Sunday, May 21, 2017

"Wake me up before you go…"

"…Or,  A Somewhat Cheering Statistic for People Like Me Who Frequent Coffee Shops"

Lately I've been thinking about my mother's suicide (fourteen years ago). 
[So, you know--trigger warning: suicide]

Up until she reached the age I am now (fifty-six), my mother was often doing OK for long stretches, but her last dozen years went almost all downhill. So I'm on my own from here on out, so far as having a mother modeling how to effectively "choose life"* is concerned. 
[George Michael; see footnote]

Of course lots of us have lost our mothers by this age and have to carry on alone (or maybe never had mothers who gave good guidance to begin with)
Still, suicide is its own peculiar thing, so I've been reading a bit about it--something I rarely do because it feels like being pinned under massive weightlifting plates--but I felt it might be helpful, and sure enough, I read something really encouraging to me.

Studies show that people are the least likely to commit suicide if they live in highly sociable cultures that value extended family, friends, and community--those "blue zone" places that report high rates of happiness, like Okinawa.

I always find that discouraging, because I don't live in such a culture, nor have I created one for myself.

But then I read that New York City, where a very high percentage of people live alone by themselves, has the lowest percentage of suicides in the United States. (Or one of the lowest--don't quote me on this--I don't even want to look it up because I am at my quota of reading about suicide for the day.) NYC has around half the suicide rate of the sparsely populated western US states, which have the nation's highest percentages of suicides.

It seems maybe you don't need close, loving relationships to hold you up,  you just need the presence of other people.

This is cheering to me, because that's how I live:
I love being around familiar strangers. 

I regularly go to a couple nearby coffee shops where I recognize other people. I don't like it if too many people start to know me--I actually stopped going to a coffee shop when I started having full-on conversations there. It's funny because of course I started it, being a pretty chatty-friendly type, but it began to feel like social pressure. I don't want all that,
 I just want to hear the hum of humanity around me. 

And there are other models besides mothers of how to choose life.
 * "Choose Life"
Like the George Michael T-shirt (in video below). 
I suppose it came from Deuteronomy 30:19? "I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life." However…
"Michael’s trademark “CHOOSE LIFE” T-shirt — a work of [pro-choice] political-firebrand-cum-designer Katharine Hamnett — wasn’t intended to be an antiabortion statement. Rather, it was a willful call to hope in the face of daunting odds.
"As a precursor to the then-nascent boy band era, Wham! wasn’t really expected to get involved in the fight, but it did anyway. The duo played a gig at a benefit for striking miners, a hugely and surprisingly political move from a band at the peak of its fame.
In 2016, it’s easy to see these things as relics of a bygone era, but they stuck out in his late-1980s heyday, too. In the throes of a Britain sharply divided over Thatcherism, Michael’s brand of optimistic pop sounded naive, even ignorant.
Time would reveal that it was actually brave."
--"George Michael wrote buoyant, wise pop music for a society divided by intolerance and anxiety," Washington Post, December 27 2016]
I love this song.

For info or help if you or someone you know is struggling: 
Call 1-800-273-8255

"The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals." Outside of the United States, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.


ArtSparker said...

Not exactly advice, but I know you have netflix. "Dance Academy" is a huge upper. Occasionally I miss stuff cause of the accents, but you get the gist.

Fresca said...

Thanks, Sparker--I'll check it out. I often like the things you recommend.

I just watched the UK "Office" because I wanted to see Mackenzie Crook--(so different than "Detectorists"!)--I'd never seen all 14 episodes (including the Christmas specials)--really rewarding to see it through to the end--oddly encouraging because everything's so realistically awful!

Fresca said...

P.S. And then at the end, a little glimmer.

ArtSparker said...

Oh, I didn't know MacKenzie Crook was in that, I will check it out.

Fresca said...

Such a different character, I would forget it was the same actor as I was watching!