STRENGTH…

We all have different views on what strength is. Everyone has a back story, but not everyone knows another persons trials and tribulations.

Many of my newer friends know I lost my youngest son Jaie, to Suicide. But the back story before all this happened, is in many ways, out of a horror book for my children and myself.

‘Strength through Adversity’ I keep telling myself.

Do you want to know what strength is?

  • Strength is having someone you love, threaten to kill you and their unborn baby, yet you stand tall in the face of this.
  • Strength is having this person stalk you for years afterwards and 20 years later, you can stand up to them without blinking.
  • Strength is admitting when you are struggling and need help. Any help. From family, friends, workmates… literally anyone.
  • Strength is, after finding out a person you literally trusted with your life (children), has betrayed you all in the worst possible way, you do what is right. Even though, in that moment, it is the most difficult path.
  • Strength is having to teach your children that life is unfair and cruel and sometimes, bad people either fail to get any punishment or they receive minimum punishment. (Though I’m a firm believer that karma will catch them).
  • Strength is having your daughter disclose sexual abuse at 15 years of age and keeping your shit together, long enough to get her and her brothers to safety, while still being in the presence of evil.
  • Strength is doing things in a way that keeps everyone close to you safe from harm, until it can all be spoken about with them.
  • Strength is being judged for doing things in a way no one else can comprehend, but you still do it because you know it protects those you love.
  • Strength is talking your little brother out of suicide.
  • Strength is the very next night, realising immediately that your little brother is literally fighting for his life and calling the emergency services to try and help him.
  • Strength is calling your mother at 4.20am in the morning to let her know the police had found your little brothers body and that we had lost him.
  • Strength is living alone with the demons in your head, for over 10 years and telling no one just how horrifying they truly are.
  • Strength is convincing yourself that your family and friends are better off without you (this is not true. We love you and will always want you with us.) Suicide is not selfish or cowardly.
  • Strength is having to lie to your daughters about the death being confirmed, until you can be with them to break the news face to face.
  • Strength is wanting to help your mother cover the costs of your little brothers funeral.
  • Strength is mothering the child of your deceased fiancé, while feeling like you want to die too.
  • Strength is being able to wake up every single day and to choose life.
  • Strength is being able to comprehend that your life is never going to be what you thought it would be, but still making the most of it anyway.
  • Strength is knowing that by helping others, it is helping yourself.
  • Strength is finding a reason to smile everyday.
  • Strength is sometimes simply getting out of bed and taking a shower.
  • Strength is recognising what worked for you in the ‘Before’, no longer works for you in the ‘After’.
  • Strength is practicing self care and leading your children by example.
  • Strength is withdrawing when everything is too much.
  • Strength is telling people you have major depressive disorder (or bipolar or schizophrenia or any form of mental illness).
  • Strength is sometimes simply waking up, taking a deep breath, then rolling back over to return to sleep.
  • Surviving IS strength.

If you’re not walking in another persons shoes, how would you know what burdens they are carrying?

‘Love Sometimes Comes Like a Dream & Leaves Like a Nightmare’

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Kate Spades Sister – Making Sense of ‘That’ Email

As a Suicide attempt and loss survivor, I understand the sisters words.  And in many ways her action of emailing the media.

Since losing my youngest son and child to Suicide in 2014, I have done nothing but research mental illness, health and Suicide as my second job.

I do recall telling my eldest son when the police were searching for Jaie, that if his little brother was serious about taking his own life, then until or unless Jaie accepted professional help, it was not an ‘if’ that he would kill him self. It was a when.

This is after working with various clients suffering from mental illness and having the opportunity to observe the difference between a client accepting help and one who refuses to and just thinks they can cope alone.

I also realised immediately, by what my eldest son was telling me, meant he was already starting to blame himself for what his little brother was about to do.

These comments are not made to remove hope. They are to create an environment of where people understand that research and education are invaluable to people helping loved ones through their struggles.

It tells survivors that their efforts to help are being recognised, but that there comes a time when the person who is unwell needs to step up and accept that they need to get professional assistance of some form.

I don’t understand why a family member speaking from a place of shock, loss and trauma would not be understood and recognised for their efforts to help their loved one.

The media are portraying this Suicide of Kate as a ‘shock’ and unexpected by everyone.

Well apologies dear media, but just because a person is famous, does not automatically give you rights to all of their personal issues and private struggles.

Kate’s sister is in shock.

She’s struggling to comprehend that her sister is deceased. She is struggling to understand why the media have to list who found Kate, where Kate was found and what method Kate used. She is trying to make some sense of an event which she had worked hard for years, to prevent.

So now, not only will Kate’s sister be overwhelmed with emotions of self-blame and guilt, the poor woman is now facing intense scrutiny from millions of strangers who will be making uneducated and judgmental statements about her immediate reaction in the face of immense shock, trauma and grief.

