Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Elephant 3: Beyond Suicide; Aftermath & Beyond

When I was introduced to suicide almost five and a half years ago it fucked me up.
It fucked me up good and proper.
It sent me into a downward spiral that without a handful good cunts around me including my kids Dylan and Holly and my amazing wife Wendy I may not have been able to lift myself out of.

When Wendy and I walked into Brett's garage on the morning of 1st September 2013 to find him alone in the dark, on his knees, cold, stiff and very fucking dead having taken his own life, I entered a realm where I was outside my own body watching this fucked up scene unfold in front of me while at the same time, living it.
My head wasn't my own, I was on some fucked up auto pilot mode doing what needed to be done.

Brett's suicide changed me completely.

Initially I was angry - very angry, confused, upset, desperate for answers even though I already knew and understood why he decided to kill himself - and fuck it all, he did make the choice to kill himself. He wasn't, I don't believe, in the grips of some deep depression, he was confused, angry and hurt.
And he chose to die.....but I digress.....

I was drinking heavily and the drinking was amplifying the anger which manifested in the form violence toward inanimate objects, namely a solid wooden door in our garage.
I wanted to hurt.
I wanted to feel pain, physical pain.
If I didn't do that, I was absolutely going to hurt someone else.
Fast forward to today and I'm no longer that guy.
Some five years later I'm a different person.
The things that anger me these days are different, more simple and generally easier to overcome.

I've done a lot of work on myself, I've gone in search of ways to better my own mental well being and along the way I've connected with many people from all the many sides of this fucked up thing called suicide.

Let's be clear:
Suicide is not the problem. Suicide is a result of a problem, or problems.
It doesn't have to the result, but it is a result, not that actual problem.
If we really want to prevent suicide, we absolutely must address the problems.
This undoubtedly starts within each and every one of us.
The way we treat each other absolutely has a bearing on our mental health.

Of course I'm no highly educated expert, I have no certificate on my wall saying I went to university for several years in order to claim to know what's going on in everyone else's head.

Frankly, when all the psychological jargon is busted out, my eyes glaze over and you'll probably catch me staring out the window.
The same applies to when it's written, I just can't read it.
I don't understand it, I don't need to understand it.
I'm a simple man with perhaps overly simple views.

I haven't even attended any suicide prevention courses. My bad.

My initial journey into this fucking disaster zone was when I went in search of....something.... after Brett died.
I went searching for my tribe and while I found them, I also collected a lot of other stuff as well.
What became obvious pretty quickly is that there are many self proclaimed experts who claim to know what's required to reduce the suicide numbers.
There are massive egos at play and the desperate need to either access or retain funding.
Yet nothing is changing.
Sure, the current government launched a massive inquiry into mental health and addictions and to date, fuck all has come of it. I'm not convinced that much will come from it.
The inquiry that should have been launched is the one that looks into systemic New Zealand in it's entirety.

The education of firstly teenagers and adults multi culturally.
The teaching of all things life, including basic respect, work ethics, morality, contraception and parenting skills.
Arguably, these things are more important that the academic side of education.

Until we can become an accepting and inclusive society nothing much will change with regard to reducing suicide numbers.
That doesn't mean we should stop trying.

I've done my own little research projects on social media to figure out people's acceptance of certain things and it appears to me that by and large, the majority of people don't want reality.
A positive quote with a pretty picture is far more acceptable than an honest viewpoint will ever be.
What's also become obvious, is that despite what everyone portrays, this whole industry - and that's what it is, an industry - is full of little cliques.
It's easy to see who engages exclusively with who and why, if you look.
It's easy to see who pays lip service and who rolls up their sleeves and cracks into it.

So I guess for me, I've traveled full circle through this minefield and arrived back where I started.
Back at the beginning, where people are left to make sense of the suicide death of a loved one.

I'm not really sure what this all means exactly, but it's getting clearer to me now that where I thought I fitted, I don't think I do.
I've always been more comfortable out on the perimeter, perhaps I should go back out there and stay there.

I'm thinking about writing a new book.
Beyond Suicide; Aftermath and Beyond.

The book nobody will want to read.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Elephant Two: More about a former mistress.

When I was young, drinking piss was just for fun.
Those days are gone.
For me anyway.

I remember as a young fella, born in 1964 and growing up and coming of age in the seventies, being surrounded by alcohol pretty much all the time.
My dad drank every day and Friday and Saturday nights were the nights he drank even more.
Sundays were often 'elevenses' either at our house or someone else's, where driving to and from was standard.
My mum also drank, this was normal life and as a kid, there was no reason to think that any of this was anything other than that. Normal.

As kids, were allowed a 'sip' from the ole mans beer. We'd take the permitted sip, then take a few more more when nobody was looking.
Normal life.

I remember the first time I ever got a wee bit drunk, I would have been about eleven or twelve and I was staying at a friends place who's dad also lived this 'normal' life and the usual permitted sips took place.
I remember waking up in the middle of the night crashed out on my mates bedroom floor, my mouth as dry as desert and my head pounding like someone was inside it trying to get out by using a sledge hammer.

I never connected that feeling with alcohol until a few years later.

My first experience of being completely annihilated was when I was about 15.
A concoction of all the different spirits a mates dad had, mixed up into one bottle. A clever as fuck plan because his ole man would never notice a bit missing from each bottle - and he never did.
I have only a few sketchy memories of that night.
One is of bumbling along local street with two mates holding me upright, the mate who's ole mans booze we hoisted was already coma'd out -  under a hedge apparently.
Another is of arriving home where both Ma and Pa were there, ironically drinking while giving me the lecture of all lectures which was pointless bu they did anyway. I never heard it. Or at least didn't remember it.
Another is of waking up in the dead of night swimming in a bed full of my own vomit.
I could have died that night, clearly it wasn't my time.
That hangover lasted for days.
Lesson, not even.

Throughout my life there are many more stories like these I could tell but I won't.

Alcohol is still societies acceptable drug, I believe because it's legal and will never not be legal.
It's the only legal way you can get completely off your face.
It's also the drug that causes the most harm both in society and in homes.

If you are at least eighteen years old and have enough money, you can legally purchase enough alcohol to kill many people.

In these modern times, alcohol can be purchased in multiple specialist stores, supermarkets, four square stores and other 'convenience' stores.
I'd hazard a bet that most people living in urban New Zealand could walk somewhere in a matter of minutes and purchase alcohol.

I'm not anti alcohol, I've made the choice to stop using it because it was no good for me personally.

What I struggle with is all the judgemental hypocrites who look down upon users of other drugs while they're knocking back the piss.

If you judge all the users of other drugs while knocking back the piss, you are basically conditioned by what society has told you is acceptable.

You've been brainwashed.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Elephant One: Up the garden path - An uneducated opinion.

I'm no political expert, would never claim to be.
In fact the term 'expert' isn't a term I'd use to describe myself full stop.

But I'm not stupid, I'm not blind and I'm not deaf.

A year ago after the 2017 general election, under the MMP system one man held all the cards.
He toyed with the system until he revealed his big decision to align himself with The Labour Party with some assistance from The Green Party to form the coalition government we now have.
This was always going to be how it went, the fact that a matter of what seems like minutes after his 'decision' he was taking The National Party to court for something I can't even be bothered remembering what was.

The government we now have and each party individually stood before us all during their respective campaigns and delivered promise after promise, pretty standard stuff in the build up to an election.
I recall a certain female Labour MP saying she had no aspirations to become the leader and certainly didn't want to be Prime Minister, this article from June last year - a few months out from the election confirms this.

A mere two months later she is announced as the new leader of The Labour Party, arguably a master stroke from the Labour spin doctors as half the nation forgot the bullshit and fell in love.

A year on and from the possibly misinformed and definitely uneducated viewpoint from where I see things, this is what I see.

Impossible to achieve promises of the building of 100,000 affordable homes which aren't even affordable to many and to qualify people have to enter a ballot.

Educators of children becoming so disillusioned they feel that going on strike is the only option they have in a bid to be heard.

Fuel prices reaching record highs with no relief in the form of reductions on the tax consumers pay on every litre.

Electricity prices so high that our elderly and low income earners simply cannot afford it.

A massive inquiry into mental health and addiction services for which it has now been revealed in a couple of things I've read recently that the government is making no real commitment to implement all or even any of the findings the inquiry comes up with.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying a different government would change any of this, it probably wouldn't.
But for me, I'm just not buying into it.
I really do think though, that the current leadership of this country is on the edge of having to suddenly stop trying to be everyones friend.

Personally, I feel like someone is trying to lead me up the garden path to nowhere and I'm not coming.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

The anger within. A revelation.

