Please Don't Do A Michael!

Wednesday 6th May 2015  started out a day like any other. As someone in ill health, I was sitting at my desk in my bedroom working on the laptop, think of todays  Isolation/Lockdown only 24 years worth courtesy of M.E ?  My mother had just entered the bedroom when my phone rang, it was my sister Michele, I did my usual cheery " Hi Smell, you okay?" but she sounded awkward, she asked if mum was with me, at which point Mum came over and sat at the end of my bed thinking I was about to hand the phone over. Then my sister said  " Stacy, I have some bad news"  I immediately thought it was my Dad, I mean  we tend to think  life goes in order don't we, even if that's totally false? which of course it is. 

As I felt that sickening fight or flight adrenaline start to course through my body and braced myself  for  what she was about to say next, absolutely nothing could've  prepared me. 

" I'm sorry, it's really really bad news"
"Go on?"
"Michael has passed away"

In the split second it took her to answer, I figured as a smoker with a dodgy lung  my brother had  probably keeled over in the garden while ironically having a fag?
"Er.....he took his own life"
At that moment it felt as though time and life stood still. No not Michael, not my cool, clever, stubborn, grumpy, incredibly funny handsome brother?  Besides, he had a wife that he adored and two teenage  sons, he wouldn't do that to them?

In his younger years he'd started voluntary work with the Samaritans, an organisation I didn't and still don't agree with for it's  training methods and it's often  cold, robotic,emotionless manner, we had many debates about it, but I respected his decision and was proud of him for giving up his time anyway , 18 years worth of time. He would talk about people taking their own life as being "Selfish" having an "I'm alright Jack" mentality, leaving a whole heap of pain behind for everyone else to suck up for the rest of their life, yeah nice one?  So it made no sense that  on that Wednesday morning 6th May 2015 Michael, in a bout of depression did what he'd stopped many others from doing over the years and left himself for one of his sons to find when they came home from college ... yeah, nice one indeed.

I'm not angry with my brother, i'm incredibly and utterly broken that  Depression hijacked him one day without warning ,stuck a sack over his head and dragged him off to overwhelm him and finish him off. It all feels so sickeningly ironic that since i was a small child those with various mental health problems have seemed to have crossed my path, it used to drive me nuts ( no pun intended) I really didn't want it but I couldn't walk away either and would always stay and do my best to help, it became even more frequent as i got older to the point i started developing simple techniques so that i could actually be of some positive help and support, the thing is I was so busy "saving" everyone else I missed my own brother. It's something I still struggle with terribly and will never be able to forgive myself for.  I wish i'd known that he was in a bout of depression and we could've sat drinking Coffee and had one of our Life & Universe chats, that usually ended up with him saying "42" a reference to The Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy and the meaning of life, which would be followed by us laughing. 

Laughing is not something I do very often these days because my brother was right about one thing, the pain suicide leaves for those left behind is sizeless and endless , even five years on there are days it's so all consuming I feel like i could physically throw up and never stop. Another irony  just  a few months later was that I was receiving a similar call but from my dad, through sobs, he told me it was my sister Michele, she'd been diagnosed with a rare terminal cancer, she passed away ten short weeks later.
I wanted to ring my brother, whenever there was a crisis, he'd always say " We'll have to be the strong one's stace" Meaning that him and me would stay tough and  make sure everyone else was okay and support  them through whatever the crisis was, but of course I couldn't. So that was it, in those five short months I'd lost My brother and my sister, some would say one had a choice and the other one didn't?  But the problem with depression is that once it takes a hold it also starts to take control and that's why early intervention is paramount . Unfortunately our mental health service has been inadequate and in many cases a disgrace for years so it really doesn't bode well with the  massive increase we're seeing due to Covid. But as humans, as individuals, we can all play our part in reaching out ,in listening and just being there for those that need, I do believe this is the way going forward, people helping people.

The reason for this post today?  August 20th is Michaels birthday, It's not only to mark that this year will be  five years since losing MichaeI, but I know there will be those of you reading this that are dealing with your own loss of family members and friends that have died via suicide, and it's important, not only to keep our loved ones memory alive of course but  also to keep sharing our stories in the hope it stops someone else from making the wrong decision, it also let's each and everyone of us know we are not alone in this grief, so I  urge any of you feeling lost? depressed? or helpless?  to not give up, please don't ever  give in to suicide. The pain you will cause your family and friends will last  for the rest of their lives, they won't just forget you or get on with their lives, they won't be better off without you, that's the depression talking, trying to trick you into handing over control, remember that and just talk to someone, and if you don't feel there is anyone, come talk to me  but please please don't ever do what Michael did that day because you will destroy the people that love you the most. Everything in life is temporary including life, death is never the answer to a problem. Whoever you are and wherever you are there is always someone that cares enough about you and wants you to carry on living and see out the rest of your journey, me for one.  X 


  1. Incredible blog - writing this through tears in our eyes. Thank you Stacy, you really are the strong one xx

  2. As your Mum I have shared some of these moment with you ... your strength has carried you this far ... use this strength to keep you fighting. xxx


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