I have to start with a disclaimer and say that if you’ve landed here looking for a magic bullet answer on how to overcome and conquer feelings of rejection, abandonment and uselessness, you may or may not find it here. But I’ll be outlining my own experiences with rejection and abandonment and how I’ve “tried” to cope with it over the years or at least from when I realised those were the issues I’ve had most of my life. And that realisation only came a few years ago during counselling. I still suffer with them on and off and there are good days and bad. As usual with these semi regular, existential posts of mine, I’m not looking for a medal or sympathy, my hope is that some of it may strike a chord with someone or help them in some way. And of course it also helps me heal to write down my thoughts..
The last 4 years in particular, if not most of my life, have been pretty up, down and emotional. I’ve hurt people and got hurt myself and ended up in some pretty dark places as a result of both. Lots of people including my kids have seen me at my best and worst recently. No filters. No gloss. I’m an emotional, sensitive man who’s still trying to figure out life and my place in the world and I still get overwhelmed regularly by it..
I wrote this song last month to try and encapsulate the above. I get pretty emotional every time I sing it including in the video but that’s just because it’s intensely personal to me. The intended message for others is that it’s OK to be vulnerable, emotional and human if you’re male. It’s getting a bit easier to be human as men but there’s still a bit of a stigma so just trying to do my bit. I personally have had no issues crying in public and reaching out for help the last few years. Fuck it..
For more about vulnerability I’d highly recommend Brené Brown’s book “Daring Greatly“.
Thanks to Karl for his contribution in the recording.
I hope you like the song.
Listen on Spotify HERE
I’ve just been out for a 10,000 step, 7.14km walk. A new route which is a combination/grouping of various old routes I used to walk locally. I bit off a bit more than I could chew to be honest. I arrived home in pain and feeling like a hip transplant. The things I do for serotonin hits.
I went for the walk for these reasons – I didn’t have anything else to do, was feeling down and it was sunny…ish. A familiar story these days, except the sun bit, as work is very quiet and I spend four to five days a week totally alone, desperately looking for constructive things to do and the motivation to do them. On the way back, as I flirted with tractors, trucks and cars on a small stretch of the road with no footpath and listening to the unhelpfully morose but brilliant music of Lana Del Rey, I stepped over two bees in quick succession, crawling along the road, nowhere near any flowers and struggling to survive. I didn’t bother helping them like the cool, caring people always seem to do these days before sharing it on Facebook. Gotta save the bees. I don’t feel too bad about it though as I didn’t have a spoon, sugar or water about my person but I suspect that even if I did, I wouldn’t have bothered. Each to their own really, I can’t be taking on bee’s or the world’s problems. It’s a case of survival of the fittest, which is pretty much how my own life struggle is panning out these days. Surviving seems to be getting more difficult but at least I’m kinda fit. A little more so after my 7km anyway. More on the bees later..
Few are more internet crazy than me. There’s not much I havn’t done online, from meeting people and running a business to self diagnosis and learning. I’ve also had a few breakdowns in my time and sought both clinical and mental help in the form of real life Doctor and Psychotherapist visits. In recent years I’ve seen ads for online counselling services and my initial temptation was to feel suspicious. Surely counselling is something you need to do face to face so your therapist can read you and get to know you properly? But then I noticed some counsellor friends and clients were starting to offer therapy sessions online via Skype etc.. in an effort to reach more people and become more efficient. So I decided to look into online counselling a little more.
On this day, 25th June 2000, my mother Noeleen Quinn, 52 years old, sat down in front of a train at Sandymount Dart station, Dublin and ended her own life. It was a life that had become unbearable in the previous 2 years and was the last in a long string of suicide attempts in that time as she desperately tried to get off the planet and find peace. It was a life that had never really found true happiness and one which, at the end, no person could reasonably be expected to endure for too long and retain any kind of sanity.