Something happened to me this morning.
I believe that we all carry inside us an angry alter ego.
I see it as a remnant of some primitive gene we all carry around like an invisible bomb just waiting in there for something to detonate it.
This morning, mine made an appearance and in all honesty I struggled to keep the bastard leashed.
What this means is that I haven't been dealing with the small things, I've been suppressing them and pushing them away.
There was no one reason for his appearance this morning, he came calling at a moment when I was least equipped to deal with him. He's very skilled at hiding there waiting until I'm tired and have a lot on my mind. He recognises when it's the best time for him to spring forward and try to take over the controls.

This morning, he almost got control, which in reality means that I almost lost control.
That's a really scary thing when it happens and if we don't know how to leash this inner asshole things can go pear shaped pretty quickly.
When this asshole within makes an appearance I've learned over the years a few strategies which for me is pretty much anything physical, on my own. Today it was breaking down cardboard boxes and loading the trailer with the rubbish from our recent deck demolition and once I got to the zone today the mist cleared a bit and I started drifting back in time.

A memory from my childhood smacked me in the face.
As a young kid I had a reputation as being short tempered (A trait that followed me into adulthood) and my brothers used to goad me into losing control and flipping my shit, thinking it was a hell of a joke.
The memory that came back to me was of a strategy I developed as a child to regain control and snap myself back to reality whenever I was close to the edge and thinking about it now it's a bit weird.

As a child, when I felt myself losing control I would bite my left forearm as hard as I could until the pain brought me back to reality.
Thank fuck I didn't carry that strategy into adulthood!

In adulthood, for the most part I have been able to keep this inner asshole on a leash.
Yes, he tries to take control sometimes but I am now equipped with different strategies to keep him firmly leashed.
Without going into all the detail, during my adult life I have attended two different courses about learning to keep my anger under control, both times under court order.
Anger management. Living without violence. call it what you will, I've done it twice.
In all honesty, at the time I didn't feel I needed to attend either of the courses I attended and a part of me still thinks that way.
Neither of the courses really taught me anything and while I recall attending, I don't recall anything that was said.
I probably wasn't listening.

Anger is a natural emotion, we all have it. We all feel it.
The things that trigger it are different for us all. Learning what those triggers are is the first step.

The important thing is how we direct it when it arrives, which of course is the most difficult thing to figure out.
It shouldn't be suppressed, that only only feeds it and gives it strength, it has to manifest itself somehow.
Learning to allow it to manifest itself in a positive form is the key.
Nobody can be taught that, we need to figure out for ourselves what works and what doesn't.

Note to self:
Deal with the small stuff as it arrives and deprive the inner asshole of his sustenance.
Starve the motherfucker.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Solutions, not problems.

The human being is a highly complex and extremely complicated animal.
Arguably, the most intelligent life form on planet earth, although it seems we are the only beings with such complex societal and emotional wants and needs it often makes us our own worst enemy.
We live in a world largely created by ourselves, or at least by our ancestors, often at the expense of other species and indeed other human beings with whom we share this planet.

Unlike most other earthly life forms, we seem to have this constant need to better each other in every facet of our existence.
The world often seems to revolve around competing against each other in everything, with most of the basis for this competition being money.

Human beings have largely lost touch with what's important.
We've become a disjointed species hell bent on being the best at everything, competing against each other, often not thinking or caring about the people we brush aside in our quest for the top spot.
This is evident everywhere we look.
Everyone wants to be the best - has to be the best at everything.

Everything seems to be motivated by ego, power and greed.
Professional sports people are being paid obscene amounts of money to effectively play games that actually have zero importance to anything at all other than being a form of entertainment.
Singers/musicians with little or no real talent - or message to convey - are being paid obscene amounts of money for nothing at all.
High flying corporate executives are being paid obscene amounts of money while their customers and often their own employees struggle to provide for their families.
When massive corporates collapse under the weight of excessive greed, it's never the greedy people at the top of the tree who suffer, they walk away with millions of hidden dollars while the people who need it the most are left to wallow in the mud.

Modern society is fraught with all sorts of distractions greedy human beings have created for themselves in order to make life easier. For themselves.
The chance of easy money and an easy life is attractive to most human beings, nobody ever goes out in search of 'the hard way'.
Hard graft seems to be a thing of the past with the back breaking labour intensive jobs that have built the world we live in now considered to be beneath most people and only fit for minimum wage earners who are then exploited by those reaping all the rewards.
Machines and technology now do much of the work people used to do. This of course means things get done faster, cheaper and more profitably for those at the top while those at the bottom flounder.

