7 Years On From My Dad’s Suicide (& New Beginnings)
7 years ago today I lost my Dad to suicide.
Words can’t describe how much he meant to me.
After an emotional breakdown, one failed suicide attempt 2 weeks after his breakdown and 5 months of battling depression he took his own life on March 4th 2009 by walking in front of a lorry.
I was 18 at the time (a month off 19) and that was the day that changed my life forever.
This article you’re about to read is a reflection on the past 7 years, showcasing my own personal vulnerability I struggled to share with even my closest friends and family.
I’m about to share with you the low points I hit, the realisations I had and most importantly the importance of new beginnings.
Sure, it’s a pretty long post but stick with it… I’ve got some exciting news to share towards the end.
Realisation 1: Why He Did It
Why did my Dad take his own life?
Why couldn’t he turn to one of his many friends and family members who loved him dearly?
He held down a full time job which was well paid, had a loving wife, two sons and supportive parents. He ran daily and competed at the National Veteran Championships running and coming second in the 1500m. He ran a part time Physiotherapy business from home and was loved by many.
Why did he feel like suicide was the only option?
This question crossed my mind for years, leading to guilt, blame, and a feeling of abandonment.
But through periods of suffering with depression personally, alongside years of self realisation and working on myself I forgave him.
I could understand…
An outside perspective on suicide typically stems from the word ‘selfish’. Heck, I’ve probably said it in the past before I suffered from it.
But suicide isn’t selfish…
Following on from my popular post ‘Why Men Kill Themselves‘ I highlighted the darkness my Dad suffered to do what he did.
Can suicide really be a choice if it’s the only choice available?
I’m sure that’s what my Dad felt, as ourselves and people around us kept asking the question of why he did it.
He had so many ‘reasons’ why he shouldn’t do it, but through his breakdown his pain was far greater than any reason to stay here.
His perception of life had collapsed, darkened, and to him he’d lost all choice in life.
In fact in reflection the only choice he was in full control of was should I end this pain or fight it for another day?
When someone is in the situation of killing themselves they’re in control which is a feeling that makes them feel complete.
They feel like they’re not in control of any other situation of their life, but this situation right here right now, on the brink of taking their own life is their decision, it’s them in control.
The pain of living becomes unbearable, and people struggle to understand the pain people are going through to make that decision.
When you hit that dark hole, when your perception of life collapses, the pain is far greater than anything to live for.
Looking back I wish my Dad had the support he needed to get himself out of the darkness and into light. If only he could have been shown another option, a slight glimmer of hope… maybe he’d still be here.
I wish we were guided on ways to help him and ways we could support him. Mental illness isn’t like a broken leg. You’re not given any manuals on ways to support others, and you’re not given any expectations in terms of healing either.
Right now as I write this, I don’t blame my Dad for what he did and what he left behind.
I very rarely question ‘why’ any more and I can understand the place he was in and the decision he took.
Relieving all guilt, blame and questions of why is the best way to heal. Letting go of the reasons and understanding the situation better will help you overcome it.
It helped me…
Realisation 2: The Statistics Are Shocking
A man takes his own life every 2 hours in the UK alone.
Suicide is the biggest killer of all men under the age of 50.
Out of all of the recorded suicides last year, 76% were men.
What’s important to note is the above statistics still don’t reflect the suicides that were labelled ‘inconclusive’ in the Coroners report, and they don’t include the many men who essentially take their own lives through years of Alcoholism and drug abuse.
4,624 isn’t just a number, it isn’t just a statistic, it’s the amount of men who took their own life in the UK last year.
My Dad’s suicide shocked our whole family, it shocked his network of friends and the people he worked with. It had a huge impact on a lot of peoples lives… but the bigger picture shows he was just a single digit added to the ever growing number of suicides each year.
The statistics don’t lie…
So why do we (even with the numbers in front of us) still treat suicide the same way we have for centuries? Labelling it a selfish act, an easy way out and not treating it like it is…. a health issue.
Share these statistics with your friends and see what they think…
It isn’t a minority anymore, it’s happening on a mass scale.
I only discovered these statistics 6 months ago. Even when my Dad took his own life I was still unaware of the ever growing statistics, it’s almost like it gets swept under the carpet.
