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At Mind Health Solutions, we have all experienced our own mental health journey, it’s why we are so passionate about raising awareness in what we do.
Our very own Lara experienced mental ill health at a young age and it has shaped her life and her career choices every step of the way.
Read her experience below…
“I lost my father to suicide in 1993, when I was just 12 years old. I was living with my mother, her boyfriend and my sister. The dynamics in the house were not great to say the least.
The year prior to my father’s death my mother had moved us out of the family home and in with her then new boyfriend. The family home was a far from ideal situation. This was due to a number of factors, my father had been out of work for a long time and money was extremely tight, my mother and father would constantly argue and had done for a number of years mainly I guess down to money and the lack of it, my father was also a heavy smoker and an alcoholic.
Following us leaving the family home and my father, I would go to visit him a few times each week. Even at a young age I had witnessed him being hostile and putting cigarettes and alcohol before his family. I understood this was due to having no work, not being able to support his family and therefore depression had set in. I remember visiting and checking the kitchen cupboards and the fridge to see if he had any food and they were empty, following that I would regularly take food from the cupboards of my new home to him just to ensure he ate something as I could see how weak and broken he was.
In the October of 1993 I had arranged to walk to my father’s house after school with a friend, we arranged to pop into my home first so I could drop my bag off, when I entered the house my aunt was there, she stopped us at the front door and asked me to go and see my mother in the lounge without my friend. She was sitting by the fireplace and I told her I was going to visit my dad, she then told me “your dads dead” I don’t remember much of the rest of that day apart from sitting quietly looking out of my bedroom window, I don’t even remember if I cried. I don’t know when or how I found out how he had died I just know that it was by hanging himself from the loft hatch. He had been found by the police as the neighbour had raised the alarm that he hadn’t been seen for a couple of days.
Although I was upset that he had taken his life I also felt guilt that I hadn’t been able to help him but more than that I understood that he felt he had no one to turn to and no way out of the situation he was in, living alone with no job, no money, an alcoholic and no support network to help. To this day services to help people are hard to come by, but back then mental health was not an open subject, it was swept under the carpet and not dealt with.
That brings me to the present day, I now work in a mental health supported living setting where we support those who have long term mental health illness to build skills to live as independently as possible, help them understand their diagnosis and be there when they need someone to give them support. I was unable to save my father from his demons but working in the service I do, I know I am assisting others to accept their illness, be a part of society and not let the diagnosis they have define their future.”
If you or someone you know are struggling with mental ill health or suicidal thoughts, please call Samaritans free from any phone on 116 123.