I'm neither highly educated, nor qualified in anything at all other than my trade so all I have are opinions based on discussions I've had with other people and my own observations. 
When we delve into the mysteries of mental illnesses like depression, it's little wonder that people are often pushed to desperate lows where they just can't see a way forward.
Illnesses of the mind don't appear to discriminate between wealth or poverty, success or failure -perceived or real, ethnicity or gender.
I have no doubt that illnesses of the mind exist, just like illnesses of every other human body part exist. I do however, have serious doubts as to the existence of genuine illness of the mind in many instances given the widespread, seemingly wholesale diagnosing of said illnesses.
I do believe that pharmaceutical companies and many medical professionals profit from what has become a massive industry and will go to extremes such as discrediting other peoples views in an effort to protect their income streams.
I also believe that far too many diagnoses of 'depression' are made when the 'patient' is really only experiencing a difficult period in their life and would probably benefit much more from the learning of some skills or perhaps the removal of themselves from certain environments.

When a human being decides for whatever reason that they cannot remain on planet Earth any more and chooses suicide, it can send people on a quest for answers, as it did me when my younger brother chose to die.
What I've learned along the way has educated me far beyond what any qualification could have.
I've taken a holistic approach to my learning, trying to take in as much as possible from every side of every situation in order to have a broadform understanding of what leads people to suicide.
I don't study text books, but I do look at offerings from as many different directions as I can.
I believe I've formed a reasonably sound knowledge base, albeit an unofficial knowledge base devoid of any certificate in a fancy frame to back it up.

As things are, and yes, I have been guilty of this myself at times, rather than looking for solutions to the high suicide rates, most of the 'work' being done seems to be in the area of trying to discredit what other people are doing in order to implement change.
That needs to change, we need to change.
I need to change.
Everyone working in the arena of mental health and suicide prevention has their place, with most of them doing what they do for no personal reward, but simply out of the want to help other people.
That said, I do believe there are some unscrupulous operators with personal agendas, but thankfully those are few and eventually they will be found out.

There is no question as to the need for a massive shift in thinking throughout society.
It could be argued that insanely restrictive health and safety legislation and the teaching of parents to be perhaps a little too protective of their children could be creating less than resilient teenagers and young adults.
We all want our children to be safe and well, but they must also be allowed to grow and learn. Sometimes skinned knees, stubbed toes and setbacks are valuable lessons.
Often, the best lessons in life are the ones we get when things don't quite go according to plan.

I believe that the way forward is with the seeking of solutions, rather than the constant allocation of blame for perceived failings and therefore the creation of more problems.
What works for one person, won't work for someone else.
A holistic approach in which we all take a little of this, a little of that and build ourselves a collection of tools that can help firstly ourselves and can then be offered on to anyone else who might need them.
It's not about winning or losing, anyone in this arena who is genuine wants the best for everyone.

We're all learning and must continue to do so.
We should all be allowed a voice, even if we are not received well by everyone, but we should be as careful as we can in our presentation or with our choice of words so that we don't cause unnecessary offence or disrespect to anyone else with the same goals but different views on how to achieve them.
I learn every day and hopefully the choices I make are better because of it.

The future of humanity depends on the choices we all make today.
Choose wisely.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

A suicide attempt for Christmas.

It's December.
The time of year when everyone's nerves are frayed, people are tired from a busy year and the so called festive season starts to ramp up.
For many, plans are made to spend time with family and friends, celebrations are organised and parties are planned.
For many others, there is the added stress of being expected to supply gifts to family members when supplying food and shelter for themselves is a daily struggle.
I don't particularly like Christmas, for many different reasons, none of which are because I'm a grinch.
One reason is that Christmas is primarily a religious celebration and I have no time for religion in my life. I accept other peoples beliefs but I don't subscribe to any of them myself.
Another reason is that for me, the tradition of Christmas died with my Dad back in 1993.
Possibly the biggest reason, but one that I'd sort of forgotten about or my brain had chosen to bury, I made a brief mention of in my book.
This is the first time I've ever shared any more detail about it.
It was a Christmas day some time in the mid 90's although I can't pinpoint the actual year.
After a day of excessive drinking, things turned ugly between my younger brother Brett and myself and we actually squared up to fight.
Rather than fight, Brett got in his car and drove off. 

