Grief · Personal

Losing A Sister To Suicide Pt 2

The Process of Grief

Finding out someone you love is no longer living is a hard process to explain and I can only enter into expressing how it was for me. Because grief isn’t just a one-step two-step chronology of events like it’s made out to be – it’s a spiral of back and forth wind-whirls of emotions. I guess what I’m trying to make clear is that this is how I found out, how I reacted and it may not necessarily be the same as anybody else and maybe it might seem “wrong” or not right but I can only be honest in my recountment.

It had been a long while since I’d last spoke to my sister. Karis and I had become distant over the years and never really had the kind of relationship you’d expect to have with a sister. All I knew was what I read online or what I heard from our parents. They’d tell me if Karis had been sectioned, or if she’d tried to commit suicide and this amounted to hearing this several times over a span of years of which it had just become normal to hear. It’s sad but I’d become numb to the attempts she made on her life because of their frequency. That’s not to mean that I didn’t care because I still did – it was a case of it being so frequent that I never expected for it to truly happen past an attempt. I know.. it’s stupid and one of the things I could add to my list of “Grief Guilts” – of which I have many – but I truly believed that she didn’t want to die.

I think you’ll understand now that I wasn’t expecting to hear the news I was given that day. I’d gone out for a meal, it was the 24th September 2018 and for me it was a normal day. I had sat down from the buffet with a plate full of food when my dad called. I wasn’t expecting a call but it wasn’t out of the ordinary for him to call me. He tells me he is not far away and asks if he can come and speak to me, at this moment I became slightly more concerned however it wasn’t unusual for him to make last minute plans so I told him where I was and waited for him to call. We met outside the restaurant and I invited him inside where he sat next to me and in all honestly I could not reiterate what was said next. Truly this was the only movie-esque moment of my entire process of grief. You know how in movies when someone gives someone bad news and the whole world just kinda halts and everything that’s said just becomes a mellow-tone rather than a string of words? That’s kind of the only way I can explain those few seconds. I couldn’t tell you what happened or what was said just that my initial thought once the words had processed in my mind was that it wasn’t true. I’d become so normalised to the string of events from Karis attempting suicide, to her going to hospital, to her being released and repeat that the indication of anything otherwise wasn’t right. Surely not my sister, surely not my Karis, it had to be somebody else – not her. Not Karis, she tried – she attempted so many times but it would never actually happen. Or not. I’d kid myself for so long that all it took to keep Karis alive was some shimmer of hope, a glimpse of realisation that she didn’t really want to die at all. I’d grasped at straws hoping that it’d keep her alive and it was a stupid, dumbfounded thing to grasp to. I think. I think. I think. I try to think hard back to the last time we had a conversation, to the last time we spent time together. I can’t think, I can’t remember, can’t recall the last time we even spoke. I get up, leave the restaurant. I don’t want to cry in public and I definitely don’t want people to ask me whats wrong. My heads racing and all of a sudden I think to our mum. “I need to text mum” is my next train of thought so I do just that. I want her to know I’m here if she needs me. The rest of the night is a mishmash of emotions, still in disbelief I let it sink in overnight.
I wake up the next day intending on going into work with the hope that disbelief and the sheer distraction of work will help me to not feel shit for a while. Instead I end up sitting on the pavement outside in tears debating whether or not to go home. Being at home felt just like wallowing in grief and all I really wanted was to be around the people I loved. The idea of the fragility of people from then on would be my biggest fear, the idea that other people I care for and love could get hurt would frighten me. For a while my mind would reinforce this with intrusive thoughts and dreams of which I can’t retell even just to give an example.
Some days I would feel guilt – the famous “should’ve, could’ve, would’ve”s which plague those who take blame in their loss. Every moment I had spent – or more so – HADN’T spent with Karis was dissected and considered. Every alternative ending replayed like a Create Your Own Adventure book. Maybe I could have done something that might have altered what happened, maybe I should have been more prevalent in her life.
Other days my anger consumed me, I felt a copious rage towards the hospital who’d sectioned her hours before for trying to walk in front of a train and let her go, alone, mere hours later under the impression that she wouldn’t do so again. They knew her history, they knew her routine, they knew her ability to lie her way out of the hospital but yet they let her go anyway. The so-called “supportive” housing for not being remotely supportive. They threatened to make her homeless if she hurt herself, and did they care to make sure she was taking her meds? Of course not, that’s why we found some partially digested hidden under her bed as we went through her room.
But most days I was just engrossed in sadness. Soon after it became my prerogative to raise money for the funeral and most days I let this envelop me. It was a struggle to get out of bed, partially because it was where I found myself able to contribute the most to raising funds and past that nothing was important, but partially because my dreams kept me awake some nights. I’d have vivid dreams where Karis would still be alive, some of them would just be of us together, some would be of her trying to commit suicide. I don’t know which was more painful – sometimes I would wake up and have to acclimatise to the idea that my dream wasn’t real and that she was still gone, other times I’d witness her kill herself in my dreams and those were more like nightmares.
A few days after the day Karis had committed suicide my dad asked me to visit him and of course I jumped at the opportunity to be around someone I loved, I didn’t want to be alone. I’d lost a lot of sense of worth since it had happened and some of the thoughts I began to have were frightening. I’m being honest and forefront here because although I have never admitted this on my blog previously I need to now however, to get across the purpose of this post.

