Train colliding with a person

Hi everyone,

Everyone who takes public transportation as a way of getting around has heard or seen the phrase “Train has collided with a person” (or some form of that, it’s the closest translation I have to the Dutch variation of this phrase). I read that phrase 2 days ago when I came back from an interview.

 

It makes me go cold inside: who was it? Was the person forced, was it an accident or was it suicide?

End of last year
I saw on the news that my classmate’s sister had been struck by a train, and that she hadn’t survived. Soon it was called a suicide, but the family didn’t see how such a girl as her could do something like that. After a lot of researching it still remained unclear to the family what had happened.

What happened 2 days ago
People sighted: “We’ve got another jumper… do those people only think of themselves?!”… like the hour of delay it caused us is worse than the horror that the strucken person and his/her family must go through. It makes me feel outraged! I think there’s too little thought about the reason people get hit by trains: yes, a lot of the time it’s suicide, but not always! And what if it’s a suicide, so what? Does that make it any less significant?

rail-tracks.jpg

Suicide
Is something a lot of people don’t understand: how can you WANT to end your life? How can those people be so selfish? – Those are the questions you hear a lot. And especially this one: “How can you do that to the people who are riding on the train, they get delayed because of you” – if there’s something I get angry at it’s people like that!

But, fair enough, if you’ve never been suicidal, I can understand it’s something extremely difficult to comprehend. People who attempt or succeed at suicide ‘look so normal’, and ‘you don’t expect something like that from them’. People who are suicidal look absolutely ordinary. Because they’re people, just like you and me.

So… how does it feel?
Like the world is nothing but darkness, as if from inside there’s only emptiness and no more hope that the world is going to get any better than it’s today. No more hope for the future. An endless emptiness that can’t be filled with something else but death. Sound quite vague, but that’s how I’d describe it.

From the outside you can’t see it, people are often wearing a mask and are saying “I’m just fine, thanks!”. People who have these kind of thoughts, they work, study, have friends and partners, and loving families. It’s not always the people with the horrifying pasts. Suicidal thoughts will come to the best of us. In times you least expect.

 

Jumping
Yes… jumping, that’s a tricky subject. I once saw someone jump off of the building I now live in, at the uni campus I study at. It was as if my heart stopped for a beat: did I just see that happen?! Someone who was so desperate, had so much darkness inside, that jumping seemed the only way out? I didn’t think it was selfish at all – someone who makes that decision has thought long and deep about it: what will be the consequences for my family, the people who will see me jump/find me on the ground? Will it make the pain go away, or will things just get worse?

Solution
It’s a permanent solution for a temporary problem. Something that fascinates me and at the same time scares the hell out of me. Here a song that tells about it:

Autumn – premeditated dying

I’m curious
How other people think about this subject. I can discuss it for hours, but am mostly interested how you think about people who decide to make an end to their lives themselves instead of waiting it to end on its own when it’s ‘their time’.

I don’t know how to close such a heavy blogpost, so I’ll just end it off with saying goodbye for now 🙂

Love, Sam

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Traveljunkie with a fear of flying

Hello everyone,

The title explains my biggest dilemma I always have when traveling. Yes. I admit. I’m terrified of flying. I can explain where I think it kinda comes from, but am not sure 100%. Not that it matters WHY I am scared, I just want to know how to get rid of it 🙂

First time flying
was to Australia.. from Western Europe to Australia… which was I think around 1 flight of over 12 hours and a second flight of around 8 hours. So 20 hours total. I had never thought of the idea that I might be afraid of flying.
So there I went, in the plane, being all excited for going to Australia for a roadtrip with a friend. The first flight wasn’t scary at all, I watched movies (or… I have to say, movie. I watched Avatar 3 times in a row) and slept a little. The landing part in Hong Kong was a bit scary, because it looks like you’re going to land on water and then right before you hit the water there’s suddenly ground that has appeared. Creeeeeepy! But when I saw this, I knew I had made the right decision:

australia

First time scared of flying
was on my way from Adelaide to my home. Around 18 hours of flying. The day BEFORE I left they showed me ‘Final Destination’. IMDB gives a brief summary: “After a teenager has a terrifying vision of him and his friends dying in a plane crash, he prevents the accident only to have Death hunt them down, one by one.

This wasn’t helping, but at the same time I had a hard time adjusting to the fact that I was going to go home again, my OCD played up a bit. I had continuous thoughts about how I would die, and had to think out those thoughts completely. The flight home was terrifying.

Obsessive Compultive thinking
I had to think out how I’d be run over by a bus, but still being alive afterwards for a little while, and people just looking – but not acting. Or how I’d ride my bicycle to work and a car would hit me from behind on purpose. Or, and here comes the part about which I’m writing: the pilot that would make the plane crash just because he got tired of living. Or there would be a defective part of the plane that hadn’t been noticed until we were already in the air. I had to think it through from beginning until end, otherwise the things I was thinking about would actually happen. Now I have to think out those thoughts every time they cross my mind, and while boarding the plane it always happens.

What do I do about my fear of flying?
I always tell the one I’m flying with that I’m scared, and with the question that if it gets too hard to deal with on my own, if they want to distract me. So far I have only flown 3-4 hour flights maximum since my trip to Australia, and had nearly always someone with me.
In May I’ll be at a conference in Helsinki, Finland, and the flight to there is around 3,5 hours. I will be flying with my girlfriend who’s been through my OCD-moments, but still I hate being so fragile at those times.

In June I won’t have a buddy to travel with me to the US, so I will have to deal with this. I have an 8 hour flight to NYC, and in July I’ll have a 4 hour flight from LA to Chicago, and an 8,5 hour flight from Chicago to Europe again. I am sure I won’t take any other flights while in the US, I will travel by bus, car or train!

