An early morning reading of a blog that I follow has had me on a train of thought today. Granted, it’s a train that’s been picking up speed since I decided to move recently. A new place which is actually an old place to be exact. I am moving back into a building I left just over a year ago. A building that I loved, and that I hated leaving at the time but I had to , due to circumstances. Now I ‘ll be moving back into the building, into a suite above my old suite, a little bigger and with more windows and better light  – a good move! A move that has me excited for a place that feels good.

So my blog perusing this morning got me thinking more deeply on something that I’ve been rattling around in my head for some time now. Roots, grounding, personality in environment…home. What does it all mean to me and what do I want and need?

We’ve all been in homes that are, very simply, an extension of the people who live there. Homes that you walk into and think “yeah, this is his/her/their place!”. That feeling is what I have always wanted – and never seemed to be able to find. I’ve been in homes of people who are partners yet radically different from each other in likes and tastes and styles and their home is what they are – a mix and combination of them, beautifully, and often oddly, intertwined. I walk into my partner’s apartment and it is “her”. Items on the wall, things strewn here and there, pictures and books and all the little things that reflect her in her surroundings. I spend time at my colleagues house and from the moment you enter, it’s “him”. The leather chairs, the bookshelves, the dining room table…it all feels and is his energy.

So I look around my place now again with eyes and a soul that doesn’t see “me” in where I make my home. Cold to me and impersonal. I don’t feel “me” here. It’s a space that I don’t feel good in – and it’s not the physical suite itself even.The very few items that make me smile and that I love in my space are rare. The eclectic wine glasses that strike a chord with me, the bright, mismatched tiles that I bought because I fell in love with them but have no purpose in mind yet, the fruit bowl that sticks out like a sore thumb because of it’s bright colours that match nothing else in my kitchen, the unfinished and ugly trunk that serves as my coffee table..all items that have snuck into my life the last few years that have that “feel” of me and home for me. The vast majority of what I call home, devoid of “me”.

I can’t fix the inside by changing the outside, again (thank you, my L for that reminder). Moving to a new place because this one doesn’t feel like home won’t ever fix the problem. I need to work on filling the space I am in with my energy and what I love and what makes me smile. That way, wherever I am, it’s home. So it’s time to shop and find and fill my home with things that bring a smile to my lips and that make me feel good when I am there and surrounded by them. Stupid bead curtains and all!

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I think we hit a point in life where we stop dreaming. We give up the sitting and wondering and fantasizing of “what if” and “maybe someday” or even the “some day I will…”. We get caught up with practical and realistic and being reasonable of what we should, and can, expect out of life.

When I was 16 I sat in my living room with a friend and an atlas open on the floor and we marked out the route we would take after graduation. The countries we wanted to see and travel and all the places that we would visit. For weeks we would plan and discuss and dream. There were times that I thought it might not happen but I believed it would. Really believed it. Then life curved off the path of that choosing. A year and a half later I was getting married and a year and half after that I was having my first son and that atlas was firmly tucked away in my bookshelf.

The next 20 years saw a lot of changes and a lot of moves and that atlas always got packed up and moved along with me though. Everytime I took it off the shelf to pack it, I would open it up and trace the marker lines on the maps and get a little more sad that I wasn’t going to get to see those places and experience what I wanted to. What was happening was a slow and very steady creeping of surrendering. Giving up. Letting the little doubt grow and take hold until even looking at the cover of that atlas made me melancholy about what wasn’t going to be.

Life was busy and full and I loved it. Raising my kids and working and volunteering kept me so busy that dreams took a seat so far removed from “real life” that they ceased to exist anymore for me.

Then came a point that I started to realize that without those dreams, life was becoming heavy and dark in some way – especially at a time that it should have been lighter. The boys were getting older and a marriage that wasn’t right was over and it was time to sit and take a hard look at what I wanted and what was needed. So the small dreams started. Maybe a weekend trip with my boys. Someplace realistic still but a dream all the same. So a plan was made and we did it. It felt good to see that maybe there was that elusive thing still there – hope – hope that a dream can come to fruition.

Then life took a sidestep again. This time, a big enough slam to knock me off the track completely.

A decision to rebuild life and move forward in a new direction and in a new city brought me to packing again. This time, I picked up that atlas – the book with the dreams I had had for 25 years – dreams that no matter how unattainable they felt, always sat there deep inside of me, a small sliver of “maybe some day” always there. I picked up that atlas and there was no sliver of “maybe some day” left. It was just gone. Defeated and gone. After packing that atlas around for almost 25 years, I threw it out.

