I have tried to write this story many times, but each time I do I can't quite convey the depth of my mum's character, the (pit of my stomach) loss I feel when I think of her or the cruel way that anxiety and depression burrows itself into a person and a family. The following story is different for everyone that knew my mother of which their are crowds, but they all align in confusion, pain, anger, heart-break and above all else love. Love for a woman that had thrown her whole-being into friendship, family and life. I rarely speak in definitives, but I can't imagine that I will ever meet someone to have lived a more selfless life than this beautiful person that I miss everyday.
In the July of last year my mum made the decision to take her own life. I live 300 miles away and hadn't seen her since April. We had spoken to each other a couple of days earlier with the usual catch-up, what's been going on and what's coming up, how is everyone. It had been like any other, nothing seemed out of place. A few days later my brother and sister drove the 300 miles to break the news. To say I was surprised is how being hit by a bus is a surprise. I hadn't seen it coming, it hit hard and there was nothing I could do about it.
I got in the car and 7 hours later I was alone, in our family home, looked over by a room full of happy photographs. I have never felt so alone as I did that night, I cried myself to sleep and through to waking. I remember thinking 'this is insanity' over and over again, absolutely none of this made sense, I couldn't re-constructive the narrative that led to this moment. How could I of been so unperceptive? what did I miss?
The amount of people that attended the service floored me, one of the amazing things about this woman was her ability to enrich your life and then skillfully slip away from the credit, you just knew you felt good when she was around, and the attendance that day was the realisation of this. The pure emotion shown for my mum that day will always stay with me.
The following day I turned twenty-five and remember thinking "what the fuck do I do now?' I said to my girlfriend "I don't feel like a kid anymore" because the person who saw me as one wasn't here, but more so I was feeling cheated. Cheated because we had only recently reached the place where we were moving from parent and child to good friends and I had missed the moment. I was thinking about the funeral and the crematorium overflowing with people into the reception and car park, and how none of us saw this coming.
"what did I miss?"
How do we look at mental illness and specifically anxiety and depression. To my mind now it's clear, it is no different to cancer or heart disease; it's indiscriminate, it happens quickly and can manifest in many different ways. The most insidious part is its attack on a person's self-worth, systematically breaking down the person until they see themselves as nothing but a problem. Nobody would turn down treatment for any other illness but with major depression, 56% of sufferers go untreated in part due to the stigma attached to having a mental illness.
I don't wish to speak for my mum or summarise her personal struggle, for me the reason I hadn't seen it coming is because she didn't want to burden me with problems and this is where pain sits for me.
£600 million was cut from mental health services last year with suicide rates rising, in women particularly, there is no coincidence here. Mental health charities like MIND help by providing community services to those in need, raising awareness and subsequently de-stigmatising mental illness and putting pressure on parliament.
It's painful to see someone I loved so much broken down into a statistic but regretfully she won't be the last. Don't underestimate mental illness, talk to those you care for, love the ones you're with, because even though it sounds like a cliche, if it happened to my mum it could happen to anybody. It doesn't have to.
I tried to keep this short and personal, and unfortunately I couldn't convey everything I wished to say, the way I would like to say it or the rest of my family's insight. This is a story personal to a lot of people and I would like to thank everyone that pulled in support of my family, keeping us fed and creating a peaceful place for all of us to grieve. we are immensely grateful. To my family I would like to say thank you for being as Solid as I knew we were, I love you all.
on August 28th to September 5th myself and my great friend Lee Coop will be walking 130 miles from Falmouth, around the Southwest coast and Land's end to Newquay in Cornwall. Its going to be painful, funny and hopefully will raise a good amount of money for people who really need support.
Thank you so much for you donation.
I Love You mum