News from Befrienders Dublin
SAVOURING EVERY TEAR
Savouring every tear.
You’ll be lucky,
To get in another beer,
Because it’s the end
For you for another year.
Look into your soul.
Dont let the bells toll.
Let your sight go.
As you enter another world,
You’ll be thinking of another bold
Year to come back from.
All that’s arranged
Is not engaged
In the fuller length of your age.
So let it go now,
Dont let the pro how,
You’ll be ringing Dav Id,
It’s all about to go down now,
So let’s have it, The shifts ave it.
You’ll have to clear the loo,
It’s no longer safe just being you.
Let go of it too.
It won’t take you away from yourself
Or have you cleaning delf,
Because self awareness is no awareness at all,
If it doesn’t have you clearing ball.
Take the initiative and go keech.
You’ll have the rest of the week
To be feeling meek.
The rest of the week
To be feeling weak.
This is not a tale of happiness,
But rather capturing this,
You can always go away feeling lighter
And that bit brighter,
Because after all it’s the end of the week,
You should be feeling meek
And not tread on other people’s beaks,
So by the end of the week,
You can savour every tear.
Canice is a leading light in Befrienders Dublin. He takes part in most of our activities & is currently enrolled in his second photography course with us. He is great fun to be around and his infectious laugh is a feature of our videos. The sometimes unconventional spellings in this poem are all deliberate. Canice also creates new words. We will be featurng more of his poetry in futire postings.
On Saturday 25 June, Befrienders Dublin held our annual Barbeque at Goirtin. We had decided to hold the barbeque indoors due to the recent monsoon-like rain. But although it was cloudy on the day, the rain never fell & in fact it was quite sunny for a while. So, while we had our food indoors, we were able to venture outdoors for some ballgames. We danced to the fab music provided by DJ Dr. Jay (he also helped with the cooking!). Thanks to everyone who helped make this a wonderful day & of course many thanks to Our Glorious Leader Ann for putting it all together.
Click on the fab thumbnails for a bigger picture!
In considering people’s motivations for killing themselves, it is essential to recognize that most suicides are driven by a flash flood of strong emotions, not rational, philosophical thoughts in which the pros and cons are evaluated critically. I don’t think any scholar ever captured the suicidal mind better than psychologist Roy Baumeister in his 1990 article, “Suicide as Escape from the Self.” According to Baumeister, there are six primary steps in the escape theory, culminating in a probable suicide when all criteria are met
Step 1: Falling Short of Standards
Most people who kill themselves actually lived better-than-average lives. Suicide rates are higher in nations with higher standards of living than in less prosperous nations; higher in societies that endorse individual freedoms; higher in areas with better weather; in areas with seasonal change, they are higher during the warmer seasons; and they’re higher among college students that have better grades and parents with higher expectations.
Baumeister argues that such idealistic conditions actually heighten suicide risk because they often create unreasonable standards for personal happiness, thereby rendering people more emotionally fragile in response to unexpected setbacks.
Step 2: Attributions to Self
Suicidal individuals who engage in negative appraisals of the self seem to suffer the erroneous impression that other people are mostly good, while they themselves are bad. Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, inadequacy, or feeling exposed, humiliated and rejected lead suicidal people to dislike themselves in a manner that, essentially, cleaves them off from an idealized humanity. The self is seen as being enduringly undesirable; there is no hope for change and the core self is perceived as being rotten.
Step 3: High Self-Awareness
“The essence of self-awareness is comparison of self with standards,” writes Baumeister. And, according to his escape theory, it is this ceaseless and unforgiving comparison with a preferred self—perhaps an irrecoverable self from a happier past or a goal self that is now seen as impossible to achieve in light of recent events—fuelling suicidal ideation.
Step 4: Negative Affect
It may seem to go without saying that suicides tend to be preceded by a period of negative emotions, but, again, in Baumeister’s escape model, negative suicidal emotions are experienced as an acute state rather than a prolonged one. “Concluding simply that depression causes suicide and leaving it at that may be inadequate for several reasons,” he writes. “It is abundantly clear that most depressed people do not attempt suicide and that not all suicide attempters are clinically depressed.”
Psychodynamic theorists often postulate that suicidal guilt seeks punishment, and thus suicide is a sort of self-execution. But Baumeister’s theory largely rejects this interpretation; rather, in his model, the appeal of suicide is loss of consciousness, and thus the end of psychological pain being experienced. And since cognitive therapy isn’t easily available—or seen as achievable—by most suicidal people, that leaves only three ways to escape this painful self-awareness: drugs, sleep and death. And of these, only death, nature’s great anesthesia, offers a permanent fix.
