In the summer of 2017 we drove out to Montreal to visit with my mom’s side of the family. My step son stayed back with his mom, and we brought my two kiddos and the baby. My grandparents were celebrating their wedding anniversary that weekend and everyone was getting together for the party.
We loaded up the kids and headed out, driving into the night. We arrived late, and tiptoed into my aunts house where we managed to catch a few hours of sleep. The next morning, the kids went out to the pool, we sat around on the deck drinking coffee/Palm Bays and catching up with aunts and uncles we hadn’t seen in forever. My sister came by with her boyfriend, and the kids had a blast.
My mom came by – she wasn’t well. Her head had been bothering her. It was a pain that she described as being “inescapable” and “excruciating”. She came by and sat on the deck with us all, and I managed to snap one photo of her with my youngest.
It was a beautiful moment for me, as you know I don’t see her often. Ever since her first “episode” she moved 7 hours away to Montreal and it’s hard with my schedule to visit.
She made this one brief appearance and then retreated to the basement, where the darkness was much more suitable for the pain she was experiencing.
More family arrived, we started to get ready for the party, and my mother announced that she was not going to attend. We hugged, there were tears, I told her I loved her… and we parted ways.
The party was beautiful. It was at a little outdoor cafe where they converted antique furniture into garden displays. The kids ran around, the uncles laughed and played guitar, we took photos, and all was well – except: my mother was missing.
The sun was setting and we had to pack up. We had to be back home for the following day, so we decided to make the 7 hour treck back home that night. We kissed, we said goodbye, and we were on our way.
I drove the first leg. We hit the highway and something didn’t feel right… My heart. My gut. Something said “go see mom” – but Mike was sleeping and the three kids were sleeping, so I stayed on course.
At 3am we rolled down the highway, and we were only 20 minutes from home. The car slowed and sputtered. We ran out of gas.
Are you fucking kidding me?
Mike hopped out, and started the 6km walk to the nearest gas station. I stayed behind with the harzard lights lit, a baby on my chest, and two confused children in the back. When he got back and filled the tank – nothing. The battery was now dead. I called my dad, and no answer. A few seconds later my phone rang – it was my step-mom. My dad was heading out to rescue us.
We finally got home at 6am… no sleep. The kids went to the couch and I tried to lay down for a bit. We had to be at a derby in Barrie for 10am.
Mike worked feverishly to get the car done, and I joined him outside to help prep. I told him to get some sleep. Tears welled in his eyes. He couldn’t let Papa John down as this was his car. His derby. His time to shine. See, Papa John (stay with me… this is Mike’s ex’s husband’s dad – and he is like a father to Mike…) Papa John was diagnosed with cancer and on his bucket list was: do a Demo Derby. So Mike made the arrangements to make this happen. Today.
We loaded the car up, and went on our way to the derby. Everything was going well. We were a little sleep deprived, but everyone was so excited.
I was sitting in the grand-stands and ding – my phone went off. It was my sister. Mom was in the hospital.
From what I gathered, she took some pills and drank a bunch of alcohol. It caused a serious reaction in her stomach which made her violently ill. She couldn’t breathe. She panicked. She called 911. And now she was in ICU.
Tears. My heart. My chest hurt so bad. I couldn’t breathe. Why didn’t I stop the night before? What if I did something different?
It was too late. The damage was done. And I was too far away to help.
With every suicide attempt, I put up more walls. Having someone go through these highs and lows – it’s exhausing. And heartbreaking. It hurts because you want to fix them and help them, but there is nothing you can do or say to make things easier, or better, for them.
My mother is sick. She suffers from a mental illness, more specifically Borderline Personality Disorder. When she’s sad, it becomes depression. When she’s mad, it becomes rage. When she’s feeling emotions, they become exponentially magnified. And it’s a roller coaster ride in her mind. Sometimes she feels like there is no end; no escape. And suicide is an out. It’s a way to make the ride stop. I know that I cannot fix her, and I know it’s not my fault. The walls I put up don’t fix anything. It doesn’t make the suicide attempts stop. But being aware and understanding makes me able to empathize. Being an open and honest person and being available to listen: it makes you a healthier human being.
Today is #BellLetsTalkDay – a day to break the stigma. A day to say “it’s ok to talk about mental health”. Talking to someone about your feelings is normal. Seeking counselling or asking for help doesn’t make you weak. Even perfectly happy and healthy people are encouraged to discuss what they have going on in their minds and lives.
And in return: listen. Be open to hearing other people’s emotions and concerns. You don’t need to panic. Just listen. Sympathize with people. Just hear them out. Sometimes people just need to vent. And you don’t need to freak out – it’s normal to have these conversations with our friends/family/coworkers. You don’t need to have the answers or a solution; just be open to a conversation.
Break the stigma. Be open to others. And for the love of god, just talk to someone.
I am always here if you need to chat.