Hey there! I'm Tiffany and I'm so grateful you have stopped by my little corner of the web to read this blog. You will find posts about all the podcast episodes I do plus what we are working on for the Cory Carson Foundation in honour of my big brother Cory.
Today I welcome Charlene Madden, who admittedly spent most of her life living in a state of darkness.
**A gentle warning, this episode discusses suicide. If you are feeling vulnerable in this area, please consult with a doctor or mental health professional in your area. Or call one of the Suicide Prevention numbers listed in the resources.**
After she experienced over nine years of sexual trauma, a decade of domestic violence, more than three decades of mental illness, and suicidal ideology, she was two days away from committing suicide when she attended a women’s workshop that saved her life.
She authentically shares the struggles that she has experienced in a way that reaches into the hearts of listeners in a profound and relatable way. By discussing topics of childhood sexual violence, domestic abuse, and mental illness, she is on a mission to shatter the stigma surrounding these topics.
She began her healing journey and found her purpose by turning her darkness into a message of hope. Believe me when I say that her story and vulnerability will impact you!
Here are three reasons why you should listen to the complete episode:
Charlene shares her story of sexual trauma, domestic violence, mental illness, and suicidal ideology.
Find out how a women’s workshop saved her life just two days before her planned suicide.
Discover her journey of hope and purpose through self-love and overcoming fear.
Who is Charlene Madden
Charlene is the creator of the Ignite Your Life BC women’s workshop, speaker, author, women’s empowerment coach, and reiki practitioner.
She believes that beautiful things can come from hard times.
Her passion and purpose are to help others by sharing her story.
Charlene didn’t grow up in a happy and healthy household.
Her father was a severe alcoholic and would get violent.
At the age of three, her parents separated.
Her mother took her half-brothers and left, leaving her and her sister with their father.
He was in no shape to care for them, so he contacted their maternal grandmother, who didn’t hesitate to take them.
Her grandmother, the saint
Charlene says that her grandmother was as close to a saint as you could get.
She was strong, independent, and way ahead of her time, encouraging them to get a good education and career, so they didn’t need to depend on anybody.
Her grandfather, the pedophile
Her grandfather, on the other hand, was a pedophile.
She and her sister endured over nine years of sexual abuse at his hands.
Why Charlene kept quiet
People have asked Charlene why she kept quiet for as long as she did.
As a child who came from a broken home where she felt unwanted, she feared being sent away.
It was going to be yet another person that didn’t love her or want her, so she kept quiet and endured it.
Everything comes out
Charlene’s sister took the worst part of the abuse.
At 16, she had a nervous breakdown at school, and everything came out.
Their grandfather was arrested, and their grandparents got divorced.
They were back into a broken home situation.
Going to high school
There was no anonymity when her grandfather was arrested in their small town.
Charlene was entering high school and remembered a social worker just patting her on the back, saying everything would be okay, but she had no idea what “okay” was.
So she goes into high school with no counseling to deal with the abuse she had endured.
There was just no follow-up when everything came out.
Trying to process her trauma
Charlene didn’t have the tools to process her trauma as a teenager.
Writing and poetry helped her process her feelings and emotions, but it was dark and suicide based as she had slipped into a depressive state.
She was cutting herself to numb her emotions and started drinking heavily.
Being diagnosed with mental illness
Writing dark stuff in high school caught the attention of her English teacher.
She was sent to the guidance counselor, who then sent her to the school psychologist.
She was diagnosed with bipolar manic depressive and again got a pat on the back, saying everything would be “okay.”
Charlene did not understand her diagnosis, nor was she given any treatment plan.
Charlene wanted to numb herself completely.
She learned to slap a smile onto her face and pretended to be okay.
She managed to get through high school and moved away with her high school sweetheart, a geographical coping mechanism.
Fast forward 13 years
They were married and had three beautiful children.
She was trying to hold it together, thinking that she could fill the gaping hole inside of her every time she had a child.
Charlene started fantasizing about hanging herself in their house.
However, the realization of her kids coming home from school and finding her was terrifying.
She went to her husband and told him she was afraid of what she might do.
She ended up moving in with her mother-in-law until she got everything sorted out, but she had no coping skills.