I wanted to die. I really did want to die.

What was the point anymore? If Karis wasn’t alive, then why should I be? Why should I be waking up, breathing if my sister no longer is? Why should I experience joy and love and laughter and happiness when my sister experienced so much pain?
What stopped me was the idea of the people I love experiencing the same grief for me. I remember my mum saying at one point that she wouldn’t be able to bear losing me as well. I couldn’t put my parents through that pain again and the only thing that kept me willing to carry on was surrounding myself with the people who I was living for. My brother, my sister – they are 13 and 4 years old and we share such a close bond. I couldn’t leave them, I need to be here for them. And that’s why I went to see my dad that day, that’s what brought me to the decision to not allow myself to be alone.
Without hesitation I got on a train to go and see him. I realised as soon as I’d sat down that I hadn’t thought this through. I sat by the window as I always do and glanced down at the tracks.
Karis.
How much pain must you have been in to have been standing on those tracks? It was as though seeing the tracks triggered me to replay what happened in my head over and over again despite the fact I hadn’t been there, trying to make sense of what happened. I was standing on the train platform, witnessing as she steps onto the tracks and the train coincides with her. I couldn’t move, it was just as though I was just another person on the platform. I would sit there as the train moved imagining what would happen upon impact to a body hit by a train, I know that it’s grotesque. I didn’t want to imagine these things, I didn’t want to picture it but I couldn’t help it.
In a way by now I just wanted to have the funeral over and done with. I didn’t want to forget Karis and I didn’t believe that once it was over all the pain experience would diminish but I’d hoped it would bring me some closure. Past pain, trauma, sadness, anger and whatever other emotions I’d experienced during coping with my loss at the forefront was guilt. I feel a lot of guilt for not being a part of Karis’ life for a long while before she died and in turn felt a lot of guilt for her death. I know, I know, I heard it a lot – that I shouldn’t feel guilty and that it wasn’t my fault – and I’m thankful to those people who were trying to be comforting but it wasn’t going to make me feel any less of what I already felt. The distance that had built over years between us meant some days I found it hard to believe she was really gone. It wasn’t like we had a routine, we wouldn’t talk everyday or see each other every week so I had no grasp that she was or wasn’t gone. I thought finally attending her funeral might bring me some kind of closure and then I would finally be able to deal with my guilt over time.


I might end it here now. Like I said in my previous post I am pursuing this in sections for a variety of reasons and I’ll go on to make a post about the funeral.

Again, thank you for reading. x

Grief · Mental Illness · Personal

Losing A Sister To Suicide Pt.1

I’ve tried to write this one several times over the past few months but each time I find myself quitting before I even reach the end of the first paragraph. I want to write this, I really do, this blog has always been a therapeutic safe haven for me, a place where I can say anything at all and it doesn’t matter if nobody is paying attention because it’s for me. If it helps some one else then I say “hey great” but this blog has always been about me. I guess thank you if you’re still reading it though, I don’t know why you would but hey there must be a reason because you’re still reading this. Your eyes are appreciated regardless.

Anyway, this time I have essentially made a plan. I think my main problem is I’m overwhelming myself, pushing myself to write all of it out in one post. I am forever wanting to push myself to do more than I think I’m capable of but now just isn’t the time considering the emotional turmoil that this will probably put me through. I want to do this, so have chosen to do it in parts starting from the beginning.

My sister, Karis Florence Braithwaite.

