n 2009 I lost someone so special to me that, life has never really been the same. I haven't written about it before because I understand that for some people who know me and read my blog, it's still raw for them. And for me. Even after all these years, it's sometimes still too difficult to even acknowledge it happened.
My Dad died by suicide in 2009. Even now it catches in my throat when I think of the proud, intelligent, funny, talented man he was, how did this happen? Why? Where's the sense? Why? Why? Why? Why?
It's a question that I know anyone who has lost someone to suicide spends a lot of their time asking, a lot of time searching and a lot of time torturing themselves over. It's been almost 8 years and I know I'll continue to ask that question for the rest of my life. I'll forever miss him, and I can only live in the hope that there's an afterlife, and I'll see him again.
A lot of bizarre thoughts went through my mind in the days and weeks after he was gone. I grieved and cried solidly for the first week, then through the funeral, I tried to be the strong one, I tried to make people laugh (weird) and I wore glitter on my eyelids on the day (even weirder). I hate how I was around that time, I look back on it now and from the outside, I must have looked mental. The truth was, I was. I couldn't focus on anything long enough to follow through and finish it, like books or films, or even food for that matter. I couldn't watch the news or anything remotely violent (I used to be a fan of horror films until then), I hated the word suicide and I was angry, I was so fucking angry all the time. I was angry at friends, angry at co-workers, at my partner and even at the little old lady who parked at the top of my driveway, I hated her. I also was having strange thoughts at the time like:
'I'm so like him, I'm destined to die the same way.'
'If it was good enough for him, it's good enough for me.'
'I should have a baby, that will fill the gap.'
'I should join the police force, then I can help.'
'I'm sure this isn't real, he's faked his own death.'
'Only a few more decades and I'll be dead too.'
I was never at the mercy of real suicidal thoughts (those came later - briefly, thank god) but death sure looked good for a while there. I had to do something, I had to find a way to get through when every, single, morning I would wake up and think it had all been a nightmare. I would imagine him on a beach with his dog, standing away from me on a sand bank in his leather jacket, waving, letting me know he was ok, I did this so often that by default I learned how to meditate. I still sometimes take myself back there, to wave and blow him a kiss. If only I could hug him, but the pain of even just imagining it is too much to bear, so I leave him where he is, happily throwing a stick for his doggo.
That day I was left with a gaping hole, in both my soul and in my heart. It has significantly softened over the last 2 years but not before I went in there and burned it deeper, ripped it further and made the gaping wound something much bigger to contend with. I searched for answers, all the while unwittingly cutting at my wounds rather than stitching them up. I screamed at a coworker who said to me 'it must be a relief now' after I came back from the funeral. I never spoke to them again - I also quit that job in a fit of fury and refused to tell them where I was going or what I was doing. I was so hurt by that comment, I couldn't stay in the same building one minute longer and I didn't feel like I owed them an explanation either. I was all 'fuck it', fuck you' for a long, long time. I was scared, I had no father figure anymore and I never knew whether I was doing the right thing or not. To be honest - it didn't matter, I didn't care. I moved onto a new job, a better higher paid job thinking I would prove everyone wrong. And, it was the worse thing I could've done, the stress I was under at the particular job caused me to quit 9 months in. I had failed, not only did I not have a Dad anymore but, I was a flake, jumping from job to job because I was unable to let things go at the end of the day and I wasn't sleeping. I fucked off to Vietnam on holiday, thinking a classic 'geography move' will heal everything. While it worked for a while, I came back to the same person I was before. Unstable, unreliable, lost, scared, anxious, angry, exhausted and disillusioned with life in general. What the fuck was the point?
I eventually settled back into a full-time job again and while it was stressful, I was ok for a bit. Wine helped. It was a heavy drinking culture, with laughs on a Friday as we'd all had 'wine nights' on Thursdays. Those 'wine nights' turned into just about every night. For a good couple of years, I self-medicated. I wasn't really having fun and in the end, I was just drinking so I would sleep. The alternative was to lie awake at night thinking why, why, why?
Imagine years, of thinking the same thing over and over and over. Would it drive you mad? Probably, yes. Trust me when I say that obsessing over something that has happened in the past, does not turn back the time, fix or make it different. It only makes you a hollow shell of a person fueled by coffee during the day and attempting to stave off anxiety with Chardonnay at night.
I carried on like this for another 3 years, until I couldn't do it anymore. The panic attacks were getting more and more frequent, more terrifying and worst of all - more noticeable. One day at work I had convinced myself I was jaundiced. I pulled my pocket mirror out so frequently that my friend (I love her so much) took the mirror off me and locked it away in a drawer. It was torture but we both knew it was for my own good, and to make sure no one else in the office started to question what was wrong with me. It was happening so much I looked properly insane, holding my head and mirror up to the lights (every 5 or so minutes) and pulling my eyelids out as far as I could see to make sure my eyeballs weren't turning yellow. Bonkers, absolutely bonkers. I was referred to therapy shortly after this and I began doing work, real work on myself and what happened. I still struggle with it. Grief is a terrible thing, no matter how it was inflicted on you. But, to have the extra confusion surrounding it, the occasional pangs of betrayal - how could he leave me like that? (I know this to be a very natural but irrational question now - but only because I fully understand depression now) it's a huge thing to unpack. And, I didn't bother to properly unpack it until it led me to the moment I knew I was doing real damage to myself about a year ago. The wine had to go, and my life had to change if I was to survive - and thrive.
This is why mental health is such a big issue. It's not just the souls that we don't manage to save, it's the ripple effect of the ones left behind. Everyone grieves when they lose someone, no matter how it happens but, losing someone due to their mental health can, in turn make someone else's mental health suffer - perhaps forever. This isn't that person's fault. It's society as a whole. It's the lack of funding, the lack of understanding, the lack of compassion and sometimes it's because people don't think it exists at all.
I managed to find a formula that works. Sometimes I think my Dad could have too. But, that I'll never know.
On my recent retreat to Bali I met lots of different people. But the very first girl I met was to be the one that interested me the most. 10 years younger than me, relentlessly positive, always smiling, completely in awe with the smallest thing that crossed her path and full of life. Yes, she was irritating. Yet, she reminded me of me. She talked about her Dad a lot and I could tell they were close, with a huge admiration for each other, lots of love and pride. I felt a pang of pain, real sharp pain every time she spoke of him. I felt jealous whenever her eyes lit up and she took her 100th picture of a butterfly, how can one still be so enamoured and happy all. the. time? She was so unruffled by life, I'd forgotten what it looked like to have never felt pain. At 23, it was her first trip abroad and her naivete spilled forth, both making her endearing and too much all at once. I bet she would wear glitter on her eyelids to a funeral.
It wasn't until the last night that I knew that despite everything I've gone through, I know it was just the way it was supposed to be. She went out to the local bar, got utterly trashed, missed yoga in the morning and arrived to breakfast with plastered knees, puffy face and her tail between her legs. I hugged her but as I watched her almost hurl onto the table I realised that without my pain, I might still be destroying myself. With toxic thoughts, with toxic drinks, with toxic people.
I'm not. I've felt both the yin and yang. I can face the darkness in a different way now and life is so much better than it used to be.
Still. I wish he was here.
At ease x