Step 5: Cognitive Deconstruction
The fifth step in the escape theory is perhaps the most intriguing, from a psychological perspective, because it illustrates just how distinct and scarily inaccessible the suicidal mind is from that of our everyday cognition. Cognitive deconstruction is pretty much just what it sounds like. Things are cognitively broken down into increasingly low-level and basic elements. For example, the time perspective of suicidal people changes in a way that makes the present moment seem interminably long; this is because “suicidal people have an aversive or anxious awareness of the recent past (and possibly the future too), from which they seek to escape into a narrow, unemotional focus on the present moment. Thus suicidal people resemble acutely bored people: The present seems endless and vaguely unpleasant, and whenever one checks the clock, one is surprised at how little time has actually elapsed.”
Evidence also suggests that suicidal individuals have a difficult time thinking about the future—which for those who’d use the threat of hell as a deterrent, shows just why this strategy isn’t likely to be very effective. This temporal narrowing, Baumeister believes, is actually a defensive mechanism helping the person to cognitively withdraw from thinking about past failures and the anxiety of an intolerable, hopeless future.
Even the grim, tedious details of organizing one’s own suicide can offer a welcome reprieve: When preparing for suicide, one can finally cease to worry about the future, for one has effectively decided that there will be no future. The past, too, has ceased to matter, for it is nearly ended and will no longer cause grief, worry, or anxiety. And the imminence of death may help focus the mind on the immediate present
Step 6: Disinhibition
We’ve now set the mental stage, but it is of course the final act that separates suicidal ideation from an actual suicide. Baumeister speculates that behavioral disinhibition, which is required to overcome the intrinsic fear of causing oneself pain through death, not to mention the anticipated suffering of loved ones left behind to grieve, is another consequence of cognitive deconstruction. This is because it disallows the high-level abstractions (reflecting on the inherent “wrongness” of suicide, how others will feel, even concerns about self-preservation) that, under normal conditions, keep us alive.
While there is a considerable number of people who want to kill themselves, suicide itself remains relatively rare. This is largely because, in addition to suicidal desire, the individual needs the “acquired capability for suicide,” which involves both a lowered fear of death and increased physical pain tolerance. Suicide hurts, literally. One acquires this capability, according to these authors’ model, by being exposed to related conditions that systematically habituate the individual to physical pain. For example, one of the best predictors of suicide is a nonlethal prior suicide attempt.
So there you have it. It’s really not a pretty picture. But, again, I do hope that if you ever are unfortunate enough to experience these cognitive dynamics in your own mind—and I, for one, very much have—or if you suspect you’re seeing behaviors in others that indicate these thought patterns may be occurring, that this information helps you to meta-cognitively puncture suicidal ideation. If there is one thing that I’ve learned since those very dark days of my suicidal years, it’s that scientific knowledge changes perspective. And perspective changes everything. Everything.
Always remember: You’re going to die soon enough anyway; even if it’s a hundred years from now, that’s still the blink of a cosmic eye. In the meantime, live like a scientist—even a controversial one with only an ally or two in all the world—and treat life as a grand experiment, blood, sweat, tears and all. Bear in mind that there’s no such thing as a failed experiment—only data.
This is an abridged version of an article by Jesse Bering.
Ann, Lola, Mary, Sharon, Marie, Jacinta, Dorcas & Eileen pounded the pavements of Dublin last saturday in the VHI Mini-marathon. Although showers threatened, the weather held for the duration of the ‘race’. Lola, a new edition to our crew took part for the first time. Although she bore a striking resemblence to one of our male members Kevin, Lola denied any knowledge of him. Thanks to everyone who completed the mini-marathon & raised funds for Befrienders Dublin & thanks of course to Our Glorious Leader Ann, without whom none of this would be possible!
Click on the fab thumbnails for a bigger picture!
On Monday 22nd February, 2016, Befrienders Dublin hit the Hilton Hotel, Ballsbridge for the 10th Annual Aontas Star awards. We had a lovely meal & listened to some inspiring speeches. We were thrilled to win an award for making an outstanding contribution to Adult Learning.
Thanks to Aontas for the award & many thanks to Canice, Mary, Kevin & Angela for their presentation which obviously impressed the judges. Finally, muchos thanks to Our Glorious Leader Ann, without whose unstinting commitment & hard work Befrienders Dublin wouldn’t survive. Video here.
Click on the fab thumbnails for a bigger picture!
On Friday 18 December 2015, Befrienders Dublin braved the wintry weather to attend the Befriender’s 2015 Christmas Party. It took place in the lovely Clayton Hotel at St. John Rogerson’s Quay in Dublin’s Docklands. A Mulled wine reception got us in the mood for the excellent four-course meal to come. Lots of fun was had by all. Our Glorious Leader Ann supplied bubble-blowers, hats and reindeer ears, party poppers & glow sticks.
Music was provided by a band and a D.J. There was lots of dancing (fueled partly by some tasty christmas cocktails). Throughout the evening, there were plenty of spot prizes. From our entourage, only Joseph won anything. His prize? A bottle of red wine, not much use to a non-drinker like himself (but I’m sure he was able to ‘re-gift’ it over the Festive Season).
