For Jo

jo by chris barber

This isn’t something I ever thought I’d write about on this blog. In fact I toyed with the idea of whether or not I should actually post this for ages. But instead of trying to think about it too much I just started typing to see where it would go… writing is cathartic for me and I really just felt like I wanted to get this all out of my head. I’d decide whether to publish it or not later.

On Sunday, my friend Jo committed suicide.

Just writing those words feels unreal, like I’m in some kind of dream world or alternate reality. Dealing with death is fucking hard, dealing with death when someone has taken their own life is utterly devastating. There are just so many unanswered questions.

But I’m not writing this because I want any kind of “Oh I hope you’re OK” comments. As much as I appreciate them this is not about me. It’s about a far from being about me as anything I’ve ever written.

Jo suffered from depression. I knew she had low self esteem, and we’d spoken about it many times, but I really genuinely didn’t know how rough it was for her. And that makes me feel terrible. Like I was a totally awful friend for not knowing more, doing more, asking more.

I keep going over all our conversations in my head, wondering if I could have done anything differently or said something more helpful. I feel so guilty.

I wanted to write this today to try, in whatever small way I can, to reach out to any of you that might also be suffering. I want to encourage you to talk to people, and to never give up. Life is precious, life is short, life is worth fighting for.

FilmParis-Cov-91webbw

Depression is not some kind of comfort blanket that you need to hold on to. It does not define you. Life is so amazing when you finally fight to save yourself, when you come out the other side.

You have people that love and care for you. However low you feel, you are never alone. I don’t know if Jo knew how much I, and so many of her other friends, loved her. She was the life and soul of us and we just can’t believe she’s gone, that we’re never going to hear that laugh of hers again.

There was a time when I wanted to end it all too. When I tried, and failed, to take my own life. I am thankful everyday that I was unsuccessful. You never know what’s waiting for you just around the corner.

If I can help just one person with these words, then goodness, it’s been a worthwhile thing to publish. I know not everyone will be wanting or expecting to read this on a wedding blog, and I hope you’ll forgive my deviation from my regularly scheduled programming today, but this is something I just had to write.

To Chris, her boyfriend, and to all her close friends and family, my endless love and support is with you now and forever. I wish I could do more to help but all I can say is that I’m thinking of you all and sending as much love as I possibly can.

Jo, you were the most beautiful creature. I wish I could have done more.

Supporting Cast

182 comments

  1. Jamie

    My thoughts go to you and everyone else who this beautiful girl had an impact on. It is hard thing to go through as I have just found with what would of been my future father in law. You never truly can understand the full extent of what is going on in the mind of someone with depression as it affects everyone so differently, they don’t always let you see the full picture. It may not be the thing you want to write about on here but those who read your blog will understand the need and importance for you doing so and in fact it is a great reminder to think about your loved ones first and how we can take them for granted while we are absorbed in our own happiness. This could help many and I hope it does. My thoughts go to her boyfriend and family and hope that they can in time come to terms with this and try and see it as she is no longer suffering with her own thoughts. This is not easy as I personally know but it will gradually come. Xxx

  2. Laura

    I also had a close friend take her own life and it is the saddest thing to think that they felt that alone. I also have the same thoughts that I didn’t do enough to reach out and I was a bad friend but I have also come to the conclusion that we are not mind readers. I am sending warm thoughts your way. Keep her memory alive in a positive way and remember the good times!

  3. Kat I want to say thank you for being so brave and publishing this today, my first thought was that its too soon, BUT it’s not. Its exactly right, we need to talk about this.
    This has resonated hugely with all of us, Jo was such a beautiful, dazzling person to be around, she instantly became a friend and we still can’t believe that she is no longer with us. It really does feel like a surreal thing that we’re observing and not part of. But that is the horrendous illness that is depression, it totally absorbs your very being, its almost irrelevant how you look or how other people see you, in fact that can actually make you feel worse, a strange sense of guilt, or that you should be grateful for the things you have and have no right to feel depressed. Or worse still a sense of shame, that you must hide being depressed.

    I’ve had periods of depression, and its the void and lack of control that can be so hard to work through and see a way out of, the fear of being judged of not ‘snapping out of it’ not being grateful, or worse being found out, its really tough to navigate. Words can feel redundant at times like this and merely a process of saying the right things, but we are all completely heartbroken and devastated, its kicked us all to the core that one of our dear friends is gone, she was one of us, one of our generation, so many questions and feelings of loss. I hope that this is a time for us all to share, to talk about Jo, to give a voice to everyone who has gone through or is going through depression. Don’t be afraid to talk and share, we are all beautiful souls on this journey together, there is no shame, there is no guilt.

