In 2005, I was in Year 10 at high school in Devonport. I was leading a fairly normal life – playing sport, talking about College and being with my friends. But little did I know that that year, everything would change…
Clint was my ‘go-to’ older brother. My parents were separating at the time, which meant being at home wasn’t always a happy experience. If Mum and Dad were fighting, I’d call up Clint and I would go stay with him.
Clint was also in business with my Dad, and at the time the business was going through some changes, which my Dad and Clint could not agree on, which deteriorated their relationship. Clint also had a 2-year-old son, and he had separated from his partner earlier in the year.
Clint had a lot going on in his life, and a lot of these things were negative. In August 2005, he died by suicide.
I remember the moment I found out, and still get these deep pangs in my chest when I think about it. I can honestly and whole-heartedly tell you that I lost a piece of myself in that moment, and to this day I still don’t feel complete.
After Clint passed away, my mental health suffered a lot. I had incredible friends, who did all they could to help me, and I thank them for that, but what I needed, which I now know, was to talk. I needed to tell someone about my thoughts, feelings, emotions and ask them questions I had no concept of answering. But I didn’t… I cried for months, then for weeks, then for days, then for hours, then now and then. The amount I cried, to me, was a direct correlation between my grief and loss – The less I cried, the less I missed Clint.
Two years after losing Clint, I lost my Grandfather. I lived with my grandparents for some of my childhood, and they were, and still are, my role models in life. They taught me so much about life and really shaped the person I am today. When I lost my Grandfather, my immediate thought was ‘Why me? Why am I the one who has to cry themselves to sleep again?’ Two years later, I lost my Grandmother. This time my thought was ‘Really? What have I done to deserve this?’ Then, soon after the loss of my Grandmother, I lost my Mother. At this point, I had supressed so many emotions that my thought was ‘Of course. It’s always me.’ I had become immune to losing people in my life.
The loss of my mother opened up so much more than I expected or wanted. It was at that point that all the emotions, thoughts and feelings I had from processing the deaths of my brother and grandparents resurfaced in one huge hit. I didn’t care about anything in my life, I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, and I started having panic attacks. After a panic attack at home, my fiancé Jase looked at me and said ‘I never want to see you like that ever again. I think we need some help’.
And so I found help. I went to Headspace and I saw my GP, who suggested seeing a psychologist. The psychologist helped me realise that I was grieving the loss of four people – all at once. And unfortunately that was spilling out into my everyday life. She was the first person I had opened up to about Clint, and it felt so incredibly freeing. I started to understand my emotions, my triggers, my reasoning, and she gave me ways that I could control myself again. Something that I felt I’d lost when Mum passed away.
So, how does that apply to Stay ChatTY? If I could go back, and have someone come in and tell me about suicide prevention, and to hear another person’s story, maybe it wouldn’t have taken me 11 years to grieve the loss of my brother. I wouldn’t have felt so alone for so many years, and I would have sought the help I needed sooner.
So, please, TALK to anyone possible. If you are struggling, tell someone. If you’re worried about someone, ask if they’re okay. You may not have the answers, but allowing them the opportunity to talk can do more than you would believe.
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. You are human. And sometimes we need a little bit of help.