A FINAL WORD TO THE YOUNG
Tomorrow June 6th will be the 7th anniversary of Jade’s suicide and Anthony’s death.
Antenatal depression followed by postnatal depression, and ultimately postnatal psychosis, left her unrecognizable, and responding to life in a way that was foreign to her true self, robbing her of what should have been the happiest time of her life. In an instant this murder – suicide changed the trajectory of multiple lives.
It robbed her husband of a son, wife, and future. It robed Anthony’s grandparents of a future with him. It robbed Anthony of his future. This event affected professionals involved in assisting her through this dark time. It brought to the fore glaring deficiencies in hospital protocols.
It has been 7 long years that have challenged me in every way possible, emotionally, mentally and physically. The lure of suicide has regularly knocked at my door, offering me a way out in times of unrelenting torment. It became a fight to stay alive, to not succumb to its promise of rest, to find a reason to push through the despair that had attached itself to my grief journey.
Jade is the absent presence in all my conversations and activities in life.
When people ask what would you have done differently, it is a question to which l cannot respond. The question is in itself flawed. It presupposes that an alternative decision would have yielded a different outcome, a positive outcome. It is a presupposition that cannot be tested.
Our lives are an enormous tapestry, each action, every inaction, every word we utter, every word we fail to speak, every relationship we foster, every relationship we reject, every adventure we undertake, every adventure we shrink back from, every failure, every triumph, are the threads that construct this tapestry. To pull out any one thread, will impact the whole, with no guarantee the outcome will be more desirable.
So where does that leave us? It means that each and every one of us must forge a future that has meaning on the heels of adversity or triumph. Forging a future on the heels of triumph is easy. Forging a future on the heels of adversity will ask much of us emotionally, mentally and physically.
Dear Young Person
Many of you have already experienced more adversity than you should in your young life. You have experienced bullying, abuse at the hands of those who should care for you, homelessness, rejection, and numerous other challenges in your short life.
Some of you have romanticised and glamorized the idea of suicide, entertaining it as the solution to your problems.
Young person, that is not the solution.
You cannot re-write your past, but you can write your future.
The solution to adversity is to develop resilience.
Resilience means – the power or ability to return to the original form, position, after being bent, compressed, or stretched.
When l think of the word resilience, the picture that springs to mind, pardon the pun, is Elastigirl from The Incredibles, or the Stretch Armstrong action figure. Both can stretch to incredible lengths. In a crisis Elastigirl can stretch, twist and expand to any shape or size. Yet when the crisis is past, she returns to her normal curvaceous form, leaving no evidence that she has just been stretching beyond recognition.
To help in the journey of developing resilience it is important to put in some protective factors:
Increase your social supports: identify the positive influences in your life, and eliminate those that impact you negatively; Seek professional assistance: these people are experienced in providing coping strategies to assist through life's challenges and Engage in some form of fitness activity: endorphins released through exercise increase one's sense of wellbeing.
Develop a Reason to Live Hope-Kit:
Phone Reminders: you use your phones for many activities, put it to good use, schedule a reminder to pop up every day with the things you hold dear as a reason to choose life.
Written reminders when someone helped you in the past and the positive outcome of that; Written reminders when God brought you through a seemingly impossible situation; A photo that evokes positive emotions of hope; Written reminders of a Bible passage or quote that inspires hope; Written reminders of something you like to do that gives you hope and An unrealised dream you must yet fulfil.
The most important thing of all is DON’T SUFFER IN SILENCE! Speak to someone TODAY!
Build Your Sense of Self
Your self-worth. Your sense of worth as a person, is not defined by what you do, but who you are. Why this is so important is because it transcends your experiences, good or bad, and says that you as a human being are a person of worth regardless of the journey life may have taken you on. A sense of worth is intrinsic not extrinsic.
Your self-image. The mental image you have of yourself, which is not defined by what others think of you. Self-talk negatively influences this, by comparing yourself to others or what the media portrays as being the perfect person, telling you that you can never measure up.
Your self-talk. Your inner dialogue with yourself. Self-talk is a habitual way of responding to your experience, often taking the form of an internal critic, who can be very negative and pessimistic. This form of self-talk can keep you on the merry-go-round of feeling defeated before you even have the opportunity to try. Self-talk has the power to break or perpetuate destructive behaviour and thinking. Self-talk that is healthy is not about positive thinking, it is about realistic thinking.
Realistic thinking acknowledges where you are at, and what you have experienced and says, yes this is what l have experienced, but l refuse to let this define who l am.
How can l turn my scars into stars. How can I use my experiences to help others.
Realistic thinking says, yes l have made mistakes but l will learn from them and do better next time.
Realistic thinking says, no l haven’t had the opportunities the next person has, and I am not what the media portrays as the perfect person.
l am unique, there is no one like me, and l embrace my uniqueness. l have been put on this planet to do the one thing that no one else can do, because they are not me.
You have a life-time of discovery ahead of you.
Don’t allow any person or life experience rob you of that!
Final Instalment: A Word to Parents and Caregivers