A few things, before we start.
Firstly, thank you. Any other words escapes me. I can’t eloquently express the gratitude I’m feeling toward my fellow blogger and Interwebbers at the moment. Every message, every email, every comment… they warm my heart. You guys are just… awesome.
Second, a few people have emailed me regarding advertising on my blog. I’ll get back to you soon as possible, promise.
And thirdly, this post is called ‘Ugly’ for a reason. This is real. This is serious. This is suicide. If you, like me, have that wretched thing called clinical trauma, this might be triggering.
But, if you ever considered hanging yourself, read this. Please.
To understand this story, from my perspective, there are some things you should know. About Tony. About our life.
He was a good bloke. That, I think, is the most important thing. Those of you who have been reading since the Before know that. A big, tattooed, Aussie bloke with a cheeky sense of humour, an amazing devotion to his family, direct and extended; and very much a man’s man.
He was awesome. I adored him. So please know, as you read this, that the man I’m talking about here,in the lead up to his death, was not the man I married.
Not himself, not at all.
I guess you also should know that there is, of course, a History here. And it’s not my history, it’s Tony’s, so I won’t tell you a lot of it. Suffice to say, I think, that Tony had demons that haunted him from a very young age. More recently, there were car troubles, money troubles, work stresses. Things he shared with no one. Some things that I’m only just finding out about now.
And Tony always kept everything to himself. He was the oldest, and only, male in his family, and he felt it was his job was to take care of everyone.
Tony didn’t believe in psychological help, or medication, especially for himself. But he never had a problem with me taking my meds. And he would never burden anyone with his problems, his stresses (“I’ve got it all covered, darl”). Especially not his wife, who suffers depression and anxiety as it is.
Did I ever think he was suicidal? Never. I had heard him say, as had his mum, sister and mates, that suicide is a cowards option, a dog’s way to go. And if you were to do it, make it look like an accident, where someone you know won’t find you.
The week between New Years and the 6th of January, the day Tony hung himself, was awful. I don’t think there is too much detail needed. We argued, as couples do. But horribly. Round in circles. Without end. Continuously. My rock, the alkaline to my acid….. our roles had reversed. Where normally it was me, screaming at him to STAY AND TALK TO ME as he walked away, this time, it was me, pleading with him to leave. And him, coming at me, again, again, again. Bitter, spiteful words, intended to hurt me and make me snap and scream.
For some God unknown reason, I did not. And one of those days there, he hit me. My Man, who would never hurt a fly, had me in a headlock, one hand pushing my nose back into my skull, threatening to snap my neck. And I was terrified.
This was not the man I married.
The three days before this happened, things were worse. My stomach sunk as he walked though our back gate, diaphragm knotted in anxiety.
Twice, during those the three days Before, Tony threatened to hang himself. Once, he even told me where he would do it. And it was exactly where he did do it.
And I kick myself for that now. Three quarters of a degree in social work, I should know that when people have specific plans for suicide, things are bad.
Why did I ignore that?
My psychiatrist, an angel in a lanyard, tells me that she would have said, had I turned to her, that Tony was making idle threats. And maybe,in a way, he was.
We had plans. Australia Day, a wedding next month, a holiday in March. Suicidal people don’t make plans like that.
The day before This Happened was Tony’s birthday. He turned 34. It was nice, quiet. Presents and ice cream cake with our kids. And I took photos, even though I was cranky at him.
I’m so glad I did.
The next day, The Last Day, was just a normal day for me. I was online, I think, on Twitter, only an hour before this happened.
Tony came home from work. Half past two, usual time, given that he started so early in the morning.
And he came to me. Hugged me. Kissed me. Told me he loved me.
If I’d known that would be that last time I hear it, would I have been more receptive? Of course. That doesn’t even require a question mark.
But I wasn’t receptive. I didn’t yell. but I was still angry, and I told him so.
And from there, all hell broke loose.