Karis was born on todays date, 10th February, 25 years ago. Now for the first three years of Karis’ life I didn’t exist yet in the world, and some of the years after that I really don’t remember much of. I’ve seen pictures of her as a child though, I find it strange because I really don’t have any memories of her like that – happy, a child just doing child things like  playing in the snow. The only real memory I have of us as children is when our dad would take us to ride our bikes at the park on the weekends. We would ride all the way around Greatfields park. And the times we had Horse Riding lessons for a short while, or the performances we did with Step Up where we would dance and sing and perform and practice. We were children who did child like things. Mostly I remember that even as children people didn’t believe us at first when we introduced ourselves as sisters, in fact most people would assume otherwise until we would tell them. We were polar opposites physically – you had long dark brown hair, whereas I was a bright blonde. You had deep brown eyes, and mine were a grey-blue colour. We didn’t share physically many features but we were always sisters.
As teenagers our relationship was distant, sometimes turbulent. For the most part we endured each others company like when we had to share a bedroom, or continuing to attend drama or going to school but outside of that we barely spent time together. We argued and fought, sometimes just like sisters would other times not so much. Our teenagers years bought about more than just the general teenage troubles. Karis started receiving help for her mental health. Her moods were tumultuous, I’d find diaries where she’d scrawl about wanting to be dead and the voices she’d hear but also sometimes she would write things that would sound ecstatic, over joyous like someone who was on a high. I’d also become cognisant of my own mental health and began getting help for my own problems with OCD. When I started to realise how sick Karis was it scared me. Her unpredictability due to her mental health kept me on edge and worsened my anxieties which built a larger gap in our relationship. My point is that both of us had a lot that we were trying to cope with but neither of us understood each other and what we were coping with, despite certain aspects of what we were coping with being similar, which was detrimental to our relationship. One of my last memories of Karis before she left home is of her trying to commit suicide and going to visit her in the hospital after school one day, I honestly think that was the most time we’d spent together in the same room since we’d stopped sharing a bedroom years before.
We still held good moments, like the ones we’d shared as kids, or sometimes a passing moment on the bus to school where we would speak. Karis even introduced me to some of my favourite music I listened to as a teen, but moments were few and sparingly.
Eventually Karis left home – It came off the back of her wanting to live with her partner at the time who she’d met on the internet. Our parents were upset, they hadn’t wanted her to leave but also couldn’t force her to stay. But finally there would be no more trips to hospitals, no more tip toeing around her or worrying that she would do something drastic and hurt someone. It sounds awful for me to say that, but I truly believed things were better now she wasn’t there. We didn’t talk for a while, as far as I know she didn’t communicate with any of us at all, but I kept tabs on her. Regardless, she was still my sister.
My heart dropped each time I did. I hoped I wouldn’t see what I saw every time – ramblings in which she would talk about how she wished she was dead, how she’d hurt herself, how she’d attempted suicide or how she’d plan to follow through with it. I just hoped every time that I’d see something more positive or even just anything else so at the least I’d know she was still alive.
It was when our parents split up that things changed. Our dad got in touch with her and started building a relationship with her again. I was cautious, introducing her back into his life not only meant her having to be a part of my life again but of our little brothers too. She was ambushed with love and embrace from our dads side of the family, people who she hadn’t seen in years. Our dad and I now lived together in a flat, a flat that our little brother would visit on the weekends. I remember she came round one weekend – our grandparents and aunt were there too. The last time I’d seen her she was curled up on the floor outside our flat months before but that day she smiled surrounded by her family, for a moment she seemed to be happy.
Karis was forever in a spiral though over the next few years. It began to feel hopeless that she’d ever be happy for longer than a moment. She moved into a “so called” supported housing (but I’ll get to that later) and began building a relationship with our mum again. She’d be in and out of hospital still, to the point where it was normal almost – Karis attempting suicide and going into hospital had become a routine we were used to as horrible as it is to say. Our dad would visit her, our mum would meet up and spend days with her, and my brother and I wouldn’t see her. She made attempts to reach out to me, she tried adding me on Facebook, sent me a friend request but I ignored each of her attempts to re-enter my life. I not longer felt any animosity towards her, I’d learnt by now that she wasn’t to blame for her actions but I wasn’t ready, I don’t know how else to explain it.
Our mum asked if I wanted to see Karis and offered to be with me if I ever decided to. I pondered it for a while. I still hadn’t come to a decision the day I found out what had happened.

I’m going to end it there for now. Like I said, I want to proceed in parts and I wanted this part just to be about my sister and the rocky relationship we had. I hope this is okay and doesn’t upset anybody.

She would have been 25 years old today, Happy Birthday Karis.

Uncategorized

Auto Pilot Life

I have fallen off track.

I used to speak so passionately about things. Now I’m not sure how I feel about these things at all. Some days I’m just not sure how I feel full stop.

I feel like I’m flying through life on auto pilot. Like I have no control over how I feel about things anymore just that life is simpler this way. I’m no longer bound to be happy or sad so long as I continue along the same route. Feeling almost nothing at all. Maybe I’m stuck this way, maybe this way is better.

I’m starting to miss the old ways, the old days when I felt like I had some kind of purpose.. some kind of moving forward in life. But I’m so comfortable, so safe in where I am now.

Maybe I should stay here, where it’s safe.

Grief · Personal

A Eulogy to Karis, my sister

“I want to start – with the hope that maybe I’ll be able to make it through the eulogy I wrote for Karis without falling to bits – by saying thank you. I have lost count of how many times I have expressed how grateful me and the rest of Karis’ family are for the love, support and generosity we have received over the past few weeks without which none of us would be here today to attend this service in which we all have the opportunity to say good bye.

