Hello fellow Westerly’s,
I was born in Grimsby and have lived locally all of my life, it was a pleasure to accept Andy’s invitation to join the group, and I can see a lot of people in here that I know.
A few weeks ago, Ambassador Andy and I went for breakfast and I told him about my year. My heartache, struggles and recovery. As a result, he asked if I would consider sharing my story with you all. His hope was that it might provide some level of inspiration, to know that despite how hard circumstances can be, with the correct mindset and support those circumstances can be managed or even overcome.
Thursday 20th February was like any other day; the children were on half term and we had, had a fun day. My wife was at work and arrived home around 5:30pm. We had dinner and then she planned the evenings TV shows she wanted to watch; the girls were playing nicely. With it being half term there were no strict rules on bedtime – no school, no rules.
We watched the Tyson Fury documentary on mental health, my wife was really interested watching this as she had been completely shocked by the death of Caroline Flack the previous weekend. Then, after this finished, she was playing with the eldest girl – making fun videos, singing, and playing the guitar upstairs. I was downstairs with my youngest daughter watching tv, her on the Nintendo.
A very normal evening in our house to this point.
My daughter and I had fallen asleep on the sofa, and at around 01.30am on Friday 21st I woke up cold, the heating had gone off and my little girl had pulled the blanket on to her. I picked her up in my arms to set off up to bed.
Once in the hallway my wife appeared to be stood in front of me, instantly I thought ‘are you getting a drink?’ ‘why are you stood in the dark?’ but in those split seconds before I said anything, I realised that she was not stood. Her position was not natural, and. In that moment, I realised she had a dressing gown cord around her neck. She had taken her own life.
The shock was instant and like nothing I had ever experienced before, my initial thought was ‘do I drop my 5-year-old, wake her up and have her see this with me, to try to help my wife, or run upstairs and get her in bed. I opted to put her in bed, you become superhuman in this position, I recall taking only two steps to get upstairs and jumping all the way down, top to bottom, this took no more than 10 seconds.
When back down I tried to support my wife to take the pressure off her, but she was cold. She had died.
I notified her parents; who in turn notified the Police and Ambulance who were here within minutes, I then notified family and friends to get support.
The police investigations took around 3-hours, and it was after this we were able to call the undertakers to do their work. While the investigations and photography took place, I had to sit alone with a police officer while circumstances were confirmed. Once satisfied they released the scene and family were allowed in.
The next 96-hours were a complete blur, the shock caused me to develop a severe stutter and I barely slept or ate. The hardest thing I have ever done, and will ever do in my life was to explain to the little one that her mummy had died, it destroyed me. But she showed such innocence and resilience that this was a turning point for me. She actually asked if she could still go and play with her friends and I agreed, routine seemed something that might be useful moving forward.
The elder two children are my stepchildren so they went into the care of their Grandparents and Father, so my focus became my 5-year-old girl. I decided that I would run the gauntlet of the Monday school run and after a weekend of calls with her school she returned without missing a day, and that still remains. I also took her to her swimming and dance classes and until Covid-19 hit she did not miss a lesson. The start of my ‘new’ life would be doing everything for and with her. By me getting these events out of the way quickly it prepared me on how to deal with people who had a lot of questions as my wife was popular and well-loved.
This is when Fortis came along. I have been surrounded by people who have had tough rides in life, some have had support, some have not and for me the ones who had some external help have done better in the long run. Initially I signed up for 10 sessions and they started on a weekly basis, some face-to-face and then remote. The skills and training enabled me to understand more about suicide and recovery, not everything was therapy. Sometimes it was general conversation but this was good as it was with an impartial and non-judgemental person so you could vent if needed.
I signed up to a couple of online courses for child therapy so I could be alert and support my little girl’s own recovery. To this day she is in a good place, the consistency or routine being a big part of this. Was it easy doing the school run early days? No, but long term it has paid off.
I followed through with Fortis and ended up having 16 sessions, I am now out of their program and doing my best to move along with my life. During lockdown I did eat and drink too much, partly out of laziness and partly as comfort. I have now signed up to a body and mind reset program and will enter 2021 fighting fit physically and mentally.
Going to sleep on that night as a happy family of 5 and waking up as a single father of 1 is something I could have never predicted; my wife had some minor issues but had never shown or mentioned anything about taking her own life. The sight I saw, and the pain will last a lifetime, not just for me, but all of her family and friends.
It is ok to cry, scream, shout and most importantly talk. Help and support is here, both professionally and in this group. Without family, friends and Fortis I know this year would have been far worse than it has and that is all down to simply speaking out, asking for help, and accepting with an open and positive mind.
My life now is that of a full-time working Dad, my employer kindly gives me the flexibility to be able to do the school runs and clubs, I still see my stepchildren most days and will be spending Christmas with them. I am still recovering, I always will be, but is all about keeping it in control and being in control of your mind, it can be a dangerous and lonely place.
Jon – The Westerly Club
We’re Here To Help
If you need help please get in touch with us, or pass our details onto someone you know is struggling. You can email [email protected] or call 01472 241794. We have offices based in Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Hull and Louth. We can offer face to face 1-2-1, couple therapy and provide online sessions for everything we do.