On The Boat
TRIGGER WARNING; HEFTYREALTALK.
I shared this story from The National about rise in Scottish suicide numbers on FB this morning. In light of this post pertaining suicide awareness, I’ve been ruminating on my own position on the matter and my own wellness. As such, I feel compelled to share this in the hope that someone, anybody, will glean some hope from it and realise they are not alone. If one person can benefit, then that’s a victory. If it helps me slay some demons, that’s a little victory too.
I was one step from suicide this summer. I have been in what I call “low-hum reverberation” since. Immediately following the trauma of break-up, I went out on tour with Chris Snelgrove, who I’d previously met for about half an hour at BYAF X. Playing music is always the best medicine; “motion is the cure for grief”. Uniforms flew to America the day after Mick’s funeral, so this kind of thing is nothing new, but that’s another story.
As we were on the boat back from a beautiful time in Ireland (I can never thank Billy Woods enough), I went to the sun deck to meditate in the glorious sunshine. I couldn’t settle and soon began to fidget, my mood dropping quickly through the floor. I pace when I’m anxious and caught myself doing so. I also noticed that the top deck was totally clear of people. In that moment, I felt a rare pristine calm as I walked to the side of the boat; one step and everything disappears.
Somehow, the words “Dinnae. Go downstairs” came out my mouth. I turned towards the cabin and took the stairs, not stopping until I was beside the life-raft on the side, a safe distance from the edge. I pulled my phone out and had a message from Lisette; a video of Elise eating hummus for the first time. My calm shattered, tears flowed. I didn’t give a fuck who saw me.
I went to the bathroom and messaged the original Uniforms group chat; we’ve been through the goddamn wars. Though I was calm now, I had to tell someone. I sat there for about half an hour, procrastinating, wondering if it was all a nonsense or I was just being a “pussy”. I didn’t want to tell Chris but he knew I was bullshitting.
We got off the boat and were met by Kevin. I must’ve looked like I’d seen a ghost but it wasn’t until we stopped at Girvan for coffee that I spoke about it. The walls came crashing down, like they did at Stonehaven with Gordon the week before. We then went to Ayr for dinner with friends before playing the show and driving home. I haven’t mentioned it publicly until now.
I’m grateful for the experience. I’m heavy trained in crisis management and I am all too well-versed in pulling on the mask. I try to tell those that I love just how much I love them and describe the depth of my gratitude, but I fall short of my ideals in most ways every day. I’d like to think my intent is pure.
As a recovering alcoholic, I try to listen empathically. I recoil at the thought of being any kind of “preacher”, as I can only speak of my own experiences (see; THT – “No Advice”), but I don’t want any more dead friends. I need to learn to accept love.
My depression isn’t new. Some would argue that it isn’t real at all and even sometimes I think it’s bullshit, but I try to accept reality as it presents itself. My immediate reality at one point this summer was being a dead friend. In the worst moment, I found reasons to stay alive.
I’ve never been more grateful to be sober, am experiencing what I believe to be the full spectrum of emotions for the first time since my teens, and now actually believe that “happiness” is possible, no matter how fleetingly.
Shit will get better, shit will get worse, but all shit will pass. Then we’ll die anyways, but we can live before we do, even if at times we are still on the boat.
You are not alone.