Who am I? Who was this person I was looking at in the mirror?
It wasn’t me. I know that. The passing of my Nan was the start. It was the start where I was losing who I was. ‘Fake’ me was coming out.
I hid my feelings. I hid my identity. I was waiting for each day to end.
Too much happened
How much can one child go through?
Shortly after my Nan passed, my Mum was diagnosed with Cancer. Breast Cancer to be precise. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know who I was. How was I going to help her?
Instead, I ran. I ran away from the person I was. I excluded myself. I went into the darkness and I couldn’t find a way out.
My Nan meant a lot. My Mum means a lot. Family means a lot. What do you do though when you see everyone slipping away from you? What happens when you’re slipping away from them?
Even my Sister. My Sister having a stroke; it all got too much for me. I was losing control. I was losing. I felt defeated. I gave up. I gave up hope.
She was lying there with wires all over the place. She was just there. She couldn’t talk back. Her eyes weren’t open. I couldn’t lose someone else. I just couldn’t.
No-one knew how I felt
I told no-one. Only I knew. I was scared. I was worried. I didn’t want to take the focus away from my Mum or Sister. I was selfish. I was selfish to myself. I needed the help. I didn’t ask for it. I didn’t know how. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to start the conversation.
“Mum…Dad…I need help!”
I was only a kid. A kid who didn’t understand this. I was someone who felt lonely. I was skipping school because I didn’t want to open up. Despite the struggle, I kept it all in. I wanted to burst. I wanted to say something. I really did. But, it was all too much.
When my Nan passed, I had no safe place. School was full of bullies. My sports clubs had them too. My teachers treated me badly. I was being picked on. They didn’t understand. They didn’t know that by constantly picking on me to do things in the classroom it was grating on me. With every day passing, a bit of me was disappearing.
I was running home from school. I was becoming an outcast. I was made to feel different. Leaving school early to avoid the bullies. Not participating in PE at the fear I would be put in the same team as those who were picking on me.
I hated school. I hated life. I hated who I was.
No-one should feel like this, especially a child.
My best friend stopped me
I knew I was suicidal. I knew I wanted to end things. I didn’t want to be alive.
When my family went out, the thoughts happened. Was I going to do it today? Was I going through with it? I wanted to. I really did. Someone stopped me…
Flash came into my life before any of this happened. He filled me with joy. His little legs, wiggling tail and cute face kept me going. I would run home for a cuddle. He would lay down next to me. I knew he was there for me. I knew he understood.
I started speaking to him. I knew who couldn’t say anything back. But, I knew it was someone who could listen. OK, maybe we couldn’t speak to one another, but having someone there helped. It helped me to open up. It helped me to let go. It saved me. He saved me.
His smile stopped the darkness. His face brought light into my life. He gave me hope. He gave me purpose. He gave me a reason to stay alive. I couldn’t leave him. He meant too much to me.
One of the most influential days of my life…
When my Dad came running into my room at 6am, I knew something happened. I knew I was going to shed tears.
Flash; my brother, my best friend, the one I could rely on after my Nan passed…
He had a stroke. He was lying in our front garden helpless. He couldn’t stand. He was being sick. I lied next to him. I held him. I knew I was going to have to say goodbye. The tears wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t let go. He was my brother. He still is. He’s the reason I’m here today.
We found a vets close by to take him. There was not much they could do. My Mum walked out crying. My Dad stood there unable to hold back. I was a mess.
I stayed with him until his final breath. He was there for me. I had to be there for him. I had to thank him. I had to be by his side. He’s impacted my life greatly. Like no-one else.
It was time to get the ‘real’ me back
I vowed that once I walked out of the vets, I was going to talk. I was going to help others. I was going to open up about my story. Flash changed my life. It was time I changed someone else’s life.
I was invited to speak at the local university. They wanted to hear my story. I was known in my area for volunteering, so that’s what most of my talk was about (you’ll hear more about this soon!). I wanted to tell my life story how it happened.
12 years after I was suicidal, I stood in a room full of strangers, mentioned I didn’t know how I was going to react when I shared parts of my story, and I stood there and spoke.
The tears didn’t appear. They did on every person in the room. I was raw. I was honest. I was to the point. I mentioned I struggled. I told them that losing Flash broke me, yet motivated me to stand there that day.
The talk was a life-changing moment for me. In the space of 24 hours, I had delivered this talk, wrote my first ‘My Mental Health story’ blog post and I sat my parents down.
The word ‘suicide’ petrified my Mum. She asked if I was OK. Why didn’t I do this when I struggled? Why didn’t I open up to her? She checked on me daily after this. She wanted to make sure I was OK in myself. It helped. Having a listening ear in your life really does help. Knowing you’re not alone has an impact. A positive one of that.
Reach out to someone
Don’t let someone struggle. Even if you don’t know about it, a simple ‘hello’ and ‘how are you?’ can really help. It starts a conversation. Someone people will open up. It’ll take others more time.
But, by asking how they are, you’re letting them know they’re not alone and you’re there to listen.
The smallest of actions can have the biggest impact.
Images taken by Tajinder Kaur