My mother knows that I am sick, but I hate that she can’t understand that whilst I am grateful for her love; it won’t stop the shaking of my hands.
- Tom Weaver
One of the hardest things about dividing your time between blogging and writing manuscripts is that it often feels like one body of work must suffer so that that the other may thrive. When I blog, my desire to work on a larger manuscript wanes; and when I devote my time to creative fiction, it can be difficult to transition into the mindset required to produce entries for this site. At times it can be overwhelming to try and find an equilibrium between who I am as a blogger, as an author, and as a man. This complex balancing act is what has led to the recent lull in activity here at The Renegade Press.
I haven’t given up on blogging: I still have a notepad full of half thought out entries and epigraphs that will eventually become completed posts. But I have been focusing my attention elsewhere. In the past month, I completed the first draft of a love story; a piece unlike any other manuscript that I have ever produced. While the script needs a rewrite and a hell of a lot of editing, I can honestly say that I have never been so proud of something that I have created. I often write about concepts such as heartbreak, vulnerability, and anxiety on this site, so to be able to explore them in greater depth while producing what (I hope) will one day become a published novel has been a liberating experience.
In the excitement that followed completing the script that is named after an entry on this site, I hurriedly edited the opening two chapters so that I could share them with my mum. I sent her an email that was just under four thousand words in length, and waited with baited breath for her to tell me what she thought. While she told me that she loved it, I may never really know if she did. Mum has always supported me. I can’t ever imagine her suggesting that something I had written was shit. Yet despite her bias, being able to share something I am so proud of with someone who I love, and who has stood by me through the lowest moments of my life means more to me than I could ever express.
But that moment of intimacy sparked a thought. And that thought soon led to another, which then led to many more. Before too long I realised that although my life is no longer ruled by the anxiety and depression that I have often blogged about, I have never really taken the time to say thank you to the people who stood by me when I felt as though I was suffocating under the weight of my existence. I have always assumed that people would just instinctively know how much their support has meant to me, and that their kindness and compassion saved my life.
But I don’t want to assume anymore…
I want to say thank you to my mum. And to my dad. To my brothers and sister; to the woman with the little blue hearts that I loved and lost. To my friends, and to you, the reader. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support, and for never giving up on me; even when I was so close to giving up on myself.
When I started blogging in 2012 I was sick. When I look back through the archives of this site I can feel the pain woven into my words. Yet even though I was hurting, it took me another four years, and to lose someone that I thought I would spend my life with to finally hit rock bottom. When I did, the anxiety and depression that I had been battling with for so many years won. I lost myself. I felt like a failure. And I wanted to die.
In the months that followed I spent hours locked in my room, crying my eyes out as I read the kind words of strangers who had stumbled across my blog and learned of my heartbreak. Although I never responded to most of the people who reached out to me, I read every word that they wrote. Had it not been for the love of my family and friends, or the compassion of strangers who shared their own experiences with me, I may never have rediscovered who I was, and learned what it feels like to be happy.
I’ve always said that I want to leave the world in a better state than it was when I was brought into it. Which is why just saying thank you doesn’t feel like enough.
I mean, shit; I wanted to die. I felt so low that the idea of taking my life played over inside my head on an endless loop for longer than I care to admit. I could have easily been another man who had their life cut short by mental illness, contributing to a statistic that is already heartbreakingly larger than it should ever be. But I was lucky. The love I felt from my friends and family, and from every single person reading this was enough to help me through the fear and loneliness that I felt.
Unfortunately, not everyone is as blessed as I am. Not everyone suffering from mental illness has that support; and some that do still struggle to find the strength to carry on. Despite the love and support of their peers, they can’t find a way to face one more day in the hope that their life can get better.
So, I want you to help them. Just as you helped me. I want you to tell your family and friends that you love them. I want you to tell your work colleagues, your neighbour, and the people around you when they do something amazing. And I want you to offer a smile, a wave, or even a hello to a perfect stranger who looks as though they may just need to see a friendly face. I want you to promise to never take someone for granted. Don’t ever let someone you care about question just how much you love them. Take every opportunity that you can to show them what they mean to you.
As a society we often state that we need to have a conversation about suicide and depression. Yet we’re too scared to open our hearts to the possibility that we, or the people around us, are not OK. We feel as though opening a dialogue means that we must have a solution, an opinion, or an insightful response that will take away someone’s pain. But we don’t. There is no definitive solution to mental illness, and you’re not expected to provide one. All you need to do is listen; to allow someone who is fighting an illness inside of their head the opportunity to talk. And more importantly; to be heard.
