Blog - We need to talk
I lost my best friend to suicide 6 months ago. She was 26 years-old and was mum to 2 beautiful children aged 3 and 7.
Growing up had been hard for my friend. She was abandoned by her mum, who completely disappeared meaning she was raised by her step family. Needless to say this left her with a great many issues to deal with throughout her childhood and adolescence (which clearly never truly got resolved).
As a teenager and adult she suffered severe depression and anxiety which manifested in her never feeling that she was good enough, or that she deserved good things to happen to her. Whilst you may think that this would make her an obvious cause for concern whom her family and friends would insist on help for, it was not as simple this. She was very good at deflecting the need for professional help.
Though there were times in her early adult life – after the birth of her first child - where she publically spoke about suicidal thoughts, and even ended up in hospital a couple of times, she was totally convincing in front of care professionals whom she made believe she was fine and ready to move on with her life.
But in private she would regularly argue with her partner and her depression would again be brought to the fore.
She battled constantly with the thought that she wasn’t a good enough mother. Yet she was what many of us would strive for as an image of brilliant motherhood. Her children always looked happy and well dressed. Her house was spotless, and in many ways from the outside she would appear to have a life worth envying. She would always be out and about, always the first to offer to meet for lunch or a night out. It became clear that this was her way to mask the horror inside her own mind.
Eventually she and her partner split, and this proved a truly damaging blow for her; seeing her spiral further into feelings of low self-esteem.
I remember the last conversation I had with her. She had messaged me at 2am (it was always the middle of the night when her mental health needs got the better of her), saying “everything is going wrong, I feel down.” I told her we should get help, and that I could help her sort it out if she would let me. She took her own life soon after, by jumping from a bridge.
I have questioned myself about why she let things get so bad. She must have lived through some horrible moments of self-doubt, low self-worth and the depression that was clearly inbuilt from her mother’s abandonment. It was the latter of these trials that made me think she would never be able to do the worst because she would then leave her own children. But depression doesn’t work in that way. It has no logic or compassion. It just eats away.
I look at everything and everyone in a totally different light now. When I see people in the media being insulted and mocked for things they say and do I never judge. I know that there is so much going on in people’s heads, and we can never know the past traumas that have brought a person to their current state of mind.
I listen more and I am increasingly mindful of what others are going through. What’s most important is that I talk face-to-face with people more often now. Most of my conversations with friends and family were via text message or Whatsapp, but you can’t read tone in a message. You can’t see facial expressions and you don’t know if a person messaging to say they are fine is crying their heart out at the other end of the phone.
We need to have real conversations with each other. My advice to anyone reading this is that if you are worried about someone close to you, don’t let them deflect the issue, and don’t leave it undiscussed. Talk to each other. You might just save a life.
Kate Fishburn is a Service Manager at Avalon’s Teesside office