The last three and a half years have seen me have days of starting to dream again, starting to think of “maybe some day” – but it has always been so short lived as to be almost not there. Those moments have been met with such grief and mourning of the loss of belief and hope that anything could come to pass that it was too hurtful to even think of dreaming.

Moments here and there of plan making or looking forward always hit hard inside my head of a practical response of why bother dreaming when it isn’t going to happen anyways. Like the game of what would you do if you won a million dollars, I was at the point of who cares – it’s pointless conjecture and the reality is what you have and where you are is it. So stop dreaming. Friends would make small talk and we would sit and say “where would you go if you could go anywhere?” and my internal response was always why bother answering – it won’t happen and it’ just torture to dream when it won’t happen anyways. Simple.

The last few months though something has started to shift. Spending time with a special someone who is helping me remember what it’s like to dream and fantasize and think “what if”. Even if it is just silly and will never come to pass most likely – it’s still fun and it still makes me smile – if I let it. This weekend, an hour spent together, curled up dreaming and thinking and letting imaginations and wishes run wild for a bit, that feeling so long forgotten, and so good to feel again. So good to dream again. And who knows, maybe someday…it’s been too long since I’ve thought that and let myself believe it. Feels good.  

My body carries the adornment of its experiences.

The permanent crease of my brow as it has furrowed, years of squinting because of eyesight less than perfect and a forgetfulness for wearing my glasses.Leaving behind a deep wrinkle that tells that story, silently like all the other marks and notes in my flesh.

The lines around my mouth and eyes , the deeper ones on my forehead all speak,if you know how to listen. They tell of a life full of rambunctious laughter and giggles as well as simple smiles and kisses that have puckered my lips more times that my mind can remember.

A love of lifting my face to the sun to feel its warmth and embrace has left its kiss on my skin.

My belly sings with a gentle softness and shines with the shimmer of marks from the story of people who were conceived and grown there. Four wonderfully miraculous souls who shared my body for a while before they embarked on their own journeys.

My scars each have their own moments to share. The loudest voice that they speak with though is the one that whispers that I survived and am still here to wear them.

I am all of this on the outside.

The vessel that I live in gives a glimpse of where I’ve been.

As the years come and go, my life leaves more impressions on my body.

I see it, far from imperfect or flawed… I see the beauty and expression of a life lived.

Do you ever wonder “how did we get here – and how do we think it’s ok?!”.
Watching the morning news at the gym and it occurs to me that the round of commercials that I’ve just been subjected were all indicative of just how twisted our “normal” society has become.

Now, if something here offends you, I’m sorry that you’ve been offended. Not that I’m sorry I’m saying this, but that it doesn’t sit right for you. The truth hurts sometimes and my experience as a personal trainer and lifestyle consultant over the years has shown me that people will put a lot of passion and energy into defending their right to be unhealthy and make poor choices for their goals. Enough about that for now though…