Jumping into a toxic relationship
Her marriage failed; she felt that her husband didn’t want her badly enough to fight for her.
She jumped into a relationship with someone just as dysfunctional as her.
He was a substance abuser and very violent.
She couldn’t do it anymore
Charlene slipped into a pattern of believing that this was what she deserved; she had no self-worth.
She stayed in the toxic cycle of domestic abuse for two years until one day; she couldn’t take it anymore.
When her partner left the house, she went to the medicine cabinet and ingested all the pills she could find.
Letters to her kids
After Charlene ingested all the pills she could find, she sat down and started writing goodbye letters to her kids, her youngest being just 18 months old.
She realized she was repeating the cycle, leaving her kids just like her parents left her.
At that moment, she decided that she did not want to die and called a cab to go to the emergency room.
Charlene took her kids, left her partner, and moved after attempting suicide.
Again, it was a geographic coping mechanism, wanting to escape her circumstances.
Her partner contacted her, moved in, and wanted a fresh start six months later.
The dysfunction and abuse continued.
In 2014, her partner came to her and said he was leaving her for someone else.
Again, somebody didn’t want her, felt like she wasn’t good enough.
She later got the news that his body was found; he had committed suicide.
Angry that he did it first
Charlene was angry. Not angry that he died but mad that he did it first.
He robbed her of the opportunity to take her life because now she has seen the aftermath of suicide and the lives shattered by his decision.
Planning her suicide
Charlene decided to see a psychiatrist, but this didn’t help.
She bought a house, got life insurance, and started building something that she could leave her kids.
She was planning her suicide.
The workshop that saved her life
Charlene was invited to a workshop two days before she planned suicide.
There were multiple speakers, each with inspiring self-love stories, living with mental illness and depression, and suicide.
There was a little voice inside of Charlene screaming at her.
What if she had gone through all she’s gone through for a greater purpose?
She had a greater purpose
The event changed Charlene’s life. It saved her life!
She wanted to share her story and save someone’s life just like her life had been saved.
The following year she came back to speak to save just one life.
After Charlene’s talk, a woman came up to her and said that hearing her story saved her life.
Charlene realized how fear was controlling her life.
She has focussed on self-love and has become intentional about putting herself out there.
Her life has completely shifted, and she is passionate about sharing her story and pouring her heart out so that it can help others.
Her goal is to bring hope to as many people as possible.
What Charlene is grateful for
She’s grateful that she gets to spend time with her family.
3 Powerful Quotes from this Episode
11:13 – “And I remember after one abusive episode, he left the house. And I just thought I couldn’t do it anymore. I went to the medicine cabinet, took out all the pills in there and took them all, and sat down and started writing goodbye letters to my kids. And, of course, one of the hardest things you can do is how you explain it to a child, you know, writing a letter to my son who’s 18 months old? How do I explain this? You know, and feeling like, here I am repeating the cycle of you know, I’m leaving my kids just like my parents left me. Yeah, only this way. There’s no coming back. And I decided at that moment that, no, I didn’t want to die. And I called the cab to the emergency room”.
20:16 – “I’m sitting there, and this time I hear that voice, and it’s not quiet anymore. It is screaming at me. Going, what about you? And I’m sitting there thinking, what if everything I’ve gone through has been for a greater purpose? That’s hard for a lot of people to even think about. But like, what if I could take everything that’s happened and share it, but if I could tell people, I get it, I know what it feels like to be there. But you don’t have to stay there if I could share that story. What if I could save a life because, in that moment, my life was saved”.
21:46 – “And I started going okay, here we go. We’re starting from scratch, day one. Today, we work on loving ourselves. Yeah, one day at a time. And I went back, and I spoke at that event. And I remember saying, as I was coming on stage, I remember saying, my goal and my hope is that if I can save one life by sharing the experiences that I have gone through, but that’s all I hope for because if I can save one life, everything I’ve gone through has been worthwhile. And I walked off that stage and I had a woman come up to me. And she said you know how you said you wanted to save a life. I want you to know today you did and she turned and walked away”.
As a warning, this episode discusses suicide. If you are feeling vulnerable in this area, please consult with a doctor or mental health professional in your area. Or call one of the Suicide Prevention numbers below.
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