I’ve thought long and hard about writing this blog. I changed my mind a few times whether I should talk about my father, but I feel if I can help one person then it’s definitely worth laying everything bare. Specially as it’s mental health awareness week.
It’s never been easy, since I was a little girl I always knew something wasn’t quite right, he wasn’t what we as a society would class as “normal”. I’m going to cut to the chase and tell you all right now – I was terrified of my father, always have been right up until the day he passed away.
I never understood my father growing up, I guess I still don’t to this day. He had manic depression, bipolar, and me & my mum are convinced he had split personalities, the more we talk about our memories and the way he was. The memories I have as a child are the ones which were really traumatic – it’s true they do stay with you, I could tell you every detail on his face when he was in one of his rages like he was standing in front of me right now. Shit, it makes my heart jump a little when I think about those times when he really put the fear of god in me. Funny how he can still scare me and he’s not even here. I often question how my mum is still alive, you know I could tell you stories which you just wouldn’t believe, but I feel like some things should stay locked away as a memory where they belong. After all, I wouldn’t want to give any of you nightmares.
He was always having a go at one of us (me or my brother), nothing we did was ever good enough. We walked round on eggs shells constantly just encase we said something wrong, if we did that would be it, you would see his face change, this look. And you’d know oh my god he was guna blow, and it was time to get away – fast. Don’t get me wrong he wasn’t like it all of the time, Jesus if you met him you’d think I was talking complete and utter bollocks! This is sadly how he fell through the gaps with the mental health system, he could simply talk his way out of it and convince them there wasn’t anything wrong with him. And boy was he good at doing that.
He was a manager, a well respected manager high up in the civil service. He actually could have gone even higher up had he not threatened to kill his brother (who happened to work at the same place). As I got older he got worse, this darkness which had been living inside of him was starting to take over with every year which passed. Me & my mum often spoke about it and she would tell me how she could see it getting bigger & darker over the years, and she was convinced had he not left when he did the he would have killed her.
He left us, I remember that day. He’d left a few times before then decided after a few weeks he wanted to come back. There was nothing my mum could do he had control over everything, she was powerless & she just wanted to keep us safe. But this one day he packed his bag and he went, the front door closed, me, mum & my brother sat on the sofa and all breathed a massive sigh of relief. Then we watched a film. There was no big argument or us crying asking him not to leave, it was calm and what we’d been waiting for. That was the first time I’d felt at peace & safe, was the moment that door closed and I knew this time. He wasn’t coming home.
I’ll never understand how my mum stayed so long, I’m still sure there are things she’s chosen not to tell me. I know a lot, we’ve sat down countless times and spoke in detail about him and their relationship. When mum & dad met he wasn’t the man he turned into. He was extremely good looking, he was a bodybuilder so in fantastic shape and completely and utterly charming. My mum fell for him straight away, she couldn’t get over how he wanted to date her when he had all the girls falling at his feet. (But she was lush!) she’d said at the start things were good, then she’d notice little things, he’d get more controlling and have these weird mood swings. Back then mental health wasn’t spoken about like it is now, so she didn’t really understand that he has issues rooting inside of him just starting to grow as their relationship did.
He was told he had to be on antidepressants for the rest of his life, my mum would tell me how he wouldn’t take them just to get to her because he would be in the most foul moods. He would stay in bed all day, but she would never question him because it just wasn’t worth it. If he was ever looking after us he’d often tell my mum we’d been naughty, she knew we hadn’t, we were good kids – angels in fact. (Her words) so she knew he was just in one of his moods again. I remember once, he was going off on one. Me & my brother we’re under the dining room table upset because he was shouting,swearing in the kitchen. He lent down looked us both in the eyes, spitting he was so angry. “I’ll give you both something to fucking cry about” he sneered – that memory stays with me – always.
As we got older he would manipulate us, he was emotionally abusing us every time we saw him. He would slag my mother off the whole time we were with him, and get into our heads dripping his poison into our ears. My mum had met her partner my step dad, once my dad found out he would constantly be on our backs asking questions. I can’t really remember but my mum has told me, that we would come home and she’d know he’d been in our ears because we’d have stinking attitudes and be really rude to my stepdad. It makes me sad to think how awful I was to him, because I have the most wonderful relationship with my stepdad & I love him very much.
Over the years as we got older we started to make our own decisions, and it was clear that we didn’t want to see him anymore. We understood more what he was doing and the way he’d act. We would go through this cycle of seeing him for a few weeks, then he’d kick off over something so then we wouldn’t see him, then he’d apologise and say he missed us so we’d go back again. That happened countless times over the years. When I was 18 I went off the rails, me & mum we’re constantly at logger heads, I was lazy, I couldn’t be bothered with anything and just generally not a nice person to be around. My mum threw me out, I ended up going to live with my dad. I was a dad’s girl when he was in a good mood, and believe it or not there were spells where he was a lovely father, but sadly the bad outweighed the good. And it was rare he was “nice” dad as we’d say.
