WARNING: this post contains material that some may find upsetting Nd confronting, if you feel depressed and unsafe, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14
The last 24 hours have been extremely hard for me and it was not something I expected by seeing, hearing and reading about someone else’s tragic death. Australia woke to the news yesterday that top model, celebrity and author Charlotte Dawson had died in her Sydney home. It was well known after a documentary that Charlotte suffered from severe depression and had made suicide attempts in the past. The victim of cyber bullying, financial pressures and a marriage breakdown coupled with living with depression Charlotte tragically took her own life.
It wasn’t until yesterday that I didn’t realise how much the public conversations about mental illness and suicide affected me. When you have lived and struggled with these for many years you don’t think that the stories and news of other peoples battles would have an impact upon you. Yesterday I felt that impact, it was unexpected and full on.
When Charlottes death hit the news, social media and radio yesterday her death and the circumstances flooded everything you read and heard. Australians in all walks of life were mourning someone they knew, someone who was on their televisions, or behind the words they read. Whether you knew Charlotte or not she came into everyone’s lives and left a tear in our hearts and left are dark storm cloud over our day. In hours after her death social media was flooded with many articles and fan pages that paid tribute to a life so tragically taken by a silent illness.
Like everyone else I felt sadness, like everyone I read the news, the tributes and the mental health organisations who wrote about Charlottes death and her battle with depression. Like the ocean tide it crept up on me. I didn’t know it was happening, I couldn’t feel it infiltrating me and all of a sudden it was just there in my head, engulfing my body and soul. Charlotte’s death, silent deaths by suicide, depression, and everything that I had been through. Everything began to culminate into a force that I didn’t think was possible.
Reading and hearing about the plight of people in the media and those around me has always impacted upon me when it has come to mental illness, after all it has inspired my writing, has driven me to create change for others and it has changed the outlook on my life bigger than anything else. When this all started yesterday I felt as I always did after this news a sense of loss, darkness that this was happening to someone else’s family again, another death that while popular will always go down as another silent statistic.
It wasn’t until sleep wouldn’t come that Charlotte’s death and my past came flooding into my head, took over my body, and took my sleep for hours and hours. It started by the usual toss and turning that comes with sleeplessness but slowly I was overtaken by severe anxiety that made me feel like I was completely spinning out of control, my mind fel all foggy, and my body felt like it was racing with no brakes. With these feelings that left me stricken came a slide show inside my head, images of of Charlotte and what ‘may’ have happened, images of my own attempts, of my cutting, of my time as a psychiatric patient, the weeks locked up in my house alone and so depressed that there was no hope, images of the tears in my little boys and soul mates eyes, the times before I went to sleep for my ECT sessions, the effects of medications…..everything that I had been through, going through infiltrated my head all at once, flicking from one image to another. It was a nightmare but I was awake.
Eventually, some how I went into a fitfull sleep and woke in the morning feeling like I had not slept at all, consumed by the thoughts that still tonight have not left me. The slide show has triggered inside me something that I thought that I had left behind, maybe not for good, but it was behind me not infiltrating every moment of my life. Today it was Iike I had returned to my very dark days, the Black Dog bounded back in with a vengeance ya anxiety was gone as day began in its place a heaviness, a heavy shroud upon me that dragged me down into a dark place filled with exhaustion, fog, and deep depression.
We always think that we battle our mental illness alone, that we are the only ones who can affect our mood but that is not the case. The world around us is one of the greatest contributors to our mood, our depression and our illness. Unlike death by other means when it is mental illness and suicide it affects many, silently, and brings to the forefront our own experiences, thoughts and emotions that have affected us for many years. The affect is unprecedented and rock us to our core because we have been so close to death ourselves and we are the only ones who have the experience to relate to what they have been through.
I hope that like the tide my slide show, thoughts and emotions will subside, wash away and clear my head.
Rest In Peace Charlotte Dawson….