So, what do I do that’s effective? A couple of things:
– 1. I take my benzodiazepines. They are calming pills prescribed to me to help ease off the worst anxiety attacks while on the plane (besides having a “Bomb”-yell Tic, screaming in an airplane is probably runner up worst idea to do on a plane).
– 2. I take games and books with me. Easy games and books about travel with some pictures, because when I’m that anxious I can’t really focus a lot, so sometimes I’ll just be looking at pictures to distract myself.
– 3. Since it’s an intercontinental flight we’ll probably all have our own TV screens, so I’ll be watching movies. A lot.
– 4. My trusty notebook and pencil, to write about anything that comes to mind. Things I have to do, things I want to see, what I mustn’t forget, or poems and stories… that way I can clear my mind as much as possible from things that get stuck. That way I only have to deal with my obsessive thoughts, and nothing else.
– 5. Tell the person next to me, or someone of the flight crew, that I’m afraid of flying. They might be able to help me calm down if I freak out.

anxiety plane

Keep your mind set to the goals you have
That’s my biggest advice to anyone, and it was something that somebody told me last week: “keep in mind that the reward will be when you leave the plane again and are in a different part of the world you can explore“.
That’s the best I can end a post with!

Love, Sam.

Question: Are you afraid of flying? Why or why not? Do you have any advice for people who are, like me, afraid to fly?

Experiences as a kid with Tourettes

Hello everyone,

Today I wanted to write about my experiences with Tourettes as a kid. Because of the camp I’m going to be a counselor at I wanted to look back on my own childhood and reflect on some things. At the same time it might be recognizable for campers who are coming to camp to read where I’ve come from and can see how their lifes can become just as great as anyone’s. Or for parents to relate to my story, and to know that things will work out fine in the end.

I want everyone to know that it’s TOTALLY OK to have Tourettes, there’s nothing wrong with having it, and it’s definitely nobody’s fault. Sorry if some parts are a bit depressing, it wasn’t all bad!

Different from the beginning
I was always a little different.

different2

The first 2,5 years of my life (according to my mum) I barely slept at all, cried all the time and was very restless. After the birth of my younger sister that changed a bit, but then the Tics started to emerge. Lately I’ve been watching a lot of old video recordings of me as a toddler and saw that I already twitched with my eyes, neck and mouth. I can’t remember being bothered about it, it just happened. I was careless and happy. Until I got to the age of 5 or 6.

Getting diagnosed
At age 5 or 6 my mum started to get worried about my Tics, anxiety and ‘attacks of rage’ as she called them. I was becoming unmanageable to my parents and they sought help from a psychiatrist. They diagnosed me with Tourettes and ADHD and advised my parents to send me ‘away’. Can’t remember where they wanted to send me, but they wanted to pull me away from my family. My mum was outraged to even think of letting go of her child, and she took me home. I’ll forever be grateful for that.

Medication
As cognitive behavioural therapy wasn’t quite common in the ’90s, I was prescribed many different anti-psychotics at age 6-8. Many medications caused me to become someone different from who I was: from quirky, hyperactive and funny, I went to down, letargic and irritable. Some medications worked for my ADHD (Ritalin for example), but they worsened my Tics. Finally, there was something that worked for me!! – but had the side effect that I gained 40 pounds in just a couple of months. And while that’s not good for anyone, especially for a child that’s really dangerous for your health! My mum asked me what I wanted, and that was to stop with medication and just accept that I Tic. She agreed.

Being told to stop Ticcing
I never minded that I Ticced, was only sometimes bothered with the physical pain some Tics caused. But people around me made me hyper-conscious of the fact that I was Ticcing, telling me to stop and ‘behave’ better. Like there was something I could do about the neurotransmitters firing falsely in my brain?
I think that is the worst part of having Tourettes, not even having the Tourettes, but the people who let you know (verbally or non-verbally) that you’re not ‘normal’ or that you ‘need to be fixed’ somehow.

In my teens
I still Ticced (they got worse in my teenage years), was hyperactive and impulsive. At home I was still told I wasn’t allowed to Tic, I ‘had to stop it’ and ‘try harder’. With Tourettes sometimes comes depression, and I think that especially happens when the people around you don’t accept you for who you are. Not that I blame anyone, people around me just didn’t know how to react to me. And I couldn’t tell them. My attacks of rage to others turned to rage towards myself. I became depressed.

It took me over a year to recover from that. It’s hard to tell this, because it’s nobody’s fault that I became depressed. It’s just something that happens more often to Touretters, and with love and support and lots of hard work everyone can get through those depressive moments.

Right now
As you can read in my first introduction blog (Click here ) I’m doing a lot better right now. I’ve accepted my Tourettes as it is, and can explain to others what it is I need.
This summer I’m attending Camp Twitch&Shout, a Tourettes camp, and I really really really want the campers to know: you can be yourself, you are allowed to be different, you are perfect as you are!

stand out

What to do as a parent?
Nothing different from raising a child without Tourettes. Just love them for who they are, with all their quirky things. It makes them who they are. Acceptance of who your child is, is one of the most important things that I’ve missed when I was little. My parents did what they thought would be best for me – and what the psychiatrists told them. Which was: tell Sam to stop Ticcing, then she might learn to control them. Which turned out to be true, I can control my Tics quite well – that’s why many people don’t know I have Tourettes (well, now they do…), but it makes me feel like with Tics I’m not ‘good enough’. And I am good enough as I am – with my quirkiness (if that’s even a word) and my Tics. And your kid is more than good enough too!

Love, Sam