Hiding in plain sight – The paradoxes of a suicide

In the majority of cases it’s nearly impossible to make sense of a suicide. Unless you are in that place yourself, you would think why on earth would anyone do that? Surely there were other options, why would you choose an option so drastic – one you can never come back from? There’s a lot of things that don’t add up when a person is in that place, and therefore it’s more difficult for others to spot. Thinking only of my experience, of being very close to a person who in hindsight, was suffering, here are some of the paradoxes I can see now – but sadly I didn’t see it then:

You were the funniest person in every room – but inside you were the saddest

People naturally revolved around you – yet you were desperate to be seen

Through the eyes of others, you were so handsome – through your own, you were hideous

You were known to a lot of people – but did you let anyone know you at all?

You were one of the most gentle people I have known – yet nobody will ever rip my heart out as violently as you did

Everybody loved you – and you hated yourself

You always seemed brave – but you were scared to live … and for someone who was scared to live – you committed something so terrifying to most

You had the biggest heart – but no compassion for yourself

You talked a lot – but never once said what you really wanted to

We all thought you were so laid back – but you were the most highly strung

You feared rejection – so you rejected your entire world, including the people in it

You wanted to disappear – but you made yourself notorious

If I saw that other side of you maybe we could have talked through some of these things. Maybe I could have helped, or at least helped you get help, but unfortunately that time has passed. Rest easy brother. I’ll just leave this here in case it’s useful to someone else.

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Does social media sometimes make you feel like shit?

The growth of social media sites from when they were invented to what they are today is pretty overwhelming. But how do they add value to our lives? I can definitely see the positives – I can stay connected with people that I would have lost contact with a very long time ago. I can wish them well or reach out to them more easily …. but there’s another side to social media, one in which we don’t fully understand the effects of yet. The side that isolates, upsets, depresses, makes you second guess yourself – the side that makes you feel like shit.

I’m not going to get into the murky world of online bullying or sexting abuse because thankfully I’ve never experienced it and I wouldn’t write about something I haven’t personally experienced, (although I understand it’s a very real & serious problem that I might have only dodged due to my age), but here are a few things I have experienced on social media that I’ve had to give myself a wake up call on:

Positively annoying

I’ve seen social posts that advise us to unfollow negative people on social media. While I obviously agree that you should unfollow someone who is negative or abusive directly towards you or others – I don’t agree with the idea that we should block less positive people from our feeds or not share the less positive aspects of our lives on social media for fear that we will be less liked by others – this culture of hiding all the undesirable aspects of our lives and only promoting the pretty side is contributing to unrealistic expectations and isolation of others.

Remember, someone’s social profile is only their cover – nobody’s life is all rosey in the garden all of the time and if someone’s profile looks like it is, they are only choosing to share a portion of their story, which is fair enough, most of us do it – but don’t be fooled that you’re looking at the full picture.

Selfie stampede

It’s pretty funny to watch how social media is making us all so self-obsessed and how the most interesting thing we can think of sharing with the world is a picture of our face. I remember when I heard the word ‘selfie’ for the first time so it’s a relatively new term, and now probably one of the most popular words across social media sites.

Does it ever happen to you that you’re looking through Instagram and you think WTF!? – how is everyone so gorgeous all the bloody time and you’re sitting there looking a mess in your trackies on the couch staring into your phone with about three double chins reaching for a brown paper bag! You feel so unattractive and miserable – Please stop & remember:

you haven’t suddenly become the most unattractive person in the world – the selfie they posted is about the 10th million one they took and then they applied five filters. We all have Photoshop in our pockets these days, so try to take what you see with a pinch of salt.

Fakeup

This one might relate slightly more to women but men are feeling the pressure too – the growing problem and danger of unregulated steroid abuse is evidence of this.

