This post has been on my mind for the past six months or so, but when my dad died recently, I knew I had to find the time to write it- too many things in my life were pointing me towards this topic. The cause of my father's death that we, the family, reported to the general public was "complications from surgery" or "stroke". That is true. But what is also true is that he died of complications of alcoholism. What I feel to be an even more accurate story is that my father's death was a result of mental health struggles and unhealthy coping strategies.
When I was in middle school, I was pulled out of class and informed that my father was in a coma. The doctors told us that he was going to die. His liver was failing and I had no idea he was a drinker until that time. Luckily, despite all odds, he began to get better and stopped drinking for a while in order to be there for us. A while later, he received a liver transplant. I don't know for sure if he ever stopped drinking after that, but I suspect it was always a fallback to help him cope with life's unpleasant moments. You see, my dad was a very emotional guy. I loved that about him. He cared so deeply for my sister and I and the beautiful aspects of life- like music. So often men are told they can't be emotional. Further, society seems to paint the picture that men- and people in general- are weak if they seek professional help for their mental state and emotions. Meanwhile, life is full of difficult transitions and the need for mental health services and practices is almost imperative for each and every one of us. As I got older, I learned my dad struggled with anxiety. His side of the family also has a substantial history of mental health conditions and substance abuse. I am prone to feelings of depression and anxiety too. And isn't this the story for most families? It is for far more than we think. It's just so rarely talked ab