Life As A Suicide Survivor

There’s a part of my life that I never really planned on sharing in depth on my blog. For the most part, I’m very open about myself. I think the only things in my offline life that are different than my online persona are that I actually cuss like a sailor at times and I am poverty level poor. What I’ve never told you is that I am a suicide survivor. The recent suicide death of one of my all time most favorite actors, Robin Williams, really REALLY brought up strong feelings that have made me feel in my heart that I need to share. Maybe it will be therapy for me, or maybe it will help a reader out there and save a life.

1512747_10202333048199349_290789887_nMy story begins before my birth. My mother was 7 months pregnant when she divorced my biological father. He tried really hard to be “normal” but the fact is that he was a Gay man and it just wasn’t compatible with marriage to my mother. My father was fighting inner demons before he even met my mother. His own mother was an un-medicated Bipolar sufferer and of course that had an affect on him, as did being abused/molested/you name it by someone he knew. THAT tidbit is never talked about and I only know of it because of my mother telling me. So you see my father had many issues, among them was depression and feeling like there was no escape. As hard as it was on my mom to raise 3 kids ages 3 and under, I know that at least for a while, my father was happy that he had indeed gave “normal life a chance and had the opportunity to have children. 300706_505921536109957_936100854_nWe spent our summers in Alabama with our dad and his side of the family. BIG family.

Around age 12, about a year after my father agreed to sever rights to us and let my stepdad adopt us, we got a phone call saying our dad was in the hospital after an overdose of pills. This was actually the first time something seemed to be wrong. It was then that my mom let me know that he had tried to kill himself a couple times before this. I was still rather young though, and most definitely naive.

The next year I was adjusting to being an 8th grader at a new school. My two brothers were enjoying their high school lives and it was November. A chill in the air but just another day in Michigan. We got home from school that day and our mom sat us down. I knew something was wrong. Never will I forget the words.

“Your dad died, they found his body at the bottom of a cliff in a state park. I’m so sorry guys, we’re leaving tomorrow for Alabama”.

What? Huh? The overdose, the slitting of wrists, those didn’t work, but this time he made sure that he would finally be set free of his life full of fighting inner demons. He had a cigarette and then took a leap of a cliff and fell to his death. I was THIRTEEN. How was I supposed to even act? My oldest brother was distraught, and we were invited that night to hang out with his girlfriend and her sister who was also my dear friend. I didn’t cry, but he sure did. I’ve never seen him cry since that night either.

Suddenly we were in Alabama and in the funeral home, where my dad was laying in a closed casket. My middle brother sat staring with tears in his eyes. He later asked to see the body, not because of any reason but he was a kid too and wanted closure. We would never get that. Never get to say goodbye to a man we loved. We were told he was in a body bag not even sewn back together all the way because it wouldn’t be an open casket. We couldn’t see him, only a photo.

166703_505921866109924_1514084645_nFamily came and went, and I just sort of walked around. Across from my dad’s visitation was a policeman’s funeral and I could hear a girl crying so hard. I knew it was her daddy. I wondered why I wasn’t crying like her. At the gravesite and burial it became apparent why. When we walked away from the grave as the casket was being lowered, my mother collapsed as she held my father’s picture and was crying so hard. She loved my dad so much, and still loves him to this day. I felt I needed to be strong for her.

None of us admitted we needed to see a counselor. We stayed strong for our mom but this was a huge mistake. My brothers turned to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain. I didn’t go to drugs and alcohol but I had nightmares and began a life of denial and never dealing with my feelings of loss, guilt and blaming myself. I even thought that maybe if I had decided NOT to be adopted by my stepdad that it would have saved him.

The truth is people don’t kill themselves because of circumstances. Depression and other mental illness is VERY REAL and most people that do take their lives do so because they believe it is the only way to end the pain. They leave behind family and friends that will live with what they have done and never ever have answers. It took me years to stop being mad at my father for leaving ME. I felt like he didn’t even think about his children when he went. The truth is he knew that we were okay because the man that adopted us as his own was a good man. My father had pre-paid his entire funeral years before. He very meticulously planned everything but tried to make sure his kids were taken care of. He couldn’t have anticipated what we would go through mentally as a result.

