Charlotte Underwood, writer and mental health campaigner, shares her courageous story with us. Trigger warning: discussions of suicide and substance abuse.
Life has not been especially easy for me. I’ve got more layers than an onion due to this, though my mental health really took a turn for the worst when my father went missing for over a month. He was found, suicide was confirmed.
It was hard to process, suicide was supposed to be for movies, not for real life, right? I went through a lot of things after that, blaming others, blaming myself, creating conspiracy theories, just so I didn’t have to accept that my best friend, my daddy, was gone.
Losing a loved one to suicide is so hard because it’s often sudden and leaves a lot of questions and nuclear damage that domino effects into every single person who knew and loved the victim. I’m all reality, it is no ones fault for a suicide, not even the victims.
There are so many possible causes and things that can trigger a suicidal episode that it is impossible to always know that someone is at risk, we often miss signs even when they are right in front of us.
My dads death led me to substance abuse and my own suicide attempt, I didn’t want to live without him, I was a daddy’s girl and he was the only one who helped me with my own mental health. For three years I refused to grieve and my life was looking to be pretty similar to my fathers demise, a life of hiding my feelings because I didn’t want to upset anyone or cause a problem.
It wasn’t until I met my husband and learnt to think about myself that I realised through it all, I had lost track of who I was. I decided then and there to start being selfish (without being mean) and to love myself and fight back and work with my own mind.
It’s been a rollercoaster since, recovery isn’t linear, my mood changes in seconds and each day is a battle, I may look fine but there’s always so much going on inside my head and body (mental health has physical effects too!).
What I have learnt though is to not be ashamed of who I am, to demand the help and support I need and to not let my mental health limit me because it does not define me, I am Charlotte, plain and simple.
It’s important to remember that all your feelings are valid, it’s ok to hurt and be angry and to have all this going on because it’s your body responding to trauma or something in your environment eg stressors.
That’s why it’s so important to talk and to be reminded that it’s ok not to be ok and that you are not alone!
Charlotte is an author, is on Twitter and can be found at https://charlotteunderwoodauthor.wordpress.com/