My mind bobbles at how the beauty industry has absolutely exploded in recent years. According to analysts at Goldman Sachs, the global beauty industry, (consisting of skin care worth $24 billion; makeup worth $18 billion; $38 billion of hair-care products; and $15 billion of perfumes) is growing at up to 7% a year, more than twice the rate of the developed world’s GDP. According to The Economist, Americans spend more on beauty than they do on education. And everyone is cashing in with your local Primark, H&M & so many more high street brands all setting up their own makeup range in recent years.

Social media has really spurred the growth of beauty product sales. When it was celebrities endorsing the products, at least you could tell yourself ‘of course a superstar is going to look flawless on a TV advert, that’s not a realistic representation’, but now ‘normal’ people are the endorsers, all with their own YouTube channel / Instagram page – we are now more convinced than ever that you can achieve a certain look because the sellers are people ‘just like us’ sitting in their bedroom without any fancy production team. For me the message has shifted from ‘she’s a star celebrity from another world in a high budget advert’ to ‘oh crap she’s just like me in her bedroom in front of a laptop, if she says I need it then maybe I do??’ Next thing you know I’m in a trance watching a pretty lady tell me I have to use 20 different products to achieve the perfect ‘going to work look’ – it would be about 30 if I wanted to achieve ‘from day to night’! It’s easy to get overwhelmed and I would need a PHD to figure out the correct way to use half the stuff that’s ‘a must have in every girl’s makeup bag’.

First there were beauty magazines, then TV ads and this is just the latest marketing ploy, and perhaps the most convincing to date as many of us are sure that the latest product will transform us. It seems like the volume of health & beauty ‘influencers’ on Instagram is completely disproportionate to all other content. While on one hand it’s great that ‘normal people’ can advocate brands and make money selling products,

but please remember that beauty bloggers have their own agenda too and you don’t need all of the stuff they say you do.

Treat it all just the same way as the beauty magazines – remember when you learned what airbrushing was? Being comfortable in your own skin is THE most attractive trait and from my experience and personal preference – a more natural look is the best.

Material world

Madonna is dead right. We are more obsessed with ‘stuff’ these days than ever before and it’s sad really how we think that inanimate objects are going to fill some emotional void we have inside us. And it’s so easy to get sucked in, too easy, I don’t even need to leave my house and I still manage to spend a fortune with a few clicks of a button and it’s there waiting for me the next day like magic – my bank account is also magically debited!

Sometimes I even get a bit anxious if I haven’t ordered a package in a couple of weeks and I try to think of something that I surely must need so I can go online and get my fix. It’s completely ridiculous! If I do by some miracle come to my senses and actually realise that I might not need it, the product then follows me around as a creepy little pop up everywhere I go until I finally cave.

Remember! You don’t need half the shit the internet is so good at convincing you that you do.

As Tracey Chapman sang:

“I won’t die lonely

I’ll have it all prearranged

A grave that’s deep & wide enough

For me and my mountains of things”

We live in a developed country where thankfully the majority of us already have everything we need. After that, if you have your health and real connections to other people – you’re doing alright believe me.

XXX

Did you know when you decided to go?

Did you know, when you decided to go, that it was forever? A concept that no living being can ever truly grasp. Did you think about the void we would feel for the rest of our forevers?

A decision so shattering, so sudden, so final ….. yet made in a moment. And even though you decided to go, you’re never really gone.

Always loved – Never forgotten X

I wish I could have told you

You were just a seventeen year old boy, who wanted to die.

I wish I could have told you then what I know now:

  • that what you’re so upset about now, won’t bother you next month
  • that most of your friends are fighting a battle just like you
  • that I’ll always always be here for you
  • that you will grow out of these awkward teens
  • that life is long and it is all ahead of you and it’s going to be so so good!
  • that you are beautiful
  • that you are loved

… But at 16, I didn’t know … All I can do is live by my own words & always be aware of others fighting the invisible battle.

RIP my brother – Always loved & Never forgotten

Do you sometimes feel disillusioned with your life?

