Friday, 11 August 2017

Our Fragile State

Please note: this post deals with a topics we often avoid - suicide and depression. 
Please discontinue reading if this is confronting.

If you need help please contact one of the many organisations that offer support.

Beyond Blue
Lifeline Australia Crisis support and suicide prevention
https://www.lifeline.org.au/
Queensland Health
https://www.qld.gov.au/health/mental-health/suicide



Pink Roses & Mirrors - oil on canvas 500 mm x 900 mm 

We are fragile. So very fragile. We live with such high expectations. We have high expectations of others but more particularly, we have high expectations of ourselves. When we don't match up to those lofty ideals it's easy to berate ourselves and feel that we are failing.

Sometimes this self criticism, self loathing even, takes over and we fall into a bottomless dark pit. We see no escape. 

This week I watched Australian Story. It was an episode entitled The Bridge and had a very personal connection. Usually TV programmes are about others, people far removed from me, people that I don't know. This time it was different. The story was about someone I know, someone who serves on the same committee as I do. 

I realised immediately that I didn't  really know her. My knowledge was limited to superficial knowledge. I didn't know her back story at all. It made me realise that in our daily dealings with others we ought to remember that they often have a life we know nothing about. A life with problems and struggles in spite of their seemingly normal attitude.

Five years ago, my friend, a high achiever, was struggling to cope at work. She felt that she was failing, and was not living up to the standards required of her. In a very short time, only about ten days, she came to the decision that everyone, including her small two year old son, would be better off without her. She walked over the Story Bridge in Brisbane and jumped.

Against all odds, she was seen by a passing ferry as she was about to go under. The ferry captain came alongside and a deck hand pulled her out of the water. She was alive. A miracle. 
Today she has reclaimed and rebuilt her life. Thankfully she is now in a good place.

As I watched the story unfold, what struck me so forcibly was the rapid disintegration of her state of well being. From coping with work and achieving her goals, from being in control, the drop to utter despair took a few short days. We are so fragile it doesn't take much to take us to the brink.

I write this as a reminder, to myself as much as a reminder to you to look to the people around you. We don't know their struggles. We don't know their despair. 

We can only be aware, be kind, and to listen.


If you live in Australia, I urge you to watch the episode. You can see a replay on  ABC iView. 

If you need help please contact one of the many organisations that offer support.
Beyond Blue
Lifeline Australia Crisis support and suicide prevention
https://www.lifeline.org.au/
Queensland Health
https://www.qld.gov.au/health/mental-health/suicide