Time to talk about the unthinkable.

Sometimes we have to talk about subjects that make us feel uncomfortable, we have all  felt the desperation of our estrangements, often we face the darkest of times. Facing the dark spirals of depression can easily become a place where we have the darkest of thoughts.

Sadly over the last 14 years we have lost grandparents who have taken their own lives, something that never leaves me.

I asked grandparents if they would share their own personal battle, that they have had to deal with.

The response was loud and clear, if by sharing their stories, it helps just one person from taking that tragic path, it is worth it.

I can’t express my thanks enough, so in their own words three grandparents share their own very personal turmoil.

When estrangement came knocking on our door, I cannot even begin to describe the aftermath of emotions that took over my life completely.  I was powerless to stop them as they coursed through my mind and body like a tsunami.  I doubt that anything will ever be as forceful or torturous as this ever again.

 

I felt great fear, shame and embarrassment at what I saw as failing as a mother.  The one thing that I had prided myself on was being a good mum – we didn’t have material things, but my boys never went to bed on an empty stomach, they were fed, clothed, loved and educated, so where had I gone wrong?  I was meant to be able to fix everything, but what was happening to my family was on another level entirely and I was powerless to stop it.

 

No-one understood – family and friends didn’t know what to say and would look at me with what I saw as pity.  After all, I was the guilty party here ….. or so I’d been made to feel?  I retreated inside myself and gradually, day by day, month by month I became so severely depressed that I found myself having daily thoughts of suicidal ideation.  I just thought that what had happened was all my fault and therefore, if I wasn’t around anymore, everything would be fixed, plus I wouldn’t be in any more pain.  I wasn’t thinking of my husband or my younger son, I just wanted the agony and suffering to go away and I couldn’t see any other way out of it.

 

My identity had been stripped; I wasn’t who I thought I was.  My personality and self-esteem were dead and buried and I didn’t have any more fight in me.

 

Then one day, off sick from work, I was sitting in the lounge, watching Loose Women on ITV as they aired their new campaign called “Lighten the Load”.  I remember I was sitting in the chair, rocking backwards and forwards, clutching my mum’s photo to my chest and sobbing, asking someone to help me.  Andrea McLean was talking about her own depression and something inside me made me sit up and listen.  If this feeling of despair and suffering could happen to ‘famous people’ then surely I wasn’t alone and at the end of the programme, I contacted the Samaritans.   This was my first step to gaining back control of my life.  After speaking to this kind, caring lady on the phone for ages, I promised her I would go and see my doctor.

 

My GP was absolutely amazing and spent lots of time with me, listening and talking and she looked after me. Truly looked after me.  I was put on antidepressants and seen by the Mental Health Team and it took a long while, but together with my GP, my wonderful husband and my amazing inspiring younger son, I learnt to live again, day by day, week by week and month by month.

 

Now I’m not going to say that I’m ‘cured’, because what’s happened to our family, is kind of like suffering with PTSD.  The nightmares will never go away, and I still have periods where I do feel very sad (that’s inevitable), but fortunately I’ve never reached the stage where I have those demon thoughts anymore and the best part is that I’ve now successfully come off medication and have learnt to smile again.

 

I experienced the devastation of my husband attempting suicide in the early days of our estrangement after attempts at reconciliation were unsuccessful and it was becoming clear it was a long-term problem.

I’ll never forget how I felt when the police came to my door and I knew from their faces it was bad news.

I shook from head to toe and was reluctant to open the door and let them in.

The mention of my husband’s name and the word suicide turned my knees to jelly & brings tears to my eyes as I write this.

Luckily my husband survived the attempt as someone found him and pulled him from the car and rung an ambulance.

We were told although he has survived it there may be effects to his health in 7-8 years’ time which we are now seeing as he is having assessments with the memory clinic
My husband had a very close relationship with our son that estranged us and loved being a Grandad to our Granddaughter.

Like me he thought we had a good relationship with our son and daughter in law and we loved the time we had with them.

There was a text on his phone intended for me saying sorry he wished he could have been a better husband, dad and grandad.

He felt powerless to try and reconcile his family and felt it was better for everyone if he was no longer around.

For someone who has been a loving husband for 43 years, has been a brilliant Dad to our 2 sons and a sweet and loving Grandad it breaks my heart to personally experience the devastation estrangement has on all individuals affected by it.

I’m also aware of much publicity on social media and press about its okay to talk about mental health but reality is there is still a lot of stigma around suicide.

I was ostracised by my 2 sons after my husband attempted suicide as though it was my fault.

We had been looking after my two grandchildren for ten and a half and eight and half years. We had them every day. We took/ collected them from school.

Took them out in the school holidays and on holiday for ten days every year.

Then I had a falling out with my daughter about money. All contact with the grandchildren stopped over night.

My world just stopped,  I suddenly had no purpose in life. Nothing to live for.

I didn’t sleep,  couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed in the morning.  If I did get out of bed I would just wonder the streets, not knowing what or where I was going. I pushed my other family away, no one else mattered just my grandchildren and if I couldn’t see them I didn’t want to be here.

All I could think of was that I didn’t want to live anymore.  There was nothing worth living for. I thought it was all my fault, and that I must of been a evil, horrible person. Even though I  had done nothing wrong.

My thoughts where how was the best way to kill myself. I thought of so many different ways. From jumping in the canal.( as I can’t swim) to jumping under a train or car. I finally decided to take a load of tablets.

I was a very lucky person as my son found me before I had taken to many.

After a night in the hospital and many tests I got to see a doctor who talked to me about what had happened.

That was the wake up call that I needed to realise it wasn’t my fault and I had other family who needed me.

If anyone is having suicidal thoughts please contact the Samaritans immediately :116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

Remember you are never alone, there is help out there for you.

About Jane

Jane setup Bristol Grandparent Support Group in 2007 after a string of incidents led to the loss of contact with her Grand Daughter.

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