Break the Stigma for those Left Behind
It has been said that depression, anxiety and even suicide are hereditary. In my humble opinion they are more akin to thought patterns of behaviour passed from generation to generation. Whichever the reason, there is clear evidence and history that these diseases are inherent within particular families.
My story is one to inspire those of us left behind, who have had loved ones take their own life – to know – life is precious and pain creates greatness. Let us lift the stigma for those left behind.
In 2011, two days before Christmas, my father took his own life. I’m not sure there is a more surreal experience – receiving a telephone call from a Police Trauma Liaison Officer advising you that there has been a tragedy at home and that your father has used one of his own firearms on himself. The next few minutes played out like slow motion. My mind flashed back my final memory with Dad. I was home for Christmas and I had gotten up before the sun for my daily run, I woke him up as the corridor floorboards creeked (he wasn’t used to me being in the house). I went into mum and dad’s room, hugged him, he said, “I love you”, I said “It’s early, go back to sleep”. I left the room.
At the time I lived interstate and was half way through a law degree. I completed the degree whilst suffering from anxiety and had very little support network as I felt too uncomfortable to share my woe beyond a few of my oldest friends and family.
I have since found out that, though at the time I was too young to remember, my grandmother (dad’s mum) took her own life in a similar manner, at a similar age. I had known from my early teens that I suffered from a form of anxiety but had assumed it as normal and definitely never spoke of it to anyone. These events compounded my issues and some. Not that I expect it was their intention, nor do I expect that they gave it much thought, but the actions of my father and grandmother has caused suicide to become a part of my psyche. There is not one day that passes that I don’t think about Dad, suicide or depression.
It pleases me that society’s stigma is lifting. Opening up and telling one’s story is encouraged. I have a close friend who continues to suffer from severe anxiety - she has opened up and has received the assistance she needs. I urge any sufferers to do the same.
The stigma need be lifted.
The behaviour pattern need be broken.