I hope you have all been enjoying the new freedoms with the shops reopening! I’ve definitely enjoyed showing Raves from the Grave the inside of my wallet and I’m sure they’ve enjoyed seeing it! The weather has been gorgeous as of late and that’s been a very welcome addition to life as the nation begins to reopen. I’d also like to congratulate Mayor Anita Collier on finishing her chemotherapy, I understand it’s been tough, and you’ve had to dig deep, and we are all in awe of your strength, resilience, and continued commitment to many of your duties, we are all rooting for you and I for one am very much looking forward to getting legless with you ASAP ma’am…
Although I’m thankful as there have been many things big and small to celebrate recently, I have also been feeling the loss and departure of a dear friend. A man who has shown me great generosity, warmth, and council through the years. The loyalty and support I received from him in all of my life’s endeavours was not the kind that is found easily in this world and it certainly cannot be bought. This was the real deal and I have been blessed to have known him.
My friend took his own life and although sadly it didn’t come as a complete surprise, I have naturally experienced heartbreak and sadness over this, generally once the day has wound down and the dust has settled. I’ve also questioned whether I could have done more, been more proactive in our relationship, sent that text, made that phone call, dropped in on the doorstep. I’ve also questioned if my grief has been selfish in its nature. Whether it’s been losing an aspect of my own life and the hole I felt his passing had created that I’ve been mourning, was it the loss of him or the loss of the laughs and warmth his friendship gave me?
Logically I have to say that these feelings are all completely normal reactions when mourning someone who has chosen to leave us and it’s unfair on yourself to believe that on top of everything you already did for them, that more effort would have seen a different outcome, in a global pandemic where we have to balance our working lives, family life, relationships, our health both mental and physical. I’ve needed to be realistic about just how much more I could expect, without this internal conversation I fear it’s all too easy to become a pin cushion for every miserable self-inflicted ‘what if’ and beat yourself up over it. Some things are just out of our hands despite our longing for an alternative outcome.
Male suicides have consistently accounted for approximately three-quarters of all suicides in the UK since the mid-1990s. This show’s there a need for a cultural shift when it comes to men’s mental health. We must start sharing and opening up; vulnerability is a sign of strength and not weakness. I have embraced vulnerability with this column, and I would now like whoever is reading this, male or female to do the same. When we are honest about how we are feeling, and we share those thoughts with people that we value and trust, it will never be seen as weakness. In fact, many times it opens up the floor for others to also share as you set the precedent, so, if you’re worried about how someone is doing and they are struggling to open up or let you in, perhaps you should share a vulnerable thought or feeling with them. Normalise it and lead by example, you may just get the dialogue flowing. If you’d like to get something off of your chest and don’t feel you can open up to anyone you know the Samaritan’s have a sympathetic ear here: www.samaritans.org/ or Mind in Somerset: www.mindinsomerset.org.uk/