Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Thursday, 21 October 2021

WEP October Challenge - The Scream

 



The WEP Challenge is back.  Huge thanks to the organisers and participants.  A visit HERE will give access to a range of talented (so very talented) and different takes on the theme.  I do hope you will visit others and applaud them.  Names will be added over the next couple of days and a revisit is always worthwhile.
 
I have been absent from WEP for a while but have rejoined for this challenge.  Due warning, my story is dark. 
 
 

Un…

 

The farmhouse they rented was isolated.  It was also both shabby and spartan.  No phone, she had no transport and the nearest town was five miles away.

He was away for work.  Again. 

He was due home in another ten days.

She was alone.  Again.  Still. 

High summer, and outside it was blisteringly hot, dry and cloudless.  Water was at a premium and the house tanks were all but dry.  If she was to wash herself or her clothes she had to travel. She could have walked into town and caught the train to do the washing and to see friends.

She didn’t.

It was quiet at home;  baaing sheep, bird song and, twice daily, a train chuffing through, its whistle echoing across the empty paddocks.

Her earworm was louder and more intrusive than those sounds.


 

‘It's already over in my head
It's been cloudy with a chance of anxiety
Can't keep out the demons inside of me
Maybe I'm just better off dead’

She hated the song, most of which had no relevance to her or her situation.  Just the same ‘better off dead’ set the metronome to her days.  Its regular hard hitting beat was always there.  Only the volume changed.  Sometimes it was a murmur and at other times a scream.

She was unEmployed, unHappy and unNecessary.

Oh hell, let’s not beat about the bush.  She was me.

Drowning in and beaten down by that earworm I walked into town and was lucky enough to get an immediate appointment to see a doctor.

Lucky?  UnLucky. 

 

He was dismissive.  UnKind. UnHelpful.  'Snap out of it!' was the best he could offer.  When pushed he said he could refer me to a psychologist where there was at least a three month waiting list.  Cursing the wasted expenditure of money I didn’t have and couldn’t spare I walked home again to an empty and unWelcoming house. 

Maybe I'm just better off dead

Essential tasks called.  I fed the chooks, fed the cats and faced my empty days. Continuing to exist like this was unAcceptable.

Maybe I'm just better off dead

A solution was close to hand.  Twice daily (at midnight and at midday) the train ran through the bottom paddock.  It came round a bend and if I lay down on the tracks the driver would be unable to brake in time.  A short walk (less than half a mile) and my despair and pain would be over.  The midnight train would probably be best.

I thought about it.  I thought some more.  It would work.  I felt for the train driver, but the trains ran over other animals quite frequently.

Timing.  The animals at home needed my attention.  It would be unFair if my solution caused them to suffer.  Nine days left now.

Finding a solution, a solution that meant I would no longer be a burden to myself or anyone else was wonderful (the world would not miss me).  Calming.  Comforting.  Freeing.  My mind (despite that chant) was less despairing than it had been in many a long dark day and night.  I had a plan, I had the means and I had a time frame.

Waiting for the day and the hour I sat on the floor ripping pieces of paper into smaller and smaller pieces.

… better off dead

 

… better off dead

 

Maybe I AM  just better off dead

 

The pile of confetti beside me grew.  Night followed day followed day followed night.  I didn’t eat, I barely slept.  The animals were fed and watered.

Old letters, half finished pieces of writing, newspapers and bills fed the pile.  There seemed to be no end to them, as there was no end to my pain.

Maybe I'm just better off dead

 

Day eight.  So close now.

… better off dead

 

Day nine.  Less than 12 hours to endure.  I picked up the piles of confetti.  Leaving things tidy was a must.

… better off dead

… better off dead

… better off dead

 

Then I heard a car pull into the driveway.

His car.

… better off dead

 

‘You are home early.

‘The job took less time than we expected so I came straight home.  What have you been doing while I was away.’

‘Not a lot.’

For some reason I couldn’t sneak out and down to the train tracks when he was home. 

Fortunate?  UnFortunate? 

Action postponed but not cancelled.

I still, decades later, hear that siren call.  I can usually distract myself and shift my focus now.  And hope I always will, but cannot guarantee it.

… better off dead

… better off dead

… better off dead

 

Still there, but much quieter.

