, kindled by surrealist yearnings, which necessitated the adoption of a kind of minimalism, in order to find solace through expressionism.

At least, that’s one way of looking at it. man-ray-brassai-and-gelatin-silver