Helping the suicide rate to decrease starts by thinking about suicide, talking about suicide and doing something about suicide. Being aware of the statistics and sharing them should help…
Realisation 3: We’re All Victims of Victims
I learnt this from a recent mentor of mine.
In essence, everyone of us is a victim of a victim.
Now I don’t like the ‘victim mentality’ so this isn’t what I’m trying to get at, but the point of the matter is we all develop traits, habits, and core values passed down to us from our up bringing.
In a perfect world, our up bringing would be ‘perfect’.
But nobody is perfect, nobody is ‘fine’ and everyone always has the ability to grow.
You see everybody enters the world the same way.
We all come into existence as a baby, completely vulnerable to the world in front of us.
Everyone is unique through DNA, through the lives we’re about to lead and what truly inspires us.
This vulnerability as a baby and child means our upbringing and our experiences creates our way of thinking.
No one is perfect, and your parents or the people who bring you up have damaged emotions which will be inflicted upon you.
When your developmental needs aren’t met by a parent or anyone who has a role in your up bringing it can leave an emotional wound.
These wounds that happen early on in life can have long lasting effects on our emotions and behaviours.
If they’re not dealt with, not only will it effect our lives we will simply pass them on to our children.
Typically it’s not intentional. Emotional trauma doesn’t just come from abuse or being purposely victimised. In most cases your parents want the best from you, but the emotional traumas they haven’t dealt with throughout their childhood will be inflicted upon yours.
Their insecurities, their worries, their fears, their behaviour and mannerisms all get passed down to you.
Hence why we’re all victims or victims.
Even if we lose a loved one at a young age a sense of abandonment will take a forefront in our emotions. We’ll feel like the people we love leave us, and we typically blame ourselves even if there was nothing we could do.
If you’re parents tell you you’re not good enough and put you down you’ll often grow up with low self esteem and sensitivity.
On the other hand if you’re always praised, told your beautiful everyday and intelligent when independence arises you’ll also expect everyone else to see you that way. When they don’t, emotional trauma can also arise.
This is truly scratching the surface in terms of the effect our childhood has on us but our vulnerability as children alongside the experiences and mistakes we make as we grow up often make up our emotions.
We carry these beliefs about ourselves and these emotions, consistently programming our minds.
With true self awareness of who you truly are and not the thoughts and beliefs systems installed onto you throughout your up bringing you can start to reprogram your mindset.
Work backwards, are there any thoughts and beliefs you have which you can link with your up bringing?
Are you out of touch with your emotions because your Dad always told you to “toughen up” when you cried?
Do you feel like you’re worthless or you don’t matter because you were often ignored when you were growing up.
We add them to our emotional baggage and get on with our daily lives.
Our minds stay programmed to these beliefs and emotions for years, sometimes throughout decades making it harder to break the programming.
Every time a new experience or thought triggers an emotion within your ‘baggage’ it adds to it. For example if your Dad passed away when you were young you’d feel abandoned, that everyone you love leaves you. Now in Adulthood your girlfriend of 6 months has just left you, triggering that emotion and adding to it, strengthening the belief that everyone you love leaves.
When you feel depressed, sad and weak you’re reminded of the times you were told to ‘toughen up’ by your Father, increasing the self belief that you’re not strong enough.
The cycle goes on, and it’s important to break it. To look inside the baggage we carry and understand it.
True self reflection typically comes when you’re about to die. You tend to look back at the things you never did, and all of a sudden the worries and fear holding you back seem irrelevant.
Isn’t it better to self reflect now? Rather than waiting for the end…
It’s not the things we do in life that we’ll regret on our death bed, it’s the things we do not.
Why not reflect right now, decide to make change and become the best version of yourself you possibly can be?
I self reflected and looked back to my Dad alongside my up bringing.
My Dad was an amazing role model, he loved dearly and he was loved back. But I remember a sense of detachment from him, almost like he feared getting too close.
He had insecurities, and feared loss. My Dad in essence was addicted to Money, mostly saving it and became very secretive with his money. A lot of guilt surrounded his addiction to money and looking back this was a big reason behind his breakdown (he spent more and gave away money freely when he hit his low point, something completely against my Dad’s ‘nature’).
