This class isn't about me at all. When my friend Stef lost her brother Rene to suicide at the start of the year, I didn't know how to help but all I knew is that I wanted to so much. If there is one really positive thing about social media, it is that we have the ability to reach so many people. So with the following that I have grown on social over the past few years, I want to raise awareness, and I mean really raise awareness and money for the causes that matter to me. And this matters to me so much. To see Stef and her family have to go through the pain and suffering of losing their brother and son, is unbearable, I want to do everything to help incredible charities like CALM lower the number of suicides in this country and support families affected. This shouldn't have to happen. Please join me on the 9th of September at 10am in London fields for a juicy, liberating and invigorating yoga class. Beginners, teachers, young, old, let's get together and celebrate this opportunity of togetherness, of moving and breathing and doing it all for a cause that really could save lives! Please donate what you can and join me for a brilliant yoga class under blue skies (we hope) Bring your mat, we are going to have lots of fun! I will be just to the side of the lido, with a bunch of balloons...see you there!
A letter from Stef...
When I think of my brother Rene there is a special memory that comes to my mind. He was 15 and I was 23 and we were outside lying on the grass sharing headphones and listening to the “Distant Relatives” album. He told me I’d love a particular song, and he was right. We lay there in the sun singing along together for hours and I felt his presence as naturally and closely as an extension of my own limbs
I go to my parents’ house now and I look at that overgrown, forlorn patch of garden where we lay and my heart is split into a thousand pieces as I question how so much love couldn’t save his life.
In January my brother took his own life at only 22 after depression quickly spiralled out of control and isolated him from human connection and the things which brought him joy.
There are things and events which can drive people to desperation, but depression makes problems feel insurmountable and pushes people away from you. I believe it wasn’t sadness which killed my brother, it was crippling shame. The irony is that I couldn’t have been more proud of him. Not for the achievements he had (though there were too many to count) but because of the human being that he intrinsically was - loving, kind, courageous; always insightful and fair. The guilt I feel is immeasurable. I question repeatedly why I didn’t try harder, push harder past his blank responses of “I’m fine” or “I’m just tired” , but love cannot read minds and the signs - though they may be there - can often be misunderstood.
My message for those suffering or feeling suicidal is this: You may feel you are in total darkness right now and you cannot endure any more pain. However one of the most beautiful things about life is that it is transitional and the way you feel today may not be the way you feel tomorrow or in a month’s time. Please try one more conversation or one more phone call. It can bring candlelight to your darkness until the light starts to enter again. I know it’s hard to believe that there are people that can help you or you may even feel that your loved ones are better off without you. Depression lies to you. Please try and remember what it feels like when your sister hugs you. Remember your mother’s voice when she tells you she loves you or the sound your friend roars when you make them laugh. Remember the smell of grass and the sound of the sea and the blossoms appearing in Spring. Cherish those thoughts and hold tight onto them, however small they might seem now. Asking for help and support is far stronger than bottling feelings inside and trying to deal with them alone to save face. The shame you feel is because Depression has misled you about so many things. Let people that love you in to dispel those myths. I’m understanding it’s the most painful and insurmountable of times which gives us the opportunity to learn the most and build resilience.
I would give anything to bring Rene back. There is no money or beauty in the world that can restore the value of him being in my life and my world is a darker and emptier place without him. I’m trying to take my own advice and keep going by talking, writing, listening and allowing myself to feel (with the hope of better, lighter days). I cry every day but I carry on because life is short and - really - it is precious. And because I know he’d have wanted me to.
I carry your heart always Rene (I carry it in my heart).