You may never know the impact that your kindness has on someone’s life. They may never offer their thanks, or find the courage to tell you how much you mean to them. But a random act of kindness; a smile offered to a passer-by, or the compassion to ask someone if they’re OK, could be the catalyst that helps them find the strength to control the shaking in their hands. By offering to listen, you could be the reason for someone to keep fighting, even when they feel like giving up.
If we keep offering our hands to those whose hands tremble, and we continue to listen when their minds are filled with fear, then you and I can leave the world in a better place than we found it. We can help fight suicide, anxiety, and depression. And we can make a difference. With nothing more than an open heart, we can change, or possibly even save the life of someone close to us who is struggling. I know that for a fact; because you have already saved my life.
I hope that together, we can help save many more.
64 thoughts on “Ubuntu”
I am here, listening with open heart. This is a superbly written, thought-provoking post. Thank you for sharing your words.
Excellent post. I felt like we were having a conversation… a conversation of the most important magnitude. Thank you for your words!
Such lovely, wrenching honesty. Kudos on all your progress – big, small, spiritual and practical. It’s nice to see how good things can happen with time, insight and accepting help from family/immediate supporters.
Very well said! I know what you are talking about From my own experiences ( I have suffered from depression and anxiety for nearly 20years, and have completely recovered!)I believe the most important thing you can offer to somebody sufferig is to be there, and let them be Unconditionally Without feeling sorry: ))
Why don’t you blog on your work? Like maybe, posting your work onto your websites, and, with the feedbacks from your readers, you may, gain extra insights on what you’re writing about. Doing something that you love shouldn’t feel like a chore, because if it becomes something you’re obligated to do, then, it wouldn’t be worth doing anymore…
This is one of the most powerful posts I’ve ever read. As a new blogger and an aspiring novelist who hasn’t even begun to think about a manuscript you have me so motivated to feel that pride when I someday get there. Right now it’s hard to manage a full time job, 3 kids, and this blog labor of love!
Just a thought: I have seen other bloggers post pieces of their books. It seems to help them edit, gain support for their work, and keep their blog up. I’m sure your readers would love a preview of the book and wouldn’t be able to resist ordering once they had a taste. I’m sure there is a million reasons to post pieces of a manuscript and to not, just throwing the thought out there. Of course, I am biased, because I can’t wait to read it.
Great post, as always.
I have definitely put a lot of thought into the idea of sharing a sample of the manuscript. And it’s something that I do intend to do. Once I have spent a little more time refining what I’ve got, I’ll be sure to post a few scenes as a big thank you to everyone who follows my work.
I’m thrilled that you’re excited to read it too! It’s always humbling to know that someone would allow me the opportunity to become a part of their life through my writing.
Beautifully written. Loss comes in many shapes and forms and brings us to our knees. Through the kindness and compassion of others, we are able to get up, straighten out, and begin to move forward again. I appreciate each and every person in my life who was there for me when I needed it, and I can only hope to repay the favor in some way for each of them. Thank you for giving life to (and a reminder for) this most important concept.
Well written, an amazing post – thank you! ❤
Interesting piece of writing… especially I like an imaginary line “the woman with the little blue hearts that I loved and lost”… a little intriguing and amusing
This is not an admonishment, but maybe, just maybe, you should consider thanking who you wish to thank and gifting us all with fiction. Blogs don’t have to “I” based, and you have grown past one hurdle. Not that there aren’t a thousand more waiting, but all the things that make us all who we are is best served poured into our craft, whatever it may be. Have a fiction thought, a character sketch, a scene you know will hi your own cutting room floor…post that. There’s more than one way to show yourself…
I’ve always felt incredibly strong gravity in your words; something quite strong, intense, yet genuine. And I now know why that is – they’re coming straight from your heart. That is why they always speak to me, I’ve even felt my heart constricted at times. They are so powerful.
Thank you for the enlightening, beautiful post. I’m also looking forward to the day we readers get to see your complete work.
Glad you’re back! I can’t wait to read your new book. If it’s romance based, and you need beta readers I’ll read
Simply beautiful…I look forward to your published manuscript
Reblogged this on My Rants, Dreams, and Thoughts on Everything.
Thank you for sharing. Not only did I reblog but also shared on Facebook. This made me cry as I also would not be here without the love and support of many a few years ago. I try to live this way every day and show kindness to everyone. You never know what your words or actions will do for someone.
Wonderfully written and a beautiful and telling insight into your life. Thank you for sharing.
With all the chaos in the world today, thank you for opening up your heart and using this platform to inspire others to be a source of love. I know the loss of a few loved ones this year brought me to my knees as well. Getting to that raw place and reading about your journey with loss was helpful in deepening my conviction in making my life be a source of goodness to the best of my capacity.