I suspect it is a part of the reason I volunteer on the crisis line.  Their circumstances, triggers and solutions may not be mine, but the pain and the despair are so very familiar.

If they can live it, I can listen.  Some people at least do not go unHeard.

 

***

Word Count:  830

tag # Sometimes no-one else will hear your screams.

Comment rather than Critique please.  I suspect I would take critique personally.

140 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Anne in the kitchen: Thank you. I really didn't mean to make your eyes leak.

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  2. Powerful my friend and touched my heart.

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  3. My heart.
    Sue, this is beautiful, elegant, and heartbreakingly familiar. I've worked with many students over the years who've felt the same way. The small voice echoing within is hard to combat.
    I'm so glad for every person who is able to combat it and able to keep moving forward.
    Sending love and hugs across the miles

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    1. Jemi Fraser: Those small voices are strong. And persistent. So very persistent.

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  4. I absolutely forbid you from doing this again! I am getting too old and jaded to cry.

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    1. David M. Gascoigne: I will try, but as I said, no guarantees.

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  5. Agreeing with David. Don't leave us (me). I have been crying far too much in the past two years, and am slowly crawling back to sanity and health. PLEASE never, ever listen to that song again. We need you, your photos of flowers and kangaroos and encouraging words around!

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    1. Charlotte (MotherOwl): I will do my best - and thank you for caring.

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  6. My goodness! I can feel the pain in your words. I cam partially empathize as I've been in this predicament once oh so many years ago. Keep listening to those who need your ears - it gives one more reason for one more day.

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    1. Carrie Ann: You are right about one more reason. So very right.

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  7. Wow, EC. This is so powerful and so painful. Thank goodness your husband came home early. Thank goodness too that you are there for those who need you to listen at their darkest moments and that you can offer them that so vital chink of light.
    Thank you for being you.
    Best wishes
    Ellie

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  8. Oh, gosh, this story is so powerful. Yes, being heard helps. Maybe that's why we're writing. If someone reads our writing, even one person, it means someone hears us. Someone understands. Our writing takes away the edge of loneliness.

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    1. Olga Godim: Loneliness is a killer isn't it? And often underestimated killer.

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  9. This story is an enlightening glimpse into the soul of someone mired in despair. It's palpable! Putting those feelings to good use, helping others on the hotline is an admirable initiative.

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    1. Debbie D.: Thank you. That time was decades ago but the memories are still very clear.

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  10. The rhythm is impeccable, the incessant beat.
    Thank you for volunteering to hear people who are not heard.

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    1. Joanne Noragon: Contributing to the community was stressed as a must in my family. This way suits my experiences. I try to help. I really try.

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  11. The Un is the mantra of the Mom, why so many of them lose themselves into child rearing and when they are done, wonder if they too, are better off dead.

    Really, really well done my friend.

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    1. Juli: Is a mother's work ever over? I am not one, but wonder. And your comment has me thinking. Thank you.

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  12. So many emotions here. Tangled. Distraught. Torn. A scream wrapped in a whisper, beating a steady rhythm until it comforts rather than repels. Many others will relate to your evocative words. Most of us feel as if we, alone, scream silently into the void so as not to burden those around us - or fear the ostracizing to come if we dare to ask for help.
    You do so much for others, EC, with your words, your listening, your ability to reach out. Thank you for shining a light in the tunnel. Bravo.

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    1. River Fairchild: As always I thank you for your encouragement. And yes, those screams sometimes do seem to be only heard by one. Sadly those feelings are accurate in too many cases for a multitude of reasons.
      Hugs my friend.

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  13. This is a poignant and gut wrenching story, full of pain that can only be felt by those who have gone through what you went through.

    You have come on top a winner and now you have what it takes to help those who are going through it themselves, and there are so many. Your kind heart has saved many lives. This is very significant.
    You always have kind words to say and are very thoughtful.


    Some wear their hearts on their sleeves and it's easier to see their distress but other like you bears all the inner pains, invisible to others.

    You, my friend are amazing. Thank you for sharing this painful story.
    Hugs, Julia

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  14. Sue. What can I say? My heart practically stopped reading this. It rang so true and as someone said, impeccably written. The repetition, the chorus, the inner cry, was haunting. Volunteering for Lifeline you must hear so many similar stories, and I'm sure having this experience makes you an empathetic counsellor. Thank you Sue for your bravery in sharing such deep pain and anguish with us. You are loved.

