WARNING: Some people may find he contents of this article upsetting. If you find yourself upset and depressed and you believe that you need support you should contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636 (Australia)
Everyone expects that if something ever was to happen to you and you ended up in hospital that your parents would do anything to ensure that they were there at your bed. When I had my son my parents were there the next day, I suppose because it was such a happy occasion it was what you do, but when I ended up in intensive care after my first attempt at suicide I found out later that despite calls from the hospital, my then boyfriend (The Fireman), and from my Aunty, they still refused to come down. Even when they were told I may not survive they still did not make the effort to travel to the hospital and to be there for me. Technically speaking they would have been my next of kin at that stage in my life, I was also there daughter!
Whatever way you look at this, in my mind may not be in others, I don’t see there being any valid reason or excuse for this behaviour on their part, and I am left wondering ‘what they were thinking’.
I know that there is considerable stigma around mental illness and suicide, that neither is something that people will openly talk about, and when someone sadly dies from suicide it is the ‘silent cause’, and overall suicide is something that nobody speaks of. This is one of the reasons why so many people tragically lose their life to suicide, why until recently there has not been more to prevent these deaths, and why more should be done but by the very nature of the cause it isn’t done.
I grew up in a family where you didn’t talk about your problems, there was no such thing as depression (When depression doesn’t exist....), and you weren’t shown any affection. Certainly these were some of the reasons that contributed to my parents attitudes about not visiting me, but they are not excuses in my eyes.
Whatever the reason for me ending up in hospital and in ICU there is nothing that supports their behaviour, whether they didn’t talk about problems or recognise mental illness for what it is, even though there is an inherent culture that you don’t talk about suicide, it shouldn’t matter. They were my parents, I was in ICU, and they did not see the need to be there for me. I could have died, the Doctors told them that, yet this was still not enough for them to visit, what would they have felt then?
I am constantly moved to tears when I hear of other people’s experiences of depression, their attempts at suicide, or the grief that people are trying to deal with when a loved one dies to suicide. It is something that just should not happen! I have big regrets that my depression got so bad in the past that it led to psychosis and attempts to take my own life, and how my actions hurt people around me, has placed a stigma around me and my illness which has affected my personal, social and work environments, and that it has led me to end contact with my parents and sister because of what they did. Yes I could probably go back and forgive and forget as they say you should do, but at this time in my life I cant. I am not sure that I can ever forgive them, labelling me as the Black Sheep of the family. Then there is the thought that its my fault and that I am being unfair!
The point of this post is not to play the poor me card, what I want to do is raise the awareness of suicide, the need to keep in contact with those around you who are living with depression, asking the question to start a conversation if they are not OK, and show support if their depression leads to thoughts or actions to attempt suicide. It is not easy to do this, in fact it is extremely hard for people to even talk about this, to ask the question let alone have a conversation about depression and suicide but what is so important is that we ask R U OK?, that we show support, we assist, and we help.
There are many people today who are living with the grief that a loved one, a friend, a colleague has lost their life to suicide. It is very sad, very tragic, and it should not have happened, but what is even worse for these people that brings tears to my eyes when I read their stories is that they are left questioning everything that they did or didn’t do, blaming themselves that they didn’t do enough or weren’t there when there loved one needed them the most, and they are now trying to live with regrets, self-blame, deep sadness, depression, grief, and much more.
If by writing this and my blog I can raise awareness of depression and suicide, if I can help to break down the stigma attached to these, if I can encourage people to ask those around them if they R U OK?, if I can some how make authorities and agencies to do more to prevent these deaths, if I can help even one person to seek help, be helped and recover then I have achieved my aim. There is nothing easy about mental illness or suicide but we all have to band together to do our bit to make it easier so that people can talk about it, that people with a mental illness are supported, and so we can prevent deaths from suicide.