'That afternoon I started planning my suicide': A local mom's account of suicidal ideation

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'I was too depressed to look after my children...'
'I was too depressed to look after my children...'

In response to an opinion piece published this week on Parent24, commenting on the Dickason tragedy, a mother of three wrote to us to tell of her experience of suicidal ideation, sharing that she "can totally relate to this poor woman". Mom Meghan writes that deciding to commit suicide felt like one of the best decisions she'd ever made.

But, thankfully, her story didn't end in that tragedy, and she writes about what changed for her, admitting however that this isn't yet the end to her parenting journey and she still has a way to go. 

Must read: Opinion | Who is behind the Dickason child killings? We are, South Africa 

Read Meghan's story here:

I'm there now, four years later with no hope and diminishing prospects

My husband got retrenched in 2017 and managed to find another job in Cape Town - we're originally from Durban. 

I was at the top of my game in my career as an interior decorator and project manager with the promise of the same position in CT. 

With a 5-year-old and twins that were 2, we left the city only to be told that the transfer I was going to get in CT was no longer available due to the conflict of interest with the clients in CT.

Not impressed at all about this new revelation, I was also sucker-punched with the news that there weren't any other positions available at the company. 

I went into a complete spin, grabbing at any job I could find in the industry. I found one, but that was very short-lived. 

Not only did I have to travel 2 hours to get to my new job and 2 hours back home, but when I received my first paycheck, I couldn't believe it.  

It was a quarter of what I was earning in Durban and what was agreed upon in the interview. I was asked to develop, manage and grow a new division in the company and when I confronted them about it, I was told there was obviously a miscommunication on my part. 

My petrol and cellphone alone consumed at least half my salary. 5 days into my third month with them I had a nervous breakdown and landed in the hospital for three weeks not being able to return. 

I was broken. 

Who the hell was I now? What had become of me? 

I was too depressed to look after my children, my husband was navigating his way in his new and challenging career and I was now stripped bare of any identity I had. 

I'm not a good mother, I'm a burden as a wife, and now unemployable as a person. I'm basically useless, an oxygen thief. 

ALSO SEE | Local mom shares how she almost drowned her baby son, then herself

'I was done'

After seven agonising months of trying to build myself back up again, I managed to find another job with better prospects, but the culture there was shocking. 

I couldn't bear being there because of the way they treated people, trying to isolate myself from any and all situations for fear of being so unfairly treated like I had witnessed so many times before. 

I'm still trying to figure out if it was a blessing or a curse but three months later I was called into the CEO's office one afternoon only to be told that due to unforeseen circumstances the last in first out policy of the company had to be applied. 

That was pretty much the last straw. 

It was that afternoon I started planning my suicide. 

I would leave a note for my husband the next morning on where to find me, so the kids wouldn't have to walk in on anything. I started googling how I was going to successfully do this making absolutely sure that there was no way I would survive my death. 

I couldn't do any more therapy, or tablets, or positive talk or any of that. 

I was done. 

I was a burden to my family and couldn’t do this to them anymore. They will be better off without me! 

That same evening I remember feeling an incredible sense of peace within myself that I had never felt before, the pain and anguish were gone! 

I was finally going home (heaven, the afterlife), and I knew I would watch over them from the other side and be way more productive as a mother and wife from the other side. 

I remember feeling like this was one of the best decisions I've ever made, a selfless one, not a selfish one. 

Also read: SA mother referred for mental evaluation by New Zealand court after the murder of her 3 children  

'Nothing would change my mind'

People think you're so selfish when doing something like this but when your natural instinct is to survive there is nothing selfish about it; but something inside me said, "it's okay if you want to do this, however, if you wake up feeling the slightest bit better tomorrow morning, I need you to promise me you will give me some time".

I flippantly made this ridiculous agreement to this little voice because there was no way in hell my feelings would change by the next day. 

I was done, I was so at peace with "going home" nothing would change my mind. 

But something did the next morning, I did feel different, not better but different and for the next 48 hours all I can say is that I was in two worlds at the same time: this physical world and the spiritual world. 

It's extremely difficult to explain but nevertheless, 48 hours later I became a completely different person. They term it a spiritual awakening apparently, but here I sit feeling very very lost again!

ALSO READ | When parents kill their children for revenge, and how to prevent a tragedy

'What the hell am I supposed to be doing with my life?'

I have had an amazing journey developing myself. I've done sewing classes which I've always wanted to do to help me in my interior decorating passion, thinking that would help me find something I could do on my own. 

I learnt to make clothes and bags thinking that would bring me an income and launch me into my own thing. 

I taught myself how to Macramé and made the most beautiful pieces thinking I could teach others this craft as a little business, but everything I ventured into leaves me with one obstacle after another: Covid and its 3 waves, one income leaving no money to get my business going and the ever-increasing petrol, food and electricity hikes, to name a few. 

We have cut out every and all "luxuries" and I'm now left with cooking and cleaning for my family. That's it! This promising creative with so much potential and nowhere go! 

I'm back to where I was a couple of years ago, only this time more spiritual. And you may think, but that's great, keep the faith, hold on, it's not that bad, people are worse than you blah blah blah. 

Yes I know all of that, yes I get that, yes I say that to myself hourly but it's not that. It's harder because I know that suicide isn't an option for me or my family, but who the hell am I now and what the hell am I supposed to be doing with my life? 

I'm way more than the cleaner of my home, the chef of my home, the Uber of my home, the teacher of my children, the listener of my husband, the gardener, the accountant of my home. I, me, Meghan is way more than this! But how long is a piece of string? 

Raising three children is extremely time-consuming and when I was working full time, leaving my children in the care of other people left me totally disconnected from them. 

I didn't know them as individuals and they didn't know me either. Evenings were chaos because there was limited time to check homework, cook supper, get ready for school, get bathed and then bed. 

All that in 3 hours. 

I don't want that for my children again. It's not healthy for them or us as parents, so the question is what do I do now? 

Suck it up sister, put on your big girl panties baby, rather the man with no shoes than no feet. 

And I do, I feel guilty for feeling like this, but still, again, I'm more than this. 

Me, Meghan, the person, the individual, not the wife, mom or friend, but for me, yet this me is getting smaller and smaller by the day and I just feel so hopeless. 

Where to from here?

Find support

If you suspect you might need help, or you know someone who is struggling, immediately contact the following organisations for advice and support:

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG): 011 234 4837

SADAG has a WhatsApp counselling line that operates from 9am to 4pm: 076 882 2775 

Gauteng Mental Health Society: 011 984 4038

SA Federation For Mental Health: 011 781 1852


Share your stories and questions with us via email at Anonymous contributions are welcome.

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