Staying with dad was short lived – I was listening to my iPod in bed one night, the next thing I know he came storming in ripped the earphone out of my ears, pulled me out of bed by my hair and punched me in the face. I was in complete shock. I’d had a slap now and again growing up, but never to this extent. He had a clump of my hair in his fist, and he just stared at me absolutely furious. I scurried along the floor grabbed my phone and legged it out of his flat early hours of the morning. I rang my friend and walked to her house & I stayed with her for a bit and eventually went back home.
We went a good year maybe longer of not seeing or speaking to him in my twenties, it was always on and off. He would text me the most vile messages, and ring me screaming abuse down the phone. He knew it was the only way to get to my mum, by upsetting us. But I was stronger, I was a grown woman he couldn’t do this to me anymore. So I fought back, I threatened to report him to the police for harassment to get him to back off. He probably had a police record as long as my arm, I know previous girlfriends had often called them as he’d harass them after the relationships ended. We’d spoken to police officers over the years for different things and every single one of them that met him understood how dangerous he could potentially be. He was living with my Nan (his mum) for the last good couple of years of his life. He looked after her, for that I will always commend him.
I’ll be honest he was a complete nightmare most of my life, yes he had his good spells and I’ll never take that away from him. He & mum took us to Florida Disney land 4 times, and I have the most incredible memories so for that I’ll always be thankful for. We did try and help him, I did countless times but my words fell on deaf ears. When he got suspended from his job I spent hours building a case for him to fight for his job and he threw it back in my face. He took early redundancy in the end, rather than getting the sack. I contacted the mental health charity’s and spoke to GP’s about getting him help, but as a new day came so did a new attitude and he was convinced nothing was wrong with him and it was the world against him.
Looking back I honestly do believe he was beyond help, he was so far gone. And he had so many demons in his head. He nearly had his happily ever after with his ex girlfriend, he’d proposed & they were engaged. Then it ended, I still don’t know why – when I contacted her to tell her of his passing she didn’t care. So I do often wonder what he did.
After my Nan passed away he really deteriorated, he turned to alcohol which only made things 10x worse. He was more aggressive and nasty, he would slag off Matt to upset me. But Matt will tell you, whenever he saw my dad he was nothing but the nicest man you’d ever met. But he saw what he put me through and the way he was with me & my brother. Before we moved into our house we’d fallen out again, he had text me randomly to say he didn’t want to be in contact with me anymore. (He did this a lot) if I’d didn’t text him back straight away I’d have 10 messages of him kicking off and missed calls. I was so over it, and used to it I just text back “ok no problem”. I had a few nasty messages which was standard, but I just ignored them. I couldn’t be bothered with it.
A week before he died he’d emailed me to say he missed me & my brother and that he had seen the doctor and they had told him he had liver failure. I remember I was in work when I read it, and I burst into tears. Strange seen as we hadn’t seen or spoken to him but I suddenly felt extremely sad for him, and scared for his health. I rang my mum and she was convinced he was probably lying to get my attention- he did it a lot. I thought about replying for a long time, but decided if I didn’t and something happened to him that I’d never forgive myself. So I did, I asked him what his treatment plan would be. He told me they were doing more tests but he felt seriously unwell and wished he would be admitted to hospital. He asked me to come visit him. I asked for him to keep me updated, but after a lot of deliberation chose not to visit him.
That was the last time we spoke. He was taken into hospital on the Saturday morning, then died on the Monday afternoon. We didn’t even know he’d gone into hospital. When I had the news on Monday I instantly felt this overwhelming guilt. Why didn’t I go and see him when he asked me too? I beat myself up over it for a long time, I still do sometimes. But then what would I have said? Nothing would have changed. We would have gone round in the same circle of him wanting to see me, then not wanting to see me ever again – well I guess this time he got what he wanted.
I guess now I feel like he’s at peace, with himself, the demons have finally gone and we can all move on with our lives. It was the biggest shock of my life, and I never thought I’d be burying my dad at the age of 26. When we spoke to the doctors they told us that he had contracted sepsis, he had an ulcer in his stomach which had burst & and perforated bowl. All caused by the alcohol.
Mental health is not something which should be taken lightly, don’t get me wrong there are things have that happened that I’ll never forgive him for. But he was also a very ill man, and a part of me does feel for him. Out of all the bad, I have learnt so much about mental health and how to deal with people with a mental illness. I had some counselling and it was funny because she said to me she’d never met anyone who has such a huge knowledge on mental health and coping mechanisms.
If I can help one person or give someone any advice from my experience then something good has come out of it. The one thing I can say is, it’s okay not to be ok. To talk to someone, anyone. There is so much more support out there now then there ever has been and that’s amazing.
I hope this wasn’t to heavy, but like I’ve always said I’d rather be as raw & honest as I can when writing.