I received one of the most gracious and humbling emails that anyone has ever written me, this morning, from a woman who left a comment on my blog post, ‘The Woodpecker at the End ofthe World’ (where I write about a close encounter with suicide, when I was ‘saved’ by the sound of a woodpecker, which pulled me away from my dark mind and back into the light of the moment).
The comment read:
Followed your link from twitter. You and your story were my woodpecker today. Thank you for being there.
I told her to email me if she needed to, and received this, today:
I follow you on Twitter and saw your post yesterday about the woodpecker. I'm the one who left the comment. I hope I didn't alarm you.
I just wanted to say that you never know who is reading your posts and how much you are helping them, even if they leave no comment at all. And you are very special to share your stories with others.
The truth is, I'm not okay and I haven't been okay for a very long time. I try to sound positive and upbeat when I am posting and corresponding with others but some days are worse than others. And yesterday your link to the post about the woodpecker helped me through the day.
Again, I hope I didn't startle you or worry you.
Thank you for being there. You mean a lot to many, even if we've never met in person.
I was intending to write a blog about just this (after asking for the woman’s permission)… and not to massage my own ego… but to remind us all that, sometimes, the things we say or do can be all that’s needed to help lead others out of very dark places.
I write stuff. I do hope it helps, but it’s always great to find out it does help. It compels me to keep writing, because now and again, my words seem to be read at just the right time… which is also the reason I persist in spamming my poor Twitter followers with repeated and rotated blog links a zillion times a day.
The Woodpecker blog was written more than 14 months ago. Barring a few breaks I’ve taken, I’ve repeated it about twice a day ever since, and though this has pissed a relative handful of grumpy people, hundreds of others have appreciated it – many of whom have thanked me for sending out those words at just the right time for them. It’s certainly been the blog I’ve received the most emails about.
I write about my experiences. Sadly, too many people can relate to those experiences, but by sharing these details, they help to remind others that they’re really not alone.
I recall quite a few people, over the past year or so, who have told me they’d like to write a blog about their own experiences with various debilitating conditions and illnesses, but they worry that nobody would want to read them.
The thing is, us humans have so much in common - when we forget to hold on to the things we believe set us apart - that pretty much whatever you write or otherwise communicate about your problems and triumphs to the world outside your mind, there’s going to be someone who understands… who can empathise and perhaps relate to their own experience… people who you can help, or who will help you…
So don’t be afraid to speak out about the things that are truly important to you.
Don’t be embarrassed to write it down, paint it, sculpt it, dance it, or whatever… as long as you are creative, rather than destructive, send your message out to the world, and then don’t hold back on promoting and broadcasting yourself, because you may just be the big difference in someone else’s day, to help them see another day.
That’s the beauty of humanity… we’re better when we care about and share with each other…
And this would have been the end of my blog, but something else happened today that I want to write about.
My friend, Georgina, from @M40Offices, posted a message on her business’s Facebook and Twitter feeds today – an appeal to find a young girl, Molly O’Donovan, who had been missing since Sunday morning.
She’s a ‘local’ girl, from Banbury, in Oxfordshire - not far away - and M40 has business connections in that area, too.
I help with M40’s social networking, so I did a few retweets and shared the information to my own pages, and I kept looking in on Thames Valley Police’s missing persons page, because I felt sure that they’d update it in the day to say Molly had been found, alive and well, and then all the kind souls who shared those messages could stand down with a sigh of relief.
Late in the afternoon, Thames Valley Police did indeed update the missing person’s page, with this:
Missing girl - Banbury - update
07 August 2012, 3:51 pm
Thames Valley Police can confirm the body of a teenage girl was found in a wooded area near Foscote Rise at 11.40am this morning (7/8).
The body has now been formally identified as that of missing 14-year-old Molly O’Donovan.
The death is not believed to be suspicious at this stage and enquiries remain ongoing. There is no further information to release at this time.
The family of Molly do not want to speak to the media and have asked that their privacy is respected at this extremely difficult time. Members of the media are asked to respect their wishes.
I don’t mean to offend anyone with speculation, but the fact that Molly was found in woodland, and that there were no suspicious circumstance, infers that she took her own life.
She was 14-years-old…
A childhood friend of mine, a beautiful soul named Mandy Thompson, died on Saturday from internal bleeding. She was 41-years-old, and she’d had kidney problems for most of her adult life, but this was such a mean, totally unexpected curve-ball and her family are obviously crippled, now. She’s a sister and a daughter and an auntie. My own family are devastated, but I can’t imagine what Mandy’s are going through.
I think the only positive I can find in Mandy’s death is that she’d been seriously ill in the past, and her family must have considered the possibility of her passing, even though they’ll have been praying it wouldn’t come any time soon, so there would have been that knowing of love… that whatever happened, that love was never far from heart or mind.
Molly O’Donovan was 14-years-old. She went out of her house on Sunday morning and didn’t come back, and bless the poor girl – if she did commit suicide – she would have felt so alone and so afraid.
I almost hope that it turns out she’s died in some freak accident, because at least that would be easier for her family to eventually digest.
It breaks my heart… that someone so young and with so much life ahead of them could face that same moment of personal Armageddon as I did, back in Woodpecker Woods, and lose to their demons.
We have to break the stigma of talking about our feelings; of communicating that catastrophic sadness and confusion to those around us… who care for us… and despite what we may think when we watch or read the news, there is so much love in this world of ours, if we just look right, without fear of embarrassment or the crippling reluctance to show that, yes, we are sometimes weak and need help.
Better still, let’s sweep the stigma away completely and allow ourselves the freedom to feel we can speak up when we need to.
Until that happens, love and cherish all who are dear to you, because none of us are here forever; but together, there’s always the shine of something so special… of life… and life is to be lived to its fullest…
RIP Molly O’Donovan
RIP Mandy Thompson