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Thursday, September 13, 2012

R. U. OK?

National R U OK? Day - A conversation could change a life.

If you're in Australia then you've probably already heard about this as its been taking over Facebook all day. Today is national R.U.OK day. Quite simply its about getting people to communicate more and ask their friends, family, colleagues etc are you ok? The theory goes if more people talk about their problems then it will take the stigma away from depression and will lead to more people asking for help and receiving the help they need. Which ultimately reduces the stigma around suicide and hopefully in turn (by people getting the help they need) will lead to suicide prevention.

This is particularly close to my heart. You are all aware by now that my father died when I was 10. What you don't know yet is that he committed suicide.

It was incredibly hard to come to terms with as a child. To have a dad one day and then nothing the next. Its not like when someone is sick and you have time to prepare, knowing that one day they are going to die. In that situation (not that its really any better) you have time to say your goodbyes. Time to do everything and say everything you want to say before the day comes. I never knew it was coming. I didn't get to say goodbye, no last I love you. Nothing.

On top of this, apart from coming to terms with my dad being gone at the age of 10, I had to deal with the fact that he actually chose to die and he did it himself. What on earth could be so bad that he actually wanted to die? Why would he want to leave me and my brother? Were we not good enough to make him stay? Could I have stopped him from doing it if I was there? Was it my fault? Didn't he love me anymore? So many questions went running through my head. For a 10 year old that's a lot of emotional baggage to deal with and make sense of. When I went back to school I was also teased by the other kids - I remember one girl pointed and laughed at me while saying "haha your dad killed himself".

I never really knew he was depressed. I knew him and mum were separated and going through the process of getting divorced. I'm not really sure that I ever thought they would actually get divorced. I could never really imagine life without him or life going between mum and dad's houses and having to split everything between the two. I never really had time to give the idea much thought as three months after they separated he was gone. Those three months were shit though. Going from one house to the other and having both of them asking about the other to find out whats happening. Endless fighting over the house and the bribes to get information. Actually the bribes I liked a bit to be honest, because it was pretty awesome to get ice blocks just for answering a question when we never would have got that before. I feel guilty about it now. But still, overall it was a shit time.

I didn't even know they were fighting until the day we were pulled out of school because we were moving in with grandma and pa. We didn't spend much time around mum and dad together because they were always working and when we were on holidays we would go stay with grandma and pa. So, it was quite a shock to me when we were moving out of the house. The only thing I remember was that there were holes inside the wardrobe doors in their bedroom. I never heard them fight though so I assumed someone must have fallen over and landed into the wardrobe door or something..? I do remember that one day when we were driving down to the gold coast they had a big fight over the radio and how loud it was and dad drove the car off the highway into a ditch because he was pissed with mum. That was kinda scary. Other than that nothing really ever tweaked me to the idea that things were going wrong.

As someone who has been left behind from suicide and dealt with the after affects I can not stress the importance of R U OK day. I wish somebody could have helped my dad. I wish he got the help he needed and I wish he was still here. No matter how shit life might have been growing up as a child of divorce it still would've been much better than growing up as a child of suicide.
Have you ever wondered which hurts the most: saying something and wishing you hadn't or saying nothing and wishing you had?
So I urge you all to ask your loved ones are you ok? 

You never know how much you might help them just by showing that you care.

Toni x

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Would you like to comment?

  1. Oh wow- this post is amazing. Thank you so much for the link to it, thank you for writing it- bless you xxxxx

  2. Suicide is such a tough thing to deal with because we will never know the thoughts of what was going on in that person's head at the time. I'm sorry you had to deal with all those thoughts at such a young age.

    But, I'm glad that you are using your blog to write about all these things because you have such a great attitude towards helping others. Keep up the brilliant work here, and I'll be back later to read some more interesting posts.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this Toni. I have a friend whose father committed suicide when we were 10. I used to sit next to her in class and I never knew what to say. Now I have a bit of an understanding about what must have gone through her head then and in the years since. Hugs to you :-) x

    1. Its so sad how many others have experienced the same thing at such a young age x

  4. Thank you for sharing this post. R U OK ? Is a fabulous way to bring awards around depression and anxiety. X

  5. I cannot imagine all the emotions you would have felt as a mere 10 year old. My eldest girl is 10 next month and just can't imagine anyone being able to deal with the suicide of a parent at that age. You are brave for sharing your story and helping others - I've said that before but you really are Toni x

    1. There has to be some good to come of it Kirsty or its all pointless. At least if others get something from it then it kind of gives me a silver lining to something that was otherwise just really shit {for lack of better words}.

  6. Oh Toni.. Thank you for opening up and sharing your story. Mental illness is getting worse and sometimes all it takes is to start a real conversation... R U OK? Is a great start. My daughters close friend has your story sn

  7. My Mum also took her own life - after many failed attempts at suicide she eventually succeeded. :-(

  8. This is really important message for everyone. Because as you so eloquently put it - we just don't know and understand what is going on in someone's head but stopping them and asking them directly just might be the moment that helps. A hard story to share but so worthwhile Toni. Thank you for helping to make a difference. Mel xx #myhometruths