It’s an awful word. Your mind perhaps flips to a young child, in dirty rags, orphaned on the streets in some hell hole somewhere. But this is the word that sums up how I felt. The reason why on two periods in my life I just didn’t want to be here. To someone on the outside they’d never think I was suicidal, why would they?. Life looked rosy. A loving relationship with my partner, a lovely home, nice holidays, nice car, my own business. The girl who always smiled with the crazy laugh you’d recognise instantly in a crowded room. Why would she feel suicidal with everything to live for… the truth is no one knew what was going on in my head. Events of the past just ate away at the girl I so desperately wanted to be, the one that others thought they knew. I was angry, I felt broken, I’d been cast aside without a second thought on what that would do to me.
Suicide had felt a good option on many an occasion because despite all the good in my life, inside my head wasn’t a pretty place.
My mum had a brain haemorrhage when I was sitting my GCSEs, the prognosis wasn’t good. Seeing her in a bed, swearing profusely (my mum never swore), with a shaved head, an ugly scar and tubes all over is a sight I will never forget. I’d landed myself a job as a Trainee Legal Executive for when I left school. What was supposed to be a great start to my adult life was difficult. It was a tough summer, a job, a career to learn, visits to the hospital, home life. My bond with Dad had always been strong but that summer we became even closer because we just had each other. My older siblings had lives of their own and lived with their husbands. We didn’t know how to cook, how to work the washing machine, nothing as mum had always been “mum”. We worked it out between us. No help from anyone. Coming home one evening to my dad with an empty bottle of scotch next to him was tough, he wasn’t a drinker but mum had said some things to him when he visited her that night. Cruel things, things that she of course didn’t mean but he was a broken man.
Mum was a fighter, she walked out of hospital in the September. Thing was, the lady who came home wasn’t my mum. My mum had left us the moment the haemorrhage hit. The lady who came home was difficult, she had mood swings like you’ve never seen, she would make up stories, she could give a look that could kill but wouldn’t even know she was doing it.
The life Dad and I had built over the summer was suddenly interrupted. It sounds awful but my mum was gone, of course i wanted my mum back but I never got her, I got a replacement and that was hard to deal with. My siblings just weren’t around, maybe a weekly visit for an hour or two. They didn’t see who I was living with. They had no understanding how hard it was and when I tried to explain I was shot down and made out to be a liar because they didn’t experience what I did. All I wanted was for my sisters to understand, to be there, to be supportive…
20/21 some of the worst years of my life, I planned to take my own life on a journey home from Leicester… instead I went a little off the rails. In doing so my boss at the time gave me a bit of a talking to, he still doesn’t know to this day that that discussion probably saved my life.
I bought my own place at 22 and whilst it was a struggle financially I had some space for myself.
I married at 30, my mum passed away a few months later due to cancer. Watching her wither away was horrific but I felt I was losing someone else. I’d lost my mum 14 years earlier. That left me feeling guilty because I felt I wasn’t grieving as you’d expect.
My marriage didn’t last, it just wasn’t right, we separated at 34. I didn’t just separate from my husband though. What I found was that all bar about two of our friends never spoke to me again. I would have understood that had it been a nasty break up but it wasn’t it just wasn’t right. I found myself alone and trying to rebuild my life.
I moved back to my home town.
My relationship with my older siblings had never been great. There’s three of us and it’s always been that one would always be left out and two would “get along” for a period until a fallout then it would be someone else’s turn to “get along”. I decided a long time ago this wasn’t a good relationship. It was actually pretty toxic and one that I didn’t want despite they being my siblings. A petty argument with one of them 7/8 years ago turned into something really nasty and spiteful and I haven’t had a relationship with either of them since.
Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 oesophagus cancer on Boxing Day 2016. I was heartbroken. When I’d moved back home I also changed my career following redundancy in 2013 and I had a lot more time available and spent a lot with my dad. Cancer is cruel, nothing could be done and dad passed away at the end of January. You’d think this would end the rift with my siblings but it actually made things worse. On the evening my dad passed away I went to say my goodbyes and couldn’t believe that one sibling didn’t even acknowledge I was there. Her back was turned on me. I don’t care who you are or what might have happened but in my eyes you don’t turn your back on anyone who has just lost their loved one. That for me and actions that followed cemented in my mind that I had done the right thing years before by leaving such a toxic relationship in the past.
Thing was it wasn’t in the past. My mind was troubled by the whole thing. How could she have been so cruel. I felt abandoned, again.
The last 16 months have been difficult for so many people. For me, lockdown was actually a blessing. A blessing that came after a breakdown the previous September, a blessing that enabled me to step back, have some real time for myself and deal with events of my past. It took me a long time to get to the stage where I could describe how I felt. It’s a surprise to me that just one word sums it up.
September 2019, an afternoon catch up with a friend was my turning point. She saw in me what she herself had seen in the mirror and knew I was in a bad place. I promised her that afternoon I would ring my GP and make an appointment. As soon as she left I found myself making that call… I think that surprised me but I guess I knew if I didn’t do it then I wouldn’t do it at all. Muttering the words to the receptionist that I was ringing to make an appointment to discuss my mental health wasn’t easy but I was given an emergency appointment for the following morning. I was nervous, in my previous corporate life admitting to struggling with any form of mental health problems would have, back then, meant end of career. There was a huge stigma stuck to it.
The GP I saw was amazing. She was warm, friendly and clearly had a passion for helping anyone struggling with their mental health. For a period of around 6 months I saw her regularly, she made the next appointment for me every time I visited, no need for me to do that with the receptionist. I didn’t need to ask for anything, she was just there for me.
Grief is devastating. People automatically assume that when you suffer from grief it’s due to the passing of a loved one… I can tell you from my own experience grief can take hold of you for many reasons. I’ve grieved the loss of both my parents, the loss of a sibling relationship and the lost of friends following a relationship breakup.
Today I count my blessings that I didn’t take my own life, that I sought help from my Gp. I have some wonderful people in my life, my partner ❤️ and some amazing friends, the majority of which I’ve met through my own business as a Lifestyle Consultant with Temple Spa. I joined Temple Spa really as a bit of a hobby but it became my career and I absolute love what I do. I’m constantly meeting new people and growing new friendships in my life, it’s enabled me to travel , it’s given me the most wonderful work/life balance where I can spend time on other things that I love and that help my mental health stay well. Garden is my sanctuary, a hobby I definitely inherited from my parents.
I’ve been in some dark places but with the love from my partner and from friends my world has never been brighter.