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Katrien had a bad start in life. She always had to fight to get some love from her parents. The only love and attention that she could find, came from her grandparents. When they passed away, the ground beneath her feet disappeared as well.

“On Thursday 13 November 1980, at 00.25 AM, I came into this world.

From the very start, I always had to fight for parental love. The kind that should normally be unconditional. Whatever I did, whichever way I chose to find and develop myself, I always faced this concrete wall: ‘Never show your true feelings. Always put up a smile, no matter how sad you are. Make sure you never do what you like, but only what I say…’


Who am I? Who am I?

The question I keep asking

The answer I forgot

The pain caused by this loss.

I do not belong here,

For I am a grey mouse among many.

Always quiet and shy

In serious need of rest.

Who can untie me?

And who will run away with me?

I can no longer move on,

Everything inside is hurt.


The ‘accidents’ that happened at home, were always my own fault. If only I would have stopped provoking. 

The years of bullying, at home and at school, were laughed off and brushed aside as ‘teasing’. They were meant to ‘make me stronger’.

Luckily, I had two people who did enjoy my company and allowed me to be myself: my grandparents. The many days, evenings and nights I spent with them as a child and teenager are irreplaceable.

On 10 April, 2002, my ability to carry life took a serious dent. My grandmother drew her last breath that day, with me by her side, and a tell-tale smile on her face.

Since then, my life was shaken up. To whom could I turn with my feelings? I was suddenly completely alone in this world. The only thing that filled my thoughts, was this song:

Through early morning fog I see
Visions of the things to be
The pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see that

Suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please

I try to find a way to make
All our little joys relate
Without that ever-present hate
But now I know that it’s too late, and

Suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please

The game of life is hard to play
I’m going to lose it anyway
The losing card I’ll someday lay
So this is all I have to say, that

Suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please

The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before I’m beat
And to another give my seat
For that’s the only painless feat.

Suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please

The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn’t hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows stronger; watch it grin! and

Suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please

A brave man once requested me
To answer questions that are key
Is it to be or not to be
Oh I replied, oh why ask me? ’cause

Suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please

And you can do the same thing if you please

One day, I stood next to a deserted railway, waiting to jump under the next train. That’s when I knew I needed help. Professional help, because I could no longer bear this alone. Empty and exhausted as I was.

I called the JAC (Juvenile Advice Centre) and was immediately invited to talk to a coach. She listened and listened and then called – with my permission – my general practitioner first, and then a psychiatrist to make an appointment.

The next day, my GP came to visit me at home and explained to my parents what depression is. Hardly two minutes after he left, all sorts of accusations and feelings of guilt were thrown at me.

Two times I visited the psychiatrist, but it did not feel exactly safe, so I quit treatment and turned to someone else: a psychologist. Here it was the same old story: no safety. I froze up and could not utter a word.

The only thing that helped me forget everything was drinking

Being drunk was the only relief. But the day after, everything the alcohol had suppressed came back in full force. And so I started drinking even more, most often secretly in my own room.

In 2004, my grandfather passed away as well. On his last evening, he encouraged me for one last time. “Thank you for everything you did for me and granny.” These words will remain carved in my heart forever.

The years passed by, but my sadness and all the memories became a heavier load

The year 2009 was marked by heavy emotions. Life was a roller coaster: my eldest brother got married, my father was diagnosed with cancer (in the colon, and spread to his liver), I was moving home to live by myself, got into a relation, and was blessed with three lovely children. But I was always caught in the middle between my family and my husband and children. More than once, I was forced to make heart-breaking decisions.

Nine months after, the line between life and death got very narrow. My father passed away in July; August brought the birth of my first cousin. So how should I feel at such a time: sad or happy?

November 2010, I finally started living my own life. I decided to follow my dream by working in the catering sector. Turning my hobby and passion into my profession: who doesn’t dream of that?

After four years, this dream – and my life – fell apart

A joint disease in my knee (gonarthrosis) meant goodbye to my freedom, my dream, and my peace of mind. It left me completely destroyed.

After three surgeries in one year and many crashes (going three physical therapy, quitting smoking, seeing a psychologist and staying in a day clinic), I am now ready to start a new chapter of my life.”



Farewell, my former self

The time has come for the new me.

I do not have to carry the sorrows of the world,

Though only if I dare to make that jump myself

Farewell, my history,

The time for the present has arrived.

New roads await me,

To be followed without holding back.

No such thing as a farewell,

You remain in my heart,

Yet no one could tell.

Katrien Michiels

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