Through all the positives my Dad passed down to me (and trust me there was a lot!) he also passed down some negatives. Insecurities, fear and worry being prominent. But it was all through the emotional trauma he developed as a child, passed down by his parents (my grandparents) who of course were passed down emotional trauma from their parents.
The cycle goes on…
It’s important we realise that a lot of the decisions we make and the thoughts we think are down to the way we were brought up. We started as pure, completely vulnerable with unique DNA… but we develop new habits, core values and a different mentality through the way we’re brought up.
Trace it back, think about the emotions that are holding you back right now and see if there’s any correlation in the way you’ve lived your life.
Do you fear losing loved ones? Maybe that fear is built around the fact you lost someone close to you young, or your Mum and Dad divorced, or your Dad worked a lot and you only saw him at weekends.
Trace it back and you’ll start to realise things about you.
Things that once you become aware of them, you can change.
We can all ‘reprogram’ our minds and behaviours. But self reflecting and realising why we do what we do is key.
Realisation 4: We Overcomplicate Life
How can Kanye West be $56 million in debt?
Why in a country with such opportunities are so many unemployed, struggling to pay their bills but still walking around with an iPhone?
How comes the divorce rate is so high?
In essence I’ve realised we overcomplicate our lives.
My Dad worried about money and saved for a rainy day. Then what happened? He had a full time income, a part time business but still worried about a ‘lack’ of money. Why? Money worries surrounded his life but on paper he should never have worried.
I remember a good story about a guy in Costa Rica who lived in a Bungalow…
A rich American business man travelled there every year, and every year this guy made him feel welcome. He helped him with his luggage, he helped him get settled but he never requested money in return. The rich American felt sorry for the man who had nothing to his name just his small bungalow on the beach. He had no wifi, no gadgets, no fresh water and no where to even cook food.
The rich American returned one year and told the man he was going to build him a new house. It would have everything you could dream of… expecting the man to leap with joy he simply said ‘why do I need all of that? I’m happy where I am right now’.
From the outside the rich American thought because this man didn’t live the luxury life he lived he wasn’t happy. But in reality he was happier than then rich American! He didn’t overcomplicate life, he enjoyed the simple things and kept his life simple.
More complications lead to more fear and more worry.
Our attachment to ‘things’ leads us to overcomplicating life. Our fear and our insecurities means we look for fulfilment in places we shouldn’t.
In reality, what truly makes you happy?
Is it the house you’re struggling to pay for, the £1,000 sofa you’re sitting on, the car you drive or the clothes you wear? Or is it simply your health, the air you breathe, the amazing food you eat and the family you have?
True happiness comes from the things we take for granted, so strip back to basics and find fulfilment.
Here’s a thought…
What would you do if no one would judge you?
Imagine no one would see what you were doing or the results you were having. What would you do?
We spend so much time worrying about what others think, we overcomplicate things and get distract from the true meaning of fulfilment.
Imagine that no one will know the successes you have, no one will know how much money you earn, the relationship you have, the job you have…
You’re free to do what ever you want without any judgement.
What would you do? What you discover will be the key to fulfilment. This is the true meaning to happiness.
Strip back your life to the basics, don’t overcomplicate things and be grateful for what you have rather than what you lack.
On paper my Dad had everything. Two loving sons, a wife, supportive parents, a good group of friends and a full time job to name a few… but he overcomplicated the true meaning of life and bombarded his thoughts with fear. His obsession to keep earning more money shifted his focus away from the things that truly mattered.
How can you make your life less complicated?
Realisation 5: Life Is Made Up Of A Series Of Decisions
What decisions did you make yesterday? Last year? As a child?
In fact what decisions did you make in the past hour?
Life is made up of a series of decisions.
But why are the decisions we make important?
Firstly it comes back to responsibility, and remembering that whatever situation you’re in right now is completely down to you. We very easily take the ‘victim’ mindset when things don’t go our way, but the decision to give in and shift the blame will keep you in that very position you’re in right now.
They key part to anything is this…
What decision or choice did you make to get to the position you’re in and what decision or choice will you make to get out of it?
The decisions we’re faced with usually consist of multiple possibilities and we must come to the conclusion that the decisions we make can change our lives forever.
We typically shy away from decisions, sticking to our comfort zones crippled by fear and fail to take the responsibility we should.
Those unlimited possibilities and potential outcomes from decisions lies the reason why we shy away from responsibility and change. The fear of the unknown will guard the key to unlock your full potential.