This poor sister is struggling to fathom that not only is her sister dead at her own hand, but the media is sharing every single detail of Kate’s death. The how, where and who found her.

The media should once again be the group being judged here, not a grieving family.

I now say to my eldest son, you did whatever was humanly possible with limited resources and experience with mental health skills.

Ask yourself, “Was there any malice in what you did? No there wasn’t because you know and I know that you would have taken a bullet to save your baby brother. There was no malice on your part.”

It appears now, that Kate’s sister is taking a rhetorical bullet for her sister, by sending out this email.

Kate Schuster from The Mighty also wrote and article on this email. The link is below.

https://themighty.com/2018/06/kate-spade-suicide-interview-sister/?utm_source=newsletter_digest&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_digest_2018-06-08

‘Sometimes Love Comes Like a Dream & Leaves Like a Nightmare’

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Rising From these Ashes

“I lost myself, when my sister died.”

Words from a newly discovered friend tonight.

“I’m sure you understand what I’m trying to say. You lost your son.”

I had begun to cry at her words.

This lady actually saw it and got it. Her loss and grief has taken her to a place where now, she too is fighting to return to the land of the living.

I explained to this friend that I’ve been trying to explain for 4 years how grief has changed me. I tell people that if they’re struggling to cope with the stranger I’ve become, imagine how difficult it is for me!

I look in the mirror every. single. day. And have little to no recognition of the ‘person’ staring back at me.

And it is a terrifying thing. For ones life to go from ‘normal’ issues and woes, to a parents and family’s worst nightmare.

Then there are the people who use your loss against you for their own spiteful, immature and selfish reasons. So you wonder why you still bother trying to be that change in this messed up world.

To all those soul survivors out there, please believe that your departed loved one is still around you. They are still showering you with love.

May you find the grace in yourself to practice kindness to your own soul.

‘Love Sometimes Comes Like a Dream & Leaves Like a Nightmare’

Dedicated to A.L.

So Called ‘Recovery’.

Since this horrific journey began, so many unknown elements are being exposed to me.

Elements that seemed so acceptable and ‘normal’ (most disliked word now).

I read so many lived experience blogs and medical articles, some times, it feels as if the top of my head will lift off.

Professionals and non-professionals speak of ‘recovery’ for those of us who suffer mental illness.

I beg to differ strongly in the description of our individual experiences.

For many suffering mental illness, there will never be ‘recovery’.

It’s time society stops making these naive and, at times, patronising assumptions and statements.

We need to start treating mental illnesses as a cancer of the soul and mind. Not as if it is some mystical, untouchable, imaginary condition.

Robin Williams (may he rest in peace), is a prime example of a person with ‘soul and mind cancer’ (aka: mental illness), utilising many different methods of therapy and treatments, throughout his life. All of which most definitely contributed towards his life being extended to 63 years of age. If he tried coping without professional intervention, the educated assumption would be that his life would have ended many, many years (possibly decades) earlier.

 

I know of many friends who have been on medication for a long time and will probably be on them for the rest of their lives. I’m coming up to 3 years on my medications. They are keeping me alive, no doubt about it. If I stop taking them, my chances of dying increase greatly.

Now if we had Cancer and were taking medication or attending treatments to help us fight to remain alive, we’d be looked at as battlers and heroes.

But those of us with mental illness are looked upon as ‘weak and naive’ because we take medications which help us with our respective illnesses.

Also, just as Cancer can go into remission, so to it appears can depression and other mental illnesses. The treatments worked to give the sufferer a time of respite.

Then later something may trigger the mental illness and the fight is back on for survival.

Society needs to stop placing unrealistic expectations on people with mental illness (severe or otherwise). We already struggle with our inner demons enough, without having society expecting us to one day, ‘simply get better’.

I’m in the process now, of accepting the fact that my mental illnesses will be my lifelong companions. And as such there will be days we get along well and other days we hate each other desperately.

But recovery is a false dream for many of us, so stop shoving it down our throats.

 

‘Love Sometimes Comes Like a Dream & Leaves Like a Nightmare’

Purgatory is Real …

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I struggle at times to explain how the loss of my child has impacted me, until this week.

I was looking recently into signing a contract for something which spread over several years and in the back of my mind, all I could think was this;

“Oh no! I cannot live that much longer without one of my children!”

This threw me for several days, however I do know that other mothers, sisters, brothers, fathers and partners totally comprehend what I am saying/thinking.

Purgatory is what every parent lives through once they have lost a child. Every single day requires a conscious choice to not only survive, but to thrive. No easy task when a portion of your soul is no longer with you physically.

Purgatory is when you simply wish to sleep (so long as there are no nightmares) to escape the nightmare that your life has become.

Almost 3 years since Jaie died and I still say to people, “I just do not understand how we got here? How it all came to this?”

I force myself to not cry because it is almost impossible to stop once I start. I just wish to find a dark hole to crawl into, curl up and never come out.

