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’

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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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I Don’t Choose Depression… Depression Chooses me …

Well meaning loved ones and people with the very best intentions ask me if I am alright often, which makes me feel worse than I already feel because I cannot find the words or reasons why I feel so down.
This puts me into a cycle of feeling guilty for not being more productive and being in a better headspace than what I am. So I begin to feel even worse and eventually I end up crying or withdrawing even further into myself so that I will stop impacting those I love with my negativity.
Depression is not something I can just switch on or off. It is not something I choose to feel or not feel. It simply is what it is and I struggle everyday to some degree with feeling like crap …
Suicidal thoughts still cross my mind and suicide is most certainly not something I would ever want to do to my children, family and friends or followers … But it is my reality and by being aware and mindful of these thoughts and depressive states, is what helps me get through them safely …
Learning to speak with someone who I can trust and tell them the truth about what my depression and anxiety tells me and why I might be so quiet and not talking all that much. But it is still difficult to do this. I still stumble over telling them what is making me awkward and difficult to interact with …
I wish this was not how it is. I wish that none of this was real and that my brain could go back to where it once was and working how it once was …
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‘Love Sometimes Comes Like a Dream & Leaves Like a Nightmare’

#WhyISpeakAboutSuicide

April Fool’s day. A day when many of us allow ourselves to be pranksters and playful with those around us…

1st of April 2014, we lost that ability to be playful on this day.

We lost our innocence.

By 4.30am, the morning following that night, our entire world imploded and we began to be immersed into an unknown world of eternal turmoil, guilt, disbelief and shock.

By 8.30am all of my remaining children knew that Jaie was gone and we had begun to notify immediate family of his death.

Death by suicide.

Jaie took his own life and no one could even begin to comprehend why. Jaie has a beautiful fiancée and 7 month old baby girl, both of which he adored. He has a big brother who was one of his closest friends and confidantes. His big sister is a ferocious protector of her little brother no matter what. Then there was me, his mum, who no matter how difficult things were, I would always be there for him, when push came to shove. Jaie has his maternal grandparents who love him dearly and his best friends of whom all think he is an absolute treasure (a ratbag but you know :D). And Jaie knew all of this. Yet still he killed himself.

We, his family and loved ones, are left behind with the eternal questions;

  • WHY? Why didn’t he? Why didn’t I? Why didn’t???
  • What could I have done to prevent this?
  • How can we survive this?
  • Will I lose another to suicide now?
  • How did it get to this?
  • Didn’t he know I loved him?
  • Didn’t he love me/us?

And these are only a few of the incessant and cruel questions. Then there is also that lovely little friend who works amazingly well when combined with guilt … Hindsight … Which turns completely innocent historical discussions or incidents into a full on blame game with ourselves.

Almost 30 months into our journey and I can say that our minds and souls learn to manage the pain differently. We learn how to wear a mask and function like ‘normal’ folks. Meanwhile, inside our chests our hearts are tearing apart and in our skulls, our minds are constantly processing information received for potential triggers and emotional potholes.

Example: on the weekend while riding I saw a number plate with the year ‘93’ on it. My instant thought was “The driver is a year younger than Jaie.” Immediate thought after was “He is already a year older than Jaie was when he died.” And I had to pull over to make myself breathe and to stop myself wailing.

Individually, we are slowly learning to live with the constantly shifting sands, under our feet. As a family unit we are still struggling in many ways. Simply because of how close we were and are. Family gatherings are flawed now with the absence of a vibrant and energetic young character that was irrepressible and made the room fill with energy.

And his little daughter is full of that identical energy and we all try to take turns of getting a dose of her, like we are machines in need of a new battery to refill us with some vitality and desire, to continue to live in this messed up world.

Baby steps I keep saying is what we must do to survive. So we tip toe and try to find a suitable path back into life.

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

The Gifts of Grief…

I know, I know… Many of you are probably reading the title of this post and thinking,

“Gifts?!?  From grief?!? Are you delusional?!?”

Let me babble for a moment please. When riding the new bike home yesterday, it struck me, I have received very specific gifts since losing Jaie to suicide. Very important, yet not recognised gifts, have been offered to me as a bereaved person. This is one important reason I love to ride. I think, reflect and have therapy, all at once.

Now prior to losing Jaie, I had been an optimist and would always look for the rainbow after the rain. After losing Jaie, I never thought it possible to even smile again, let alone feel like I could actually rise from these ashes and begin to take small, but very determined steps forward.

You see, even though I was a community orientated member of society and was more empathetic than the average person, it was still not enough to make a marked difference (at least this is what I believe). Since Jaie’s death by suicide, I have become even more. And less.

More tolerant of those who are in pain and suffering, less tolerant of spiteful behaviour and nastiness. More empathetic with those struggling and less wasteful of my time on those who try to create drama, simply for the sake of it. I no longer feel even slightly inclined to try and live any part of my life trying to ‘understand’ another view, where on some aspect of life I know for a fact they are not for me. So I refuse to waste any time or effort on them or those involved with them.

The ‘gifts’ I have received after Jaie’s death, are not gifts a person truly ‘chooses’ to accept. Because accepting them makes this grief very real, very confronting and at the first recognition of these gifts, it is emotionally and physically crippling. Recognition of these gifts mean that there is no longer any ability to deny the reality of my adored and much loved son, being dead.

Jaie’s death has provided me a strength I never thought possible for me to achieve. Well obviously, because there is no way anyone could have ever said to me, “One of your children will die and you will have to continue to live.” I would have told them “Uh Uh … I’ll be going with them, don’t you worry.”

However, here I am, almost 2 years and 2 months since Jaie died. I am still alive and fighting to survive in this changed landscape, as a bereaved mother.

So now I must continue to wield these gifts with extreme discretion and care. We know only too well the harm which can befall those of us, who we do not even know are vulnerable. I guess what I am saying is maybe the universe somehow selects some of us to be the sufferers? The bearers of trials and tribulations, so that we are provided the necessary skills and experience, to not only survive tragedy, but to make a mark in the world after it?

Trust me, I would do anything to not be a part of this club, but after experiencing firsthand, what suicide grief is like, it is not something I would wish upon another. Our future experiences will now be, forevermore, bittersweet … any happiness will always have the shadow of pain across it …

‘The Gifts of Grief’ ….. 

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