Sad times. I lament saying that when encountering the headline ‘Gary Speed found dead’, I knew what the cause would be.
Removing the football side of this story, there was a universally liked and respected individual (a real challenge in football), with talent, good looks, a wonderful family. Everyone spoke highly of him, admired his energy, and said how happy he always seemed.
A life, alas, defined by its too-perfect happiness. It’s not a new phenomenon to believe that the happiest people are often the most unstable, and there’s sociological suggestions that the happiest states have the highest suicide rates.
Perfect happiness is a symptom. It’s the perfect mask to the secret invisible self. Nobody questions. Nobody suspects.
Happiness brings a lot of friends, but a surprising amount of loneliness. The world is full of narcissists. If you’re special enough not to be one, sadly, you’re on your own for that reason alone. Silence, after all, is silver.
An invisible self is not difficult to imagine, and it’s not unfamiliar. In a dark mental alley, you’re lucky if anybody comes looking. The idea of counselling seemed, and still seems, barbaric – for the same reason I would never visit a “gentleman’s club” – the thought of being paid attention because someone’s being paid to do it is quite tragic. If the last fragments of one’s sovereignty are all that can be kept, then so be it. I’ve let ‘recovery’ be my own, and lived with the consequences that still haunt.
But the invisibility is all about sheltering. There’s a deep-rooted responsibility towards family and friends, to distance them from the darkest corners. It’s the day and age where one can publish a puncturing statement online, aware that close friends, family, those in neighbouring rooms, will see and sit in awkwardness wondering how to react. There will be many who consider unlikely victims ‘cowards’, but it should be understood from the other side too. Swallowing negative feelings to protect others is so difficult, and requires such discipline. Such traits I enviously admire.
Poor fellar. Had he checked into a clinic for depression, it would have been all over the papers – a living version of his death story. So unlikely a victim, invariably it’s big news. It becomes a stigma that surrounds him, and shock that greets his family and friends. Sometimes, imagining that only worsens the problem, and makes exposure impossible. Ultimately, the shame was only conceivable in death rather than in living. The hardest thing for close ones is the not-knowing; being kept in the dark, about darkness.
This story, and thought process, has touched an uncomfortably raw nerve at this time. It reveals how good it is to know. There’s a bastion of strength in the understanding that ‘something isn’t right’.
Daylight cracks again on the grey old lime
In Marchmont town. How it breaks the scene
To force out night, and thrusts out pains and gains
For those that have to face it in its time.
Listening out front, where taxi cabs have been,
Cigarettes and birds compete with their remains.
This is the doctrine, simple still, but true;
Such is life’s trial, as one both acts and knows.
The world still spins without a care for those
Without a place, and only poking through
Lowly curtains, closed again, this fagined
Prisoned self, whose worth is not imagined.
There have been times this year when the following day was not wanted. I’ve faced abuse and inadvertently adopted the label ‘damaged goods’, submitting to its own stigma. There’s a sinister beauty to the mystery of the human mind and the great unknown of the other. And yet, when something beautiful comes along, I don’t know how to handle it properly. December comes, and I don’t know what I’ll do without it.
Something I was never meant to find … An Answer.