If I can reach out to one person with this blog that is experiencing a mental health illness or someone who has been affected by it, then I consider it worth the while. I hope you will join me in sharing just what it means to you – to add to the voices of those who are affected by the illnesses under the mental health umbrella.
My brother died on 29th March 2004 at the age of 26. It was a horrendous experience for us, but always in the back of my head, I kept focused on the fact that he had tried before and this time he had been successful. I’m not saying I celebrated – by any means, but in some small way, I felt a relief for him. Years of agonising pain has caused him to consider this as a way out and I had to acknowledge that. My focus had to be on my parents. Both of whom suffered in differing ways from mental health illnesses, from anxiety all the way through to depression.
The loss of a child, taking his own life – I hope that I never have to experience that. I hope my experience of living through my brother’s illnesses means I will be able to support and help and advocate better.
I’m a father to three adopted children – who have experienced traumatic childhoods. Their mental health is always a priority for me, to ensure that they know how their early years may have affected them. Without the experience of my brothers mental health I am unsure whether this would have been such a priority for me, but I see lots of conversations about mental health each and every day, so I know it needs to be a priority, and one that I will continually share where I can, listening, not judging and supporting. That is what the whole experience has given me – and my children are at the forefront of that.
My brother was unable to access the help he needed because he was embarrassed – it wasn’t what you did back then, and for some, it isn’t what they do even today. Each life is worth something, and there is help available just by speaking to someone, anyone, and telling them how you feel.
If you are reading this and suffering in silence, I beg you not to. Speak to a friend you trust, ring a helpline who can help you, talk to that person who serves you in the coffee shop on the way to work each day, connect on social media with others who can help you – nobody has all the answers, but no one should be embarrassed by feeling they need to suffer in silence.
You are worth something, don’t allow it to beat you.