I feel like I want to share a little more of why I am raising money for CALM. On the 11th of February 2015 my brother chose to take his own life at the age of 22. Nobody saw this coming, even looking back now there weren't any warning signs, it came out of the blue for all of us. It is the hardest thing I have ever been through and telling my daughter her uncle was gone, the uncle she absolutely adored, that look on her face will stay with me forever. It devastates those left behind. I remember every detail of that day in excruciating detail.
CALM have made it their mission to raise awareness of male suicide in the UK, suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45 and 84 men per week take their own life, hence #project84. They have helplines available for any man suffering with mental health problems who needs support or information. They recognise that talking is especially hard for men and offer a webchat service as well.
If my donations can go even a small way to somebody getting support and advice that they need then I will feel like I made a difference. The thought of anyone else going through what my family have faced is too much to think about.
It sounds really cliche but we need to open dialogue about mental health, mental health services in the UK need improvement and quickly. Men need to know it is OK to talk, seek help and admit when they need help. It isn't weakness, recovering from mental health issues is so tough, having suffered with anxiety and depression myself I know how hard recovery is. We need to start taking mental health problems seriously.
So with that in mind, onto the yarns I am selling to raise money. They are all inspired by my lovely brother and I hope that by sharing these stories with you, you will learn a little bit about the awesome person he was.
I'll start with Blackbird. When we were choosing songs for his funeral my Mum chose Alter Bridge - Blackbird. We had both been browsing YouTube trying to find the perfect songs for him when she called me and said, I found it, you need to listen. We both cried down the phone listening to it and instantly knew it was perfect. Particularly the lines "Let the wind carry you home, Blackbird fly away, May you never be broken again". I am not a religious person, I don't believe in a heaven, but I do hope wherever he is, he isn't in pain any more.
Immortal was a multi faceted yarn (a bit like it's sparkle) and I have many reasons for choosing this name. Firstly, I hope that by sharing his story he will live on that other people will know him and his story. It is also signifying how he will always be with me. Then there are the two songs that came to mind for this, one he would have loved, the other he would have rolled his eyes at me for and made a very sarcastic comment. The first is My Immortal by Evanescence the second is Immortals by Fall Out Boy. Me and my brother shared a similar taste in music but we definitely disagreed on Fall Out Boy! Both songs remind me of him every time I hear them.
Through the Fire and the Flames is a fond memory of my brother. He was a gamer, a total computer geek. I remember him getting Guitar Hero and Rock Band, his bedroom was above the lounge, so we heard most of his attempts at playing it too. Like most people who have played Guitar Hero they have attempted to play Dragonforce - Through the Fire and the Flames, which is pretty much impossible because Dragonforce have several guitarists playing their insane guitar riffs. It didn't stop him from trying though. In case you don't know the song:
Finally we have Luminous Penguins. My brother was known for his sense of humour, a dry and sarcastic wit. He would regularly write random items onto my Mum's shopping lists but one seemed to endure and every year for Christmas he would ask for a Luminous Penguin. We actually tried on several occasions to find a luminous penguin and never succeeded.
On his birthday, the year he died, I had a penguin tattooed onto my arm that has a blue neon glow, it's not quite Luminous but I think he would approve. The penguin is Tux the Linux penguin (computer geek) the gaming headset and controller are how you usually found my brother. I like to think of this as his avatar that I will always carry with me.
If you have made it this far, well done. His name was Niall, he was pretty awesome as brothers go. I miss him a lot, every day.
If you are reading this and you are suffering with mental health issues, please reach out. If you know someone with mental health issues, please reach out to them, check on them, be there for them. Most of all don't stop talking.
Be awesome to each other,