I’m tired. No. Exhausted. I’m exhausted.
My health has been going downhill again this week – I think a culmination of the events of the last few months and the last few weeks. I haven’t been sleeping this week at all. Have a few things on my mind which I’ll go into in the next couple of posts but for now, I think it’s the last 24 hours that have really stressed my body into this state of exhaustion. I’m not complaining, by the way. Just documenting 🙂
I’m not telling this story to shame or blame anyone but I think it’s something that needs to be told because there are some lessons in it. Below in italics is the post I began last night when this drama started unfolding…
* * * * * * * *
“This post was supposed to go very differently…”
… but I’ve been sitting at my computer for 1 hour and 4 minutes in a state of panic. I had originally planned to blog about something that may become very relevant in the coming days; but for now, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of J. I don’t want to use his name here, especially because as yet we aren’t certain exactly what is going on.
At 6:43 pm, N (one of my gorgeous fellow architecture students from university) contacted me to ask if I knew of anything that had happened to J (another fellow student) because he was worried by the posts that were appearing on J’s Facebook wall. I let him know that I hadn’t heard or seen anything and proceeded to J’s page, expecting that maybe some people were unnecessarily having a go at him or bullying him for some unfathomable reason. Well, not entirely unfathomable, sometimes he shit-stirs because he’s bored and because he can. But regardless, my advice was going to be short and sweet – “honey, you need to click the ‘unfriend’ option for these people!!” …. that was an easy one… that one I was equipped to handle. What I found instead was the following:
“RIP, I’ll miss ya big man” and “RIP J 😦 we’ll miss you x”
There was that split second feeling of thinking it had to be a joke… and that fast gave way to the realisation that this was in fact incredibly serious. I immediately rang my mum, who taught J in his last year of high school in 2010. I filled her in and asked if she’d heard anything through the private school network but she hadn’t at that stage. She would try to find something out. Messages flew back and forth between me, N and others as we tried to get to the bottom of what was going on. It’s now 8:49 pm and we’re still trying to find out information.
The last status update on his Facebook wall was “fuck this” at 5:50 am, December 9. I should have thought at the time that it didn’t sound like him. He’s normally cheerful, funny, light-hearted and entirely hilarious. I don’t want to think the worst. I really don’t… I can’t ever picture him hurting himself or giving up on life. In my mind, I can see him wandering into the studio (late, always late – God love him) with a big grin, his too-long hair flopping over into his eyes and wearing his regimented uniform of a t-shirt, shorts and thongs on his feet. He is always laughing, always positive…
I’m sorry. I’m rambling because I’m anxious and I can’t get any answers…
He’s someone I managed to help this year (I think) and someone who always makes me chuckle. He knew he could come to me for advice and I also knew he appreciated my assistance, so I never minded the late night / early morning FB messages or emails wanting advice on this project or that project. I loved seeing what he sent through and how we could work to improve it and refine it. The thing about people who are tackling designing for the first time is that their ideas are fresh, uncomplicated and completely uninhibited and that’s what I love about being exposed to these younger people… when you’ve done it all before, you become a little bit hindered by what you know is and isn’t possible. When you’re new to the game, you think outside the box in a way that is a little bit magical… Towards the end of semester, he was improving so much… I really loved his design for the last project.
I’m praying with everything in me to every power I can think of that nothing has happened to him. Especially not something of his own doing. He’s too young and he has far too much to live for… I’m going to save this as a draft until I know what is going on. I hope to return to this blog later tonight with a happy ending to this story.
* * * * * * *
So that was last night… when I last spoke to people around 1am, no-one knew anything still but we were all feeling sick to our stomachs at the thought of him being gone.
This morning I decided to contact one of the people who had posted the RIP comments who I know (vaguely). He also studies with us and for all I know about him, he seems to be a great young kid with a sensible head on his shoulders. I asked him what was going on and could he please get back to me asap, that my thoughts and prayers were with J’s family. Of all the responses I was expecting, this was not one of them:
“He asked me to write “RIP” on his wall. It was for a bet he’s having with one of his friends. I’m not sure how many other people he’s asked but I don’t think it’s anything serious.”
NOT ANYTHING SERIOUS? I thought the bloody kid had gone and killed himself!! And I know I’m not the only one. My heart had been in my throat for 14 hours. I was so sad at the thought that someone like him felt they had nothing to live for. I was sad for his family, his friends… and it was a BET?!?!?
I wrote J an email letting him know exactly how worried people were and asking what the bet was about… it turns out, it was whoever could trick the most people… into what? Thinking they were dead?!?! I suggested to him, very kindly in light of the ropable mood that I was now in, that perhaps next time he could perhaps try something less permanent than death… maybe just a burst appendix or a broken leg. I spent all those hours believing he had possibly taken his own life… I cried for God’s sake. A lot.
So the end point is that it was all a massive joke. It just wasn’t in any way, shape or form funny. It’s fine for his friends who know that this is the kind of thing he would do but for people like me who are a little bit older and (though it’s up for debate sometimes) wiser, or who don’t know him as well as others do, this is just plain inappropriate and wrong. I don’t know about others, but when I see seemingly heartfelt ‘rest in peace’ messages, I’m not straight away inclined to think “oh, he mustn’t really be dead, people are just posting that for shits and giggles”…
The lessons here are many but the main two are:
1) Don’t ever, EVER do anything like that. EVER. – it causes unnecessary panic and grief to everyone. The first thing I wanted to do when I found out what he’d done was give him a real excuse to have RIP written on his wall. I wanted to absolutely throttle him for scaring me, and others, like that.
2) Facebook is the devil. OK, not entirely the devil. It does have its good points. So let’s try to use it for good instead of evil, ok?
Actually, there is a third lesson…
3) If you drink then Facebook, you’re a bloody idiot.
I promise the next blog will be a lot more uplifting and (possibly) comically cynical… I just had to get this off my chest because it was causing me heart palpitations and at the tender age of (nearly) 31, I’m trying to reduce my stress levels, not magnify them…