I’ve always strongly believed that no matter what, myself or loved ones would always fight to the bitter end through any illness or test that was thrown our way through life. No matter what it required or how excruciatingly uncomfortable it could be, we’d do whatever it took to survive and eventually live & thrive again. Life, after all, is the most precious gift and should be preserved at all costs. This was always just a non-negotiable fact of life for me.
However, my ‘no matter what’ belief was tested drastically, and changed for a time, during the months of Dad’s suicide attempts & deteriorating mental health. It really made me question & re-evaluate my view on life and our purpose for being here.
I used to always think that no matter how dark someone’s depression made them feel, life was always still worth living. But when you’ve lived through it and witnessed the indescribable pain & suffering it can cause, with no closure or resolution readily available, it does not matter in those moments if you miraculously knew that there’d be a resolution in a few months, even years, and that all would be well again.
When you have depression or are caring for someone with depression & other mental illnesses, a second truly feels like an hour, an hour like a day, a day like a week, a week like a month and a month like a year. Time drags and you find yourself doing that one thing that I never like to do – wishing time away – like really super-speeding it on! Just so that you can say that you all survived another day.
But life is meant for living & thriving, not just surviving.
I can’t remember how the idea or thought came to me, but around the time of Dad’s second suicide attempt, I ended up researching Euthanasia. Google’s dictionary description was spot on: the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma.
Painless killing – great. Patient suffering – yes, immensely so. Painful disease – yes, an excruciating & indescribable one.
I hope that you never have to feel that desperate & despairing. It’s a feeling beyond awful, and one that’s often hard to admit. But when there‘s no quick fix, or maybe no fix at all, and there’s so much suffering, you understandably just want to do anything that means your loved one will be at peace. It honestly seemed like the best possible solution for all of us at the time.
Having your father repeatedly confide in you and speak with such frustration & desperation at wanting to be able to go to bed & not wake up the next day feels like such a huge responsibility to bear.
While I‘m glad that Dad could talk to me & share this with me, I felt so torn between doing what I’d always thought to be right, and wanting to help him fulfil his wishes when no-one else would. And after weeks of trying to convince him otherwise, I finally started to give in and believe that it was perhaps the only option myself.
I thought I could cope losing Pops this way because he’d be at peace; we’d be able to do a proper goodbye; I’d been to Switzerland before with one of my dearest friends and couldn’t help but think there was no better place to say goodbye than somewhere so naturally beautiful; clean; pure; rich; full of intelligent & well-educated people who’d know what they were doing; and kind & compassionate souls who’d take good care of us both.
I think a lot of us hope that when the time comes, it’ll be pain-free, peaceful in our homes & with our loved ones nearby. I wanted to have this chance, and to end the risk of losing my Dad to suicide.
I continued researching euthanasia & Physician-Assisted Suicide (PAS) quite extensively, questioning whether it was the right thing… but the more I read, the more I felt & began to believe that it was. Only to feel that the whole world really was against me & my Dad when I discovered that anyone with a mental illness can not qualify for PAS, and although they may be able to receive euthanasia in Belgium & The Netherlands, citizens of other countries where this is illegal, such as the UK, can be prosecuted for helping a loved one receive euthanasia.
I genuinely started to contemplate whether I was willing to potentially go to prison for a few years, if it happened to be the outcome of helping Dad finally find lasting peace.
I felt I could do it: I’m more resilient than I give myself credit for sometimes.
But I didn’t know what kind of judge & jury I might get, and which prison & what conditions, and how long the sentence might be. Some sites said 14 years! But surely you couldn’t be punished for helping someone else find peace?!
Well we’d be able to afford a good lawyer, especially if Dad wasn’t here anymore. (It genuinely seemed worth the risk at the time).
The friends he had & people who knew him might hate me for helping him go through with it, but I thought I could cope with that too because as much as some of them cared, they didn’t really know what the 3 of us were going through, and Pops would be at peace. That’s all that mattered.
This was my genuine thought process at the time, and me in ultimate crisis mode.
But then I stopped to think about Mum. And my friends. And me. We mattered too.
I remember visiting Dad in hospital after his second attempt and having to break the news to him that ‘unfortunately’, euthanasia wasn’t an option. I hadn’t told him that I’d been looking into it until then. I felt partly relieved at breaking that news to him, as it showed that I really had tried for him, but also that it wasn’t an option so we’d get to carry on together and try to find a different solution, as exhausting and difficult as it would be for us all.
I’ll never forget the sheer disappointment in his face after that conversation, and how his head, shoulders & heart sank a little lower than they already were.
It felt like when you let an expectant & hopeful child down on something and it really does feel like the end of the world for them, except without the inevitable bounce-back that a child would have in a few minutes / hours / days.
I continue to try to remain hopeful and act as a pillar of strength & encouragement for my Dad and for my Mum, but there are many days where I can’t help but give in a little (if nothing else but to give myself a break & rest from the constant daily battle), and think – is this it now until the end?
I’m optimistic that my unfaltering hope will return over time, but it’s an exhausting life-change.
If you or a loved one are suffering with a mental illness or have been affected by attempted suicides, know that I am taking a big deep breath for you. I recognise that there’s no quick fix or easy solution, but that’s not to say that we’re giving in.
We’re simply learning to change what we can, accept & come to terms with what we can’t, and just keep going everyday, believing that it will get easier, even if we can’t see how or when just yet.
My messages are always open through my Facebook & Instagram pages if you need to talk. And there are lots of people willing & able to provide professional help & support every hour of the day through many charities & organisations: Help Is Here
Keep doing your very best. It’s more than enough.
I believe in you.
Xxx ♡ xxX