75: When My Dad Ended His Life with Simon Mitchell
‘My Dads suicide was like a bomb that highlighted any family fracture and created full blown chasms for two generations’
Sam Mitchell, CCO of Rise ,a workplace wellbeing platform, talks us through the life experiences that got him passionate about the wellbeing topic. He describes himself as a 41 year old male, conditioned to not talk or reflect on his mental health. He describes his Dad as physically present but emotionally never there while his mum made up for his flaws with unconditional love and connection.
His mum experienced anxiety and was addicted to valium, checking in to the priory well before it was cool. While they knew mental health issues were at play, no one in the family actually talked about these things and eventually at uni Simon experienced his own paranoid anxiety leading his Dad to come and get him in a moment of crisis. When asked what were the signs, he suspects that most people just thought he was a bit of a twat but underneath he was really struggling.
Getting accepted onto a graduate scheme he was successful on the outside but remembers spending lunch break in the bathroom arguing with the voices in his head. He showed a firm mask of confidence while his paranoia would creep in and make people uncomfortable. While struggling with his own demons silently and carving out a career for himself, his father lost his job and his identity. With no way of processing his loss of identity, his father ends up taking his own life. Their last conversation was an argument.
Simon goes into survival mode to look after his mum who is on dialysis and the fractures in the family begin their ripple affect. Three years later his mum passes away and Simon uproots his life to look after the dogs she left behind. Simon describes being a survivor, someone who just keeps going. He reflects on how his life simply became really small as he sat night after night in front of a laptop in 4 walls alone. It was only after taking a long break from work that the cracks started to show in his physical and mental health and he realised that something about his life had to change.
His life is worlds apart from what it was … vibrant, active and fully connected to his work and the people around him. Out of unbelievable tragedy he has carved out a life of openness, passion and friendship. An inspiring episode as this is the first time ever that Simon is telling his full story!
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