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    1. Denise Covey: I did struggle about whether to post this or not, and the feeling of (self) exposure is far from comfortable. And yes, I hear similar stories and feel the pain still. Thank you so much for your supportive words.

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  15. If it were possible, i'd love to give you a big hug right now.

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    1. messymimi: I can feel your cyber hug and thank you for it.

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  16. I had no idea! I am so sorry :(
    but glad that you found the Lifeline that now helps you as well as others :)
    Good story. Really good story.

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    1. River: You are right. Lifeline helps me and hopefully others too. We are not alone.

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  17. Dear E.C.! This is so powerful and really painful story. I think, nowadays, we increase our prays.

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    1. bread&salt: Thank you. Prayer is not a solution for me - but it is for some. And if it works - do it.

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  18. What would happen to the train driver if he had a break down and you weren't there to answer the phone?

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    1. Mike: Someone else would answer his call of course.

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  19. It's why I was a Samaritan volunteer for many years,too. Virtual hugs.

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    1. Relatively Retiring: I think many of us know this pain. Hugs gratefully received and reciprocated.

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  20. Hi EC - this was desperately sadly amazingly written - I certainly could feel her mental despair. We all need to have some reason to live ... others to need us. So grateful for you and others who are there to listen, so people are no UNheard. Excellent piece ... I'll be thinking on this in the years ahead. With thoughts - Hilary

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    1. Hilary Melton-Butcher: I am so grateful for your comment, and honoured that my tale will stay with you.

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  21. Hear trending and indeed dark E.C. Very well developed and suspenseful till the end. Thank you.

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    1. Susan B. Rouchard: Thank you. Reporting rather than development, but thank you.

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  22. Oh EC that certainly took me by surprise - I thought it was all part of the storyline until the reveal.
    Thank you for being comfortable enough to let us in on your life - thank you for being there for others who are feeling pain as you did all those years ago

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    1. Cathy: I am not comfortable about exposing myself in this way but that time in my life has certainly had a part to play in shaping me.

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  23. I am so glad she chose to live. You had me living through every line you wrote.
    It is good to have you back. I have missed your writing.
    Shalom aleichem

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    1. Pat Garcia: What a lovely thing to say. Thank you.

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  24. I’ve worked with people who are suicidal. That’s why I admire your steadfast dedication to helping those who suffer deeply. Your story captures that internal agony so well and raises awareness. I thank you for your service.

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    1. Myrna R.: I really, really hope to be able to alleviate some of the suffering. And thank you.

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  25. I know this agony too well. Finding that next reason to hold on, and hold off is key to survival for far too many.
    Heartbreaking ,but for some that nagging voice is all too powerful!
    I'm so glad you shared this!

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    1. Yolanda Renee: I was in two (at least) minds about exposing myself in this piece. Thank you. And yes, sometimes the holding on for day after day after day is an overwhelming ask.

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  26. The beauty and elegance of your prose is superb, and the content is totally stunning. My heart skipped quite a few beats. I'm so glad your husband came back early!

    Thank you for all you write and all you do. And thank you in particular for this courageous entry.

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    1. Niljana Bose: Thank you for your always supportive comments. So very much.

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    2. This reminded me of your WEP post about your mum. The same elegant style and the same heartstopping qualities. You write with so much honesty and clarity. Totally blown away.

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    3. Nilanjana Bose: Thank you. I suspect that both of those stories come from similar places within me. Confronting memories that I needed to face - and process.

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  27. Vicious circle(s), coincidence(s) [some for the bad, some for the good], the UNexpected.
    It seems you made the best of it.
    I am glad to have stumbled upon you(r blog)..

    Well, and as for the story, itself: A fine piece of writing.
    May you find lots of happiness in the years to come, Sue.

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    1. Sean Jeating: Thank you (on all counts). I seem to have (mostly) found a way which works for me.

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  28. Replies
    1. Cloudia: Sometimes I am a very shallow puddle indeed.

