Hey everyone Yesterday was International Suicide Prevention Day. This is no joke and neither is the topic. Suicide: is I believe not a last cry for attention but a final resort for people who for whatever reason are unable to cope with the challenge of living.
Those who take this action leave behind family and friends who are devastated at their loss yet many take the decision because they feel they are either unloved or unworthy of love never realising their potential to be agents of change or the priceless gifts they can give to humanity. No matter what forms these gifts take they are still gifts and are unique to the individuals concerned.
Suicide has no respect for wealth or social class. The victim is as likely to be a multi millionaire who has five luxury mansions and dresses top to toe in designer clothes as is it to be a homeless or unemployed person who is struggling to make ends meet and has had visits from a loan shark or sheriff officer.
As a happy confident woman this is not something I think about doing, I have a strong faith and believe that only God has the power to end your life. I am also very fortunate that I have a rich and varied life with a number of interests from poetry to politics from shopping to music and many other topics which make sure I have a very happy and busy life. Well as my granny always says the devil makes work for idle hands. So having a great quality of life I wish it to continue for as long as humanly possible.
However you may be surprised to know that this was not always the case and at a darker time than now I not only thought about suicide, I thought about it on a very frequent basis. I had turned in on myself to such an extent I couldn’t see a way out of the darkness. Many times I contemplated doing myself in to use a good Glaswegian phrase but every time I was about to do it I thought of my dad and my gran and that was that idea dead in the water.
The reasons are not complicated,and now I believe I have made a success of my life I think back to my dad who walked the legs off me to strengthen my body and my gran who by giving me her hunger for music poetry and socialism strengthened my intellect and made me the women I am today.
My gran more than anyone made me promise that no matter how bad things got I would always look and keep looking till I found my talent which she knew I would. Well I was always the stubborn type and I knew if I kept battling I would not only survive I would flourish.
Eventually thanks to a forward thinking English teacher I was introduced to the world of the poetry in particular that of Liz Lochhead, Roger McGough, Seamus Heaney and in particular Edwin Morgan. Indeed, Morgan’s In The Snack Bar remains one of my favourite poems of all time.
This introduction to poetry was the start of a love affair which lasts to this day and it should come as no surprise to anyone that it was around this time in the autumn of 1978 that I started penning my first efforts. Now. I think back to those teenage years in the late seventies as i recognise they may have been more influential in shaping my views than I had previously believed.
It was also around this time I first developed in interest in politics. This like poetry and Scottish and Irish culture has remained a focus for my energy and through campaigning for the SNP I have gained many friends from all shades of the political rainbow. I should however point out that I was an armchair revolutionary until I started campaigning for the SNP in Jim Sillars brilliant by-election win in November 1988. It should be noted that the defeated Labour candidate Bob Gillespie took a terrible revenge on me & became a valued friend.
I think that the Govan by-election represented an even greater personal victory for me than it did for the party as though Govan may have returned to the Labour fold at the 1992 General Election I never looked back gaining confidence first in the field of community theatre and then on to Govan writers group and eventually the venue where I now compare Words and Music and refer to as the poetry family home. It can’t be anywhere else but Sammy Dow’s
It was no coincidence that I had my most suicidal thoughts during my teens & twenties. This is not just because Margaret Thatcher ruled my country though some may claim this could be used as mitigating circumstances. However even if you remove Thatcher from the scenario this is the age when most people think about taking this drastic action.
Looking back at these times I’m so glad I survived the storm to fight another day. When I look it what I’ve achieved in the last 2 decades I can’t help but feel a degree of satisfaction. Not only have I gained a good honours degree from a top quality university, I have changed and shaped attitudes during my years as a trainer on disability issues made people laugh as I tried my hand at comedy, gained a growing reputation as a poet whose work is equally effective performed or on the page, read my poetry for 8 successive years at the Edinburgh fringe and finally start to live the life I wanted after coming out as a TS Woman at the end of 2008.
Not a bad list I think you’ll agree and a list which could never have happened if I had taken the decision to end of my life in the bleak years of the 1980’s. So my message to the world is I have achieved much, but have much more still to do. My priorities are to get a collection or collections of my poems published. To campaign for equal marriage for all so that should I find some hunky man I want to marry I will be free to do so. To secure the Independence of my country and also to be an effective mother figure to those need my love support and most of all respect.
Doubtless there will be other things I need to do which I haven’t thought to put on this list, however one thing I do know is that Life is too important not to play it your way and I believe that your darkest hour has the potential to be the defining moment of your life. What do I mean? well its only when you find yourself at your lowest point that you can start your journey to acceptance.
Love & Best Wishes