Life after suicide – a thank you post

Ok boys and girls, this is a seriously neglected blog, and I have lots of fun, adventure and food related posts coming up (I promise!) but first there are some thank yous to make. What I would like to do with this post is to say a massive thank you to everyone who supported me in my comedy charity bike ride which I did for Mind after my friend ended his own life. I started with the distant hope of raising £100 for Mind – I called my mum to ask if this was reasonable. We both though it was a little high and then decided we probably knew ten people between us who could be relied upon to donate £10.

I raised £800.

The messages of love and support on the webpage have been of great comfort to me, and many others. I am amazed by the generosity of everyone who has donated – sometimes total strangers, some even from overseas. Even recently, two people that Brunton number 1 and I know have had real issues with depression that we have been unable to talk to them about because it remains unacknowledged and taboo. This is not acceptable – and Mind is just one of many charities that is seeing that changed. I’m proud to have been able to support this amazing charity, and grateful to all the people that have made it possible. I can’t tell you all just how much it has meant to me that so many people thought this was a cause worth donating to.

Moving on

Suicide itself is still incredibly taboo, and many people are surprised at the frankness with which I tell them that my friend took his own life. I personally feel nothing for the stigma or the taboo – I knew my friend, and I know that his life is worth no less to me for the fact that he ended it. However, it has still been a difficult thing to reconcile, although in many ways it gets better over time. The abruptness of the death undoubtedly makes assimilating the loss into my life, reconciling the idea that my friend has gone, very difficult. He has become both more and less to me all at once – I worry continually that I’ll forget silly things, like what his voice sounded like. As much as it surprises me how quickly certain memories have become vague, it is as though other memories I forgot that I had have come out of hiding. Things which never used to make me think of Burgess now often serve as a (sometimes sad) reminder – things like old tape decks and record players, Neon Bible, and in-jokes that no one gets any more. I read our old emails and remember that before the depression took hold there was a rich and varied life there, and that we were awesome together.

‘Are you Twiglet?’

The thing that actually makes me the saddest is the loss of my nickname – only Burgess ever called me it. It was funny (and awkward) when my suicide note was addressed to ‘Twiglet’ with an accompanying note saying ‘someone please call Twiglet’ and my number. Unfortunately no one knew who the hell Twiglet was and I was saved in his phone and address book as ‘Twiglet’. When the police eventually called there was an awkward ‘are you Twiglet?’ conversation that was so funny I wanted to be able to tell Burgess – it was only when I realised I couldn’t that the enormity of what had happened hit me. Now no one gets to call me Twiglet, and it surprises me every time how sad that makes me. I’ve also learned that it is not appropriate to laugh hysterically at being called Twiglet by a police officer. I think I weirded that poor lady out more than a little bit.

I’m sure any of you who were close to Burgess (and even some who weren’t) will relate to the feeling that it never feels like the right time to ‘move on’. I find myself thinking I wish that his death would just stop making me sad, and then feeling terribly disrespectful because it should be a sad-making thing. I’m reliably assured this is all part of the process. The sense of loss doesn’t really go away – you just get used to the weight of it on your shoulders, get used to the feeling that he is actually gone. Burgess used to refer to suicide as ‘leaving’ or ‘catching the bus’ and it never really felt like a permanent thing, almost as though you could just be dead for a while until you got better, like some kind of extreme rehab. Having spent months talking about suicide this way, I had almost become desensitised to what suicide would actually mean, and the permanence of what he had done to himself came as an awful shock. It makes it hard to accept that until we meet again in the great Western Bank library in the sky, this is it. I’m gradually getting used to the idea of life without my pal – it’s a slow process, but I’m getting there. I wish all the best for anyone reading this who is going through the same.

Continuing support

No one deserves to live a life so troubled that they feel as though they need to take their own life, and no one deserves to lose a friend that way – just as no one deserves to die of cancer, or AIDs. That’s why I’ll probably continue to make regular donations to Mind.

My page is open to one-off donations until the end of the month, so anyone who thinks that cycling over 25k in the rain dressed as princess Leia with accompanying R2D2 merits sponsorship there’s still time to rock up and sponsor me.

There’s also a main ‘In Memory’ page where people can continue to do ‘In Memory’ sponsorship events and read all the lovely comments people have posted, or donate directly to Mind.

So thanks to all the generous people who made this all possible (you’re all awesome!) and thanks to all the people who’ve been instrumental in helping me through this difficult time (you all get a pat on the back).

Burgess would be super embarrassed by all this fuss, but doesn’t get to do anything about it, so here’s a chirpy mugshot of us both 🙂 We made an awesome pair!


The chickens have started laying! Time to make some introductions

Beautifully coloured, but tiny eggs! The middle one is roughly medium, the rest are pretty small.

Welcome back to Bruntonia!

With mine and Brunton number one’s holiday in Cornwall, a graduation, and the husband moving house, it’s been a bit busy for blog posts. There are plenty more in the pipeline – an update on the elderflower wine, sourdough, strawberry wine and cake are all being drafted up, as well as the delicious veg we’ve started to get coming out of Pa’s allotment. However, for now, it is time for an update on the Brunton chicks.

Long time no see, huh?

So the last time we saw the chickens they’d just moved to their outside run… learned how to escape from their outside run, and couldn’t even cluck yet. We now have four fully clucking, clipped winged, egg laying hens.

The wing clipping became something of a necessity – they were finding more and more inventive ways to escape, and we couldn’t guarantee their safety. In terms of wing clipping, there’s plenty of advice out there on how to do it. Done wrong, you can seriously harm your birds – when feathers first come through they still have a blood supply (flagged up by the pinkness in the base of the feather usually) and cutting a feather at this stage can cause you bird a great deal of distress and bleeding. Don’t do this if you don’t know what you are doing. I would emphasise that Pa Brunton grew up on a chicken farm and has at least a little bit of a clue, (although don’t tell him I said that) so we did it ourselves at home. Otherwise, get a vet to come out.

They soon settled down to life inside the run, and have even settled enough to start laying delicious, but ping pong ball sized eggs! Now that all four are laying and definitely not roosters (and therefore definitely not for dinner) they get individual mugshots. Aristotle is the big grey lady – she is what you would politely call a bit dim. More accurately you would say she is the retard of the flock. This bird still cannot get her head around why she can see things on the other side of the chicken wire and still not walk through it. Ginger Frank is by far the most inquisitive, and despite being a bit of a runt, (and ginger) she holds her own with the others, and lays pretty well. Black and White Frank (so named because as chicks one was pure black, one had white markings, although not so now!) are the bigger of the copper marans. White Frank started laying ridiculously early and is the most consistent layer of the lot. Black Frank started a little later but has really got into her stride now, and suffice to say that retard chicken Aristotle is still way behind and occasionally lays soft eggs with no shells. It’s as weird as it sounds and apparently totally normal. Go figure.

So that’s the latest on our feathered ladies – the eggs are delicious – richer and better in consistency than shop-bought and have already contributed towards plenty of cake. They are also surprisingly different coloured – to do with being a hybrid breed I think, but it means that we know roughly which ones are laying, and which are having a bit of time off 😉 More updates to come when I have time to post on all the delicious things we’re making with the eggs!