My mother was a deep, thoughtful, intelligent, creative, artistic, well-travelled, nature-loving, strong-minded person with a quick wit and who didn’t take any shit from anyone. In many ways, the last person you would think who might commit suicide. In fact not long before she got depressed and while she and I were looking at a tv program about depression, she mentioned that she could never understand how anyone could kill themselves.
She had found some kind of normality in the years leading up to her final bout of depression, successfully gaining a Degree in English and the History of Art from UCD in 1998 as a mature student. A great achievment for an early school leaver especially as she was caring for my similarly mentally unwell grandmother during studies.
She graduated just months before a serious cancer scare which turned out to be the final straw that sucked the will to live from her. Despite successful surgery and getting the all clear, the post cancer treatment took its toll and she had a nervous breakdown. For the next 2 years she done everything she could to die, multiple drug overdoses, jumping in rivers, drinking and even burning. I also suspect based on marks I seen on her that during her stays at various different mental hospitals, she tried other common methods too.
I lived with my mother through these years, just the 2 of us in a 2 up 2 down in Dublin and I still don’t have words to describe how horrible it was to see a normally strong minded and strong willed person completely lose their mind and will to live. The pressure and stress in trying to keep my mother alive and deal with her attempts were the hardest thing I’ve ever or possibly will ever have to endure and I’m not sure how I made it through. It seemed that every time I woke up or came home there was some dreadful situation to deal with. I think the only thing that got me through that period and prevented me from becoming another sad suicide statistic myself was my ability to shut off mentally and pretend I was somewhere else.
They say that 2 of the hardest things to deal with in life are bereavement by suicide and the death of a child. My mother’s death was different. Strange as it sounds, the relief I felt when the guards came to the door on Sunday night June 25th 2000, was immense and still stays with me today. There comes a time when life becomes so hard that death seems like a better state and that’s how it was. Depression is a horrible living nightmare for all concerned and connected but none more so than for the person suffering it. You retain your intellect but are paralysed and weighed down by an unexplainable grief and apathy. The psychotic self-harming tendencies that can result from unsuccesfully treated and long term depression are very, very scary and nightmarish to deal with and I’ll never, ever forget what it was like to see my mother desperate to die and even begging me to kill her on occasions when she herself had failed. Killing yourself, as my mother found out is really not that easy.
I’d known long before she died that the mother I knew and loved and that raised me had gone for good and I was left with a hideous, evil creature, possessed by a devilish disease of the mind. It was obvious to me that after so many different treatments had failed to cure my mother and after any friends and family she had had been scared off, that it was only a matter of time before she died. She really had little to live for. The only shocking aspect was the manner in which it happened. She mirrored the death of my Aunt Helen, my mother’s closest sister who also took her life on a train track in the 70’s and I think, something which my mother never got over fully.
In the weeks and months that followed her death I had no option but to get on with my life. Bills had to be paid so I had to go out and get my first proper job and basically go out into the world and find/re-find myself. I had a little scare a year or 2 afterwards when I felt lonely and down and for a while I thought I was next in the family tradition to lose the plot but somehow, perhaps due to what I’d witnessed with my mother, I avoided that and managed my way eventually.
I am proud of my mother for what she achieved in life and perhaps controversially I am proud of her for being brave enough to end her own life. In some ways I see what she done as a kind of sacrifice for my benefit as well as her own. I knew that she knew how badly her behaviour was affecting me and how much I was at breaking point. Her death allowed me to live and I haven’t look back since. She of course was the biggest benefactor of her actions and in this case the so called selfishness of suicide was fully justified and allowable in my opinion.
I would like to take this opportunity ‘ma’, wherever you are, to thank you for all that you’ve done for me and for giving me the tools to succeed in life and to find the happiness you never did. I will keep you with me always and remember happier times and I will tell everyone who is interested, the many ways in which you were great. I will raise your beautiful grandchildren as you raised me, with an emphasis on learning, creativity, individuality, integrity, honesty, laughter and strength of character with a healthy dose of your cynicism thrown in too.
Your only Son and Child,
Leon (Nooney Moon)
Contact Aware for more info and support for Depression.
Some photos of my Mother, Noeleen: