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What Reminds My Anxious Mind to Embrace the Gift of Life

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I sat in the bathroom at work a while back, worn out and anxious, and looked at the blue veins on my wrist, contemplating the fragility of life. What is it that moves that anxious, tired moment of contemplating the blue lines of life into a decision to end a life? Is it suicidal ideation if I am just watching the blood flow in my wrists? Is it?

I’m often transported back to that second to last visit I had with Harry, when he was in hospital. It was a Wednesday night and he had been showing signs of improvement since Monday, after an intensive two weeks in the high care ward of the hospital. The combination of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications he was on finally seemed to be making some headway.

We ate the burgers I had brought into hospital, in his room, and then we talked, for a very long time, compared to other visits. He was so relaxed about talking that I just sat there with him and listened. He told me about the almost constant suicidal thoughts that had filled his headspace for months, and how they had gone and he was left with this empty, hollow space between his ears that made him feel very uncomfortable. He showed me pictures on his phone and explained the thought processes behind each of those devastatingly sad images. He also told me how he had been constantly scanning the room, whatever room he was in at the time, to determine how he could carry out his suicidal thoughts.

And every time I look at those blue lines on my wrists, I wonder how often Harry did the same?  That’s not how he eventually died, but still, there is something about the lines of life, those fragile lines that draw me in, that remind me how tenuous life is and how easily it can be lost.

I got married recently, and in all the hurly burly lead up to the big day, and all the joyousness I felt on that day, there wasn’t a lot of room left to contemplate fragility and loss and blue lines of life. Of course, my mind often turns to thoughts of Harry, that’s just the way a parents’ head is programmed; it is equally as consumed with thoughts of my daughter.

On that day, my something “blue” was the sadness that inhabits the corner of my heart where Harry lives. It made my heart clench to acknowledge that my boy wasn’t there in person and that I would never again get to hug him, or dance with him at my wedding. The blue is only one facet of my heart though, not an all-consuming feeling. I know the joy and happiness I have in my life can co-exist with my something blue.

Blue, like the fragile lines of the river of life flowing through my wrists.

After the wedding, when the hurly-burly slowed again and the rhythm of life settled back in a new way, the blue seems more prevalent again. Sometimes I really struggle with life moving forward. With each step forward, I’m further away from the life that I knew in the past. The long ago life when my mum was still alive; and the more recent life that included my son.

It’s one of those incredibly hard life lessons that I try my best to embrace, and yet find myself flailing against it with monotonous regularity: Life is change. It really is as simple as that. Life is change, as I sit anxiously examining that blue stream of life in my wrists or dance joyously with my newly minted husband. Life is change.

I’m learning, often in a slow and ponderous way, to embrace the change: to breathe through the pain and to acknowledge the sparkly-deliciousness of the joy before it dissipates.  Life is change and life is growth, and each breath allows me to move forward into a potential I never knew existed within myself. If I sit back too often and try to clasp the past close, in a futile effort to prevent it from leaving, then I miss the opportunity to embrace the present moment.

The blue lines of life that flow through my wrists provide me another moment, another breath, another chance to embrace this gift of life I have been blessed with. I just need to learn (again), to calm my anxious mind, and just breathe.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

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Unsplash photo via Ben White

Originally published: November 8, 2017
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