    So much love to Chris, to Jo and their families who need all the love and support we can give.
    xxx

  4. A beautiful article! Thank you so much to write this. I know how depression can be hard for both the person and its family. It was very brave and kind of you to share this with us. Love for Jo’s family and you.

  5. Laura

    I only had the pleasure of meeting Jo once and from the minute I did I wanted to keep both her and Chris forever. She was such a wonderful and gorgeous person. I can’t imagine what Chris or her family are going through but I’m sending them so much love. The world really is a slightly duller place without Jo in it. xxx

  6. How utterly devastating. I only met Jo once, at a wedding fair she was at with Chris, and she was such a warm girl and so beautiful. Chris and her family are in my thoughts. Bless her x

  7. Binky Nixon

    Thank you for sharing. Sounds like JO was an incredible spirit and touched many people. xx

  8. Kelly Roper

    Powerful words!!

    I hope that somehow these few words will stop and make someone think before taking another beautiful life. She looks a beautiful little lady! Such a sad loss :(

  9. I too never comment on blogs however I am compelled to after reading this. Heartfelt and so moving. Bless you all.Even more shocking to read the name Chris Barber Photography.Please tell me its not his girlfriend?! I had the pleasure of working with them last year, such a star and a completely bloody awesome guy. If its who I’m thinking of his girlfriend was stunningly beautiful,I kept getting teary looking at her because she looks so much like my own daughter. When I told her I could see she didn’t believe me. OMG please no?! this is devastation news x My thoughts are with you all. x

  10. I was so sad to read this. I can’t begin to imagine how someone must be feeling to get to this point. I hope those around her understand that as much as they loved her, they aren’t responsible ultimately. My heart breaks for all involved.

  11. Ash Elliott

    Chris and Jo shot our wedding just before Christmas. They also photographed our engagement too. Both of them were absolutely brilliant, a real joy to be around and incredibly talented. Both myself and my wife Becca who had become friends with Jo are completely shocked. I would never have known that Jo had suffered with depression, she was such a happy soul. Our thoughts are with Chris, Jo’s family and all her friends. Such a loss to the world.

  12. Depression is such a difficult illness / emotion for people to understand and especially for the person who lives with it and all the people around them.

    I hate to think of the suffering Jo must have been going through to take her own life.

    My heart is breaking for her and for her family. Sending my deepest sympathy and I pray Jo’s family and boyfriend have the strength to get through this tragic time.

    Sonia XxX

  13. Incredibly sad, my heart goes out to Chris, close friends and family.. Your in our thoughts.
    Thank you for writing this Kat, its incredibly important to talk about these moments that impact lives so deeply. Love and support xxx

  14. “Depression is not some kind of comfort blanket that you need to hold on to. It does not define you. Life is so amazing when you finally fight to save yourself, when you come out the other side”.

    I just want to make a comment on the above paragraph [as a sufferer myself]. Depression is a very hard thing to get a hold of, rationally you know you don’t want to live your life that way.

    When I go through a hard patch my husband always asks me what’s is wrong, you’ve got everything you want and everything to live for… sometimes though you just can’t help but slide into the dark place… and you just want the pain to stop.

  15. Thank you so much for writing this. The Black Dog of Depression is horrendous; and for those of us who have never experienced depression, all we can do is look helplessly on. And when someone feels the only answer is to take their own life, it is impossible to make any sense of it. That is because of course, to us there is no sense in it. Don’t beat yourself up, wondering what you could have done to prevent Jo’s actions. There is probably nothing anyone could have done…. I am thinking of you and of all Jo’s loved ones at this sad time. Love from Judy xx

  16. Steph

    I don’t really know the words to make you feel better. But I just wanted you to know that I’m thinking of you and your friends family. I hope she is now in peace. Take care of yourselves xx

  17. HI Kat, a brave post indeed,such a sad post to write, so heartbreaking , My condolences go to you and all of her friends but especially to Chris and her family,
    She was a gorgeous person with a beautiful smile xxx .