Medication can only do so much and the rest is on ourselves. Therapy helps as well, but I am certain that if I ever let anyone into my mind, they would run screaming from me and never see me again.

I would no longer be allowed to walk within the community. But then again I see what our so called justice system allows to remain around our communities so maybe I would still be  able to remain mainstream?

‘Love Sometimes Comes Like a Dream & Leaves Like a Nightmare’

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“Are You Better Now?”

I had to return to my GP for a new referral to my psychiatrist. I had the Locum doctor who was obviously unfamiliar with my background.

While answering the standard questions about medications etc, another question was asked.

“Are You Better Now?”

And within seconds my eyes began to fill with tears and I took a deep breath before responding, “Well I do not cry every single moment of the day now.” And then the next 10 minutes of the appointment was spent trying to not cry because all I kept thinking was,

“How does anyone feel ‘better’ after child loss or losing a loved one?”

Because, no I am most certainly NOT feeling better. I am simply learning how to wear a mask and hide my emotions most of the time. I no longer struggle to hide my emotions from the general public, because most of the general public do not wish to see a woman sitting, drinking coffee, with tears streaming down her face. It makes them uncomfortable and wonder if I am about to leap up wielding a weapon and harming others. I can tell because of the looks of horror and uncertainty on their faces. As well as the fact I have had people move seats away from me lol.

Amazing that as a society we view genuine emotions with horror and discomfort, yet we encourage people to show a ‘strong face’ etc, in times of despair. Oh sorry, but my son died 2 1/2 years ago and you believe this to mean my feelings of despair should be over by now? Well let me tell you that I shall NEVER be over my feelings of despair and loss, regarding my child. And until or unless you experience this type of loss, you have NO RIGHT to expect me to meet your beliefs about this type of grief.

I am angry, so very angry. My son did not deserve to die how he did. My children did not deserve to lose their little brother. Jaie’s Fiancee and daughter did not deserve to lose him in any way.

So I am angry to be asked “Are you better now?” I am angry my baby is dead. I am angry his little girl will have no living memories of her daddy. I am angry that my eldest son spoke of everything being ‘tainted’ by Jaie’s death. I am angry that my daughter does not have an argument with her little brother, but in the next moment is defending him against  anyone else. I am angry that his Fiancee has been placed with so much sorrow and stress on her young shoulders. I am angry I couldn’t help my son.

But I am not angry with Jaie. I am simply devastated that my youngest child felt so bereft of hope he took his own life. I am saddened he did not realise that he had an illness which destroyed his mind and life. An illness which was manageable.

‘Love Sometimes Comes Like a Dream & Leaves Like a Nightmare’

Suicide is NOT a Joke!

Thank you to Jenn for her passion and dedication to this crusade. I struggle with jokes about suicide. I accidentally made a random comment a few weeks ago, that the moment it left my mouth I could have hit myself for it and I am a survivor of suicide.
Seemingly harmless statements and jokes, are not so harmless, when you consider for the approximately 1 million people who die by suicide each year, worldwide… There are millions of people left behind after their traumatic death, who love and adore them and we struggle to find our feet in a completely changed world.
This is shared from my Facebook wall July 23rd 2014 …

People tell me I get lost in my grief when I start to speak of Jaie and his death. They do not understand I am not ‘lost’ or ‘stuck’ in it. The grief is stuck in me. I have lost a part of my soul. And speaking of Jaie and how his loss is impacting me over time, helps me to accept this deep burden of loss. There is, quite literally, no way I can change,
A. How I feel
B. How it affects me
C. How much I miss my son (as do my other 3 children and granddaughter)
D. How long this takes. Because I will NEVER get over losing Jaie. Not in a million years.
E. That the loss of Jaie is SO painful and I am wounded so badly by his death, that walking away from anyone or anything who causes me stress or compounds my grief, is relatively easy.
F. Do not be afraid of not understanding this pain. Be grateful and respect that I AM.
G. You do NOT want to EVER feel this type of loss. But child loss especially.
So forethought and compassion when speaking needs to become second nature to ourselves. How about other people show the same respect and compassion as well…

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‘Sometimes Love Comes Like a Dream & Leaves Like a Nightmare’

The Life of a Suicide Loss Survivor

 ***WARNING*** This might be a “trigger” to suicide loss survivors.  I feel it is time I use MY voice on this topic. It is time that those that have not had to walk in our shoes, and I pray they never have to, maybe understand just for a moment how painful jokes about suicide truly are to a suicide loss survivor. I hope that maybe, just maybe, this will help to educate and make a difference. I hope this is shared  and that when it is read people will finally understand how something as simple as changing a few words in their vocabulary can literally change the entire day, or even days, of a suicide loss survivor. Ever heard of a thing called PTSD? Please educate yourself on it, it is not uncommon for suicide loss survivors to suffer with it. Something as simple as a “joke” could literally set…

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