If anyone reading this knows me, or anything at all about me, then you’ll know that I am always very vocal about how important it is to speak out if you’re suffering with anything at all.
So with this week being home to World Mental Health Day, and also September a very difficult month for myself and my loved ones, I felt that it was somewhat important for me to share my experience, since I push so hard for everybody else to speak out.
If this helps just one person in a time of need, then sharing my experience is at least worth something.
Losing a parent at any age, for anyone is hard to get your head around, it hurts and it scars you in more ways than I can put into words.
I lost my Dad when I was three years old to what, at the time and for years after I thought was just a tragic accident.
I went to bed with a kiss, only to wake up in the early hours to find he’d gone forever.
It’s odd people say “lost” as a way to describe death, because one of very few memories I have involving my dad was my brother waking me up and telling me “we’ve lost dad, we can’t find him”. We searched the house and got down stairs to hear my mum screaming from outside as she had found him. Next thing I knew we were next door for hours just to be told he’d gone. Just like that, our entire lives changed forever.
Growing up with my mum being both mum and dad wasn’t easy, it seemed everything was always harder for us, from getting into the same high school as my brother, to my mothers ever deteriorating health, then to people always asking questions that I didn’t actually have the answer to.
My mum was extremely protective which I feel is because she felt that every decision she had to subconsciously ask herself “what would he do, what would he think of that”.
It pains me to admit it, but I only have as many memories with him as I did years, just three small memories of him.
- He picked me up and my mum told him he’d crease my dress, (if you know my mother you’d know how ‘her’ this is)
- He was singing ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ and I asked him who Sally was….”it’s just a song princess”.
- The night he died.
On Mother’s Day 2012, when I was 15, our world was turned upside down all over again.
My mother sat me down and explained to me the truth. He had suffered a mental break down, he was hearing voices and one night it all got too much.
My dad committed suicide on the 13th of September 2000.
I hate the term ‘committed suicide’, but it’s the most plain and simple way of describing the fact that my father was so down, so depressed and so disconnected with any form of positive, happy out look, that he saw taking his own life as the only option. In fact, the word suicide knocks me sick all together.
It completely and utterly broke me.
I felt anger, before I realised how wrong it was, it wasn’t his fault he was suffering. I wouldn’t be angry with him if he had died of another illness. Then, I just felt an overwhelming sense of pain. It physically hurt. After that I felt completely empty. For days, weeks even, I was numb. Tears just streamed that I had no control over; I don’t even think I was aware that I was crying.
I felt as though I’d lost him all over again, only this time I could remember every single feeling. I was truly broken. To know my dad had suffered and was in that much mental pain he felt that was his only way out, it absolutely ripped me apart, it always will.
My mind has been on overdrive for years trying to come to terms with it, I’m still trying. There’s so many questions, and even more what ifs. Was I a naughty child that day? Did I play up at bedtime? Is it my fault?
I can’t even remember if I had told him I loved him that night, for one final time.
To this day and for the rest of my life this is something that I’ll always struggle to come to terms with, but I’m getting there.
It has changed the way I handle things on a daily basis.
I never go to bed on a row, with anyone. I never end a conversation with a loved one without letting them know I love them. I struggle with the smallest of things and always think the very worst of every situation.
Little things that people take for granted mean the most to me now. Maybe that’s normal, maybe that’s because of the things that have happened.
It has, I believe had an effect on my own mental health, but maybe that was a given. It’s hard to explain that one, so maybe that’s a separate post in itself.
It’s often hard to block out negative thoughts, but every so often they creep in. Could I at three years of age done more to make him feel loved and needed? I often feel as though I’m not worthy because despite the circumstances my dad still left me. I know with every fibre of my being that to feel that way is wrong, and that him taking his own life was down to him having a mental illness. I wouldn’t be feeling this way if he had lost his life to cancer so why on earth should I because he ended his own life. I guess as selfish as it seems, maybe it’s just a little harder to know that it may have been prevented by the smallest of things, a simple conversation, or a hug at the right moment.
I know that no matter what negative thoughts creep in, that my father gave my Mum, brother and I all the love anyone could ever imagine, he made sure we were safe until the end.
This year, I turned 21 and in just under a month I will be graduating with a First Class Honours Degree.
These are 2 major milestones in one year that I won’t get a hug off my dad for. I can’t even find the words to begin to explain what I would give to have him back, or to even tell him how much I love him just one last time.
I wish the taboo of men speaking out were less then as it is now. I wish the stigma surrounding suicide had begun detaching back then, and hope with every fibre of my being that it will continue to do something. I wish there was more I could do for it now and I hope to be able to in the future.
But most of all, I wish I could go back, and spend a few more hours with him, tell him I love him and that things would get better. But there would never be enough time.
Mental health and suicide truly is a silent killer, it’s so important for society’s to work together to change this. You honestly never know what someone is going through. From the outside looking in, I guess nobody could’ve ever began to imagine what was going on inside this cheese balls head.
Now all I want to do is help others, people who are suffering in silence, encourage people to talk and speak out about their problems because I can assure you, the alternative isn’t the only way out.
There is still such a long way to go, even now, 18 years later, Suicide is the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK alone.
Please, if you are going through any struggles, through any form of depression or suicidal thoughts, talk. I cannot stress enough how important it is.
If you know anyone who is struggling, always be there to lend an ear or a shoulder to lean on.
My inbox is always open to anyone who feels they need to talk, I never want anyone to have to go through what my Dad and so so many others did, or what, myself and my family have through losing him, and so many other families have to go through. It’s a pain that can only be described as unbearable.
If you are struggling, I beg you to seek help and speak out; please don’t make a permanent decision for temporary feelings, even if they seem permanent.
There is not a single person in this world that would be better off without you, or anyone at all.
Please speak out and break the stigma.