I remember, vaguely, in that next half hour, fragments of near-rational conversation. Where he told me he didn’t love me, then that he did, that he’d almost lost his job for me, given up everything for me.
But mostly I remember the fury of it. The look on his face. Things being thrown at me. Being spat at. Him, a finger over one nostril spitting snot onto me.
Like I was nothing. Less than nothing. Like he couldn’t think of anyone he hated more.
Threatening, to kill me, to take my kids, take the house, leave me on the street.
“I’m going to do something that shows everyone what a terrible person you are”.
And me, confused, scared, afraid. But it never even touched my mind that he was talking about this.
Into our back shed. Back again, with an ugly, bright piece of nylon orange rope.
A noose, already knotted in the end of it. When did he do that, how long has that been there for?
Me, standing in my back doorway, him in our backyard. Me, still thinking he’s bluffing, him, getting angrier and angrier at my lack of anger, lack of passion, why aren’t I screaming at him like I usually do?
“I’m going to fucking do it. I’m going to hang myself.”
“No, Tony, don’t be a dick, you can’t be fucking serious, your daughter is standing right here…”
A litany of words as I watch, so quickly, as he strings up over the beam of our outdoor shelter, and pulls over a chair
“TONY! WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?”
He kicks himself of the chair, lands feet on the ground. Slipped, or something. Not even force. Not violent enough.
All this, is the space of milliseconds.
He looks at me again, those beautiful brown eyes, the color of melted chocolate, so full of rage and hate for me.
Up onto the chair again, and jumps, with all his force.
Fuck. I grab my daughter, my baby. Stop fucking around, Tony, you’ve scared the shit out of me, I’m a fuckwit, I get it.
Shake him, with the hand not holding my little one. Slap him, hard as I can. His sunglasses fall off, smash on the ground. And, stupidly, that’s when I realise- he’s not mucking around. His eyes are bulged, rolled back in his head. He’s unconscious already, and he’s not fucking around. His feet are touching the fucking ground, but he’s unconscious and this is real.
And my life shattered.
I ran, screaming, hysterical, into my back lane, “Help me, help me, he’s hung himself.” My neighbors run, it seems like they’re there before I call them. One of them runs into my backyard, runs out again, shaking his head, saying “Call an ambulance” over my shoulder.
“Cut him down! Cut him down!”
Why didn’t I tell them, that he’d only just done it, then, in front of me, that I’d not found him like that? Would it have made any difference? Possibly. Possibly not. Cutting down a 110 kg man who is effectively already dead takes time.
And that’s the crut
ch of this post. There is more, obviously- 100 hours in the hell that is an Intensive Care Department, and the immediate aftermath of a street full of sirens and two small children oblivious to the fact that their world has just collapsed beneath them- but that’s another post. For another time.
Here’s the thing- have you ever wondered why hanging is considered such a violent method of suicide? I always did. Even though I studied mental health.
Because it’s just so fucking quick.
It’s nothing like on the movies. Most things aren’t, I suppose, but this especially. If you asphyxiate slowly through hanging, it will be painful and long and you’ll be conscious for a lot of it. And you won’t be able to lift your own body weight to relive the tension in the rope.
That isn’t what happened with Tony.
What happened with Tony is common in hanging. He managed to compress a nerve-the Vagal nerve,I believe, but I could be wrong. This nerve runs down both sides of your neck.
Compression of this nerve instantly renders you unconscious. The rope around your neck cuts off any remaining oxygen to your brain. Brain damage sets in after 30 second, with this type of injury. After 4 minutes, it’s permanent and irreparable.
So, God forbid, you live, you will be a vegetable.
There are no second chances, with hanging. There is no time, no leeway for someone to save you. I really don’t think Tony knew that. To hang himself in front of his wife and child, in broad daylight, with a whole neighborhood of people home who would come to our aid….. I think he thought he would have time.
He was wrong. Hanging is fast, and it’s pretty damn permanent.
I can only imagine how much he’s kicking himself now.