  18. Steff M-J

    I read this through teary eyes as I also suffer from depression and could so easily have fallen down the same hole as your friend. I am currently in treatment, thanks to my wonderful wife spotting a change in my mood and behaviour and encouraging me to get help. It is so hard, as I felt sad and angry and miserable without really knowing why, but at the same time I thought it was normal to feel that way.

    Depression is such a cruel illness as it completely removes your sense of rational judgement. I just want you to know that there was nothing that you or anyone else could have done to save Jo. From personal experience, I know that all the love that you show just doesn’t make up for that nagging feeling you have inside that everyone would be better off without you, and if a depressed person is determined enough to take their own life, they will hide it from you however they can by putting on a brave face.

    My deepest sympathies go to you and Jo’s family and friends. She sounds like it was a privilege to know her, and I’m certain that the void that she has left will be impossible to fill. xxx

  19. I unfortunately know these feelings all too well. A friend of mine also took her own life three months ago. It was something that no one knew just how bad it was until she was gone, and all those thoughts ran through our heads about what more we could’ve done.

    My thoughts are with you and Jo’s family and friends.

  20. Thank you for writing this. It moved my heart and made me feel grateful for everything that’s in my life. Sending love and prayers to Jo (wherever she is) and to all that knew her. X

  21. Emma

    Kat
    I am so sad to read this.
    Depression lies and the amazing people that suffer from it do not know how special they are.
    This week we remembered the 6th anniversary of one of our friends who took his life.
    Our nickname for him was ‘Flamboyant’, because he was – flamboyant, fabulous and the light that lit the room up.
    How sad that he could not see himself in the same light that we all did.
    My thoughts are with Jo and her friends and family.

  22. Jude

    I’ve never read your blog before and it’s only by climat that I have come across your article. yes it is with great sadness 2 every1 affected that Jo felt no way out from this hell that depression puts us in. I myself took an overdose 9 years ago, I lost sight of my young children and saw no way out, luckily 4 me I saw a pic of the 3 of them and quickly got 2 the hospital. now my youngest is 11yrs old with no idea how I fight 2 keep goin, I smile and play games but no 1 sees the anguish I feel. readin your blog I see how so many people will miss your friend and although I have a lot of family I feel that only my children would miss me and I scares me that 1 of my fears is that if I did escape this life, they would grow up hating me which is a feelin they don’t deserve 2 be burdened with, so I keep fightin every minute of every day hopin that I will break out of my personal hell and start enjoyin life again.
    thank u 4 giving me the opportunity 2 say how I feel Coz whenever I try 2 talk 2 my husband he gets annoyed as he thinks that he’s not right 4 me or he would’ve made me see the light that life has 2 offer…if only it was that simple

  23. Reading your blog brought back really sad times for me. A lovely friend, work colleague and all round beauitful person who I’d had the pleasure of knowing for about three years, took her own life in 2012. Claire was intelligent, bright creative, caring, funny the list is endless, which is why it was such a shock when we heard that terrible news that she had taken her own life.
    It was only on the day of her funeral I learnt that she suffered with clinical depression and I had no idea as she hid it so very well, I felt crap as I’d shared an office with her and never knew.
    I think you are right all of us need to ask more questions and make sure are friends are good and know where we are if they need us. After all how hard is it to ask or tell someone your there if needed
    Another tragic loss so very sad xx

  24. I’m so sorry Kat, to you and for her wonderful family.
    I have suffered from depression in the past and know how truly difficult it can be.
    All I can say is don’t feel guilty, I found at my lowest points I didn’t want to speak about it and nobody knew how I truly felt.

    My thoughts are with you and her family in this difficult time xx

  25. Having struggled with Bipolar my whole life, this post made everything just that little bit more real. I’ve written about it countless times myself, but always been scared to put my name to it for fear of the awful stigma attached to mental health issues. Suicide makes all those left behind run things over and over in their mind…..”what could I have done/said?”, “what if I’d been there to stop her?” etc etc. The truth is, though, no matter what you would have said/done, there’s probably very little chance your friend would have changed her mind. Once someone makes this extremely difficult decision there is no going back. The awful truth of mental health problems is that no amount of drugs, therapy, talking can heal. They can help for a short while and then you, as a sufferer, feel desperate all over again. It’s so isolating to feel unable to explain the way you feel and, worse, to get others to understand you. For some that is just too much to bear. For those of us lucky enough to be surviving this emotional rollercoaster, life will always be just that little bit harder than those we consider “normal”. Unfortunately there is still a hell of a lot left to learn about depression and other mental health problems, but one thing you can be sure of….your friend will have known you loved her and will have appreciated that fact, but the pain of existing was just too much to bear. I’m so glad for your post as it has highlighted something that really needs more research and support. Please don’t feel guilty. Just cherish the memories. xox

