Today is Nowruz, Iranian New year.
For hundreds of years it has been celebrated on the Spring equinox to signify new beginnings, seeds and paths.
The earth tips over to allow illumination of the northern hemisphere, a sublime reminder that light always returns. This time when day and night are equal represents our need for balance between male and female energies, between yin and yang.
A time for renewal, growth and glorious blooming of the spirit.
An upward movement of energy, helping us look into the future with hope and positivity.
Meditation on the Equinox
Over our heads, the great wheel of stars shifts,
the autumnal (or spring) equinox manifests itself,
and for one precious instant darkness and light
exist in balanced proportion to one another.
Within our minds the great web of neurons shifts,
new consciousness arises,
and for one precious instant experience and meaning
exist together as revelation and epiphany.
Within our hearts the great rhythm of our lives shifts
a new way of being reveals itself,
and for one precious instant
the nexus of the body and the seat of the soul
truly exist as one.
Let us give thanks for those times in our lives
when all seems in balance.
For those times are rare and precious.
The equinox shall pass, the revelation may be forgotten,
and our actions will not always reflect our true selves.
But through our gratitude
we may remember who we are,
reflect on who we may become,
and restore the balance which brings equanimity to our lives.
Let us be quiet for a moment, together.
By Thomas Rhodes
The second year I thought was harder than the first. Now, I think this year is harder than the second. As time goes by, the finality of death slaps me harder in the face. It becomes clearer that this is it. “Deal with it. Despite all the help and love in the world, you have to do this on your own for the rest of your life” says the merciless voice in my head, “You will never see him again. Get used to it.”
Each breath strings up a bunch of moments together and one by one they slip and slide away. On some days the seemingly humungous task of getting from the front door of the house to the car takes forever. At other times, hours fly by like weightless nebulous clouds on wings. Seconds linger like sumo wrestlers battling with sleep, yet a week can be gone in a flash.
Red-hot intensity of grief starts to tire and turns to ashes of resignation. Questions know they are unanswerable and yet they incessantly repeat their customary laps round and round the velodrome of headspace. Like a stubborn arrogant squatter, guilt refuses to pack its bags and evict this cold, dilapidated building.
What is better? What is worse?
What is the truth?
Who makes that judgement?
Or the witness of the witness?
Why is the length of my mental to-do list directly proportional to my inability to get through it?
Because it encroaches on the functional capacity of my brain.
Our cognitive bandwidth is limited, like our current account. Constantly dipping into it reduces its ability to deal with the jobs at hand.
In Psychology, Zeigarnik effect states that people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks. This is a human phenomenon that is becoming more apparent in the present times of perpetual clock chasing.
In a recent article in the British Medical Journal, Tom Nolan, a GP says,
“As I run later and later, rather than completing the task straight away, I add it to my list —my brain’s equivalent of opening up a new tab. The later I run, the more frazzled I get, and the more opening up a new tab becomes the answer to people’s problems. Mrs Jones’s headache becomes a neurology referral instead of finding out what’s really going on in her life. Mr Jones’s headache also becomes a neurology referral. With a few more questions and a bit more headspace, I might have realised that the Jones’s have left their gas on.
The more tabs I open, the greater my sense of impending administrative doom. My system runs slower and slower… The longer they’re open, the less important they seem. That’s when it becomes a real problem and the errors and complaints start piling up.”
He feels that if each of his appointments were 15 minutes long, he could do justice to his patients and the paper work, thus reducing errors and complaints.
Freeing up some cognitive bandwidth in General Practice: http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2017/02/17/tom-nolan-freeing-up-some-cognitive-bandwidth-in-general-practice/
15 minute appointments:
(A door in Zanzibar)
The blue door from ‘Notting Hill’ stuck
on the wall paper of my memory
The glue must be super-strong.
A rectangular passage into a special space.
Simple and warm, fun and messy,
Open and cozy with many possible cups of tea.
A refuge for troubled souls, a place for stories to unfold.
A semicircle of glass perched perfectly on top.
Long panes elegantly framing from top to toe.
The door sat in the centre like a king.
The slit of a smile in the middle welcomed guests
Like messages, notes, post and parcels in.
They said it was draught-proof.
Not too heavy, not too light.
The coir mat outside often had a black cat sprawled on it, claiming ownness.
A few yards away a waist high metal gate
sang a little note every time it opened
and another, every time it closed.
A flower basket dancing on one side
with pink and white petunias, ivy and pine,
grabbed a chunk of the sunshine.
Whatever the world threw at us,
The blue door made okay.
It took us in its fold of laughter, healing and trust.
One day one of us left and never came back.
The blue door waits and waits. So does the cat.
It’s the 16th.
It’s March 2017.
Exactly 29 months.
2 years and 5 months.
I am in the same part of the same hospital, doing the same job with the same people as I was on that day. I am taking a break in the same clutterred coffee room where Saagar visited me a few months prior to his death.
Today, I sit here reading the House of Commons Select Committee Progress Report on Suicide Prevention. It informs the Government’s strategy on the same.
In a nutshell, it clearly states – Suicide is preventable. Current rates of loss of life in this way are unacceptable and most likely under-reported. Even though 95% of Local Councils have a Suicide Prevention Strategy, its implementation is very poor. We must have a way to reach those at risk but not in contact with health services. It commends the work of the voluntary sector. It identifies stigma as a big hindrance. It emphasises better targeted training for frontline staff, medical students and GPs. It expresses disappointments at the poor follow-up of patients after discharge from psychiatric services, at poor information sharing with families and poor funding/staffing of services.
It identifies self harm as the single biggest indicator of suicide risk. Poor psychosocial assessment and safety planning of these patients possibly contributes to a high rate of suicides. Proper support for bereaved families should be an integral part of suicide prevention. Irresponsible media reporting is damaging. Coroner’s need to call a suicide, a suicide.
All the things that we have been saying for all these months!
To think that at least 15,000 more suicides have already taken place in the UK since Saagar’s death!
Alone with Everybody – by Charles Bukowski
the flesh covers the bone
and they put a mind
in there and
sometimes a soul,
and the women break
vases against the walls
and the men drink too
and nobody finds the
crawling in and out
the bone and the
for more than
there’s no chance
we are all trapped
by a singular
nobody ever finds
the city dumps fill
the junkyards fill
the madhouses fill
the hospitals fill
the graveyards fill
“I have opened a door that can never be shut. How will I ever get her to trust me again?”
19 out of 20 people who attempt to end their lives will fail.
These survivors will be at a 37% higher risk of suicide.
Anger, shame, guilt, fear, minimization and avoidance are few of the reactions they evoke.
The taboo associated with the act might make them feel even more isolated. Their families may not know how and where to access support for themselves and their loved one. The ones closest to them may feel drained, stressed, exhausted and let down. The trust between the two might be deeply damaged.
Their relationship might reach an all time low, just when it needs to be solid.
Both need to take responsibility for their own well-being and that of each other.
Here are a few useful resources.
Supporting someone after a suicide attempt:
Advice for those who survived: