Friday, February 27, 2015

What its like to be a child of suicide...

{TRIGGER WARNING} Please note this is my own personal experience and this post is not intended to give anyone advice in regards to suicide or mental illness. If you feel you need someone to talk to please contact your doctor or call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or the Suicide call back service on 1300 659 467 to seek professional help.



Firstly let me say being a child of suicide is something I hope none of you ever have to experience. I wouldn't wish it upon anyone, even my greatest enemy (if I had one). Unfortunately this is the life I've had to live since I was 10. These were the cards I was dealt through no actions of my own. I had no choice but to accept it as reality, because it was. I've lived this life every day since June 7th 1995 when I found out my father had died {we found out a few days after her died}.

I've actually been able to quite successfully go through life without many people knowing that dad committed suicide. I always dread the "what does your dad do?" question because then I have to come out and tell people he's dead. The common response to this is "Oh I'm sorry, how did he die?". Sometimes I lie, but sometimes I tell the truth. Most people recoil in shock and wish they never asked when they find out its suicide. Others want to know how he did it. I get there's a certain level of curiosity, but discussing details about how my father killed himself isn't high on the list of conversations I want to have with people. Especially those who aren't my closest friends. I've mentioned his suicide on here before, but I've never once mentioned how he did it, and I don't intend to, because it doesn't serve a purpose bringing that out in a public arena. And to be honest I already re-live that in my head continuously even though I wasn't actually there when it happened. I don't need the reminder.

There's no point in me judging what he did. He's not here to defend himself. It's not going to bring him back and it won't change anything. I'll never have the answers I want so I'm not going to compound the hurt by adding anger on top of the pain. No point rubbing salt into my already deep wounds. But boy do I wish he'd never done it. That one single decision that he made has had a profound affect on my entire life. 

HOW SUICIDE HAS AFFECTED ME


I had to deal with kids teasing me
When I first returned to school straight after it happened all the kids in my grade had been told what had happened. The resident bully decided this was great ammunition to tease me even more than usual. The first day I went back I was greeted by her in the corridor pointing and laughing at me saying (really loudly) HA HA your dad killed himself! She probably didn't understand the gravity of the situation at 11 years old, but that's not really an excuse for her behaviour.

I live with subconscious guilt
I wasn't there when dad died (thank god), but I used to constantly wish I was. Because if I was there I keep thinking I could've stopped it. I know it probably wouldn't have made any difference and I know it wasn't my fault, but there's that tiny part of me that wonders.

I made bad choices in past relationships
I honestly think I allowed myself to be in a controlling relationship because I craved a male authority figure. I didn't have any male attention or a dad to build up my self confidence when I was growing up, so when my ex husband came along I lapped up the attention. Even though it was a very toxic type of attention.

I fear everyone is going to leave me at any point
I have the hugest fear that the people I love are going to up and leave me at the drop of a hat with no warning. Whether it be through an accident or of their own choosing, I'm always worried that when I'm happy its all going to be taken away in an instant. Because that's what happened before.

I'm a control freak and limit risks
I'm working on trying not to control everything and go with the flow more, but my natural tendency is to want to be in control of what happens. That way I can prevent bad things from happening - at least that's what my mind thinks. I deliberately limit risks so I don't put myself in situations where things could go wrong, however I'm also trying to work on this. I put off doing my V8 hot laps for months because I was scared something would go wrong, but in the end I did them and had an awesome time.

I live with an anxiety disorder
I'm not sure if its a direct product of dad's suicide or if I developed anxiety because of what happened after, but I have finally been diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder. I always overestimate the likelihood of something bad happening and at the same time underestimate my ability to cope with it if it did happen. I've most likely had it for years, but I've never seen anyone about it until I was diagnosed with PND. The stress of having a new baby pushed me over the edge and my anxiety peaked and started to affect my ability to function on a daily basis, so I sought help. Since then I've learnt a lot of ways to help cope with my anxiety and I really wish I had of sought help years earlier instead of accepting that was how my life was.

I always go over the what ifs
What if dad didn't die? 
Would he like T? 
What if he was in bub's life? 
How would her life be different having a granddad?
Would I feel more loved if he was still around?


Image | Cherry Lola

There have been a few positives to come out of the situation though, if you could call them that. Going through such a traumatic experience at such a young age taught me a lot of life lessons. Lessons I probably wasn't ready to learn yet, but I learnt them none the less.

Knowing that things could change in an instant means I don't take anything for granted. I'm grateful for everything good that comes my way. I appreciate the small things. I slow down and really enjoy life and try to live in the moment as much as possible. I appreciate every. single. moment. I get to spend with bub and I tell her I love her every chance I get, no matter how busy life gets.

I wouldn't wish my life experience on anyone, but if there's one thing I can pass on to others it'd be to make sure you slow down and enjoy life. Laugh, smile and spend time together. Make beautiful, happy memories. Because one day you'll hold onto those memories so tight and be forever grateful that you made them.


Toni x

Linking with Grace and Sonia

59 comments:

  1. Oh Toni. I'm so sorry you went through that and were bullied for it, too. No doubt the impact it had has shaped you. I always feel so much empathy for those who have felt there was no other way out for them, it must be a terrible place to be. And so much empathy for those left behind.

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    1. I've always had great empathy for those who have done it and moreso for those left behind, given my experience. People are so quick to judge and hate on everyone these days, its really sad.

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  2. Oh Toni, I have no words. What a courageous and generous post. I love your advice to "slow down and enjoy life" - so true.

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    1. Yep :) Unfortunately a lot of people won't realise they should've done it until its too late and I don't want them to be left with the same regrets I've had.

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  3. I'm so sorry that you had to learn those lessons so young. I hope that this post helps someone to feel no so alone. It's great that you are living in the moment more, it's something that we all need to do I think. Wishing you all the best xx

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    1. I think the positive outcomes from the experience are just as powerful as the negative ones :)

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  4. Oh I want to wrap you in my arms and hug you! What a dreadful thing to go through as a child. I cannot imagine the pain and horror it caused you. I live with an anxiety disorder too - not because of a trauma like you went through but I have had some trauma - or maybe I was bound to be like this anyway. What I do with what life presents me with is to look for the lessons, learn and grow. Life is short and I hope to spend the remainder of it feeling happy and content - so I try to be grateful for what I do have, live more mindfully in the present and I try to practice self compassion. We show compassion to others that have been through hard times ... and so we should also for ourselves. Min xo

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    1. So true Min! I always find it so easy to show compassion to others, but most of the time forget about myself. I have a feeling I may have been destined to get the anxiety disorder regardless of whether he did it or not just given the history I'm discovering in our family.

      P.S. You can hug me on Tuesday!

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  5. So much love my friend, your courage is inspiring xx

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  6. Thank you for sharing something so private and emotional for you. I too have lost my father and it has changed me but I could not imagine what would have happened if this was a suicide. You are doing brilliantly and your post will change others and help others. Hugs for you xx

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    1. Thanks Caroline, I hope that it can help others in some way so that more positives can come of my experience :)

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  7. Toni, what a brave and personal post. I want to give you a big hug - thanks for sharing. This will helpfully help others who are put in a similar position through no fault of their own x

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    1. I really hope so. I know what a lonely and terribly confusing time it can be x

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  8. Sending you massive hugs right now. This must have been a hard post to write or perhaps it may be therapeutic. I'm sorry to hear what you've been through. Kids can be so mean. You have come so far despite these odds. Your Dad would be proud xx

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    1. It was part therapeutic but also hard. I mulled over it for a long time and second guessed myself more than once about whether I should actually put it out there. In the end I'm glad I did. I'm always amazed by the outpouring of love I get back when I lay myself bare.

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  9. No doubt this was a tough one to write and such a brave post to write as well. Suicide is something I have been involved in more than I like. As a fresh faced psych taking my first job in a prison so many years ago, it only took a couple of weeks before I realised my job was to essentially prevent suicide. We lost one person in all those years but so many attempts. 2 years ago this week my childhood best friend took her own life,leaving behind two kids she loved to the moon and back. Sometimes a person loses the ability to see what good they are leaving behind, no matter how much love they have for those they leave behind. Thank you for sharing such a personal experience xx

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    1. That's one of the parts I've struggled with the most, how could he leave us behind? I find it a lot tougher to think about it now that I'm a parent myself because I couldn't imagine ever wanting to leave her. But it just gives me a headache trying to analyse it so when my mind wanders there I try to distract it.

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  10. This is a hugely generous post. I hope the control of writing it gave you some comfort in want of better words. I'm sure the reflection on the loss and those memories must still be painful. I'm sorry for your loss.

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    1. I'm mean my clumsy phrasing, not your words, in case that wasn't clear.

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    2. No worries Lydia I knew what you meant :)

      It's surprising how very raw everything still is even though its been 20yrs. I feel like I've moved on so much from it, but then certain emotions and memories take me straight back to that confused 10yr old child.

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  11. Toni, I'm so sorry for your loss, whether it was yesterday or a long time ago it always remains with you. You were so incredibly brave to write this post. I lost my Dad a few years ago, from natural causes, but still very suddenly...It's so very hard.. big hugs for you xx

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    1. I think the suddenness makes it so much harder to deal with. I often wonder if he had been sick and I knew it was coming would it of been easier to deal with. I'm sure the loss would still be just as great, but I think being prepared may have made it a little less shocking to come to terms with.

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  12. Toni, so very sorry. I've only skimmed through because I'm not in the right head space to read at the moment but will be back.

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    1. No worries Raych, its a bit emotionally overloading.

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  13. What a difficult experience to live through, let alone as such a young child. I think that you have grown stronger for it and I think it is great that you are writing here and sharing the experience and lessons learnt with us.

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    1. It definitely made me stronger. Even though I felt weaker for a long time, it most definitely taught me to be resilient and keep fighting no matter what.

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  14. You really are amazing and brave for sharing such a traumatic and personal event in your life with us. I'm so very sorry that you had to experience this particularly at such a young age. What a huge thing to understand and cope with and the KIDS! Teasing you. Ouch. So hard. I love that you have learned to live life for every moment and embrace it all. I think we could all take a leaf out of your book here xx

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    1. Yea kids can be assholes sometimes! I just hope she didn't really understand what she was saying.

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  15. Wow, what a beautiful yet sad post. You are amazing to share and show how you have been shaped enough to find a silver lining to something that was clearly never a positive time of your life x

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    1. We all have to look for the silver lining during the hard times (otherwise everything would just be too depressing).

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  16. Oh Toni, you beautiful brave woman. I am so so sorry you have carried this burden in life, but thank you for so openly and honestly helping us to understand the truly devastating effects on those left behind after a suicide. So much love to you hun and I so wish I was there when you were at school because there is NO WAY IN HELL that bully would have walked away unscathed. xx

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    1. I think at the time I probably had enough adrenaline in my to knock her flat if I really wanted to, even though she was almost 3 times the size of me. I think I was just too spaced out to care - I heard what she said, but I was in a zoned out mind frame wondering why the hell I was being made to go back to school 3 days after dad died. I didn't really understand at the time why I was being forced to pretend everything was still the same and go on as normal.

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  17. What a brave post, good on you for writing it. Kids are so brutal, and adults often aren't much better! xx

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    1. Yea I can only imagine what her parents were like for her to be acting that way.

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  18. Toni, what a courageous post. It's honesty like this that helps others to deal with their own painful memories and experiences. Unexpressed grief leaves the deepest scars.

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    1. I'm hoping it can help someone else in some way x

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  19. My mum attempted suicide many times when I was growing up ... she eventually passed away from complications from a botched suicide attempt, 8 years ago. I didn't find out til nearly 5 years later. Obviously her mental health issues meant we hadn't had contact for many years. I find it a lot easier now when people ask about my Mum, instead of saying we aren't in contact, she as a sociopath etc (they all look at ME like there's something wrong with me. Mothers are sacred in our society therefore I must be the bad one for not having her in my life) - I can just say she passed away. Simple.