  26. Its so hard to find the right words and yet Kat, you did. This post will help many, i’m sure of that.
    I never met Jo or her partner Chris but have loved Chris’ images for years.
    This was such a sad and heartbreaking read. My thoughts are with Jo’s family, friends and Chris.
    xxx

  27. Its so hard to find the right words and yet Kat, you did. This post will help many, i’m sure of that.
    I never met Jo or her partner Chris but have loved Chris’ images for years.
    This was such a sad and heartbreaking read. My thoughts are with Jo’s family, friends and Chris.
    xxx

  28. Helen Howard

    I read this devastating post just now and although I can’t really add anything that hasn’t already been said I just wanted to say Kat, that writing this was an incredibly brave thing to do. Losing someone in such a way is incredibly hard to deal with, it’s impossible to understand why this has happened. Having lost two very important people in my life, one to depression and one to cancer, I now realise that depression is a cancer, it’s the only way I can deal with loss to depression.

    My heart goes out to Chris, his family, Jo’s family and all their friends who are feeling painfully numb at hearing this sad news. Nothing can possibly make it ok right now, but there is so much love in this community I hope you can all find the strength you need xx

  29. my heart aches…..unfortunately depression takes you to a place that doesn’t allow you to see your blessing and feel the love around you..sometime somehow you can manage to snap out of it and see and feel and live ..unfortunately sometime you can’t…..nobody is to blame..but I know the pain…
    R.I.P Jo

  30. I am so sorry for your loss & pray for you & Jo’s family & friends that you all find peace at this time.

    I have very recently (finally) acknowledged the fact that I have depression & have ignored it for some time until I realised what I thought was “the odd down day” had actually been occuring everyday for months but I had failed to see it. Suicidal thoughts would pop into my head, like I’d walk over the bridge over the railway & wonder if it would hurt if I jumped, would I die instantly or would a train go over me, but I wouldn’t tell anyone about it coz I didn’t think it was an issue, in fact I thought that was normal to think that!

    A friend of mine brought it out of me, at a meeting & years of pent up anger & hatred toward myself poured out finally! Admitting it & talking about it means I will heal, it’ll take time & hard work but I am so thankful that my friends have stepped in when I didn’t see it because I wouldn’t want my friends having to write something like this about me.

    You are so brave to write this about your friend & I know she’d appreciate the love you are showing her :)

    xXx

  31. Charis Warrell

    Dearest Jo,
    Today so many hearts are hurting for you and the loss you have left behind. Although I only ever chatted to you on FB, Twitter and admired your amazing photos on Instagram, I thought of you as a friend. There arent words to describe how desperately sad I feel for you, your family, your lovely man Chris and all of your precious friends. All day Ive thought about you and hoped that Id got it wrong. Im so terribly sorry that you have felt so low, so sad and so helpless. I know that none of us will ever really know what this has been like for you, but I hope and pray that you are now at peace and that in time your precious family and friends will too know peace for you too.
    Ive been out today and everywhere Ive looked there have been beautiful buttons! They reminded me of you and your truly stunning creations. I had to smile when I saw them. Much love xxxx

    Dearest Kat,
    this is a beautiful and precious post and Im so proud of you and all the wonderful people in the wedding industry who have rallied together to remember Jo today. Im proud to be part of this amazing industry and hope and pray that we can all know how deep, how precious and how desperately special life is and that IS it worth fighting for.
    Much love to you, Chris, Jos family and friends at this time xxxx

  32. Missy

    This was so moving to read. My best friend took his own life in September so I understand fully the devastating and completely overwhelming grief that washes over you … Well completely bowls you over. And since then, followed by the hardest year of my life I have been diagnosed with severe depression and hit my bottom. I have spent the last 2 months working on my mental and physical health and I really appreciate reading your post as it gives me a little more fuel to my life fire to keep going and loving well. Thank you

  33. I am so shocked and saddened by this. We saw Chris win an award and Jo was beaming proudly from the stage next to Chris – she really did light up the room. It’s heartbreaking news to lose someone so young and vibrant. Speaking from experience, depression is a devastasting illness. None of you must blame yourselves. There are no words to make this better but for what it’s worth,all I can do is add my love and sympathy for Chris, your families, Kat and all of your lovely friends. Take care of each other xxxx

