2023 Author: Anita Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-22 03:30
It was a Wednesday morning. A cold, gray November day. The phone rings at 6:30 in the morning. My sister was calling to tell me that my mother had died.
The woman who gave me life took her own.
It was three years ago. I said it.
She would be dead of cancer it wouldn't have been so hard to share with you. But talking about suicide remains… awkward. Ashamed ? Yes, maybe too. I've often been told that I shouldn't talk about it, because it's too heavy. My family history is heavy and society does not want to hear about it.
Talking about it openly also makes me realize that maybe I'm ashamed of being ashamed. We should not be ashamed of the mental illness of our parents, of our family. However, I have the impression that it has a stigmatizing effect. I am afraid that people will judge me, that they will put me in the category of crazy people by descent, that they will take pity on my children. Worse. Being told that, because of my family background, I am not the best person to take care of my children…
On the science of statistics
In 2012, after trying to help my mother during a particularly difficult crisis that lasted several months, I thought fate had caught up with me.
Read the studies on suicide, mental he alth issues, genetics … I made myself sick. I no longer had control of my thoughts. Like Marie-Sissi Labrèche, I was afraid of creating mad people.
I thought the Damocles sword hanging over my head was going to fall, any moment. It was no longer a probability. It was certain that I would also fall into the clutches of mental illness.
A dark spiral was pulling me to thoughts I couldn't have…I was pregnant! I had to feel the happiness of bearing a child. I had to consider myself lucky to carry life for a second time. I must not have wanted to end mine!
End it to stop hurting
All I wanted was to stop having these thoughts. Because pregnant, you can't be depressed. Because cancers of the soul are so hard to pin down.
I stretched poles. I was heard, listened to. During the months that followed, I realized that this episode of anxiety could have killed me. I learned to defuse crises, to see them coming, to understand them, to understand ME.
A waterfall of distress
In the months leading up to his suicide, my mother cried out for help. She had been ill for several years. She was even hospitalized several times. Each time, after a few weeks, she went out while waiting for external support. From one crisis to another, there was family mobilization to help her, with certain limits.
Boundaries like family obligations and the physical distance between us and her. But above all the limit of emotions. That of seeing my own mother in such distress that the only option for her was to attempt the irreparable. Repeat.
The day of his suicide, the number 1-866-APPELLE was hanging on his fridge. On her answering machine, the new social worker assigned to her file introduced herself in a cheerful voice. She was the third in her file in a few months.
Inevitably, my mother's distress left traces on who I am…
Suicide Changes Lives
With help, I learned that my mother's suicide is part of who I am. My identity bears this scar. The pain will never really go away. But I have the power to turn this pain into an urgency to live. I'm starting to really believe in it, three years later.
If my mother's death left a big hole in my heart, motherhood saved me. Two little human beings hooked me to life, and their father's love too, of course! Thanks to them, and with professional and competent help, I intend to break the cycle in which we seem to inevitably fit when mental illness knocks on our family's door.
September 10 will be the 15th World Suicide Prevention Day. To find help: 1-866-CALL.
Written by Mariève Paradis
Also read on Planète F
Prenatal depression: the great forgotten one
Parental anxiety: worse than before?