Lately I’ve been having conversations with my friends that often have a similar thread, they, or I should say we, sometimes feel a bit lost. For me it was when I reached thirty, I started to question: Am I where I thought I would be at my age? With all of the pressures of a modern society, I suspect that lots of people ask themselves this question at a variety of life stages.

I had a particularly “DMC” (Deep & meaningful convo) on just this and, as women often do, we put the world to rights and called out some home truths that helped me and I thought might be worth sharing:

First of all – Give yourself a break!

We beat ourselves up way too much these days. Looking at impossible comparisons on social media everyday no wonder we’ve convinced ourselves the life we have is missing something. We need to focus more on what we have not what we don’t have.

Think about everything you have achieved up to this point and reflect on it

you’ll probably be pretty impressed with yourself when you stop being so self-judgmental!

I recently attended a few yoga classes, (so yes, now I think I’m an expert!), and the instructors talk about gratefulness. When I’m feeling down on my way to work after a heavy weekend I remind myself that I’m grateful to be well enough to go to work every day, I’m grateful that I have a place to go where people will miss me if I don’t show. I can’t imagine, and I’m grateful that I don’t know, what it’s like to be so ill you can’t leave the house and go to work or the shops or the pub and see your friends. I found this shift in my thought process really helped me to be more resilient.

Remember, your job does not define you

Ok so your job isn’t always that much fun, but nobody’s is all the time. No matter what you do for a living, you’ll have aspects you enjoy more than others.

You have to look at your life holistically & not get hung up on one aspect

so yes sometimes I question how my corporate job is making a difference to others but then I remind myself that I do make a difference to the people I manage or to my friends in work. And without my job I wouldn’t have the means to go visit my friends or family or give gifts to the people I love … don’t fixate on one thing you are not entirely happy about rather give yourself credit for all the things that you are happy about, often it’s your job that facilitates that. If you feel strongly that your job is not making any significant difference or you’ve sold out to your true passion, what’s stopping you from filling that need outside of work? – go volunteering, take up a hobby, there’s always options and making a small change like that can have a big impact on your outlook.

Having said all that though, if you find yourself thinking about work all the time when you’re not there, or it’s actively contributing to your general unhappiness, I would recommend you look for something else, because again you should be able to appreciate all aspects of your life without one area negatively impacting all others.

Try not to catapult too far into the future

In my case it’s:

Should I move back to Ireland?

  • If yes – when and where to in Ireland?
  • What job would I get there?
  • Should I be investing in property in London?
  • Should I be thinking about starting a family?

And so on…

For others it might be:

How do I find a partner?, how do I know he/she is ‘the one’?, If I think they’re the one, should we marry?, If so when? ….

I’m tired just writing that list. We plague ourselves everyday with tons of questions that nobody has the answers to!

I remember I was particularly anxious after uni, I questioned what next? – where will I get a job?, what will I do for the rest of my life? ……I’m out of uni a loooooong time and guess what? – it all worked out just fine!, so when I find myself incessantly and annoyingly questioning my future, I remind myself of that.

Stay connected to the people that know you best

Making new friends is great, but there’s nothing like sitting down and chatting to an old friend that really knows you. Wealth / success / life goals / popularity / achievements / material possessions all go out the window and that person just talks to you and listens to you like a person. If you have even one friend like that consider yourself lucky and don’t let that connection fade. I find meaningful social interaction really helps my mental health and overall well-being.

Life is a balancing act

We have to remind ourselves that

most people don’t have the luxury to analyse their lives as much as we do these days.

If you even get to question how fulfilling your life is, you are in the very elite minority. When my mother was my age she worked as a cleaner killing herself to clean 12/13 hotel rooms a day to feed three mouths at home. She certainly didn’t get a lot of time to question how happy she was! I’m not saying we shouldn’t question these things but I do think that everything is a balancing act and it’s better to accept that

not every aspect of your life is perfect all of the time, and that’s ok!

Hopefully my DMC lessons resonate or help others who are feeling a bit bewildered as we all do every now & then. Next time I think I’ll add more wine to the conversation and see where that takes us!!