5 years ago today, the skies were a brilliant blue, etched with puffy white clouds. The weather was crisp and cool, filled with gentle breezes of winter air. Everything was as it should be. Until I returned home from picking up my son from school, and entered the kitchen to a handwritten note.
DO NOT GO OUTSIDE
In one instance, on a small crumpled piece of notebook paper, my entire world was tipped upside down.
My Daddy, the most important man in my life, sat himself in a kiddie pool on the side of the home we shared, placed a shotgun in his mouth and ended his own life.
While that last sentence might make you uneasy, I can assure you reading it is nothing compared to the aftermath I walked out and witnessed. I fell to my knees beside him, unable to speak or breathe. My Daddy was gone. Dead. And he did it to himself. Suicide? No. Not him.
If you ever got the great pleasure to know my Dad, you know he would be the last person you would associate with suicide. He was the life of the party, always cracking jokes and smiling. I have very few memories of him ever not in a great mood. He had an uncanny ability to see the positive in every situation. He was my rock. When I needed a good talk, he was always my go to call. I would call sobbing, and he would somehow end the conversation with a smile. He was magnetic and such a joy to be around. He was not who I would have flagged as someone with depression, anxiety or at risk of suicidal tendencies. Before that day, I wouldn't of even given it a second thought.
It's amazing how people can hide their pain. How they can hold in so much and put on such a brave face. How such bright smiles can be masking so much hurt. While we think we may know what is going on in someones life, at the same time, we can be so wrong. Celebrity suicides seem to shine a bigger light on this. You'd think endless amounts of money and resources at your disposal would safeguard you from mental health disorders. Nope. It does not discriminate. The statistics are shocking, and the chances are you have or someday will have some sort of encounter with one of the many forms. This doesn't make you weak, or crazy. Your brain, like any other organ, needs to properly function. Seeking treatment to ensure you are healthy is so vital, and lifesaving!
These yearly anniversaries used to really get me down. Flashbacks would haunt me, and I felt an overwhelming amount of grief. Finally, last year, I lost myself. In a moment of desperation and despair, I gave up. Succumbing to the immense depression that ruled my day to day life.
What I never expected, was that I would wake up the next morning, with an undying will to live. Ending my life was not the answer. Starting my life was. See, my life didn't end the day my Daddy took his life. It started the day I decided I wasn't going to let it end. The day I made my mental health a priority, and admitted myself to intensive inpatient care, was the day I started living again.
I sit here, 5 years later, a better person than the day before it happened. I know now that there is nothing I can do to change that day. There is no way to change my circumstances, but you bet your ass I can change the way I react to them. The only person in this universe that can control my happiness, is me. So, I must do all that I can to ensure that I do what I can to make my life full of things that bring me joy. I also learned to watch my thoughts. To stop self doubt and self sabotage before it turns into action. I learned the importance of seeing my psychiatrist regularly, and that my mental health is just as important as my physical well being. There is no shame in seeking treatment. I'll say that again. THERE IS NO SHAME IN SEEKING TREATMENT!!
I want to thank every single person reading this. Near and far. This blog is full of my bleeding heart. It's not an easy read, and yet so many of you have continued to keep reading my posts the past 5 years. I am so thankful for all of the support and love.