Today’s post is a guest post by Charlotte Underwood:
January 30th was a supposed to be a day like any other, yet I was woken up by my mother in panic, my father was gone, she said and then confided in me that a month before, he had attempted to take his own life.
In that moment, I had a horrible image in my head of my father taking his own life, I grabbed some clothes and headed out, first to the park, as I was hoping he would be walking through it like he often did. Then I headed to the river but my mother called me home, I wish I made it the full way but maybe I this call prevented me from seeing something that I wouldn’t want to.
A month went by with police, friends and strangers coming in and out the house, it was exhausting to feel so watched and suffocated by everyone in a 5 mile radius, despite their good intentions I just wanted to shut myself away.
I think I knew he had passed away but I did not want to believe it, I did all I could to try to find him, with the hope he would knock on the door and I could give him a hug and a kiss on the cheek, dad called this “daddy tax”.
His death was not a surprise, we got that horrid knock on the door at 11pm on March 3rd, I knew they had found his body, I even told my boyfriend at the time this. I made my way down the stairs and opened the door where my mother was screaming and folding into her lap, no words were said, I knew and I turned around and headed back upstairs.
The truth Is that his death did not feel real for a long time, I was busy sorting out the house move and funeral and no one else was able, I was holding everyone together so they could grieve while the rest of the world carried on.
The moment I broke, was when I saw his coffin in the hurse, I had my eyes looking at my lap the whole ride to his funeral, I couldn’t look at the coffin, the thought of him lifeless made me want to throw up, all this hidden grief hit me all at once. I couldn’t talk the whole day, my throat hurt so bad, I remember that.
For the last 4 years, it’s been a rollercoaster. After his funeral I did fall into substance abuse, I felt numb and like I was in a really bad dream, nothing felt real and I didn’t want it to be. In April I tried to take my own life, I just kept repeating the rectors words “We will reunite with Stephen one day” and I simply did not want to wait, I wanted to be with him now.
About a year after my fathers death, I met my husband and my life got a little better though my mental health did take a hit. I had got such bad mental health that I couldn’t leave the house and if I became scared of an illness, I would develop these exact symptoms, ovarian cancer was a big one and I spent a year under investigation for it with no cause for my pains. I was both in a state where I wanted to die but I was also scared of dying.
Last year my husband and I got married and we made the decision for me to stop working, it was not an easy choice and not financially reasonable but it was a choice between my life and some cash, the answer was a simple one. I became bored in my unemployment, so I started to write as I loved to create stories and songs as a child but life got in the way, it was so hard to start. I think I wrote 4 books and trashed them before I decided to write about my fathers suicide.
I was scared of the response I would get because it felt almost like a violation but then I remembered how my dad did so much for mental health awareness and helped everyone, he himself had saved the lives of many. The biggest push was the lack of response from the mental health services and the stigma that made me feel like a time waster, as well as my father being denied help weeks before his death. I decided that I couldn’t wait for someone to make a change, I had to be that change and do what I could to save as many people and fight for dignified support and treatment.
I am still far away from where I want to be but I am content with my life, I still have bad days and I’m always tired, I’m still not ready to work and I’m not good with going outside but I am getting there. I will be getting therapy soon and I am so excited but something I that has helped me was keeping productive so that I don’t give myself time to fall into a relapse.
My writing has allowed me to come to terms with my past and my thoughts, it’s allowed me to understand my thoughts and because of this I am no longer bitter about my past; it’s amazing that my writing also helps people, as it makes me feel like I have purpose, it’s my passion now.
You need to understand that recovery wont happen over night, there will always be ups and downs and honestly you need to work hard every day to keep your head above water but it is possible to achieve all you want and follow those dreams; it’ll be so worth the work when you do.
If you are grieving, please believe me when I say that you need to take your time, grieve in your own way, don’t listen to others idle comments telling you to move on, because you don’t ever move on, you just learn to live without them, you’re doing great by just getting out of bed in the morning.