It’s important to note that there are of course things out of your control. The loss of a loved one, something happening in the world, a problem out of your control. But it’s how we react to these things that matters.
Imagine how many relationships wouldn’t have occurred if you didn’t make a decision? Think about how many times your life could have changed for the better or worse because of a decision? Look back and think about how many events in history would never have happened if a decision wasn’t made?
The issue is we often make the wrong decisions…
We shy away from decisions, we take the safer option due to fear, we let our ego take over, and we often make rash decisions through stress or anxiety.
If we could just make better decisions would our lives change?
Knowing what is truly valuable to you will help guide you to make the right decisions. When you live ‘on purpose’, you simply start making decisions based around what you’re inspired to do. Don’t lose focus on your future, people make decisions based upon the here and now later on regretting decisions they turned away from.
Think about the decisions you make, allow yourself to take time to consider the variables and go with your heart not your head. Don’t let fear, ego or emotional behaviours make the decision. If it feels right, do it.
This is where investing in yourself becomes crucial.
The more you know about yourself and the life you want to live, the better decisions you’ll make.
Before any decision I now make I take time on it, make sure I’m in the right headspace and decide. If that decision doesn’t pay off, I still remind myself it’s for the good.
If I make decisions quickly, it typically comes from intuition.
I remember my Dad once told me “Listen to your heart, don’t listen to your head”.
I live by this saying, and if it ‘feels’ right I go for it.
Realisation 6: Release Control
My Dad wanted firm control of his money situation.
He wanted control over his marriage and he wanted to control a lot of things that happened to him.
Control is something we all look for, but aiming to control simply stems from fear of ‘what is’.
Recently I’ve started to notice things are a lot more smoother in my life (and more enjoyable) when I give up control. I do what I need to and allow things to happen. I trust and believe that things will pay off.
Before I used to try and always ‘make’ things happen. That extra $1,000 in the bank, a perfect relationship, an online business with no faults… in fact I used to try and control peoples opinions of me (something a lot of people do when worrying what others think).
We try and control others and the things around us because of fear of the unknown.
Again control stems from fear, and we’re always trying to create a specific outcome. When we let go of control we’re offered a wide range of possibilities, we learn more about ourselves and this allows us to make better choices.
How much energy are you applying to try and control everything in your life? Surely the energy of surrendering and letting go will allow you to accomplish much more?
When you surrender to control, you’ll find your anxiety, stress and worries start to disappear.
Accept what is. Trust yourself and stop trying to control things which are completely out of your control.
Things will start to become easier…
New Beginnings (Mini McGregor)
As I write this on the day of my Dad’s 7th anniversary, I’m filled an indescribable feeling of sadness and grief balanced out by happiness and joy.
Fuck it, I don’t know what I’m feeling right now but as I type away I find myself smiling slightly.
I’m going to be a Dad!
Today I saw my little boy (we already knew the gender) at our 20 week scan, and it brought light to a day that typically surrounds me with darkness.
With my partner Amy and accompanied by my Mum, we shared tears of joy together as we saw him once again growing strong.
I could tell Mum was feeling the same as me, joy and excitement of the new arrival and sadness that my Dad isn’t here to see it too.
I’m sure he’s overlooking filled with joy also, but knowing him he’s probably hoping we’ve thought about the added expense a new baby brings or hoping he doesn’t get my pointy ears (just joking).
I’ve been with my partner Amy now for over 5 years and she has a son from a previous relationship (Freddie). I met Freddie when he was 18 months old and I’ve played a part in his life since. He’s now 6 (nearly 7) and he brings so much happiness to my life every single day. I’m ready for Fatherhood, I’ve been playing the role to the best I can with Freddie since I met him.
*Me and Freddie 3 years ago.
*Barney and Bam Bam (with a green wig) from the Flintstones 6 months ago.
I’m in a great place right now, something I didn’t think I’d be saying 7 years ago.
I’m looking forward to welcoming baby McGregor in to this world, and if I could be 50% of the role model to him as my Dad was to me I’d be happy.
I hope this post helps, and if it does I’d love to hear below. Please share and don’t forget to connect with me either through the 1 on 1 call application, email or social media.
I want to end this by saying thank you…
I love you Dad.