About

My brother J and I were close, to survive our poorly cast, horror show of a family we had to be.  We were always in touch by phone, letters, instant messenger and emails.  This is not Hollywood drama, it’s real. Real life, real love, real pain, sometimes really boring and sometimes really funny.  There is much love, insight and humour here.

My brother was a fabulous observer, witty, sharp and cutting and he had the gift of being able to convey it all on to paper.  In March 2004, J achieved his greatest desire, to die, he took his own life, he was 31.

Our letters start in 1991 when I left Australia for self exile in England, I was 23 my brother 19. Over the 13 years our letters read like any family’s I suppose, they tell of the two of us growing up & maturing (two very different things) our travels, careers, house mates, house moves, crisis of confidence, cancer, marriages and divorces, coming out, births, the judgement of our parents through eyes adjusted by our own adulthood and never ending dentist appointments.  All life’s boxes have been ticked – some of them many times.

I am working my way through our letters, our diaries, his artwork (and I am trying to work out a way to set his library of books free into the world too) to share what we had, to confirm its existence, to accept that dying was J’s choice and that is ok, and that I will be ok and there is nothing wrong with being ‘just ok.’  You see sometimes I think he wasn’t real, that I imagined him but reading our to’ing and fro’ing I remember.  I remember that my brother was here and that he loved me, reading and typing them fills my head with his voice and the room with my laughter.

Some of my parent’s friends have actually said to me that my brother was weak, a coward even, all the inane clichés suicide elicits. My brother and I share our history – we are the only people who know why we are who we became, but we don’t share a future.  Daunting.

I guess to most these are just the musings and diaries of a dead man, I find them beautiful, entertaining, humorous and telling (a modern social history even and an honest picture of the tide of depression and anhedonia).  And yes, of course I would say this because he is my brother, but you see we are each other’s last line of defence and I will keep defending him.

S


Click this link to read it like a book, in chronological order.
With sincere thanks to all that take the time to read my brother’s writings and share in his life.

 


I have changed the names of everyone in our letters and diaries and some town names like our hometown “Poo Town”.  I have also given J’s place of work and the book he was Editor for a pseudonym (although I’m sure it wouldn’t take the love child of a rocket scientist and Rumpelstiltskin to work it all out). Where names appear in the handwritten letters that I have scanned I have used my very limited cut and paste skills to show pseudonyms (I’m learning as I go).   S

 

© 2015 Dead Mans Diaries (S)

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45 thoughts on “About

    1. A humble and whispered thank you. You are the first comment I have received and I really appreciate it.

      It is still early in our correspondence (I’m up to 1994) and his writing is large, loopy and crooked as always but his writing gets tighter and I feel that his pen treats the page as his depression affected his mind. The more depressed he gets the more his pen picks and scratches at the page, it gets smaller, tighter, meaner.

      I understand people can’t comment on the writing as it has already been written by my brother. It’s not possible to ‘tweak’ the story line as such, it is what it is, and unfortunately set in stone. It is my hope that people may see themes, threads developing, family interactions that I may not have being so close to the picture, a nuance I may have missed, a perspective I haven’t applied. I also hope that if people read it in order and see the development of his anhedonia that they may recognise it in others and it may help them save a friend, a loved one, a co-worker, anyone.

      Again a sincere thank you.

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      1. It is wonderful that you are using your brother’s words; no tweaking required. His intelligent snarkiness has made me laugh out loud many times. He is extremely likable, but you already know that. Depression is a creeping thing that sneaks up on us, and is often unrecognized by those in its throes. And then comes the denials when we are faced with it. The stigma needs to be removed, the self-imposed shame that it brings with it, making it even more difficult to reach out for help. Don’t be discouraged by silence; it is not an indicator that your message isn’t being heard. Push through….

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  1. What an amazing project and important tribute. Your brother’s life matters, and who knows what might be accomplished by your sharing his thoughts and words with the world? Thank you for taking on such a daunting but inspiring labor of love.

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  2. I envy you having someone who has been in your life this long that isn’t your own child, but someone who grew up with you, laughed with you, cried with you and loved with you. Someone who’s heart you clearly hold in yours and will do without end. That is a relationship to be honored and cherished forever and your plan is such a fitting tribute, one that few would have thought of, far less undertaken. I envy and I admire you equally and I can think of no more fitting a tribute for such a love.

