Suicide. It scares people – both those who are not suicidal, and those who are. It’s almost impossible to talk about unless you are with somebody who understands, because they have been there themselves. When I am suicidal (or have suicidal ideation, as it is more benignly phrased by psychiatrists although it all comes down to the same thing; you want to die) I call a friend, who I met in the loony bin, ten years ago. We have been close ever since, not bound through mental illness, but simply because we love each other. Anyway, I call him, sobbing that I want to die. Most people panic, which simply makes me feel worse but his words are always,” What method are we choosing today, darling? Which makes me laugh. As black as it sounds, we discuss our various options. He is quite keen on cars, smashing into a wall, or driving off a cliff. I am vaguer in my options. All I know is that I want to die or, rather, that I don’t want to be here any longer. There is a difference as anybody who has ever looked into the black abyss of severe depression will understand. We do not want to be dead. We simply want to go to sleep for a very long time and, one day, wake up and feel the sunshine on our backs, and breathe the cool, still air and hold life in our hands.

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This is my favourite time of year, when Mother Nature wakes from the long, deep sleep of winter. The branches of trees are dusted with fresh new green, and the woods are alive with the gentle colours of primroses and bluebells.

There is something so optimistic about the coming of the light, and the understanding that life always, always emerges from darkness. I am (you might have guessed) a passionate gardener, constantly amazed that a few bulbs planted in a pot should bring such beauty. A little love and attention is rewarded with extraordinary generosity.

I wish the same could be said of people, as much as I love them. And I do love them. I believe that we are all essentially good (I am as passionate an optimist as I am a gardener) but across the seasons that essential goodness is layered with shades of darkness. Read More…