September is Suicide Awareness month, you might have noticed. I am glad that the dialogue is out there but it is a very heavy subject. It gets plastered everywhere, NZ's rate of suicide and all the ideas about how and why we have such a high rate.
I had a naive and somewhat brutal view of suicide as a teenager. I felt it very selfish. Leaving everyone else to deal with the pain you left them with. It never seemed like the noble or honorable thing to do, to give in your weakness.
Luckily, I have been able to to have conversations with people way more knowledgeable about the subject and those living with depression go through a hell of a lot more than I could ever imagine.
As I have mentioned before on this blog, I have had suicidal thoughts. When I got injured and my dreams of playing professional sports evaporated in an instant, then returning to NZ where all my hard work meant that to employers I was just a dumb athlete with a degree from a school they didn't know, I had many thoughts of whats the point. Why not just jump off a bridge.
To be clear, I was depressed, I didn't have depression. After to talking to doctors they talked about my brain chemistry was all screwed up. Living a life of being very active means you release positive brain chemicals which makes your body feel good. The injury meant I went from being very active to being in a cast for months at a time following my surgeries and add to that the lost of community by moving back to NZ and the low social validation, they said it was normal for me to be feeling down.
Even though I was in a very dark place, and sometimes I still go back there, I knew that this was a case of my environment and the situation that I was causing me to feel this way. So I set myself little goals. Some days it was getting up, some days it was going outside. I knew I could beat it. However, I had to do a lot of work.
Having depression is a different ball game and one that I am not qualified to speak to. All I can say is that I hope with this increased dialogue about depression, those people that are suffering from it might feel more comfortable reaching out to someone because we all would help if we knew what to do.
There are many great resources out there. Or call 0800 543 354 or text 4357.
What I will preach though is to be kind. Just say positive things to people. Not bullshit, not fluff, but why not brighten up someones day.
Recently, Instagram has copied Tik Tok and made Reels. Little 15 second videos. It is mostly half naked girls dancing, but as I was scrolling through more and more of these videos a guy from gym popped up. His video was funny.
I had never talked to the guy. When I saw him the next time at the gym I thought I should go and say I thought the video was funny. I was very nervous, I thought about all the bad outcomes, would he think I was weird, or strange, does anyone go up and say these things.
Then I thought, I am not trying to impress him, I just wanted to pass on that I thought it was funny. So I went up and said I saw his Instagram stuff and thought it was good and that he should keep going.
He smiled and thanked me for saying it. We have these amazing mirror neurons that mean we can feel what others are feeling. I noticed that I was smiling back. It felt good to make someone else feel good.
So in these challenging times, just be kind. Tell someone you like their Art, their smile, their music, their fashion sense, their vibe, what ever. Just spread some joy. You never know you might find some of that joy spreads back to you.
Shave well, Be awesome... And Kind.