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  29. Your character carried me along with her, I felt her pain, despair, lack of worth and although my brain didn't want her to carry out her plan, my heart understood her so that it was almost a disappointment when he came home earlier. I'm so glad you volunteer at the crisis line and people have someone to listen to. Beautiful.

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    1. Kalpana: I was disappointed when he came home early. Very disappointed. I am mostly glad now though...

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  30. I know that call. I'm sorry you know it, too. You have put it in words with a magnificent style, though. Wow! What a talent you have.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Janie Junebug: Thank you. It is a very penetrating call isn't it? And hard to ignore.

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  31. Ah, EC... As fine a description of these feelings as I have ever read. I envisioned it as taking place in a dusty little outback town, but it could be anywhere. She could be any of us at some point. Our blogs are nice for showing off pictures and things, but I love that I am touching people from so many places, and they are touching me. Thanks for letting me part of your world.

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    1. Bill: I am endlessly grateful to the blogosphere. It is a huge privilege to be invited into people's lives. And thank you.

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  32. this was deep intense and captivating dear EC

    i think you nailed it brilliantly !

    i appreciate your strength to take it out of you and share as nicely ,this is work of art ,i mean it is may be easier to understand people around you but so many are that don't dare to peek inside and deal with the way they feel .hardest job in the world i must say.
    she surely had some positivity left in corner within her which was awaken by the just arrival of her husband :)
    hats off to you for being volunteer for the service ! beautiful!
    hugs and blessings to you and loved ones !

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    1. baili: Thank you. I don't think I did have any positivity left in me at that time. I was intensely frustrated when he came home early and 'spoiled my plans'. These days I mostly can see light at the end of the tunnels.

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  33. Cool. You are pretty good. Wish I could write short stories. Better at poems and essays.

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    1. The Blog Fodder: Thank you. Writing doesn't come easily or naturally to me. Any of it.

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  34. Interesante relato, aunque también un poco preocupante.
    Cuando llegan esos tiempos oscuros y se piensa en el suicidio, porque se cree que toda esperanza está perdida, la decisión más importante y valiente que se puede tomar es, la de continuar viviendo. Y si sigues teniendo dudas a la hora de decidir, pide ayuda, que no es signo de debilidad, sino todo lo contrario, es signo de fortaleza.
    Un abrazo, amiga, y si no es ficción lo que has escrito, muchos ánimos.

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    1. Manuel: Thank you. No, it was not fiction, but I keep on keeping on.

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  35. Thank you so much for your honest revelation. As you know, suicide ideation is a part of my makeup. It has been less so since moving out to the country, but it's still there in the background, always.
    I always received very "helpful" advice about my depression, such as "just snap out of it," "stop being so selfish," "stop looking for attention," and, of course, the very astute and helpful "maybe if you lost some weight..."
    I am seriously considering trying to go back to work. I hate the rules imposed by disability, such as not being able to amass more than $2000 in savings. Then I find out that once I hit retirement age, social security would only give me $700 a month. That would not even cover the bills. And then they wonder why older people are prone to suicide.
    Back when I was involved with one of my absolutely horrible boyfriends, I would listen to a lot of Nine Inch Nails. Not exactly comforting and inspiring, but it was where my head was at.
    Again, thank you so much for your honesty in this compelling piece.
    Love,
    Cie

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    1. Ornery Owl of Naughty Netherworld Press and Readers Roost (Not Charlotte): Thank you. I thought it would speak to you. And no, some helpful advice (quite a lot of it if the truth be told) isn't.

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  36. Interesantes relatos, con buenas aportaciones.

    Que tengas un buen fin de semana.

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    1. VENTANA DE FOTO: Thank you. You have a good weekend too.

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  37. Wow, what an intense, emotional story. Your words make me feel your despair and remind me of my own times of hopelessness. I’m so glad you never had the meeting with the train and found a way to cope. In helping others, we help ourselves. Sending you a caring hug.

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    1. Lenny Lee: Thank you. Those hopeless times can be overwhelming can't they? And you are right - I get a lot more from Lifeline than I am able to give.

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  38. This is such a moving story. You portrayed the struggle in such a raw way, and I like that, in the end, there was hope and a desire to help others.

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    1. L.G.Keltner: Thank you. Hope is a fragile essential. For me, and I believe, for everyone.