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    1. Thank you so much, completing Dead Mans Diaries is helping and killing me in equal measure. My brother wanted to be a writer and by blogging his letters/diaries, in my mind, I’m turning him into one.
      It really is all I can do, and, hopefully along the way help someone, anyone identify their depression. I just don’t know what else to do. Thank you again.
      S

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  3. I am so moved by the immense energy of this tribute..and the beautiful colors of the broken pieces that created life with all the flavors of love that you shared with each another. Life is indeed messy…and it is so true …maturing takes a back seat..when survival is all there is…I grew myself to life…with mosaic pieces in bare bones…and my matured wisdom is finally becoming a beautiful reflection in the light. I walk in gratitude each morning before the sun rises…my world is silent and golden…where weeds and dirt are as lovely as the taste of a rose….and i am grateful to have found your sharings along my journey…your words and your brothers words..touch the Soul of ME. Namaste’ and Blessings as you journey.

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  4. Wow, powerful stuff mate. 😦 The idea of the blog is a great and fitting tribute to your Brother. I don’t think suicide is a cowards way out. I think it takes great courage in many ways and to be able to carry it through regardless of what is left behind a person must be in a very dark place indeed. I’m nervously looking forward to catching up with this. Well done, Ned.

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  5. I will have to go back to the beginning and read all your posts. This sounds a wonderful sharing. I suffer from severe depression for 30 years. Tried suicide myself a couple of times. Still think about it from time to time. I send you thoughts of love and peace.

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  6. Thank you appletonavenue. Depression is such an isolator and everyone who suffers it, suffers it in their own way. Our brain tricks us, fools us, hypnotizes us. I hope that there is something here for you. My favourite ex-husband told me yesterday (he doesn’t show up in our communications until 1997) that it reminded him of just how dry J could be, how funny he was, that in reading our letters there is a true sense of who J was. Again I hope you find something here and I hope you’re finding your way to your “happy”.
    S

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  7. Thank you for liking my post this morning…because if you hadn’t I wouldn’t have found your site. It has really touched me. As I suffer from depression and anxiety, I understand the power of suicidal ideation. Your brother wasn’t weak. But as Andrew Solomon has said, “Depression Lies.” It lies so well and it is very powerful. I will read your brother’s letters. Your pages are a blessing.

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    1. Your blog is so brave and honest, I hope it is helping you, empowering you. I often think of something J wrote “if everything is pointless, why not do anything”. But one thing I have learnt is; hearing good advice and remembering to put that advice into continual practice can be a gargantuan task at times. Sometimes it just seems to me that our greatest adversary lives inside us, and constantly being at war is exhausting. Thank you for your kind words. I hope you too, find your way to your ‘happy’, heaven knows it’s means something different to each of us.
      S

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  8. Thank you for visiting my blog. I think what you are doing her is fabulous. It is a testament to your bother and a glimpse of truth and honesty in to the world of depression. I live constantly on the edge of that pit and I wish sincerely that I could give you a hug. I wish I could have helped. This blog is like a monument. Thank you for what you are doing.

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  9. My heart goes to you, hugs! I write letters to my son on my diary after he passed away and those letters eventually lead me to publishing my first book. It was amazing because I never realized that his life will be used by sharing his story through that book. It made me feel he is just around 🙂

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    1. Thank you. I feel the same way. Doing this has helped me remember so much, I hear his voice when I type, I feel his love. I am viewing everything from different perspectives. Your blog is so touching and insightful – I am enjoying reading it – it puts into words some of the jumbled emotions I am encountering on this journey, thank you.

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  10. You mention that you need a technical guru to access the old hard drive. I have the technical skills and equipment at my disposal to do so, but need as much information about the drive to see what factors are at play. I would be more than happy to help you out at absolutely no cost whatsoever, you would just need to ship the drive to me here in the USA. Please let me know the details if interested, tom@tomslatin.com.

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    1. Wow Tom, thank you, how incredibly kind of you. Think I would be too apprehensive to ship it off to the US (experience of the Australian Postal systems lends me to believe they use blind, three legged donkeys.) You have got me thinking though and I think there may be someone here who can help me – hiding in plain sight the whole time. Sometimes I worry about the depth of what I’d find on his hard drive – think maybe I’ve been happy to leave it in the “too hard to fix basket” but you’ve got me thinking and motivated. Thank you. I hope you’re enjoying reading J’s writings.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sure, and you’re welcome. I studied computer science in college before going pre-med, then, well, leaving college to pursue my own dreams.

