When someone we love takes their life and the people closest to him or her have no idea that they were even suffering, it is a double tragedy!
Robby Holly, a well loved man in our community took his life just over a week ago and because he was hiding how deeply he was suffering, no-one was able to help him.
Two years ago I was interviewed by Marina Ormes about wearing masks and the price we pay for wearing them. Click here for the interview titled, “Authenticity and the Price We Pay for Wearing A Mask!”
Please listen to it because it could possibly save your life or that of a loved one. And please send it to anybody you know who may benefit by it.
On Sunday, July 19th, 2015 I attended a vigil in Beacon Hill Park for a gentle and kind man named Robby Holly.
As I mentioned above, when Robby took his life it was a shock to everyone who knew him – including the people who were his closest friends. Although I didn’t know Robby well, I did know him to be a kind, gentle soul and like a brother to many.
There was a big surprise party last month for his 59th birthday –followed with dinners, gatherings with friends and other outings. Then one day he just didn’t show up for work. Nor the next day or the next and then he was found dead. No-one could believe it! Firstly, because he didn’t show it and secondly, because he never reached out to tell anyone he was in such despair.
How often do we not show what we are really feeling? How often do we wear a ‘have it all together’ persona to mask our pain? We tell people we are fine or even if we tell them that we are feeling sad or anxious or depressed, we won’t mention the severity of it – that we are scared, even having suicidal thoughts – or worse – we have a plan. We simply do not reach out.
Robby did not know how to remove the masks so that people could see his torment. It’s an impossible place to be. It’s shame based and most of us who carry these feelings don’t want to show how bad it is. We want be seen as having our “shit together.” I think the most prevalent reason for this is because we think people will consider us needy – a burden and will leave us if we show our vulnerability.
There were about 35 of us that gathered on short notice to honour Robby’s life in Beacon Hill Park. Once seated on the grass, we passed the talking stick, and each of us spoke from the rawness we were feeling. We removed the masks we typically wear for social occasions and shared from our hearts how we were affected by Robby’s choice to end his life.
What struck me was how personal this was for so many of us – having either tried to take our own life or that we have had a close friend, spouse or family member who did.
It seemed like every person who spoke, whether or not they tried to end their lives, have at some time gone through the dark night of the soul and felt alone and very frightened. I think the biggest message that came in loud and strong among us was that we must do whatever it takes and reach out to someone. I know how hard reaching out can be – but I urge everyone reading this – that if you are suffering – tell a friend – tell a loved one – call a help line. Please don’t choose to be alone.
On Sunday we came together as a community, even though some of us had never met before. But no matter how close we were to Robby or to one-another, we bonded in that sacred circle and we intend to keep the bond alive. We know it can literally save our lives or the life of a friend. Perhaps this is the biggest gift Robby inadvertently gave us.
As a society, isn’t it time for us to tear off the deceptive masks that turn us into robots – mere shadows of ourselves? Loneliness and isolation are the ultimate cause of our suffering and staying there perpetuates it. We do NOT need to suffer in silence.
I urge you – as a person who has gone as far down the rabbit hole as anyone can go, please – put aside the shame, the fear or whatever it is that stops you from reaching out and find someone to talk to. Be courageous enough to save your own precious life. Even if things seem hopeless right now, circumstances do change. It takes a lot of faith at a time of deep despair to believe that but sometimes it just takes one step that could make all the difference in the world. It’s not a small step. It’s a huge, courageous leap to punch in 10 numbers on a phone…but it could save your life and the heartbreak of everyone who loves you.
Also, you do not need to wait until things are in a critical state. When you are well – call together a group of friends and begin a conversation to discuss what to do if anyone of you are going through a tough time. Dare to be honest about what you need and honest about what you are able to give.
I know most of us are busy with our own crazy long to-do lists and it’s a legitimate concern about putting one more thing on our plate. But that’s the beauty of coming together as a community, a group of friends or family members. No one person has to do it all. Caregiving and duties can be dispersed. Someone can prepare meals, we can drive someone to their appointments; someone can take their loved one for a walk in nature, pop in a dvd – watch a movie together or simply sit quietly and hold your loved one’s hand. And if you don’t know what to do, ask, “what do you need?”
We all need each other; we all want to feel needed and there is no shame in that. In fact it’s a beautiful thing to give and to be open to receive. If you notice a friend in need – please reach out because they can’t always do it themselves. And don’t wait for someone else to take the lead. It may be too late.
I’m going to ask for your help right now. Please take a moment to respond to this post, listen to the interview on the cost of wearing a mask and share your own stories.
Writing is my go-to resource. It can be a life-saver.as our wisdom is within us.
Here are 3 writing prompts that you can write from to learn your deeper truth.
1. Sometimes I wear a mask to protect me from…
2. The price I pay for wearing a mask is…
3. I am willing to…
Set a timer for 20 minutes and write. Be sure to share it with a loved one, therapist or someone you trust.
Or place it right here in the comments box. Your comments could easily be the salve that brings hope and relief to someone in despair.
There is a program I facilitate at the BC Schizophrenia Society in Victoria called WRAP. It stands for Wellness Recovery Action Plan. It is an evidence based program designed for anyone in need – not just someone with a mental illness – to get well and stay well. Part of that program is about putting together a support team for times of crisis.
Love and gratitude,