Here’s what my two-minute commercial break showed me…

So… The ads on the news break consisted of Cialis (erectile dysfunction), Stressless.com (an online forum board, “counselling” options, product sales for items to help ease your stressful life etc), an ad for a new depression medication (with enough side effects to make depression sound pretty good actually compared to what the pills can do to you), adult incontinence pads, a new diabetes meter that gives you a light indicator as well as the number of your blood sugar (green is good, red is bad). And lastly, an ad for a sleep apnea clinic and nightly mask.
All this in two minutes or so. Enough time and enough input to make any person realize that what is being served on a platter to the general public is the portrayal of our society as one that is impotent, stressed, depressed, incontinent and diabetic. Nice snapshot…and not an inaccurate one sadly.
Something else that struck me is the actor portrayals in these ads. Every one of them showed the intended subject as an average mid-age looking person. The man needing cialis was probably around 40. Healthy and fit looking, active in the commercial and with what looks like a loving, romantic relationship (certainly made more so by erections on demand). The incontinent women were almost all under 50ish and disturbingly happy about wearing pads to pee in because “pee happens!”. The diabetic was a mother of young children with no noticeable weight issues (she did mention she was adult o nset type)… so “normal” looking.
What does this say? It says that normal is dysfunctional…and it’s ok. There’s a pill for that, there’s a gimmick to help with that. You aren’t shown a realistic version of who these items are for. That would maybe make you feel bad.
Now, granted, there are people who – through no actions of their own doing – have issues that need to be managed. Diabetes that is Type 1 is a horrible disease that can’t be cured and it’s a blessing that medicine has made the gains needed to mostly manage it. Depression and other forms of mental illness are a serious issue that, many times, needs medication to keep the person safe and help them get better. The impact of stress on our lives can be devastating and that is something that, sometimes, we have no control over. Bodies go through physical changes caused by age or occurrences that result in issues that need to be dealt with. All true.
But… and here’s what bothers me… these ads give the message – quietly – that it’s not your fault. See, it seems to say, healthy, fit, active people have all these problems so it’s not your fault that you have them too. What they don’t show is the reality that most of these issues are a result of people making poor choices and choosing to do the easy option. It’s so much easier to take a pill and give yourself injections and watch your blood pressure climb (it’s ok, there’s another pill for that too) rather than to change your eating habits and get off the couch and away from your desk for walks. Why start being more active and take personal responsibility for your health when you can just be lazy and indulge yourself in bad habits and then settle for a life lived less than what it could have been. Can you have a great life while living with limitations? Yes, absolutely. But can you have more options and more avenues open to how you experience this life and what you get to do if you are healthier and not dependant on medications and sleep masks and everything else that keeps you tethered? Yes, absolutely!
I’ve seen enough people who have become free and clear of years-long issues they thought they would never be rid of simply by working to lose weight and get more active and change their eating habits to know that a lot of times – that’s all it takes. Chronic snoring (even apnea) can greatly lessen or even disappear when weight is lost and blood pressure is back to normal. Pre-diabetic test results can turn around with diet and exercise changes. Incontinence can, many times, be “cured” by pelvic floor exercises. The options are there.
It’s hard work to push yourself when you don’t really want to. A fast food meal from the drive through is easier than making something at home. A couple of chocolate cupcakes might be more appealing than yogurt and fruit for snack time. Sadly, our culture has decided that it’s better to pander to the masses that want a way to manage the consequences of their own inaction or poor choices than it is to enable people to make changes.

That what I saw in my two-minute commercial break.

Now back to your regularly programmed life. Try to not settle for less than it can be.

Change is a funny thing. Not funny “ha ha” but funny odd.

There are a couple of ways to look at it.

Sometimes, we are faced with change that’s outside of our control. We have to change but we don’t want to. This is a tough one and the one that we tend to feel the most.
This is the external push that sends us reeling, or fumbling most likely, in a new altered direction from the one we had been travelling.
A simple thing like a flat tire can be enough to alter a days plans or something as massive as a burnt out home can force an entire life shift. Losing a loved one, a job or finding out an unexpected baby is on the way – all can fundamentally change your life. And not of your choosing.
We have to react, there’s no choice. We have to learn to accept because there isn’t any other option but to do so.
We have choice still with HOW we react and whether that acceptance comes fast or slow or easy or hard…but the simple fact is, we have no choice in what has happened to bring us to change.

Then there’s another change. A change that is possible when we don’t HAVE TO, but we WANT to. This one is where so many sit for so long… and never do anything. Because nothing forces our hand. We may want to change jobs or careers, we may want to end a relationship or add a new one into our lives. Yet we don’t. We dawdle and we hum and haw and keep going… every now and then fired up to change but we never really enact that change that we WANT.
This is almost a worse feeling that being forced to change. This type of change may be hard and it may very well shake things up just as much as a forced change but when it’s a personal action that needs to set the ball rolling… that’s where it catches and stops; before it even gets started usually.
It’s always easier to stay where you are and in what you have rather than making the change. No matter how much you want and how much you desire “different”, it’s hard.

Sometimes we set the ball rolling in a passive way, hoping that then “something” will take over and make us change. We’ve all seen it… maybe even done it. We start behaviours in a relationship that we know, deep down, that will trigger the other person to end it…and voila! Now you HAVE TO move on…and it’s no longer a choice. Take away the choice and you take away the personal responsibility for the decision…and that’s where we get strung up.
What if we make the wrong choice? What if we pursue that dream and it falls through? Or we realize that it wasn’t what it was all cracked up to be in our heads? Hmm, then what? Then we have to be responsible for where we are… so much easier is we can say it wasn’t our fault, isn’t it?
If all we’re doing is reacting then we’re always a step removed from being the person who is responsible for where you are. It’s always nice to be able to not have the finger pointing back at yourself when deciding who is making you unhappy or malcontent.

I hear it all the time, we all do. People who talk about wanting to change, to have a different direction, to BE different…and they follow it up with so many reasons – quite simply, excuses – about why they *can’t*.