He wouldn’t have known how hard it was for my brothers to go one single day not feeling pain. He wouldn’t know that his 524095_505919966110114_1960187780_ndeath put my brothers through hell. He would never see that they both are different men now, both very loving dads, and they bounced back. Normal guys? No but they try. My father would never get to walk me down the aisle or at the very least see pictures of my wedding. My father wouldn’t have been able to know that the day I had my first child I cried myself to sleep because he wouldn’t ever get to meet his first grandchild.

I survived, my father didn’t. He was part of a large family, a family that had and still probably has lots of mental health issues. Sadly, he was the first, and we’ve lost another 3 members to a similar ending. I cry inside knowing that some of my cousins and Aunts have had to feel the pain I felt as a very young teenager. I know now that it wasn’t anything I could have done to stop him. He was depressed and had so many issues that it was too much. He was not a coward, he just felt there was no other way. It still hurts. Suicide has nothing pretty about it. I am fortunate that the internet and nosy people didn’t exist back then like they do now. I didn’t have to fear the media like Robin Williams’ family has to now. They have to live this out publicly and I just want to hug them and tell them that I have been there. I’m feeling blessed that I never had to deal with people making assumptions as to why my dad killed himself. They don’t have a clue what goes on in the minds of people who commit suicide.

If you or anyone you know may be depressed or having thoughts of suicide, please reach out to them. They might deny it or even feel offended but to know that at least one person out there truly cares will help. I am very private about this part of my life but knowing that I battle anxiety and depression now as an adult, I am glad I reached out for help before I lost myself too.

I miss you Daddy. I miss Dr. Pepper and going to the lake. I miss your cologne, I miss the way you would put on a record and pull me up to dance with you. I miss your painting and incredible art.

 

About Candace Reid

Candace Reid is the owner and author of My Serendipity Life. She is the mother of 3 and a college graduate having earned her Associates Degree in Business for Hospitality/Food Service Management. an an AAS degree in Photographic Imaging from Lansing Community College. She also loves to blog about food, fun tech and travel. Email Candace

Comments

  1. Oh, honey, my heart breaks for you now! You know what to look for in your own life and I am pretty certain that you will never get to the point your father did because of that fact. Know that keeping your feelings bottled up inside and making yourself silent and unfeeling only makes things worse for you. You have to let it out. It’s okay to let people see you cry. No one can be strong and stoic 100% of the time. It’s not healthy.

    While I did not lose my own father to suicide — it was metastasized bone cancer — I do know what it feels like to lose the one man in your life who always loved you unconditionally. My dad had his own demons that he wrestled with most of his life. Though he did do pretty well at winning those battles, every few years he’d be overwhelmed by them and our lives would be turned upside down for a while.

    My mother is bipolar and has half-heartedly attempted suicide more than once. Unfortunately, she is also and alcoholic and a prescription drug addict, and has some other issues that have made having any kind of relationship with her untenable. It’s heartbreaking.

    My dad died in 1992 and did not get to walk me down the aisle or see his first granddaughter born. It still hurts, almost 24 years after his death. I am not sure that pain ever gets lessened, it just kind of becomes something you are so used to feeling every day that you sort of get desensitized to the pain.

    It took a lot of courage to publish this post. I am very proud of you for sharing your story.

  2. Candace, I am so glad you decided to share your story. I had no idea all this had gone on in your life. I hope your Dad found the solace he needed. I’m so sorry you went through this. Lots of love, Mary

    • Thanks Mary! I have a remarkable ability to live my life to the fullest and still have joy and make others laugh. You have to go through the darkness to see the light, right? It just echoes my thoughts, that you can’t know how deep the rabbit hole actually is with someone when you don’t truly know them, like the media thinking they know all about Robin Williams…they don’t know anything.

  3. I’m so sorry, Candy. I hope that you have found some peace with being able to share this. Depression is such a horrible monster.

    • Thanks Katie, I do feel better letting it out but I think the real peace is that I am letting myself cry, and FEEL it. I keep reading it and feeling sad about what happened, mostly about the loss of what might have been. I know things happen in a certain order for certain reason but this blip in history is painful sometimes. I feel better letting my blog friends and readers in, especially with so much distorted suicide “news”. It’s nice to hear a real story put out there.

  4. I am so so sorry Candace…I had no idea…I just want to each out and hug you….my hope is that sharing your story will bring comfort to others and peace to you…

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