Thanks for stopping by my little blog. I guess for the sake of introducing myself I should tell you a little bit about my story and why I decided to start blogging. I’ve always found writing to be comforting but a mostly personal thing. A way for me to get out all the thoughts and feelings inside of me that I wasn’t comfortable enough to say out loud to anyone. But then something happened that changed my entire life and I realize that even if I can’t speak the words out loud to people, I still need to find a way to communicate what I’m feeling. For my own mental health. And so this is where my story begins…
On August 24, 2016 I was at work (I work in a large hospital in Orlando, FL) and my shift was slowly coming to an end. It was around 8:30pm and I had just wrapped up my dinner break. Only two and a half more hours to go! I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed to help pass the time because I was sitting out at our front desk and things were slow. As I was scrolling, I saw a post that someone had wrote on my dad’s Facebook wall. In the post it said “RIP” and went on about how much they will miss him. My heart literally sank into my stomach and I felt sick. I tried calling around to find someone to come sit at the desk so I could step away and when they did I rushed off to the unit feeling lost and confused. The tears had started to well up by this point and a panic attack began coming on. A sweet friend who was the charge nurse at the time took one look at me and asked, “what’s wrong?!”. I simply replied, “I think my dad died”. I was trying not to freak completely out just yet because there had once been a post that made me question if my dad was ok, but that’s a whole different story. My friend sat me down in a chair and called my boyfriend to tell him that I had read something on Facebook and that he should come get me. He told her that ‘they’ were coming. When she told me this I was so confused. Who was they?
I of course checked Facebook again and saw another post to my dad saying how the person wished that he would have spoke up about what he had been feeling. That’s when I first realized, he hadn’t just died. He had killed himself. Another nurse friend of mine, Kym, had taken me from our unit to downstairs to wait for my boyfriend to pick me and when we got outside to the ambulance bay I called my aunt, my dad’s sister, looking for answers. When she didn’t answer I then called his brother. My Uncle Brian picked up the phone and said “hello”. In my tears I asked him, “did my dad die?”. Uncle Brian replied, “where are you?”. I knew what the answer was but I needed to hear it from someone. I raised my voice and said “did my dad kill himself?” and that’s when my uncle began to cry and just kept saying “oh God, oh God… I’m so sorry!”. It’s a moment I will never forget. I screamed so loud and just collapsed onto the concrete sobbing uncontrollably. My friend Kym picked up the phone and continued to talk to my uncle while she held me in her arms during the most difficult moment of my life.
At this point, my boyfriend and mom pulled up in her vehicle and had to physically lift me up and carry me to the car. I’m so worked up that I begin to throw up as we drive away. At first into a little trashcan my mom keeps in her car (which of course had to be tossed afterwards) and then finally on to one of the busiest streets in Orlando where my mother had to pull over so I could get out of the car to continue throwing up. When I looked up, my boyfriend TJ was standing over me, tears coming down his face. I could see how much he was hurting as well. When we got back to our house I was in such shock. I was so angry at the women who decided to post on social media about my dad’s death. Because that will forever be the way I had to learn about it. Something my family should have been able to tell me in the privacy of my own home. My uncle and I both left angry comments on it and she removed the post but the damage was done. My mom and boyfriend sat down with me to walk me through what had happened. They had known pretty much all day and were unsure what was the best way to tell me. Whether it was to let me go all day at work and tell me when I got home, or show up to my work and take me home to tell me. Clearly, had they shown up at work I would have known something bad had happened. Just like when my grandfather died and I got the announcement in my class to send me to the front office to be picked up. Serena, my dad’s sister with whom he was extremely close to, is the one who got the call from the police department. She received it in the morning of August 24. Serena then called my mother even though my parents had been divorced for around ten years. My mom went and picked her up from work and then called TJ telling him what had happened and what he thought they should do since she knew I was at work that day. TJ decided to call one of those suicide hotlines to ask them the “best” way to handle the situation. They told him that taking me away early from work wouldn’t change the fact that my dad had died. So they decided to wait till I got off work. My mom drove over to me and TJ’s place and he left work early so they could sit and wait. My sister Sam lives in Ohio with her now husband and they were able to wait for her to get out of work to call and tell her the news. Because of that social media post, my mom has always felt that they made the wrong call on what to do. I’ve never felt that they did anything wrong though, they did the best they could.
Looking back on that day, there were clues that something was wrong. TJ is always very loving and makes sure to tell me every day. But on this day, he continually repeated it to me until I asked him what was up. I told him I was glad he loved me so much but wanted to know what was going on that was making him tell me every two seconds. He just said nothing and we moved on. He also asked me about who my managers were that I worked with. Which I found incredibly odd. But he always had a reason to back it. Must be the attorney in him. Able to B.S. on his feet. He even attempted to call up to the hospital to speak with one of my managers to see if they could let me leave early but I was the one who answered the phone so he hung up. Luckily for him, we live in the age of cell phones where you know no one’s numbers by heart. So I hadn’t realized it was him that called.
My dad had been gone for 24 hours before I found out. A stranger on Facebook was the one who let me know. And that night will forever haunt me. I think about it all the time. Constantly actually. It’s the part of me that will always stand still in time. I always knew that I was “my father’s daughter” as the saying goes. More like him then I ever really wanted to admit. It’s what brings me here today. I knew he wasn’t good at talking about his feelings and opening up. He was much better at writing things down. If you had ever met him you would never think to yourself that this was a guy that was depressed. This wasn’t a guy who would ever kill himself! But it just goes to show that you never know what someone else is going through. I don’t want to end up like him. Too closed off to talk about how I feel. Keeping those dark and sad feelings locked away until they completely control me. So this is me and my story. And it feels good to get it out there.