So they sit and wait for life to throw something at them that they can’t ignore and that they must react to. And if it doesn’t come, they sit. Stagnant and not where they want to be…but not doing anything to change it.

Sad. So much more sadness in that than there is in anything that can happen to us.

Today is the winter solstice…the day of the year with the least hours of sunlight and the day with the most hours of darkness…a day that celebrates the return of the sun, longer days, a rebirth and renewal of the cycle of life. A day that, for me, is a more symbolic and celebratory day than the traditional new years eve.

So this is a day that I look back and reflect but more so, I look forward. I woke today with the intention of getting back to some routines that have slid away the last few weeks. As so often happens though, the universe decided that just maybe, something else needed to be drummed into my head.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been out on the bike in the mornings. Chilly winter mornings and rain and me on my bike do not mix so I’ve been taking a bit of a hiatus of late. This morning though I was ready to roll (literally, or so I thought). Spandexed up, gloves on and wind resistant coat on and I was out the door. Inspired by the day to get back to my old routines.

So, it has been a few weeks, the tires needed a bit of air. Not a big deal, I have a gas station at the end of my block. Off I go…only to find that they charge $2.00 for air…and I have no money. So on to the next gas station. Same issue. Now growling and with a bad mood brewing, I head home. Grumbling and cranky and not wanting to do anything now. Bike dropped off and I do a quick jacket change and head out for a run instead. Determined that this isn’t going to stop me from getting back to regular exercising and putting my health back as a priority.

Still trying to keep the mood from going too south, I head out. Aiming for the 5km loop route I start my run and it becomes apparent very quickly that three weeks away from running and 5lbs up is going to be felt today. Muscles aching and starting to make enough internal noise to make my internal monologue hard to shut up, I run.
Same route as always, trying for the same old pace. Nope. Definitely slower today. Trying to just accept that difference and be ok with it.
Sidewalk closures and a small detour and I grumble again as I’m forced off my “usual” and what I had “planned” once again.
As I approach my halfway point where I go down the stairs at the beach access area to get my run rock (again, another story for another time…) I actually growl out loud as I see that this is not going to happen today.

The tide is in far higher than I’ve ever seen it, the stairs are blocked completely, as is any access off the sides, by massive driftwood logs and sticks jumbled up on the beach. The rocky beach is not even visible under the wood and water.
No way I’m getting down there this morning; even if I could navigate the logs without breaking a leg falling off the wet wood, getting a pebble would be impossible under all that.
I’m surprised by how I am quite simply almost in tears at this. I feel like every point this morning I have been slapped with an obstacle and I’m fighting anger and frustration and feeling like maybe I should have just stayed in bed.
Standing there, legs hurting and body aching I look down and see at my feet a little round piece of wood. Not a pebble or rock, but it’ll have to do. The option is to not pick it up. So I pick it up,put it in my pocket like I would do “usually” and turn to run back.

Then it hits me. No, the morning hasn’t at all gone as I planned it to. I wasn’t able to execute my “usual” and get back to the routines as I wanted to. But I had done what I wanted to, on a most base, foundational, level. Just in a different way…and there’s the lesson that the universe was, methodically and repeatedly, trying to help me to see this morning.

That maybe it’s time to embrace the concept of “not the usual”. My inner control freak needs to take a breather and accept that a different way to achieve the same end result can be ok. IMAG5203

Looking forward with a wider view of possibilities and more ways to experience them is a wonderful way to celebrate the Solstice.

Happy Solstice!

That feeling, that vague something that you just can’t put your finger on the pulse of. That sense that something just has to give…
At times, like running blind and deaf, careening about as I scramble for a hand-hold in the darkness. It’s my Self, treading water, knowing that I can’t keep afloat indefinitely.

The spark that has caught and flickered is there. A part of Me is quietly sitting and blowing on the ember… bringing to life the flame… that part of Me that is waiting, less and less patiently, for me to acknowledge what I already know but can’t quite grasp.

Almost cyclical in occurrence. A knowing that I’m not realizing what I need to. What I should be.The frustration building. Small and not-quite-enough changes made here and there. the venting of the pressure to release before critical and allow the day to day to go on.

All the while the fire burns steady; stoking the ever rising force that screams for change, for transformation, for authenticity and abundance.

The sense of anticipation, of seeking and searching. Not for an answer… I know I’m the one holding the light to see the path… Waiting for what? To have myself lift the light a little higher, to see a little clearer… to realize what I already know. I have the answer, I just need to know it.

