I’ve had an unexpected emotional week in the lead up to Christmas, and it consisted of dealing with the return of my anxiety and learning about an old school friend’s suicide. All of which, occurred on Wednesday 18th December.
I was increasingly anxious about this day as I was going to be extremely out of my comfort zone. The powers that be at work said that us ‘office bods’ (my words!) have to work on the ‘shop floor’.
My session was booked for 18th, and although I had done one before I was still stressed.
It was no secret I wasn’t looking forward to it. I felt I had done my front-facing-customer-service duty many a time over from the 10+ years I worked (and loathed) working in retail stores. I know how hard it is!
Concerns and queries aside, everyone has to do it, so was no point kicking up a fuss any more. Alas, I had still managed to get my self worked up quite a bit about it.
Tuesday night came, and I had that sinking feeling in my heart I hadn’t had for a long time. I was dreading going to work, thinking of excuses I could make not to go in. There was no point in that, of course, as I’d only have to rearrange it for another time.
**Suicide trigger warning**
I was drifting off to sleep when I had a phone call from one of my oldest friends. It was weird to get a call from him so late, but as I was essentially asleep and hated speaking on the phone I rejected the call.
He texted me that I needed to call him back. So I did. Turns out he was concerned that one of our old school friends had possibly died by suicide.
Now, I hadn’t spoken to her in a long time, but we were quite good friends in school. As with most people, we lost touch after school then via wonders of social media we still made Facebook socialities. She was one of the few school friends I was happy to have on social media and we spoke if we bumped in to each other.
This was incredibly sad news. My friend said he was going to try get confirmation if it was true.
Before I went to bed I was getting a bit sniffly and suspicious of an oncoming cold. After the phone call, I was sneezing and blowing my nose more so resigned myself to the sofa. It took me until about 2am, another 2 or so hours to get back to sleep.
I woke up at about 4.30am and again about 6.15am to hear my cats trying to eat a carrier bag and a fresh smell from the litter tray wafting to my senses.
By the time I left for work at 7.25am I was in no doubt that I had a cold. Unfortunately my friend had texted also me to confirm the previous nights sad news of suicide to be true. So, I really didn’t want to go to work.
Even though I hadn’t spoken to her properly in years, I still felt grief. I was genuinely saddened by her suicide. The situation and the fact she had left behind 3 young children and a fiance was heart breaking. I couldn’t even fathom what they would be feeling or going through.
“The most important things are the hardest things to say..”
I took the decision to not tell any management at work about this. I wasn’t close enough to her to need time off work myself and I just wanted to get it the day over with.
That said, I empathised and hurt enough that I just quiet time without having to put on a fake face.
What made me more sensitive to her suicide was because of my own and other friends’ experiences with mental illnesses. It’s a matter close to my own heart.
Anyway, I made it through the day (passed the further obstacle of having to interact with children and putting my fake ‘happy /public’ face on!) and ended up having the rest if the week off with my cold.
I messaged my friend’s fiance to introduce myself and pass on my condolences. In fact I even went to take him a food parcel that coincidentally, Matt’s (my partner) employer had created to send to local families in crisis. We took it to him and he was incredibly greatful to receive it and for reaching out to him with memories and letting him know how loved my friend was.
While this seems an incredibly sad blog to post the day before Christmas (and it is), the whole situation has inspired and motivated me.
“In a book, all would have gone according to plan… but life was so f**king untidy “
It’s made me be contemplative of my own life, and how I want to live, the person I want to be.
I want to help others, I really want to do my part in crushing mental health stigma. I want others to know they are important, and loved.
She was also a massive geek in her own right and it’s just the confirmation that this geeky mental health awareness project I’ve created is the right thing to do.
I’m going to include my friend in my goals for 2020, to have her memory with me and motivating me to succeed.
As someone who is rubbish at reading books, I wanted to read more next year. So, in memorium of my Stephen King book worm horror fan friend I will set myself a goal to read Stephen King’s IT before my birthday (April)!
I will also endeavour to post weekly blogs to create mental health awareness and to celebrate and embrace self acceptance.
Stay strong, Stay positive, hug those around you and tell them you love them.