        I was thinking you might want to have someone investigate the hard drive in a forensic manner and copy the disk image to something more stable. I went down this route recently, my father passed away 3 years ago and stored EVERYTHING on old hard drives of the 20 to 500 MB variety.

        Anyway, that’s what I would do. Any reputable computer repair shop should be able to help, but they might charge $$$ for this service, which is stupid because it only takes about 10 minutes. Don’t let them BS you and tell you otherwise and charge you a lot of money unnecessarily.

        On a side note, your brother was brilliant. I’m currently self-employed as a writer and photographer. His writing was outstanding. It saddens me that he left this world too early. He could have changed the world with his writing if only he was able to hold on.

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  11. Tom, I have stopped crying, smiling and dancing around like a nutter long enough to reply. Thank you so very much. To hear that you think my brother was brilliant and that his writing could have made a difference has made this journey worthwhile. I’ve said before that if what I’m doing can turn my brother into the writer he wanted to be that would be my greatest achievement. Honestly I can’t thank you enough. If I ever get to the States I will find you just to hug you, and I may just have J’s hard drive strapped to my back like some kind of human turtle. Just want you to know your words (and advice) mean the world to me, they truly do.
    S

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    1. Sally, thank you. A kind reader posted yesterday “It’s not how your brother died that made him special, it was how he lived.” J’s letters to me are so precious but there’s so much between the lines I didn’t see at the time. As the years progress there is a shift in his writing, there’s an edge, and then there’s his end, he wrote his own ending. I just hope that somewhere along the line it might help someone with depression or someone read between the lines of others and their depression. I always thought my brother was fabulous, I still do, I always will. By sharing I am hoping others see his heart and talent. Thank you kindly for reading and even more so for commenting. It spurs me to keep going, keep sharing even though I know what’s coming. Thank you.

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  14. You are more than welcome. I am always dumbfounded by the reaction people have to suicide. Like it’s the original unimaginable cootie. My husband committed suicide and you would have thought I’d got Ebola, in many quarters. Not all, of course- there are many more good hearts than we fear there may be in dark moments. Take good care of yourself.

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  16. I lost a friend to suicide many years ago. I understand why he did it, and I’m not sure I’d have made a different choice in his position, but I don’t know if I’ll ever reach the point where I think it’s okay. The best I can do is say that the pain was simply more than her could stand.

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  17. It’s hard to comprehend suicide, the state of mind that it requires. I’ve learnt so much going through my brother’s writings, at one point he wrote:

    “I’d like to explain how a cheery boy with a love of reading developed a penchant for books exploring the “darker regions of the soul” he had not personally acquainted himself with. Smitten thus with the romance of tragedy, aberration and mental illness that produced such literary genius, he sought to emulate it, and successfully obtained the means but sadly not the end.” June 1995

    Our parent’s mantra was always “What will other people think.” J applied the pressures of a capitalist/consumer society on himself (it was how we were raised). He felt depressed at not ticking the boxes of conformity in order and on time. He felt he had no career, no house, no savings and most heartbreakingly – no one love to wrap himself in and build a life with. His mental chatter just ate away at him.

    “This artifice of depression has wormed its way into my head and, like a Swiss backpacker, has overstayed its welcome. I can’t get rid of it anymore and I really do want everyone to go away.”

    The one thing I’ve learnt in the two years blogging J’s writings and our lives so far is that: J’s suicide was not about me (I’ve always carried so much guilt), it was about J, it was his choice, a choice we all have but most thankfully never consider.

    Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment, I sincerely appreciate it.

    S

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Guilt. Yes. It took me a long time to get past the belief that I should have done things differently. I’ve reached the point where I think I could have done things differently, and some of them I wish I had, but I can’t know how those things would have changed the outcome. The difference between should and could has been huge.

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  19. I look forward to reading your blog, S. My only sibling, two years older than me, was 30 when he took his life. Somehow, I think I’m going to connect with much of what you write. Thank you for sharing your brother’s story, enlightening many on the questions we have about suicide, and a person’s decision to “go there.” It’s been many years for me, now, but there are times it feels like yesterday…

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