The Post I Didn't Want To Write...

May 13, 2017

WARNING: This post covers topics such as Depression, Suicide, Mental Health, Death and Grief. If you are uncomfortable reading about these topics, please feel free to browse the rest of this blog or leave this website entirely. I won't be offended :) While this blog normally focuses on lighter topics, on this occasion I felt that the following needed to be said, both for raising awareness and as a form of 'therapy' if you like for myself. Thank you.

I've found through my years that when something suddenly becomes meaningful to you, you notice it more. Unfortunately for me, this is true of suicide. My uncle took his life two years ago: while at first it felt like my family was one of few to deal with this, as I noticed more and more conversations about it, I realised how many families are forced to go through such a traumatic ordeal that will shape their lives. And this is why I feel like I need to write a post on this, despite the fact that I hate thinking about this topic and how the happiest-seeming person in my family died on the 15th April 2014. 

I was 15, my brother was 11. We got the call at around 6 o'clock in the evening from my aunt: my brother and I were upstairs and heard my dad shout and run to the car. We went to the stairs and asked mum what was going on. She was in shock so I guessed the words for her. We knew my uncle was suffering from depression for at least a year, after he quit a job he had hated for so long, then instantly regretted as he struggled to find a new job and almost a purpose. But the impression I had was that he was getting better...obviously not: I found out later on that he had lost a very new job that week, which cannot have helped. All we knew in that moment was that my uncle had attempted it take his life, and while my dad was driving my grandparents in the hour long trip to get to my uncles house, my mum, brother and I were left waiting in tension for news. We were sitting in my brothers room and I was praying the hardest I ever have in my life, that he had done something slow working and reversible (to this day I don't know the how, and don't wish to know). When we got the call that he had died, my brother threw himself onto the bed, a scene I will never forget, and that plays in my mind often. We felt helpless stuck at home, hearing nothing, and attempting and failing to relieve the tension in the air by watching The Great Allotment Challenge. Of course I cried a lot that evening, and failed to go up the stairs to bed as I saw a picture of him in a family photo on the staircase and ran back to my mother in floods of tears. It was hard getting to sleep that night. 

The next day, we attempted to go shopping, and act 'normal', once we lighted candles for him in our local church, but the Gregg's sausage roll felt wrong and all we wanted to do was stay at home. It is in these times that you become most observant, seeing the bigger picture and you appreciate how everyone has a past and a story. It's not just you. I remember watching people walk past and think about what their story is and what they are going through- because everyone is going through something. In cliché terms, never judge a book by its cover. You don't know what their life story is: their happiness may be a mask for the pain they are feeling. That was my family on that day. 

Few of my friends know what happened. I have only told two, presuming the others heard about it, cause I don't want to bring it up. Once I thought that I should break down the taboo and explained to a friend who wasn't very close that my uncle took his life, but it felt wrong and I have since only told one other friend, but that was because she was going through a similar situation. While you want to break down barriers and taboos, the reality of doing it is hard and makes you understand why they have stood for so long. 

The hardest part is when the news becomes old. When everyone has grieved, and is trying to live a normal life again, and to move on and forget about it (to an extent). When the last flowers have been laid, the gravestone has been painstakingly carved and the ashes are finally buried. When the year anniversary passes by with no mention but a knowing glance at your family. But it never leaves you... My aunt bursts into tears most time she sees us (my mum says it's because she hates driving home alone), my grandma got breast cancer again (we blame the stress of the ordeal for bringing it back a third time), and for me, it always sits there in the back of my mind, the event randomly replaying in the back of my head every so often. 

What I want to get across to anyone reading this that has experienced the worst sort of loss a family could go through, is that it does get better, it does get easier - time will help to heal your wounds - but most importantly, that you are not alone. This has happened for millennia- in fact, I even read ancient Roman works (see: The Letter To Calestrius Tiro by Pliny) in my first year of A Level Classics that brought up this very subject, and it was a comfort to know that this is not a new tragedy, but something thousands of families have had to deal with. Yes, you may look for the meaning and positives in the event - I have gone from thinking that it was my calling to become a counsellor at one stage, to that it was to lead me to writing this post to hopefully help many sufferers of a similar situation feel less alone - but for me, I know that the best thing I can hope to 'gain' from this awful situation is a greater appreciation and love for my remaining family. Furthermore, it has given me a better perspective on life and also helped me to become more understanding of mental health as I knew so little of it before hand- I knew it existed, but not how bad it was. I also strongly hope that in the coming generations it will be taught properly in schools, instead of vaguely touched on like it was when I was there...

They say that suicide is a selfish a relative of someone who died of depression, I would disagree.

June xx

For more information or help please see: 

For help/information regarding your own mental health: Mental Health Foundation • Mind • Samaritans • Heads Together 
For help/information regarding the loss of someone through suicide: Winston's Wish • S.O.B.S.

This post was originally written 11/08/2016. I never knew the right moment to publish it, or if it would ever feel right to publish it. I almost feel like I am using my Uncle's death for my own advantage in some way, or making it about me (which I would never want to do). Maybe because it is so personal (indeed, I will probably edit the finer points of this post before it goes live), that it feels weird, almost wrong, to share such a huge part of my family's story with the rest of the world. But this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. Now is as right as ever, 3 years after the event took place, to share my story. The theme is 'Surviving or Thriving?', and while I appreciate that this is aimed at people thriving whilst dealing with a mental health condition, I hope this post can show that it is possible to survive the loss of someone through suicide, and you can still thrive after. To show that it really can happen to anyone, and that mental health is a prevalent illness that needs dealing with. I was on the Mental Health Foundation's Instagram and saw a post that stated that someone dies from suicide every two hours in the UK alone. It will therefore probably hit most families at some point (in fact, in the past year alone I have encountered five other families affected by mental health in some way in real life, and countless more online). But more importantly, I want to raise awareness. Awareness for mental health (and the entire spectrum of awful illnesses the term covers) and the people it affects. Because no-one should go through what my Uncle went through, and no-one should go through what my family has been going through ever since...

You Might Also Like