  34. Emma

    I had the absolute pleasure of working with Jo in Exeter and enjoyed many a night out. I Loved her glamorous style, her big smile and ditzy ways. I always loved looking at the pics of her lavish trips away and her imaginative business ideas. She was always so bubbly. I feel so sad for her that she couldn’t see a way forward. Love to her family at this difficult time xxx

  35. Suzanne

    Truly sad to hear of this great loss and thinking of her parents and boyfriend. I suffer with depression and sometimes it gets me in a hold that I think what is my purpose in life? Nobody would miss me if I’m gone? That my children don’t even love me and I’m a rubbish mother. My partner knows of my depression but not the deep dark thoughts I have as I can’t fully open up to him as fear of him saying I’m being silly . Well my point is not everyone can fully open up or are to far deep to be reached. So no matter how hard you may have tried to save her it may well not have been possible. I do know that I do choose life simply for the good days I do have its worth living

  36. Emma Lockey

    I’ve only just found this blog after spotting the link on Facebook and can’t quite believe what I’m reading. I never met Jo but Chris was the photographer at our wedding and we couldn’t have wished for a nicer bloke. It’s heartbreaking to hear what has happened and our thoughts and prayers are with Jo’s family and Chris. This is such a devastating illness which can affect anyone at any time and we’ve got to do as much as we can to beat it. As I say, we never had the fortune to meet her but from the comments here and the photos I’ve seen Jo was a beautiful girl that made a lot of people very happy. I hope she’s at peace xx

  37. Helen

    I’m so sorry for your loss. It is indeed utterly devastating to lose someone and not know why. It’s almost unjust, and I (like many others) are so supportive of you and your friends.
    Like many of us who suffer with low self-esteem and depression, talking to someone feels like we are passing on this burden. I can understand why Jo didn’t talk, but it’s so incredibly sad that she didn’t when she is so very loved.
    This has touched me so much, and I sincerely hope that time will lessen the empty pinch of pain her passing has caused. Much love x

  38. Helen Howells

    Kat this post is so touching and a lovely tribute to your friend Jo. Pressing publish on this post was an incredibly courageous thing to do and will no doubt bring comfort to many people.

    I suffer from depression and anxiety and refused to acknowledge it for such a long time reassuring myself constantly I was just having a down day. It used to be so hard to think logically and I didn’t want to upset my nearest and dearest and didn’t talk about it for a long time with them. It can be so isolating as if you have a broken leg or arm people can see it but with mental health it’s how you feel inside!!

    I hope Jo has found peace and I am thinking of you and her friends and family at this tough time xx

  39. Becky

    I didn’t know Jo. My best friend did and posted a link to your blog on her facebook timeline.
    I am sorry for your loss.
    Thank you for writing this. I suffer from severe depression and mental health issues and wrestle nearly everyday with the pain that it causes me. Your words really have made me think.
    So ofetn we refrain from talking to the people that we know love us, because we do not want to be a burden or to cause worry and stress. Often when caught up in these feelings, we cannot be reasoned with and are not thinking rationally.
    All you can do as feiends and relatives is be there when people want to talk and distract them with the fun times. It sounds like you did this for Jo and I’m sure that would have meant more than you can imagine.
    Much Love x

  40. Firstly, I am so deeply sorry for your loss lovely, aswell as her friends and family. But secondly, thank you for writing a post that needed to be written. Too many people are unaware of how serious depression is, the effect it has on so many people day in day out; and the fact that like with your dear friend, one day you feel you’re in control, and the next you’re questioning your existence, the point of being here when you feel so damn low.
    My thoughts are with all of those who were close to Jo.

    Elizabeth x | Candyfloss Curls, Cupcakes & Couture

  41. This is so so sad, I have such a heavy heart. I only met Jo once – at a wedding fair. Like others have said, she seemed wonderfully bright and witty, full of character.

    My thoughts will be with Jo – I hope she is now at peace – and Chris, her family and friends. What a devastating loss.

  42. I’m so sorry.

    A colleague committed suicide a couple of years ago and he too suffered from depression. I saw him everyday at work and he seemed okay. I still think about him and wished I had said or done something to help. But I just didn’t know.

    You didn’t know.

    You’ve done a good thing writing about it and opening up. It’s not always easy.

    xx

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