I’ve been away for a while now, and it’s due to one life changing day…
Wednesday 22nd July… it was just another morning. I hadn’t been out of bed long and was just finishing my coffee. At 7:37 I got a notification on my phone via Facebook that my brother had put up a post. Now, usually, he would post mad videos or photo’s so in no rush I finished my coffee and then opened up Facebook to see what was happening.
I read the first paragraph of his status and my heart sank. I quickly skimmed the rest, hoping it was an ill-informed prank, but as I made it to the end I realized that this was no prank; it was a thought out suicide note. In shock, I quickly tried to call him, but it went straight to voicemail. I phoned my mum to see if she knew what was going on. She was at work but had been told about his status and was going to be on her way home in the next few minutes.
As quick as I could I left my house and raced to my mums (under 2 mile away). Any other day I would have had my car, but Chris’s car was in for an MOT so he had taken mine to work… typical. I ran as hard as I could to mum’s and as I turned the corner my stomach was in knots. There was a police car parked outside and two police officers already on the doorstep. They had received a call worried for my brother’s welfare and were asking if we knew where he was. We said that we didn’t know as his work didn’t open until 9am and there had been no answer when I tried their phones. I gave them a photo of him and his phone number. Not long after we were able to pinpoint his location via an app on his phone and another police car was sent to check that location.
It felt like the longest hour of my life. I stood on my mum’s doorstep as she arrived back from work and thought about what I was going to say to my brother when the police bought him back. As someone who battles anxiety and depression, and with experience of anti-depressants, I was hoping that I could help him re-find his feet. Tell him that it wasn’t going to be easy, but there is a way through. Lockdown was starting to ease a bit now and the gyms were due to re-open in a couple of days, so he could go back to some normality.
At 9:02am, the two police officers got out of their car and asked if we could head inside. Even at this point I was telling myself that he was in hospital hurt, but he would be okay. Little did I know that the next few words would change my life forever…
“There’s no easy way to say this…”
I think I’ve replayed that line a thousand times or more in my head.
7 words that turned our lives upside down.
I didn’t want to believe it and was asking if they were sure it was him. They gave us some more details and then left us to make the calls to inform family and friends.
It was strange that day, because on the one hand it hurt so much, but on the other, I hadn’t really processed it as I was busy making phone calls and letting people know.
It started to sink in more in the days that followed, but I just struggled to get my head around it. We had been speaking the past few days, including him wishing me happy first wedding anniversary on the Monday, then making plans on Tuesday for him to come to mine on Saturday to pick up a PC that I was building for him.
I know it sounds so cliché, but he was literally the last person that you would expect to lose to suicide. He was always so positive. His nickname was “Mr. Motivator” and he was also Buddhist. He had many little sayings, such as “our fingerprints never leave the souls of those we touch” and “a thousand candles can be lit from the flame of one candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness can be spread without diminishing that of yourself”. His bio read, “stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and start being excited about what will go right”. He’d always be there if you had a bad day, even if it was something trivial. All you had to do was put an unhappy face or negative sounding status on social media and he would jump to your aid.
Up until this point, I hadn’t lost anyone who had been that close to me. Heck, I get anxious enough at the thought of having to say goodbye to Tess, my dog. I had a big fear of losing my nan after she was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, and that’s why we actually got married earlier than planned; I didn’t want to take the risk of people not being there. I always thought that my siblings would be there when the time came to say goodbye to grandparents and parents, so losing a younger brother just made it even harder to take.
The manner also took its toll. Losing someone in any way is never going to be easy, but suicide just raises a lot more questions and feelings of guilt.
Could I have done more?
Why didn’t he talk to me?
Should I have seen something was wrong?
How could I not know?
I’ve been through all of our conversations on Facebook, WhatsApp, texts, etc. trying to find an answer as to why.
When I went to the viewing, part of me was telling myself that there had been a mistake and it wouldn’t be him when we got there… but it was.
7 weeks after his death, and 4 weeks since his funeral, it still doesn’t feel any easier. I know that it’s going to be a long and slow process before anything feels “normal” again. I’d give anything to be able to go back in time and have one more conversation with him. It’s made me realize how much we take for granted, especially now with social media and technology… it’s easy in today’s world to drop someone a message, but often we fail to make time for proper chats or catch ups.
So yeah, naturally, everything went out of the window for the past 7 weeks.
I ate a load of convenience and comfort food because I didn’t have the energy or motivation to cook. Training came to a standstill. Apart from time, everything else just seemed to stop.
Almost a month after my last treadmill run, I decided to lace up my shoes and try for 5 miles. I got to 3 and then a police car pulled up outside. I ended up having an anxiety attack as I expected more bad news, but they were actually visiting the house a few doors down.
I eventually managed 5 miles, but they felt tough. I’ve done 3 weight sessions since and my longest run was 8 miles last Sunday. I’m trying to get back into a bit of a routine but at the minute it just feels like I have OK days and bad days.
The London Marathon is now for the elites only in October. I was set to defer for April 2021, only to find out that it will be October 2021 or April 2022. I went for the October 2021 option as it’s closer and gives me more motivation to keep training.
I wasn’t going to take part in the virtual London Marathon this October as I didn’t think I’d be ready. That was, however, until I was informed that this year would still count as the 40th London Marathon with the commemorative medal. The fact that this year was the 40th event was what made me so eager to want to get my place in the first instance, so I didn’t want to miss that medal. I figured that it would also give me a reason to get back to training and something to look forward to. As I won’t be going for a personal best time, I’m planning on doing laps around the park with different people each doing a lap or so with me. It might be a long day!
I’m hoping to get back to posting and uploading on YouTube at least once per week, but bear with me for the time being!
If you’re going through a difficult time, or just need someone to listen, please get in touch with the Samaritans or the Kaleidoscope Plus Group. Samaritans offer email contact and a telephone helpline, whilst Kaleidoscope offer a messaging service and counselling.
Samaritans UK – 116 123