There have been brief times of clarity. Times when my spirit sits content and I feel … found… by my Self. Times that have been a struggle to hold to after they pass. A mourning for those times overcomes me as “real life” slams back in. Only reinforcing that it’s those glimpses of authenticity that are “real life” … they aren’t an escape or a distraction, they are how it should be… known because of how my Self soars at those times.

The unease with how things are is growing and I can feel the urgency there as the knowledge that change is afoot gets stronger.

Time to retreat, look inside, chart a course, light the path brightly and buckle up for the ride. I’m a hell of a good navigator and an even better driver ;).

Why do we challenge ourselves? Why do we set goals and specific things that we hope to achieve? What is the difference between hoping to, and actually realizing that end?

Speaking for myself, this past year has been one that I have taken on a number of personally set challenges… and achieved a fair number of them…so it’s something that has been on my mind as my year wraps up.

I had someone ask me recently why I had done something. We were talking about events of the past year and I mentioned that I had just completed a race on November first. It was an outdoor, mud-based obstacle race. I had commented on how crazy I thought I was at one point when I realized that I couldn’t feel my hands from the cold and still had to use them. I was running. literally, with my hands tucked in my under arms trying to get them some feeling back. She looked at me like I was indeed crazy and asked simply “Why in the world would you do something like that?” My answer, after a second or two to ask myself that, was just as simple. To see if I could follow through.

For myself, it comes down to one thing really. Seeing if I can go from conceptualizing a goal, setting it as a goal, actually doing it and seeing that to fruition. It’s not even so much about how hard I can push myself or whether I can achieve something physically. The physical act of reaching my challenge is merely how I achieve a much bigger goal. One of knowing that I can do what I set my mind to. It’s not about the specifics, it’s about the bigger picture.

When I signed up for a 10km run that was in June, I knew that physically, it wasn’t that far of a reach. I was regularly running 5 – 7km a few times a week and had run a 10km distance a few times in the previous months so it wasn’t so much the physical. It was, somewhat unconsciously, a decision to commit to something and see if I could follow through. Even up to the day before, I was fully considering not going. I can’t stand crowds, I am not a fan of running with hordes of people in my way, the pre-run “warm up” that I never do… the list goes on of why I don’t do organized races. But I needed something to set and achieve. And I did it. In a great time; surprising myself and giving me a feeling of accomplishment more than a simple 10km race should have in my mind.

The next thing beyond that was the first of two of those aforementioned mud based obstacle races. A recap of that is here.
Coming out of that event and knowing just how hard it was physically was a huge sense of accomplishment for me. More than that though was the happiness that I felt not because of what I had achieved with the endurance or the strength but it was the mere fact that I showed up and did something that I committed to. It was something that scared me and I conquered it. Having to drive up island; knowing that I had signed up,solo, for a race that predominantly is run with people in teams; going into an experience not knowing details. I’m a control freak and hate the unknown. That race was a case of just show up and do what you have to as they don’t divulge course details other than the start location. So much more to that than just “can I do it”. Far more emotional than physical.

That alone, for me, is what this is all about. Being able to reflect and see a tangible result of my following through is more needed than any run or race to be honest.

Why do I do it? So that I can have a physical manifestation of personal achievement. That’s what is sorely needed.

Setting and achieving a physical challenge gives me proof – necessary proof – that I can do what I need to. Translate that to emotional and mental health. Can I feel joy and happiness and achieve the long game of living my potential? These little physical challenges show me “yes” and belief in that… hope… faith in my Self… that’s what it’s about. That’s why I do it.

The past…the experiences that we have had…things that have happened to us and actions that we have done… all are a part of who we are and what makes us the people we are.

I firmly believe that life should be lived like how you drive a car; eyes ahead at where you’re going with glances back every now and then and keeping a lookout for what’s edging up beside you too ;). You can’t go forward very well if all you’re doing is looking at where you came from. I am not defined by what I see of my life in my rear view mirror. Yet I am influenced by what’s back there.

Everything that I have come through – the good, the bad, the horrible and the amazing – it all has helped shape who I am today. The moments that felt impossible to live through have helped me to better be present in the moments that bring a smile to my Self.

Today marks the day, 24 years ago, that I lived through an experience that brought me to a moment that I thought would be the last one I would ever have. Attacked while walking to work and sexually assaulted at knifepoint. Thinking in my mind that I was so incredulous that this was how my end would be. Coming out of that event in shock that I made it. I went back home right after (it was less than a block from home), calmly took a shower, changed and , after assuring my husband that I was ok and just wanted to not think about, went to work. Repression and avoidance – you bet. That’s how I dealt with things. I did report it that night and followed through with legal necessities such as they were.