It would be nice if Karis could have seen or had any idea of how many lives she touched. I tend to think that perhaps she had no real clue how many people would be hurt by what happened, but in all honesty I think in that moment it didn’t really matter.

Regardless I can’t help but feel that Karis was let down. I feel the same anger and guilt that our dad spoke of before but mostly I feel guilt. Guilt that has left me contemplating a lot of “maybes” –
Maybe if Karis hadn’t experienced the isolation she felt each time someone had decided she was just too much to be a part of their lives anymore, maybe if I’d been a better sister when we were growing up, maybe if people had held less secrets, chosen their words and actions more lightly, maybe if they hadn’t let her leave the hospital that day. MAYBE. But in reality.. would that have ever changed a thing? I don’t know.

No matter how she felt, to whatever extreme, Karis was a strong person. She was stronger than me, stronger than any of us because for as long as I can remember she was trapped in that burning building. Alone. Engulfed by flames for so many years. Flames that represented a pain so terrible of which so many of us will never have to face. Yet she survived. She survived until the flames became unendurable and the only way out was to leap from the burning window. She didn’t know it but she was brave.

I still, and probably always will, feel guilt, fear and an emptiness now that Karis is gone. Between those feelings I still carry precious moments of our time together that I can recall – bike rides on weekends, conversations on the bus, introducing me to music I loved, secretly swapping meals at dinner times and secrets exchanged by sisters that you trusted me to keep. I yearn for a moment.. a memory where I could hug you and express how much I love you. But that’s a memory I now have to live without.

I’m sorry you hurt so much.

I love you still Karis.”

k.3

Grief · Personal

Karis

You should be alive.
Why on earth did you let that train hit you
Did you change your mind like you had before
Was it too late

Did you know how fast it would be going
Were you scared when you saw it approach
Or were you relieved

Did you think about mum and dad
Why didn’t you call someone
Did you call someone

Did you try to plead for help
Did you tell anyone what you were about to do
Or were you completely alone

You should be alive.
I wish you were alive.

Personal · Sex & Relationships

The first woman I ever loved

Recently somebody asked me about the first time I realised I like girls

I thought back to all those times we’d sat next to each other before
I thought you were beautiful but I never expected you to feel the same about me
I had no idea then what impact you’d have on me

Recently somebody asked me about my first kiss

I thought back to us sitting together in the park shrouded by bushes and trees
I remember it being cold as we huddled together and you pulled my face to yours
I felt the warmth from your lips as they brushed mine

Recently somebody asked me about my first date

I thought back to us sitting together in the cinema for the first time
Halfway through the film your hand brushed against mine
All I could think about from that moment was kissing you

Recently somebody asked me about my first love

I thought back to the time I spent the night in your bed
I woke up early and turned to face you, you were still sound asleep
I couldn’t remember ever feeling more content than I did then

Recently somebody asked me about my first break up

I thought back to the first time and only time I’d ever felt sincerely angry at you
I tore apart an old valentines day card I had kept from you
I still to this day have all of the pieces

Personal

Hello?

I know, I know. It’s been three whole months since a blog post and I’m really starting to wonder whether anyone will still bother reading what I have to say. Needless to say I was surprised anybody ever did in the first place. I’ve been riddling myself with something I could write about and I have a few ideas but it didn’t seem right just appearing out of the blue with no mention as to where the fuck I’ve been for the past three months, even if I’ve always stated that I never intended on having any kind of regular schedule.

So I’ve become a bit out of touch with pretty much everything. My current focuses are just trying to stay awake to make it through most days which as I’ve found has become quite challenging. I’m trying to make more time for myself but not to much avail and trying to maintain relationships with as many of the important people in my life as I can but not without a few faults. Turns out I’m not great at this whole balancing act that is life. Because essentially that is what life is – a balancing act or a juggling act even of family, friends, work, relationships, eating, sleeping, finances, bills, maintaining good health, maintaining good mental health and so on and on. How people do it without a sweat baffles me because most days I’m just glad to get into bed and know I made it, I survived another 24 hours without a total meltdown.

My OCD has got proceedingly worse over the past few weeks, however what therapists and physiatrists won’t tell you is that if you have an anxiety disorder that is currently in a bad place and other things arise in your life that also cause you anxiety then you barely even notice your anxiety because you’re already anxious! Screw CBT, just live your anxiety to the full! I’m joking obviously, that’s definitely not the answer but it’s definitely a firm portrayal of what my life looks like right now.

Currently Sundays really are a day given to us by God and I don’t even believe in the guy. But Sunday is my day of rest and the closest I get to sanity at the moment so maybe you’ll hear from me next week.

Until then, au revoir.

If you have any questions about anything in this post or at all feel free to leave me a comment.

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