The whole of me broke that day.

The pain I cannot to this day explain. To lose a child… my child, my beautiful, bighearted, humble, gorgeous, kind boy. How could I ever explain it? I can’t believe it now. It is tragic, it is horrific and it left a hole in my heart in the shape of my Son.  I needed help to breathe – I couldn’t do it for myself.  I didn’t think I would ever be able to breathe properly for myself again. I needed help straight away. The sun would come up every morning and I felt it pushed you further away. I couldn’t remember things, I couldn’t sleep, I remembered things I didn’t want to. I got up every day and I didn’t know why. I’ve never been angry with him, I love him with all my heart until forever. I didn’t know how to grieve for him – I still don’t.

Finally I knew I had to do something. I signed up for the Mental Health First Aid course. There it was, up on the screen… the word suicide.  How difficult it was to see.  I had to do something, but what could I do? Then along came Roses In The Ocean. What followed was an incredible experience for me.

I met a small group of people who were bereaved by Suicide.  Some of them were Mother’s like me. We shared, we cried, we learnt, we exhaled. We became the National Lived Experience Advisory Group for StandBy – Support After Suicide, and we also became a family.  A family who doesn’t ever have to explain because the others understand. I have been part of making changes to StandBy’s resources. Knowing this may help the pain of someone else in some small way is very important to me because I did it with my Son.

There is nothing I can do to change what happened, but I can try and and make a difference to what does happen. They say you grieve as much as you love. No-one loved you more, and we still have so much to do my beautiful boy.

Siân Houghton

A mother’s fight against stigma

My story begins with a broken family one that divided 3 little boys.

In the beginning the struggles were clear, a mother struggling to raise 2 of her 3 children while fighting to regain custody of her 3 child. The years took their toll on all us. I watched my sons grow into men as they began their own broken families.

The domino effect is real in many aspects of life.

One broken little boy grew into a broken man…with an unrelenting need to be loved. As his mum I was determined to love him no matter what, to show him the support he had missed growing up with.

As parents we don’t see the damage we inflict on our children once the family breaks down, years of spite and revenge, years of making a child miss out on the love of a mother.

A fight for survival began early, a fight or flight life that turned our world on its head. A life filled with questions, heartbreak and sorrow.

I could never explain the whys just comfort the why nots. The joys we celebrated together like the birth of his own 3 children, I held him through the break down of his own family break down. We became our rocks secretly as we had done his whole life. The determination of others to keep us apart only made our bond stronger. As he tried to move on he once said to me “ I’ll be lucky to make it to 30 mum “ my answer was “ prove them wrong my boy I know you can”

He moved so far away yet we called each other 3-4 times a week. 

He reached 30 and came to visit, the excitement of a holiday was overwhelming.

We spent a week together and his leaving words I will never forget “I love you mum and am so proud of you” as he kissed me on the forehead I whispered “I love you too and am always proud of you, we got this” 

Two weeks later on a Thursday night call we chatted for hours, Friday night I worked late and decided not to call and disturb him and his friends how I regret not making that call.

Saturday afternoon the 11/11/2017 after my phone had been ringing all morning I finally answered with anger in my voice as I saw my sons name appear ,” I’m at work boo you know I don’t finish for another hour I’ll call you then , just wait!”

A voice spoke back to me ……” you can’t, his ….. then the phone went silent as I tried to comprehend what was said. Within minutes his father called me, “ you right ?” I asked is it true? “ yes it’s true” again the phone went silent along with my world.

Desperate I called the police where my son was living and that call was the most important day of my life, the words “ next of kin” tore my world apart. My son had taken his life and there was nothing I could do. 

My son was broken, my son was gone nothing was going to take that pain away. I desperately want to say a final goodbye, I wanted to hold him one last time yet now I wasn’t his next of kin his father was. The broken family revenge had struck its final blow. I was isolated once more from my child, not knowing where he was, not knowing how he died and worst of all not being allowed to know.

When will we as parents stop destroying our children, pushing them to the brink.

It’s strange , I should have been angry he left no note, he left me. The usual stigma began that he was selfish for leaving his children. My life had stopped that day for a moment until I spoke and my words softened “ my boy is not selfish, and I am not ashamed, my heart is broken , his is now free. You are the ones that are selfish and blind and the stigma attached is a prison.”

I am proud of my son he did indeed make it past 30.

For months I fought with those around to make them understand my response was I’m in denial and the silence came. Until I was asked by a friend to attend roses in the ocean. I could talk to others about my son, I could speak his name.

His name is Ross and from that day I gave him a voice and his selfless act gave me the power to help others.

Ross didn’t know his actions would cause so much pain what he did know was our actions caused him pain. We all stand and speak on mental illness yet we don’t act. Our sons are told to man up, my son tried and to me I’m proud.

Suicide is all our responsibility, suicide prevention is in actions not words.

I am a mother not next of kin. I am my son’s voice and his heartbreak.

Suicide took my son and gave me the strength to save others.

emotional needs

In the time since my brother took his own life days after Christmas 2016, I have learned a great deal. Before this event, I felt inadequate because I could not keep up with my colleagues.  I had suffered a breakdown in 2005, and a second, less severe one in 2014, both times diagnosed with post-traumatic stress.

But, after the event, I started to think it was not me that was wrong – it was a society that was so unaccepting of emotions, so intolerant of temperamental differences and so judgemental about achievement, affluence and appearances.  In my working life as a registered nurse, I excelled at looking after others’ emotional needs but had totally neglected my own.  I believe it is worse for males; our society expects them to be strong, rational – anything but emotional.  I found Susan Cain’s work on introversion, and Elaine Aron’s work on sensory processing sensitivity – I strongly identified with both.  It was an enormous relief to realise I was not alone, not the only one who felt like a misfit in an insensitive, extroverted world. I began a master’s degree, looking at society and these issues, linking my research back to my experience.

I have found there are many who agree that we need to rethink how we relate to our emotions – especially those we consider ‘negative’.  The idea that we can just push through or ignore emotions is wrong. In her book, ‘Emotional Agility’, Susan David, PhD, links the acceptance of normal human emotions to resilience.  Jonice Webb, PhD, has studied childhood emotional neglect and its impact in later life. We all need to learn to recognise emotions and find a way of accepting them rather than denying or repressing them, something neither my brother nor I were taught.