Friday, November 6, 2015
BRIGHTON AND HOVE INDEPENDENT
Brighton saved my life on one dark, January night Gaz Goulding @GazPMatter
It was only last week that I was sitting outside a coffee shop in Croydon, with my mother, making the most of the sun when we heard a seagull announce itself. Like an old friend the seaside siren sang out. My mother and I looked at each other and in unison we both said ‘Brighton’ with beaming smiles reminiscent of every wonderful day spent along the Sussex coast. Brighton, to me, is so much more than the sounds of seagulls or the smell of donuts. More than
t h e c r u n ch i n g p e bb l e s underfoot. Not just a place to get lost among the flashing lights of the pier’s arcades. Brighton is a place that saved me one dark January night when I had planned to kill myself. I’ve always felt some kind of affinity with the place. I cast my arms as far and wide as the seaside’s horizon itself and welcome every cliché - one day moving by the sea living a simple life immersed in all of Brighton’s arts, culture, and way of life. To begin a new chapter. When I was 10-years-old I wrote a poem called The Waves. I remember standing in front of assembly reading it out. Little did I know I would grow up to be a
Maybe it was a sense of being welcomed by fond memories from previous trips. The first afternoon I sat looking out of the open window of the hotel, its sea view occupying every part of my brain. Blocking any negative thoughts. The sun faded, the sky began to darken and the pier lights came alive. I lit a candle. I grabbed a blanket, threw it around me and watched the flame dancing with the breeze. Then the rain came. I found myself smiling, thinking that I must have looked like the little boy in The Neverending Story. The sea air gave my lungs new life, a breathing space big enough for me to step out and look back at myself. It was during that almost out-of-body experience, I told myself that I would not be ending it there. It was like a reunion with rationality. I owe a lot to Brighton. For that time in my life. I consider myself lucky. Brighton threw me a lifeline, but it’s not the same for most. If, like me, you have a happy place that sweeps you off of your feet and can distract you long enough to experience joy, pleasure and nostalgia. I’d say go there with the intent to live in
Gaz Goulding found solace in Brighton and Hove when he was feeling suicidal those few happy moments. Take stock of what makes you smile and focus just on that. I’ve been back to Brighton many times and as I walk down to the seafront f r o m t h e s t at i o n , l o o k around and wonder how many people have suicide on their minds. How many people have been affected by suicide? How many people take their mental health and the mental health of others for granted? It’s time to get smart and have frank conversations about suicide. I am pleased to share that there is a
g r ow i n g o r g a n i s a t i o n , Grassroots, which supports communities to prevent suicide. I would like to say a special thank you to organisations who responded to me with support and advice: Mind Brighton and Hove; Brighton and Hove LGBT Safety Forum; Mind Out; Brighton and Hove City Council; and Brighton and Hove LGBT Switchboard. To find out more about suicide prevention service Grassroots, visit: prevent-suicide.org.uk
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Gaz had happy memories of visiting Brighton over the years
lost buoy in an ocean of depression, drowning in my own thoughts and turning to Brighton via impromptu day trips alone to seek solace. The last year had been really rough. In January 2014 I was on long-term sickness from my work after depression had come knocking on my door and this time he had his friend, anxiety, and I didn’t have the strength to turn them away. Instead I let them move in and take over my life. I’d had enough and in my mind starting to plot ending it all... I booked a hotel in Brighton for a few nights, with it in mind that I would take an overdose and die by the sea. Such an extreme selfish act - but with those two unexpected visitors in my ear matched with an anti-depressant that left me numb, these were my plans. No notes, no texts. As soon as I got off of the train and exited the station - I took a deep breath. It was with this first breath that something began to change. There was a relief, a lightness that lifted me. I don’t know what it was. M aybe depr essi on and anxiety were stopped at the barriers for not having tickets. Unwelcome guests.
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Brighton & Hove Independent - 6 November 2015