It was a tsunami that hit and took off chunks of my heart, my reality, sanity and future with it. I was utterly unprepared for the nightmare that was about to ensue.
One sunny autumn afternoon 18 months ago, two policemen showed up at my doorstep to tell me that my son's body had been found nearby. Apparently Saagar had ended his own life. They handed me his belongings but I was convinced they had made a mistake. This was not within the realm of possibilities.
He is a handsome talented young man of 20 with a fabulous education and everything to live for. How could this be? He had a recent diagnosis of bipolar disorder but the doctors had me believe that he was getting better. No one ever mentioned the word 'suicide' to me.
I was numb but something in me had a strong desire to write. Having never written or read a blog before, we set up an account and I started writing kidsaregifts the same night and have written every day since. Its my way of spending time with Saagar, healing and sharing what I learn.
Zigzagging from absolute disbelief, to anger, complete blankness, deep sorrow, deeper guilt for having failed him in every possible way, and everything in between, it was the start of a circuitous and profoundly painful process. The biggest challenge for the rational part of the brain was, trying to make sense of it. It just didn't. The 'whys' were agonisingly incessant. Sleep just wouldn't come. For months I couldn't get a wink without medication. Nothing made any sense whatsoever. My brain just turned itself over and over in my skull.
Everything seemed broken - me, him, our family, our community, our society, the NHS, our government, the world and the entire universe.
His cremation and memorial service was attended by hundreds but I was in a state of suspended animation. I was there but not quiet. Inside, I was constantly screaming and wailing like an animal mother.
Work granted me six months of leave. I went to India to be with my family and friends. My partner moved jobs to be able to be with me. He took care of me with great love and patience. Most of that time, I just sat. I sat with my broken heart and broken dreams, looking into the distance at nothing in particular. How could I not see the extent of Saagar's suffering? Why didn't I do more to help him? Why couldn't he tell me how he felt? Most days I couldn't walk even a 100 steps. I read a lot about suicide and mental illness. I learnt about what a big problem suicide is - one person every 40 seconds dies of it! I tried to feel the torment he must have felt but got repeatedly inundated with more questions. I sat watching time stretch and shrink spastically in my head.
Over time, acquaintances turned out to be close friends and some who were once close, disappeared. I found myself writing for the Telegraph and on The Huffington Post, speaking at public gatherings and volunteering with SOBS, MHFA and Papyrus. The only thing that made sense was to educate myself and others about this silent epidemic of suicide and do all I could to stop this tragedy befalling other families. I have met some deeply inspiring and compassionate people who work tirelessly with great conviction in the field of suicide prevention. It is a small but strong community and although it has been forced upon me, I am honoured to be a part of it.
I have found myself in a vulnerable spot on several occasions but never before have I required as much support as I have in the past 18 months. I have appreciated every moment people have spent with me. Every email and text message, each card and flower, every word and hug has brought me great comfort. Individual and group therapy, yoga, breathing exercises and meditation have been lifesaving. Saagar's friends have been exceptional in reaching out to me and surrounding me with their love. His school and university have been remembering him with great fondness and actively taking steps to break the stigma around mental illness and suicide. It helps me when I support other survivors of suicide.
They say time heals but they are wrong. Not always.
I have learnt to carry this deep wound with pride and open it up everytime I reach out. It always hurts and always will but this is our new reality. I am learning to forgive myself for all the mistakes I think I made, real or imagined.
At present I cannot fathom how I'll get through the rest of my life with this pain. They tell me it's still early days.