Trigger Warning – this story discusses suicidal thoughts, strategies and hope.
“We had no idea that our son, Kyle, was struggling with his mental health. At 15, he became suicidal. This was the scariest time for Pepe and me.” We hear from Kyle Jdali’s mum, Keran. Read Kyle’s story on Humans in Geelong website.
“Growing up as a toddler, young child and teen, Kyle would often have temper tantrums and be more emotionally sensitive. I remember speaking to a nurse once when Kyle was about 10 years old and she told me that it was very normal in today’s society for children to go through puberty and hormonal changes at a younger age.
“He seemed like any other normal teenager who liked to be by himself, a bit sulky at times, so on that Sunday (March 2018), when he came to talk to Pepe and I, we were in complete shock. We managed to hold it together and praised him for opening up.
“Naturally, we blamed ourselves. What could we have done differently? We’d always been a very close, connected family who ate meals together, played board games, talked, went out for meals etc. Later Kyle told me that because I had shared my own mental health struggles as a teenager, it had helped him to open up. We had no idea that Kyle had been feeling so low, and I know only too well how easy it is to live two lives, you can hide it so well. It could happen to anyone.
“The very next day we rang our family GP and school, Kardinia International College. The school have been truly amazing, they have wellbeing hub and onsite psychologist. One staff member went above and beyond, ringing in the evenings to check in, not just on Kyle but on us too.
“But, sadly, things went from bad to worse. We took Kyle to the Child and Adolescence Mental Health Services (CAMHS). He saw another psychologist. Kyle did attempt to take his life and ended up having to be admitted into hospital a few times.
“It was scary how quickly his mood could change. One minute he’d check in at 8-9, the next a 2, you could see it in his body language and in his eyes. He would go into a dark place instantly, without any warning and this scared us immensely as we felt powerless to keep him safe.
“We wanted to try anything and everything to help. We tried different antidepressants and two different psychologists but to no avail. Kyle kept telling us the medication and counselling was the wrong approach for him, so out of sheer desperation, we started to listen. We had to trust him. We had to allow Kyle to find his own path to recovery.
“During one admission when Kyle was really low in isolation at hospital, I asked all of his friends and family to write a letter of appreciation to let him know how we felt about him. Kyle truly felt unworthy, ugly, unloved and a burden on everyone around him including us, which was really hard to hear. The response was amazing, I put these letters into a book for Kyle to read in his own time.
“One day Kyle had gone into town. Despite the effort, he thought it good to get out. On the way home I asked, how he felt, thinking he would be feeling good, he shocked me completely by saying, ‘well actually mum, I’m thinking of ending my life.’ Kyle just felt exhausted with life and was so tired from trying to live. He asked us to tell his brother that he would be ending his life. We told him that was something he should do. I couldn’t believe it when he agreed and went to see him straight away. He told Cameron he was sorry that he was such a bad brother and that he wouldn’t be around much longer. Cameron replied, ‘You could never be a bad brother to me, no matter what you do’.
“In the end, it was a combination of things and time that finally led to his recovery, he:
– had a huge passion for dogs, so we got Coco and Lexi, two Cavalier King Charles Spaniel pups.
– started to attend personal training
– meditates regularly and took up skateboarding.
– sees a mindset coach, who has helped him put a different spin on things.
– most importantly was ready to help himself and started to change his mindset
“It is really important as parents, to open up and talk to people, friends and family. You’ll be surprised how many are silently struggling with similar heart-breaking situations. Telling our workplaces was when we realised what an amazing support network we have beyond family and friends. We went to family counselling which was really helpful. His younger brother Cameron probably doesn’t realise what a solid rock he has been throughout. We got through this together.
“I’m a true believer that things happen for a reason. Kyle has taken this whole experience as an opportunity to help others and share his experiences through his Instagram @beneficial_mindsets and youtube Beneficial Mindsets.”
“I am so very proud of how far Kyle has come and admire his strength and maturity.”
Story: Jacqui Bennett. Photo: Supplied