For many of the first few years after, I was barely able to get through the date. The rest of the year I would be oblivious to it but I would start to get anxious weeks before. Nightmares, panic attacks…the fears gripped me horribly as the date would come around. Then something happened. I decided that it wasn’t going to affect me anymore; and I pushed it down and told myself that it had no impact on me. And I did a really good job of that for a number of years.

Then two and a half years ago, a death in my life blew that ability to ignore all apart. I did my best even with that. My “best” being trying to push even that down and just move forward. That only lasted a few months before it all fell apart and I had a breakdown… a breakdown that I have spent almost two years trying to come back from. I had spent my life perfecting the art of being “fine” and “strong” and crafting the ability to take anything that came my way and keep going. The truth is though that, when you take emotions and lock them away, eventually, the dam breaks and it all has to be dealt with.

So I’ve worked at facing what I have tried to not feel for so long. Not just the assault but so many things in my life. The truth I have come to see is that for me, my strength comes not from being able to suppress and power through… my strength comes from being able to acknowledge and feel, fully feel, the pain and the hurt and the fears, and still keep going. With it all there, not driven away. To live with it, because there isn’t another option. Feeling the pain, the hurt, the loss, the fears… Feeling joy, abandon, bliss, serenity… Letting go of labelling bad or good… Feeling means I’m alive, and after living with the apathy of depression, I’ll take a rollercoaster of emotions over feeling nothing at all, thank you very much. Yes, life hurts sometimes – but it also has moments of feeling more happiness than you think you can ever experience. You can’t have one side of the coin without the other.

So today, instead of pretending it’s just another day and that it has no significance…I acknowledge it for what it is; a day that has helped bring me to where, and who, I am now. And that person is strong – strong enough to admit that sometimes I’m not. And that’s what gives me the strength to go on and be ok.

A short status update on social media by a friend of a friend had an impact on me that surprised me by the ferocity of it.

His update was about some news that he had just received about a close friend from high school. He is just over 10 years out of high school and this news came as a shock to him presumably. His friend has killed himself. Horrible news and I can understand his shock and how raw his feelings must have been. What he said however struck me. His words were to the effect that he is more angry than sad and that suicide is “the easy way out” and leaves everyone else in pain. What followed were other comments by his friends offering comfort and support. One other remark in particular that “suicide is the most selfish act” got me riled to the point that I jumped in and made a comment. Not enough to get it off my chest there though…

Unfortunately, I understand all too well that anger and that hurt that comes with losing someone from suicide. What sent me into an almost blind rage today was the publicly accepted sentiments that suicide is “easy” and “selfish”. In my mind, nothing is further from the truth.

Having watched my son go through hell struggling over wanting to die and not wanting to all in the same moment…after reading his journals and seeing what went on inside of him while he dealt with mental illness…It wasn’t the easy way out. There is nothing easy about getting to the point of ending your own life. Nothing easy about taking that final step that you know will end it all, forever. We, as people, are simply made to go the route of least resistance, the easiest way. That’s why so many of us live our lives in complacency and routine and unhappy. Because staying the course is easier than change. Suicide is the most profound change you can make. On top of that, we, as human animals, are hard-wired with a sense of self preservation. That’s a basic instinct that is there. To overcome that and end your life when every part of a rational brain and body screams to fight, to live… that’s not easy.

Is it selfish? You could argue for and against on this one. People end their lives for so many reasons. Is it selfish to succumb to cancer? Is it selfish to die of a heart attack? No one would ever suggest that. Yet someone who lives with a psychosis and has a break and tragically ends their life is treated very differently. A major psychosis is an illness that destroys a person just as savagely as a terminal physical illness like cancer. “Simple” depression can become clinical and alter a person to the point that they are not capable of what we would consider logical or rational behaviour. What about the person who has a terminal physical ailment and chooses to end their life on their terms and on their timeline rather than become incapacitated? What about those that make the choice, in part, to spare their loved ones the pain of a long and emotional death of weeks or months? Selfish or selfless, or neither? It’s too complex to sum up with generalizations.

These two blunt comments made me so angry because they are so typical of how we, as a society and culture, still firmly place a box around suicide and try to make it fit neatly within the confines that make us feel safe and better. If we can label it and categorize it and point at it and say it’s not going to happen to me because of A, B and C, then it doesn’t scare us as much.

The truth is suicide is scary because it can’t be neatly explained and contained. Talking about it and being open about it is the only way we are going to make a dent in the impact it has.