“Grief is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. It gathers in the corners and the hollow of your chest, in your throat and your throat. Grief is just love with no place to go.” ~Jamie Anderson
At the age of seventeen, my father died from depression. It is almost twenty-two year ago.
The first fifteen years after his death, however, I’d say he died from a disease—which is true, I just didn’t want to say it was a psychological disease. Many assumed cancer.
I didn’t want to know anything about his “disease.” I ran away from anything that even remotely smelled like mental health issues.
Instead I put him on an elevated pedestal. My fallen angel, he would be my constant companion throughout my entire life. It wasn’t his fault he left me. It was the disease’s fault.
The Great Wall of Jessica
My dad committed suicide. He left this world. He made the decision to move on. Please send me behind. At least, that’s what I felt whenever the anger took over.
Boy, was it angry. Sometimes, I’d take a towel, wrap it up in my hands, and just towel-whip the shit out of everything in my room.
You can’t be mad at someone who is himself a victim. You can’t. It’s impossible. I don’t think I let anyone truly inside, even the people closest to me.
What could I do? I didn’t even know what “inside” was. I thought my inner was nothing more than a deep dark hole.
Yes, Jessica was my name. I was a girl who loved glitter and rainbows. A girl who wants joy.
That was me. Every time I was in nature. I didn’t realize it at the time, but whenever I was on the beach, in a forest, or even in a park, I’d be content and calm.
I experienced a feeling of being restless, alone, and anxious whenever I was enclosed between four walls. The effects lasted for quite a while. I’d say for about twenty years—which, according to some therapists, is a pretty “normal” timespan for some people to really make peace with the traumatic death of a parent.
However, I was unable to cope without alcohol or partying. After college, I lived in denial for several years. I’d drink all night until I puked, and then continue drinking. Couldn’t remember half of the time how I got home or what happened that night.
Hello Darkness, My Old Friend
However, alcohol comes with its own price. I had the world’s worst hangovers—not only physically but also mentally. Twenty-one years old, tired, and without a partner, my first panic attack occurred. My panic disorder developed over time.
Fear made me afraid. I didn’t tell anyone, because I was scared they would think I was crazy.
The anxiety that these periods caused never lasted beyond a few weeks. These periods of anxiety were followed usually by winter depression. In my lowest moments I felt that the only one who understood me was no longer there. My dad loved me more than anyone else. I was also a little afraid of death. Not that I actually wanted to die, but at times, it seemed like a nice “break” from all the pain.
Spiritual Healing and Acceptance
Finally in my 20s, I saw a therapist. I was greatly helped by her and realized that panic attacks are a physiological reaction to stress. Yet, it wasn’t until I did a yoga teacher training a few years later that I finally learned how to stop those panic attacks for good.
To learn more about how the brain works, I started to research and write about mental health.
Now I know that self-love or at the very least self acceptance and solid self-esteem is crucial to our mental health. People with mental disorders often find it difficult to get help. They feel like a burden because they lack self-love.
I understand that, at that moment, my dad didn’t see any other solution for his suffering than stepping out of this life. It was. Not mean that he didn’t love me or my family.
Spiritual healing was possible because of the pain I felt after losing my father. That was what got me where I am today. I learned to enjoy life fully.
This taught me to trust my gut and follow my dreams. Life is too valuable to feel stuck or like crap. It inspired me to share my life with others.
I accept myself for who I am. I know that I’m enough. I’ve learned what stability feels like, and how to stay relaxed, even though my body is wired to stress out about the smallest things due to childhood trauma.
Let’s Share Our Demons and Kill Them Together
The pain of losing him will be with me the rest my life. And sometimes it’s as present as it was twenty years ago. I don’t feel like covering that up with some positive, “unicorny” endnote.
Instead of being open, raw and honest, I prefer to be vulnerable. Suicide and depression are a horrible thing. However, I want to encourage discussion about the topic. As normal as talking about physical and mental health is, I would like to see it become a normal topic.
Too many people live in darkness because of stigmatization or fear. Sometimes life is brutal. Every single person on the planet must deal with this. It would be great if people could share their stories and be honest with each other so that others can find comfort and relate.
My story is meant to be a blessing.
About Jessica Scheper
Jessica Scheper, a yoga instructor, is also a content specialist and the author of The Joy of Good Shit, Breaking Free from Depression, Anxiety and Other Gut Problems. Joyofgoodsht.com has her information.
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Tiny Buddha published the post My Dad Suicided from Depression: Here’s What I Did to Help Him.