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Reply to "RIP Paul..."

It's strange to be crying over someone I never knew or was even in the same room as, but Hesto was such a likeable person. Not arrogant, yet so silly. It has got me thinking about some bigger things, and I wrote this on my blog this morning:

�It's all sweetness and lightness that you bring
and a room full of people fall to your infinite charm
but when darkness should quickly descend
you go quietly, my miserable friend
to the depths of despair you will crawl
black and white boy�

The drummer out of my favourite band, Crowded House has committed suicide. Hesto was a wacky performer. Full of camp energy and silly humour, he livened up the stage and was like everyone�s silly older brother. As someone who completely obsessed over his music for many years, I feel very sad that Hesto was so depressed that he decided to take this step. I never knew him, but I have a sense of loss.

Deborah Conway described him as �an acute observer of life�, and she suggested that this sometimes contributed to his depression. A lot of songwriters and musos suffer from depression. (Hesto�s bandmate, Neil Finn has bipolar, and I would always have expected that if anyone was going to top themselves, it would be him, not the ever-effervescent Hesto.). I think that in many cases it is for this same reason.

People who write songs have strong creative talents. Many of them are completely �loony�. What we call �insanity� is often a case of someone seeing the world in a different way to the way most people see it. This can go to extremes like schizophrenia, where perception of the world is completely out of synch with everyone else�s perception, and there is a whole continuum all the way back to a mundane view.

I think it would be hard to be creative if you weren�t a bit insane. To write something interesting, something that will make people listen to what you have to say, you need to have a distinctive take on life. Lyrics are often simply observations of life. We all observe life, but most of us don�t have observations that are particularly different from anyone else�s. A songwriter is someone who watches for the nuances of life. S/he is someone who notices little things that other people don�t. They stop to think about why someone does something. They contemplate people�s motivations. They ponder deeply how people think and operate. And because of this, they are able to comment on things that the rest of us take for granted.

This acute observation of life can manifest through songwriting, through philosophy, through blogging, through poetry, through art etc. But this acute observation of life often leads �depressive� people to think deeply about the darker side of life. On the one hand, they might deeply value the kind motivations behind a good deed. On the other hand, they can get really stuck on the horrific-ness of the world.

If you�ve never been through true depression, there�s absolutely no way you can understand it. It�s a whole other headspace, where everyday logic and reason have no place. A new logic consumes the person and takes on an air of complete normality to the depressive. If you�ve ever been completely drunk, and lost complete control, that goes a little tiny way to explaining how consuming this new set of rationality is. But you�re still not even close.

To someone who�s never been through depression, Hester�s suicide might seem selfish. He leaves behind two young children who will now have to go through the most horrible ordeal of growing up without a truly great father. How could he do that? When you get to this sort of low ebb, it seems that you are actually doing your family a favour. You go through a thinking process where it becomes completely clear that you are a negative force on the world. Any good deed you�ve ever done seems like a fleeting, unimportant event, something that cannot outweigh the enormity of all the bad influences you have on the world.

Everyone has people in their lives who have had to make the occasional sacrifice for their sake, and when you�re depressed, suddenly this consumes your thoughts. You start to think �how can I be worth that sacrifice? I am not as important as that person. They deserve better. If I were dead, they wouldn�t have to make any more sacrifices for me. They would be sad for a bit, but in the long run, they will be happier if I am not placing such a burden on them�. And this is how it is possible for a depressive to reason that they should commit suicide for everyone else�s sake. It is often the opposite of selfishness that compels a person to suicide.

Of course, they are wrong. We all have people who make sacrifices for us, and that�s what life is about. We all need other people and we even all need to make sacrifices for others, because doing something for someone else, particularly someone we care for, is something that makes our life fulfilled. My mother takes great pride in doing things for me and she would give her life to save mine, I know. Equally, I get great enjoyment of doing things for her and I would risk life and limb to defend her too. We all need each other. When you�re depressed though, that is usually something you can�t see.

So if there is any purpose to such a tragedy, perhaps it will be that the taboos of depression and suicide will be lifted a little in our country. It is a major problem and we need to address it. Yesterday, Hesto�s family and friends suddenly found it was someone close to them who became the guy who died this way. Tomorrow will it be yours?

You�d be amazed how much it can help a depressive person just to know that others care for them and are happier with them around. So talk to your friends and family and let them know what they mean to you. Because tomorrow, they might go walking their dogs and never come back�..

�In his soft wind, I will whisper,
In his warm sun, I will glisten
Til we see him once again,
In a world without end�
    All times London, UK.

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