Five years ago my dad took his own life.
But I’m lucky. I’m incredibly lucky to have people around me that saw me through the hardest time of my life and continue to do so. Lucky that I have entered a career where I can build on my understanding of mental health and what it means to people on a daily basis. But even despite that exposure I feel anger, guilt and confusion about something entirely beyond any of our control. It’s devastating to know that someone you loved as dearly as a girl loves her daddy went through such internal turmoil that the only option he saw for himself was to end his own life. That he was such a burden that not being here could only make life better for those of us who loved him. And he was BY FAR not alone in that feeling. Far too many people I know have been affected by mental illness and suicide, and I don’t know that I would describe a single one of them as anything other than overwhelmingly strong.
For some reason we still let stigma stop us from talking and it’s taken me a number of years to be able to talk about something like this openly without caring what people think. I kept quiet in fear that someone would think the most selfless, doting father was weak and selfish for his actions. But silence is dangerous and it’s bloody boring. It’s time for people to be able to talk without feeling like their every future movement will be overanalysed as a “sign of mental illness” or this absurd notion we have that speaking out is attention seeking. It’s time mental illness is seen in the same light as physical illness and I honestly believe the only way to achieve that is by being open and honest, and supporting other people through their own bits of turmoil, no matter how we may perceive them.
Whether this post is something you roll your eyes about and scroll past, or something that motivates you to give someone you love an extra hug today is of absolutely no consequence to me. But asking someone how they’re feeling may make a world of difference to them. My dad never did get his chance to talk, and mental illness is not something anyone should have to endure alone.