A bloody great post
Thank you for sharing! And I could not have put it better myself – only people can help the people… the simplest yet most powerful of ways is through a smile, a hello and a hug.
Beautifully written -I could not stop reading and thought as though it is an intimate one to one conversation that I am having with someone !!
It is always better to give than to receive. What you get back is always guaranteed to be more satisfying and potentially life changing than any other effort you expend. But is also important to receive that which may be given by others because you may need it, and because life is always a two-way street.
Thank you for writing this. I’m sure it must have taken a lot to put it out there. From this one post, I could make out that you’re a beautiful person. Cheers to you! I look forward to more posts from you and would definitely love to read that love story. Take care! 😊
Chris, such a pleasure to read your blog as always. My son had a heartbreak like yours recently and spent way too much time in his room. I’m happy to say he’s coming around now. It has taken several months and as you say I hope he knows how much we love him. I’m going to give him a hug right now. Thank you.
Too often, “conversation” about and with suicide is interpreted as needing to be a grandiose act, of having that single breath-restoring response to a cry for help and wipe away all thoughts of death. As you’ve stated, Chris. And yet, that isn’t what is needed or wanted in those moments – at least by me during those times for my life. A man blowing bubbles on campus, a stranger asking me to photograph a rainbow in the sky, a child choosing to sit next to me on the bus. These meant much more to me than being dictated to about the virtues of living and life, more than giving all I can, more than proving and acknowledging my “right” to exist. What are seen as simple acts of kindness: A smile, a friendly glance, a genuine greeting. These seem small and yet are profound. I am in agreement with your exhortation, because those who carry burdens of mental health, too, are human.
I’d always thought I would help, but after reading this I’m more clear about what I need to do to help others. Thanks for sharing this!
Even a little compassion can change a person’s life a lot !! A nice post with a wonderful message 🙂 loved it !
What beautiful words! Thank you for sharing them.
Thank you for the beautiful words. It’s definitely something that needs to be done.
Random acts of kindness will always come back to you. A smile, a mod, a wave…they cost nothing and may very well be a priceless gift to someone that’s feeling alone. Great post!💞🌻🌴😎
Beautiful and heartfelt. A long time ago, I read The Five People You Meet in Heaven, and I have looked at life differently since. My life is filled with so much evidence of synchronicity that I know no encounter, no act, no kindness great or small, is meaningless. Your story made that evident once again- Thank you!
Luv that book
As someone who has struggled with depression, suicide and anxiety, I empathize with a lot of what you were saying. It’s so important for us to listen to each other, absolutely! And being able to talk about these things, see others in need and reach out to them is important too. Slowly, like you, I’ve found hope (I was writing about that a few blog posts ago). It is indeed a blessing!
Thank you for dropping by my blog. I am sorry you gave dealt with so much . Indeed your words bring healing. I can feel them touch my inner soul. Thank you
This is beautiful.
I wished my son had blogged instead of picking up a gun. He was almost 18. He wasn’t exhibiting sadness or depression. He told me about his low quiz score in chemistry. We set up a tutoring session the week after. After all, I got a degree in chemistry and I assured him it is not that hard. I was clueless that I did not have next week with him. I only have days. We planned a hiking trip in Wales for his after graduation, and two days later he was gone. Did he have a mental illness? Not that I know of. Not that his GP know of. Not any of his friends. If he was depressed or worried about something, it came on fast and then he was gone. You are right about strangers leaving commiserating words. I don’t know them, but the words helps me from hitting rock bottom.
‘..whilst I am grateful for [her] love; it won’t stop the shaking of my hands.’ Nice. 🙂
With a can of coke
At the edge of the terrace
To just do it
Or to let it remain a thought
To drown in pain
Or struggle to stay afloat
To do it
Or let it remain a thought
“You may never know the impact that your kindness has on someone’s life. ” A good reminder. Thanks.
I have struggled with all of these as well.. loss , ptsd related symptoms from being substantially abused throughout my life … and lol the pull of blog and other authorship s .. I do not have parental support but have a loving daughter and the shepherding hand of my God… all will be Ok.. had to respond because I had to double check your authorship to make sure that I had not written your post in my sleep 😉.. much alike we are… blessings, Kae:)
In the beginning of this article I identified completely with you. Trying to be a writer and a blogger at the same time is like straddling two horses going in different directions. But as i read on, I realised you’ve battled demons for some time and come out victorious. Well done and keep going. Glad I stumbled across your blog.
Wishing you well.. and thank you for stopping by my blog. I’m starting to do my bit by writing books on anxiety.. to help others from my experience and learning…. at the moment I’ve free ebook on my main website . More to follow.. http://www.carolinecunningham.com is me 💚👣🌟
You have fiery wings.
This is so important. Thank you❤