Thanks to the Clayton Hotel, to our staff, volunteers & members, but most of all to Ann, without whom NONE of this would have been possible. Thanks, Boss!
Click on the fab pics by Ann & Tommy for a bigger picture!
Befrienders Dublin are looking for Volunteers (0ver 18) to support adults with Mental Health problems. Full training is provided. As a befriender you are matched with a befriendee and meet with them on a regular basis (usually once a week). You can go for coffee, go for walks or other mutually acceptable activity. Volunteer Training takes place on Saturday 20th & 27th February, 10.00 -15.00. Lunch is provided. Volunteers must attend both Training Days.
If you’re interested, call the office on (01) 838 7184 to request an application form (leave a message if office unattended & we’ll get back to you). You can also fill in the Volunteer application form here on the website). We match males with males & females with females. We try to match people of similar ages. Currently, we are especially short of Volunteers 50 & over. Befriending is a very valuable and rewarding way to volunteer. So, please give it a go!
Just before Christmas, Befrienders Dublin visited Dublin’s only Wax Museum. We had a fab time posing with all the waxworks, especially in The Chamber of Horrors. Thanks to the staff & management of The Wax Museum for a wonderful day!
Like 1-in 4 people reading this, I have mental health problems. Depression & Anxiety, mainly. I have been dealing with these issues by myself for a long time. Recently, I started to feel like I was really cracking up. So, I took the advice of The Samaritans & contacted my GP. She advised anti-depressants & counselling. Trying to be a ‘good patient’, I took the prescription & counselling service phone number & left.
However, when I considered it later, I couldn’t take the pills. I have been on many anti-depressants & found them ineffective, while the side-effects were often very debilitating. Besides, I believe Depression is more complex than the famous ‘chemical imbalance‘ that can only be fixed by these ‘magical’ drugs.1
I made an appointment for counselling. I met the Director of Services for a brief interview. He sat with a pen & pad, asking very personal questions for about 15 minutes. As well as giving him ‘The Story Of My life’, I spoke of my dislike of anti-depressants. I said that I believed Mental Illness was a natural response to a very sick society. I spoke of how I believed our current Austerity policies had hugely increased my anxiety.
The Director put down his pen & pad & exploded into a 10-minute rant about ‘Anti-Austerity parties’ who ‘wanted everything for free’. He said things in this country were good & ‘we’re all not going around with the arse out of our trousers’ (oblivious to the holes in the knees of my jeans). He said I should ‘forget about’ my principles & all I needed to do was have a purpose in life. All he was short of saying was ‘pull yourself together’.
I felt very vulnerable & unable to engage with his political diatribe. I also felt he was hectoring me into accepting his personal approach to life. I thought counselling was about listening to the client. I didn’t feel listened to. I felt shouted at. I thought counselling was about helping the client. I didn’t feel helped. I felt hurt. I will not be going there for counselling.
While I know this therapist may be ‘one bad apple’, I have had to deal with many like him over the years. At the moment, I do not want anything to do with mental health services. I will have to continue to fight this on my own & with the help of Befrienders Dublin & The Samaritans.
The author of this piece wishes to remain anonymous. All views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Befrienders Dublin.
1.These were not just my uninformed opinions. I was once a patient of noted psychologist & author Tony Bates. He encouraged me not to think of mental illness as an individual flaw, but to look at the influence of the wider world on the individual. He pointed me at writers like David Smail, Terry Lynch and others. Reading writers like these apparently made me a ‘bad patient’, but also a ‘good citizen’ i.e. not accepting blindly what I’m told by Doctors, Psychiatrists or Politicians.
Click here for the Befrienders Dublin page in the Better Together Competition. Then click the ‘Vote now’ button above the video.
The more regularly you vote (i.e. once a day between 24th September and 20th November) – and the more friends and family you also encourage to vote, the more chance we will have of winning a cash prize!
The top 30 non-profit videos will be shortlisted in the categories (Small, Medium and Big) and the winners in each of the non-profit categories will receive a prize of €2,000.
As a not-for-profit charity, the prize money would be a great help for us to keep on providing a very valuable service to the community.
On our Better Together page, you can also make a donation, or find out how you can help us in other ways.
Recent Blog Posts
- Befrienders Dublin 2017 Photography Project – ‘Every Picture Tells a story’.
- Befrienders Dublin 2016 Photography Project – ‘Capturing The Moment’ – By The Photographers
- Befrienders Dublin 2016 Photography Exhibition – ‘Capturing The Moment’ – Pics & Video
- Befrienders Dublin visit Japanese Gardens & National Stud, 20 Aug 2016
- Befrienders Dublin hit Powerscourt Gardens & Waterfall – 13 Aug, 2016