These words were spoken by someone who never heard herself or anyone else hear them. Helen Keller's life was a fascination for me. I saw the movie with Anne Sullivan and Patty Duke many years ago. The idea of overcoming that kind of adversity was a great influence on my life and helped give me hope. If Helen could overcome being deaf and blind and go to university and travel the world - what was I waiting for?
Live is not meant to be a straight line linear progression. Life is a sine wave - there are ups and downs, sometimes dramatic ones - which take all our force to navigate. It is a question of understanding how to enjoy the up and use the knowledge that that upward motion can not be long in coming to get through any down turn that may present itself. It is all a matter of perspective after all. The key is to keep your eye on the goal and see it as already won. Troubles come and go and we learn by our mistakes, yet we all ultimately overcome obstacles through vision, hope, love, gratitude, and persistence.
It is all too easy to give up when life becomes difficult. Yet nothing is impossible if you believe that you have a way out. The tragedy of suicide is that the person does not believe that things will ever get better - they have forgotten the sine wave.
We live in a binary reality at present. If there is a down, there must be an up. This is something every one needs to keep somewhere close at hand in case of emergency. Perhaps there should be a "Despair Kit". Vulnerable individuals need to make sure that they stock some container with some of the "Thank You" notes, letters of appreciation (or e-mails), awards or other such meaningful items so that in times of great sadness, they can be reassured that they matter, that their loss would be a great tragedy.
Everyone has had those kind of times during their lifetime. If you haven't yet, you will. A time where there seemed to be no way out. I remember reading about Robin Williams, one of the finest natural comedians, whose work I have long enjoyed. The article said that Robin has suffered from depression. At the time, it amazed me. Yet, thinking back over some of the low points in my life, I can easily understand how difficult life can become. When in one of those great low valleys of life, it is impossible to see one's way out. It feels like this:
He found the pill bottle in the medicine cabinet. His head was pounding. He looked at his face in the mirror, his eyes were slightly swollen from crying. He looked awful. He had never really thought he was that attractive. No wonder Alison hadn't wanted him! He thought.
He felt like he was being pulled down, like water down a drain, swirling, his will to go on disappearing. He wondered who would miss him, if he weren't around. His parents had called for the first month, once a week, but he hadn't heard from them this month. Egan was rooming with him, but he was out most of the time, and had found new friends. He was out with them now and Lee felt alone, so alone. But worse, he felt empty inside, like he had lost himself, like he had taken a wrong turn and didn't know where he was or how to get back to where he should be.
He had a sudden vision and saw himself back at the end of August, driving his car through her neighbourhood. Would things be different now if he had stopped at Alison’s house? He somehow thought they might be. It had felt wrong not to do it. How stupid he had been! Now he couldn't get a hold of her. Maybe she wouldn't talk to him anyway.
He uncapped the bottle and shook the tablets into his left hand. Several spilled out and he looked at them. What if I didn't just take two? What if I took them all? Would I die? Would that be better? He chose two with his right hand and threw them back into his throat, then grabbed the water glass and flushed them on their way. He put the others back into the bottle and recapped it.
He sat down, his back against the wall. He thought of all the things that had gone wrong in his life lately. He knew he had done some things right but that seemed so far away. All the mistakes were piling up in his mind. They built a tower, a fortress and he seemed locked somewhere inside. He felt hopeless, he didn't know how to go forward and he couldn't go back. He felt like he was in a small box, suffocating, with no way out and no help.
He looked at the tablets in the bottle and dropped several into his left hand. The bottle was brand new. He lifted his left hand and threw the tablets into his throat and washed them down with water. Then he shook more tablets into his hand and repeated the process. He kept doing it until there were no tablets left in the bottle. Then he lay down on the floor and sobbed.
The character, Lee, is found by Egan and gets help. But it is a scene that some among us can easily relate too. We need to be sure to cultivate gratitude for the good things that come our way on a daily basis as a sort of tool kit, an element of one's armour against despair. Unaware of the ebb and flow of life, Lee is caught unprepared to deal with his difficulties. We need to be prepared for those down times . Who can we reach out to for help?, How will we manage when things don't go right? What are the hopes and dreams that sustain us? As Lee recovers, he gains more insight into himself and takes a risk (calling Alison) which he could not take before. This act of courage allows Lee to ultimately connect with his own strength, talents, and purpose in life.
(excerpt from the unreleased book Clepsydra)