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  39. Quite riveting, and we thank you. Hugs, RO🤩

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  40. I'm very happy to see the current "better off dead" is tiny.
    Beautifully written. Thank you xo

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    1. kylie: Mostly it is small now (though not gone) for which I am grateful. And thank you.

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  41. OH..my gosh! I was mesmerized reading this. It's an excellent write, a special story, and hopefully a fantasy. It is such a good write that I am still on the floor tearing papers into tiny pieces with the story teller, waiting for the train. That's what really good writing does. Loved it!

    I wrote a poem once, not a story, similar to this. A midnight train thing. Maybe its the season to blog it.

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    1. J C: Thank you for your kind words. Not a fantasy, but a part of my past. A part which is still with me.

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  42. Stunning reality. Does that voice every truly go away? Or do we just learn to ignore it? I like that she is aware of its continued existence and her mission to distract from it and help others.

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    1. Steph W.: In my case it never does go away, though sometimes it is quieter than others. And sometimes it isn't.

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  43. I was surprised and shocked when I read this story, only to realize you were really talking about yourself, dear EC. Oftentimes others can be SO unhelpful, and that is why it is so important that you do with you do at the crisis center. I'm sure there are people who you have listened to who now than you for saving their lives. You are a joy and a genuine blessing, dear.

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    1. Bluebeard and Elizabeth: Thank you. Some 'helpful people' are not. And can be dangerous. I do hope I never fall into that category.

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  44. Heartbreaking, especially since it's real. Let's hope that with increasingly frequent conversations and improved understanding about mental health, the UNhelpful "professionals" will slowly become more helpful. Or will age and retire, to be replaced by Helpfuls.

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    1. Diane Henders: I hope so too. Fervently. That one at least should have retired.

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  45. This story was unnerving, because I have lived it a number of times. I literally have cold shivers. Even now, with decades of goodness behind me, there are still days when I think I just want to be dead. I realized as I read it, that it must come from your life because it was so vividly real (taking care of responsibilities and finding a time and method that would work and not inconvenience many people) and you volunteer on a crisis line, EC. I'm sorry you experienced this, and thank you for sharing it. Survivors need to speak out, so those struggling know they aren't the only ones who have felt such despair and to know there is a way through it to a good life. I wouldn't listen to the song. I don't need another brain worm ~ LOL! I've struggled with depression and anxiety throughout my life. I now take a medication to combat it. I'll have to take it all of my life, but that's okay, because it works and has likely saved my life. I wish my father had had access to drugs and support like I have. He would have lived a less tragic and painful life, and I might have had him much longer.

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    1. Fundy Blue: Have you ever noticed that ear worms are very rarely songs that you like? Thank you for this comment. I firmly believe that these thoughts cannot be banished. Like grief they are something that we (mostly) learn to live with once they have found their way in. I am so glad that you have a fix which works for you. And yes, how I wish that more people (the world over) had access to supports which work for them.

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  46. Powerful. I'm glad she found a way to live. As a person who suffers from depression, I know how she feels. I've trained to tell myself this. Life is a big circle. Wait a few hours, a day, a week, a month and it will get better. And it always does.
    Nancy

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    1. N.R.Williams: Thank you. Too many of us know how I felt and that waiting can feel interminable.

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  47. I loved the way this gently took us into the mind of someone at her wits end. I'm glad he came back early, but the fact she wanted to care for the animals showed she still had something to live for.
    My reaction to my depression triggers has changed since my doc suggested Cognitive Behaviour Therapy... because I know about Cognitive Behaviour, so I could apply it to my triggers without the therapy :)
    I'm currently reading a book called the Art of Enough, which is not really directed against depression, but there are things in it that can help examine why we get there and how we might unravel the reasons and change them.
    Keep going, your writing deserves you :)

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    1. Jemima Pett: Thank you. I am not sure that I 'wanted' to care for the animals, but they needed me. At the time I thought that they were the only things that did. I am so glad that you have found something to alleviate your depression.

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  48. You got me, Sue. Very real and very poignant. I loved that the inner voice driving her to choose that forever solution, gradually faded into a whisper--still there but not making loud demands.

