Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Suicide in the Time of Technology

I have been brushed with the paintbrush of sadness that comes from the loss of friends and family who have chosen to take their own life on more than one occasion over the years.

My earliest memory was of an Uncle who had fought in Vietnam, I cant remember how he took his life, but I know that it was spoken of in very hushed voices when I was still in primary school, and that my cousin, his daughter, was never the same on the few times we saw her following his passing.

Then there was the casual boyfriend in high school. I remember getting a phone call from a mutual friend asking if he could come and see me, I was studying for my leaving exams and tried to put him off but he kept saying it was important and he had to see me. I remember sitting on my front step in the sun with tears coursing my cheeks staining his shirt. Railing against the unfairness of it all, and wondering why? What had been so bad that he could not talk people who cared about him? What had been so bad that he could take his own life in such a violent way, and leave his family to find his remains? A note had not been left, so we were all left to deal with the questions that would never be answered.

In the mid-90’s the black dog would rear its ugly head again with a man who I considered my best friend. His dependency issues were not yet known to us, he hid his abuse of alcohol and drugs so well that he always seemed so much more fun and happy when wasted, with us not realising that the times he was sober were far less than we assumed. After a few stints in rehab, and then his decision to move back in with his parents we thought everything was better. Then the late night phone calls would start. Late night calls when he would tell me that he had taken an overdose of pills, or hurt himself. Late night calls when I would then have to contact the police and his parents. The last time, he showed up and tried to kick in the front door of my building as I wouldn’t let him in, and I had to make the hardest call ever at the request of his parents and have him arrested. That ones still pains me, but at least by having him arrested and sectioned that night, he is still alive today. I cut contact him with after that, I love him like a dysfunctional little brother still, but I could no longer sit by and watch his pain manifest. I could no longer be the one calling his Mother to say your son is locked in his room, in your house, and has just overdosed on pills.

In the last 2 weeks an old school friend and a more recent acquaintance took their lives. Their social network updates did not let on that anything out of the ordinary was going on. People who spoke with them saw their pain, but thought that they were coping and would get through it eventually like most of us do. But their pain was obviously too great for them to bear. Both of these I found out through social media updates.

A perfect example of how quickly we can all learn of someone taking their life, was the recent passing of Amy Winehouse. Social media networks were reporting her death over an hour before it made main-stream news service desks.

The friends who post that they wish to end their lives on Facebook and Twitter are not the ones we should worry about. We should be worrying about those that stay silent, that act like life is OK when really they are struggling to hold their existence together.

I have always thought that suicide was the ultimate Fuck You World. It is the last statement that nobody can rebut. It is a hanging sentence that leaves you wondering what could have been if things had been different.

If you think that life is so terribly painful that you cannot bear it, please think again. Reach out to a friend, a family member. There are people you can call if you want anonymity. Please let the words out so that they do not poison your spirit as you are loved by many who will mourn you if you are not a part of our lives.

World Suicide Prevention Day is on September 10th, please remember those that we have lost, but also look at those that we can still save.

Websites and Phone Lines:
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            1800 55 1800      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

United Kingdom or 0800 83 85 87 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            0800 83 85 87      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Hole Lota Love - Bagels

Sorry for not posting for a while again, the diet has now gone to extremes and I am doing Lighter Life - 500 calories a day of soups and shakes that come form little sachets - nothing exciting to write about OR  for the tastebuds!

I am currently planning my 40th Birthday Party - a Rocky Horror themed night of drinking and debauchery (I hope). As such, even though I cant eat until then, I am browsing websites and cookbooks to make a menu that will give me a light at the end of the tunnel....well in the middle of it as will be doing this until Xmas (at least!)

My dear friend Kanga_Rue has just given birth last week to a bouncing baby boy. and I wanted to (a) trial a recipe I want for my birthday, and (b) make her something yummy that she can eat with one hand while holding the little angel in the other. So bagels it was to be.

These little guys were not as hard as I thought they would be to make, and going from the sounds in the office this morning, the guys were more than happy to be my guinea pigs.

7g sachet of yeast
4 tablespoons of sugar
450g of strong bread flour
2 teaspoons of salt

  • Mix the yeast with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 100mls of warm water, set somewhere warm to activate and goes all foamy (about 10 mins).
  • Add 200 mls more of warm water.
  • Mix half the flour and all of the salt into the bowl and mix on medium speed with the dough hook attachment (yes, I used my could I not use her, she has been feeling neglected these past few months!) Slowly add the remaining flour and let the dough hook kneed the dough until it is nice and stretchy (took about 3 mins on low, with me readjusting the dough ball every minute).
  • Place the dough into a lightly oiled clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap, and put somewhere to rise for an hour until it has doubled in size.
  • Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil with the remaining sugar. Heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius
  • Roll balls of dough (I weighed them - about 80grams each) then poke a hole in the middle with your finger and stretch it out a bit. The holes will shrink when they cook so a little bigger is better than being holess. Flatten the balls slightly then drop into the water to cook for about 45 secs on each side so that a skin forms (it will look like your skin does when spend too long in the spa drinking champagne). Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel.
  • Line a baking tray with parchment and spray with oil. Set up your toppings ready to dip - I used poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and some sauteed leeks from the garden. 
  • Dip the bagels into your desired topping - I found the poppy seeds stick better if brushed with a little oil (I just rubbed them in the oil from the leek pan).
  • Bake in the oven for about 20 mins until crisp - the will sound hollow if tapped on the bottom.

These are suitable to freeze and make about 10 bagels around 80g each.