Fast forward to the following morning and we met up again to play a game of social cricket, something we did every year back then. We played social twilight cricket every Wednesday evening, but this was the premium event of the year. Wives, girlfriends, kids, everyone came along. Our version of a boxing day test match, which was really just 30 or so mates and their families getting together and taking over a local park for a day of drinking, BBQing with a bit of cricket thrown in for fun.

Anyway, that morning Brett and I discussed the events of the day before, agreed that it was 'just the piss talking', shook hands and without explanation he handed me his prized role of wicket keeper for the day - which incidentally became my role for the next couple of years.
I thought at the time it was pretty weird, but didn't question it.
The day proceeded as planned, lot's of alcohol, BBQ's going all day, kids playing and having fun, happiness all over the place.

Later that evening, I learned something from my ex wife when she came to pick up the kids that with the benefit of hindsight, should have been addressed right then but it wasn't.

She told me that Brett had attempted to take his own life after our altercation the day before.

As was typical of our environment back then, under the carpet it went.
As close as I was to my brother Brett, it was never discussed, not once.
I kick myself now, but at the time I wrote it off as a 'half assed' attempt and deemed it not worthy of discussion. Of course, with the benefit of hindsight and everything I've learned over the past four years I would love to jump in the DeLorean and head back there to have another crack at it, but that can't happen.

All of this resurfaced during my journey of self discovery after Brett did succeed in ending his own life in September 2013.
That journey backwards through Brett's life - which was also to a large degree my own life -  showed me so many things that could have been done differently.
The lessons I learned on that journey have shaped me into the person I am today.
Anyone who knew me five years ago probably doesn't really know me now.
My evolution is incomplete, I'm always learning.

My hope is that this can be a lesson for others.
The people closest to us are often the ones we take the least notice of.
Complacency can be dangerous.
Comfort zones can cause blindness when it comes to those closest to us.
Step outside.

Wendy and I have chosen to spend this Christmas alone.

For me it will be a time for quiet reflection.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

What will you do with all the money?

This was a question asked of me yesterday.

Let me explain.
I've been absent from my own life for two days now. I've been away in my cave, mulling over some things, planning some things, making sense of some stuff and just generally being everywhere but present in my own life.
That's how I roll sometimes.
I'm lucky to have Wendy, my wife, who knows when I'm absent and leaves me to it.
I try my best not to snap but sometimes I do. Sorry.
When I'm like this I pretty much just fuck off and do things on my own.

I've been thinking a lot about the book, the web site and all the things Wendy and I contribute to financially or otherwise in an effort to make the world, or at least a small part of it, a better place.
I've been thinking a lot about Brett, his suicide and everything that's happened to get me to where I am in my life.
None of this has been with any grand plan I've been working toward, it's just been my train of thought. In saying that, I have been planning in my mind the content of the series of short videos I'm going to do do soon.
I'm struggling a bit with how hard to go in because frankly, I think it's time the slumbering masses were awoken with a jolt.
I need to figure out how hard the initial jolt needs to be.

Yesterday, we had a visit from a local fella who's done some work around our place and the conversation drifted onto the fact that my book is in the local bookshop.
It went like this:
'Your book?'
'Yes, the book I wrote about my brother's suicide'.
'YOU'VE' written a book?'
Right here I felt like asking how come that was such a big surprise but I didn't.
'Yes, I've written and self published a book about my brothers suicide and our journey through the aftermath, all self funded'.
There was a period of silence before this question came at me.

'What will you do with all the money?'

I responded by telling him that should we ever recover the cost of producing the book, which is unlikely, any excess would be poured back into suicide prevention or assisting other people on their journey through the aftermath.

Let me be clear.
There is NO money.
There might never be any money and that's OK, none of this is about money.
The only money there is has been spent by Wendy and I (from our own pockets) to do the things we've done, the production of the book included.
I've never asked anyone for a cent.
I don't like crowd funding, I have my reasons and I don't have to justify them.
I'm not part of any charity or charitable trust, nor do I want to be.

Wendy and I contribute heavily to several different areas of suicide prevention, awareness and mental well being initiatives. Things that we believe in.
We will continue to do this.
I will never contribute to any charity that has a full time crowd funding page in operation or constantly asks for donations and then doesn't engage with anyone who dares to think differently than they do.

I'm the guy who donates to things I believe in.
I'm not the guy with his hand out asking for donations.

Real, invisible suicide prevention is free.
It costs nothing to be a decent human being.

If the world suddenly became perfect and all mental health issues were under control, services functioned properly and suicide no longer existed, I would still have an income.

I'm not in it for the money.