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    1. cleemckenzie: Sadly that inner voice still screams at me some days. Piercing screams, penetrating screams.

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  49. This was such a powerful story! So well written. I was pulled right in and had to keep reading!

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  50. Powerful, intimate, and tragic, Sue, yet a call to help those who scream alone. I'm moved you turned your own anguish into helping others - sorry you have to deal with other MonSters in your life. Bravery.

    Decades ago, I lost a special cousin as his siblings and parents ignored his potential and pushed him over the edge. Maybe, I didn't try enough to help him, even by encouraging him in the direction he wanted to go.

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    1. Roland Clarke: Thank you so much for making the time to read and comment on my piece. I know you are struggling and I really appreciate it.
      The crisis line also gets calls from people who are bereaved by suicide, as you were. They make my heart ache. I don't think the pain (and often the guilt) ever goes away.

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    2. Belated congratulations on a well-earned win, Sue. Keep producing thought-provoking pieces - and stay well and hidden from the MonSter.

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    3. Roland Clarke: Thank you. I hope that you can hide from the MonSter. So much.

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  51. Congratulations on your well-deserved WEP win. Your piece was so moving and I very very glad it ended hopefully.

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    1. Kalpana: Thank you so much. I am (mostly) glad that my life didn't end that day too, and am very glad that you were moved by my retelling.

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  52. I’m so glad you won—I missed your story the first time around, and it is too good to miss. Congratulations on a well-deserved award.

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    1. Rebecca M. Douglass: Thank you. I was shocked to be given this accolade but very grateful for WEP's support.

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  53. Congrats on the win - this story is still echoing around in my heart!

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  54. I'm late here, Sue--congratulations on the very well-deserved win!

    Moving post. I'll carry it with me a long while.

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    1. Damyanti Biswas: Thank you. To say that my post will stay with you is an incredible compliment.

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  55. There is so much pain in your words. It's moving and has touched me deeply. It's also very powerful and it will stay with me.

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    1. Carola Bartz: Thank you. I did feel incredible, and so very nearly overwhelming pain at that stage of my life. It hasn't gone but it much more manageable now. I hope my piece doesn't haunt you too much.

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  56. "night followed day followed night followed . . ." How you're able to put your soul into words in such a profound, relatable manner --you make everyone who knows you very fortunate, EC. How you invest what little energy you have into saving others' lives, your heart and fight are exceptional.

    Suicidal ideation is very common. If only people were as brave as you to share their similar stories.

    Love and admiration, dear heart.

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    1. Rawknrobyn: Thank you. You are right. Mine is not an exceptional story at all. Which is sad,and bad.

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  57. I have only just found this post after seeing the WEP badge at the top of your blog.

    I am awfully (and selfishly) glad your partner came home early, but I also have some understanding of the relief you were seeking from your pain. It's not first-hand knowledge, it's only from reading deeply after our daughter started struggling with depression. The pain is very real, and help is too often absent or delayed. Thank you for drawing from your personal experience to help those who reach out to Lifeline in desperation.

    Maximum caring thoughts going your way, dear friend and chosen sister. xx

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    1. jenny_o: I am mostly glad he came home early, but sometimes I am still not sure. I don't think that this pain or the urge ever goes away completely and am grateful that I have found a way to deal with it which mostly works for me.
      Huge thanks oh sister across the seas and the skies...

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    1. Cindi: I am sorry to read that, and amazed that my words had to power to do it.

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  59. Speechless. Those voices are a torment. To anyone who hears them, I hope they know when people say "buck it up", they have no clue to the solution you need. Thank you for working the crisis line.

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    1. Ann Bennett: Words are powerful beasts and being told to snap out of it at that very low time left me feeling worse than when I walked into that 'professional's' office.

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  60. 'If they can live it, I can listen.' Thoughtful words, E.C. You are a caring person. I'm glad you are still here. x

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    1. Bea: Thank you. If it hurts me to hear their words, how much more it must hurt to live them...
      And yes, I care and I try to help.

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  61. Powerful words. I am so glad your other half came home early xx

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  62. This was so so so good. Great rhythm with the “un” words. I felt the sadness and despair. It was unExpected and is unForgettable.

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    1. Tanya Miranda: Welcome and thank you. Decades later I remember that time only too well.

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