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    1. Some people still used to look at me weird when they found out he committed suicide, like I must be a freak or something if my dad could do that. People are so judgemental sometimes.

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  20. Thank you for writing this. I can't believe how the other kids would tease you over something like that--kids can be so cruel. I have a friend whose father committed suicide many years ago--I can't imagine what it must feel like, but your post gives me a tiny window into his experience.

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  21. Thank you for sharing such a personal story. I am disturbed by the bullies comment...
    My best friends boy friend committed suicide and she found him. She also has those questions that she feels will never leave her. I totally get where you are coming from when you acknowledge that things can happen in an instant and they can change things forever. You are very inspiring and brave

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    1. The thing I wish I had most were the answers. Or at least a chance to just talk to him again so I could ask him questions. Even if he couldn't come back forever, just one night to talk to him about everything would be great. When people ask that qn "who would you want to have dinner with if you could choose anyone dead or alive?" my answer is always him.

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  22. I feel for you 100% Toni. I also know you don't want everyone to pitty you and would prefer they recognise what an outstanding person you have become.
    Unfortunately I have been around and know many people who have tried or successfully ended their lives - my grandfather, sister in law, friends of my family and just last month our very close friend lost his brother and uncle within 4 days of each to suicide. It is such a horrible thing for the family and friends left behind to go through.
    I hope your post is seen by someone struggling and realise what a detrimental effect it has on people.

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    1. Its really quite scary how prevalent it is these days. I'm hoping my post can go some way towards helping people, whether it be those who are struggling or those who have been through the same experience as me :)

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  23. Toni, my heart broke reading your blog post. Thank you for your courage ad honesty writing this.

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  24. Toni.. You are such a strong and courageous woman to still find positives in such a life changing event in your life. Very inspirational x

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    1. I was very negative about it for a long time (at least internally), but that just made me so depressed and to be honest feel like crap most days. Not sure if its a maturity thing, but I've found as I've gotten older I need to focus on the good in situations because I don't want to go back to the mindset I was in before when I let people walk all over me.

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  25. I can't even imagine how hard that must have been when you were so young, all the mean things, all the feelings when you were about to become a teenager. My heart aches for you back then, and now, when you are thinking of all things 'what ifs'. I'm sure this post will help others. Big hugs, x

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  26. I feel so sad that a bully used this against you. Thank you for being so brave and sharing this, a terrible thing for a child to have to deal with xx

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    1. I really hope she didn't understand the gravity of her words at the time.

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  27. Toni, so much admiration for you in writing such a brave post full of retrospect. Big hugs x

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  28. Toni, thank you so much for sharing such a deeply personal and traumatic experience. As someone who has battled suicidal thoughts at different times in my life, I can only say. We reach that point when the pain is too much to bear. It has nothing to do with not loving our families or even our pets. It has to do with the pain being so unbearable and nevver-ending that the thought of not feeling it anymore takes over all rational thought. As one having been on the edge, I know I was not in my right mind. There a webpage that saved me. I planned and planned...even told a friend who was chatting on the phone with someone else, though we were visiting. She was ignoring me..I looked at her and said, "I'm going to kill myself tonight"....she kept talking on the phone. This is not the forum for me to share...this is about your loss and how you've dealt with it. I have not read all the comments but I wanted to share my experiences with you so perhaps you might catch a glimmer of your dad's pain. This page saved my life...perhaps by sharing it here, it might save someone else's. May God's choicest blessings always be upon you! <3 ~ Jenny http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/

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    1. I'm glad that you found a way to stop yourself Jenny and thank you for an insight into the mindset of someone who is going through the same process my dad did x

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  29. Jenny Weeks, we do not know one another, yet I want to thank you for sharing here. You have helped immeasurably in so many ways.

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