I lost my brother to a preventable suicide he fell through the cracks systemic failures by the trust an social care team under and the supported housing team were he lived. It’s the worst way to lose someone you can never prepare for, comprehend an understand why. I lost a baby born still born in 2002 I knew she was to be born stillborn due to severe spina bifida an hydrocephalus I knew as she took her last breath I’d hold her in my arms I’d kiss her on the head and I’d say goodbye, I lost my Grandad back in February 2017 I called in on the Morning of the Day he died to the hospital the Doctor told me that day when my Nanna came in they’d be stopping his medicine, taking his oxygen away he was getting put on an end of life Pathway, I went up to my mums saw my nanna an held her told her prepare for worst, I went to lighthouse academy my friends held me up, prayed with me I was preparing say goodbye. That night I went back to the hospital treatment had been stopped, as many family members as could were contacted, notified mad dashes to the hospital, he was surrounded by family held he was not in pain nor alone I got to say goodbye even though I wasn’t ready. Nothing can prepare you when you lose a loved one to Suicide because you can’t see it coming, you don’t expect if you knew or had a chance you’ld do everything in your power to stop from happening. This week I read in our legal teams argument for Article 2 systemic failings led to the events of my brother’s preventable suicide , I read that my brother had already passed when the paramedics got too him and probably had been a no of hours it breaks my heart to know he was lost, alone an in his final hours an until found had died that way. I wasn’t their to hold him, my mum didn’t get hold him even though an adult was her baby she did didn’t get that chance like I did with my baby somehow prepare an be their and like with grandad we knew we all surrounded wrapped round him he’ll have felt an known was loved I hate the feeling that losing my brother to a preventable suicide has done I hate knowing he may have felt unloved, unworthy, uncared for because he was. Losing a loved one to suicide is not only their lives lost but also part of you, your family dies too it feels strange, unnatural, not right, it’s broken, fractured, damaged your heart, the heart of your family dies too you get swamped into a dark hole, dark skies descend over all you know, life, joy gets zapped from you. I hate that I didn’t know, didn’t get chance stop, didnt get hold my hand out pull him back, I hate that I didn’t get say goodbye I hate that I don’t get angry at him, I hate that I can’t ask him why, I hate that I can’t bring myself to hate those who failed him, I hate I don’t have an axe to grind I hate that I want to give them a chance to learn lessons from his death I hate it’s been me, my family who held out that olive branch and I hate that they’re reluctant too take I hate that I can’t hate them want give them a chance I don’t understand why because they robbed me of my brother, my best friend , I want scream, yell call them murderers because of their systemic failings but I can’t because I know he deserves more, I know I’ve to give those a chance who failed him, I’ve to fight the legal system for article 2 to make his life matter, his memory, his life be remembered, he be remembered as someone who deserved help, be supported, cared for, a life worth saving and him not be just another life sadly lost to suicide, him not be a statitistic because he was worth more than that. Losing a loved one sadly to a preventable suicide flips your world upside down an know all can do is try make sense off and fit the jigsaw puzzle pieces together that led to that day to understand why and then with that completed puzzle find a way grieve, mourn say goodbye an try prevent someone else from sadly taking their live, give those that failed ideas to come up with pathways, measures to build safety nets to try ensure dosent happen again, I don’t have anyone can go to that can talk to about so I share my feelings here in my blog I know people struggle to talk to you about, ask how help, I know because I struggle with too. I hope that people reading who are in same place my brother was would contact me so I can help you so you don’t do what my brother did as you are worth more than that, for those that have lost a loved one to suicide to feel free contact me you are not alone it may feel it but I know the pain you feeling I feel it too, to Services, councils, NHS trusts social care providers that want make a difference to people affected by addiction, mental health and homelessness and put mental health on their patient safety strategies or looking at suicide prevention of people society turns their back on we’re culture around people with combined needs or are seen as unsafeable or attitudes around personality disorders needs challenging or your pathways not inclusive your not getting everyone on one or you need improve your community contact me if you genuinely want learn knock on my door because like I said lives like my brother’s matter let’s work together an make a difference I can’t bring him back but his memory, story can help save life’s.
Every year I’ve sat back watched friends share their children’s first day at school nursery, reception an high school photos an every year I’ve smiled and liked an commented an wished good luck an every year my heart’s been tugged with sadness an Jealousy as I pictured what my little girl Marybeth would have looked like, I’d picture her with a smiley face, pig tails in her hair and in pinafore dress and chunky buckle shoes like I’d used to wear. I’d imagine her been excited lively and extra bouncy, I’d imagine waving her off on her first day and lining up with her class an waving me off going in. It’s always been something hard try share in because it’s a milestone we never had a moment never experienced and another slap in face never got to watch her grow up.
Today my 3 1/2 year old son had his first day at school nursery we woke up early we watched morning cartoons, I made him jam toasted on bagels as a sweet treat breakfast, he noticed the sweets I’d had last night so I said since your first day before you get ready you can have one, we didn’t stress or worry was nice we took our time. We chatted as we washed are hands an faces at the sink brushed our teeth together and my son asked me do his reminded me my eager big boy needed me.
It was a surreal experience dressing him in his uniform putting on his new school shoes, and brushing his hair ready and packing his school bag I’d waited so long for this moment so it was a moment I’d wanted savour. It was a moment I’d always imagined have with Marybeth but today was a real blessing share with my son I couldn’t be sad with him when messing about when trying take that first day photo nor did I try pressurise him have as we was sharing this moment together and that was far more perfect than the photo, watching him dance around parading about in his uniform was fun seeing him jumping up and down exercising because he liked the loud noise his shoes made, made me laugh, he chose dinosaurs on his shoes to remind him of his old nursery and specifically Sheryn and he hoped he’d see Sheryn an him watch build a tower I didn’t want spoil that moment so I nodded my head and said maybe, he was looking forward to seeing his new classroom an making friends and was been a good boy and know grown in short time had uniform on he was getting to big for it made me smile,
Driving up to school we chatted about the things he saw outside the window and was his cousins at his school I said no they’d started their schools and he said they’ll be their, their schools were broken I chuckled at how his thinking worked, we arrived at school did try get one more perfect photo but wasn’t meant be we walked down hand in hand I was so proud he pressed the bell to the nursery door as he waited to be let in he saw trains an was so excited, the door was opened we went in found his peg and bag he has a spider picture on his name space I smiled it was like Nanna 2’s imaginary spider we put his things in his bag and went in to class he handed over his water bottle and put his name on the pear tree he gave me a kiss and held his teacher and casually walked off hand in hand, a lump in my throat wellled my lil man was growing up and I was so very proud and forever I will treasure this moment and wish could bottle up and keep the emotions and feelings and drink when having a bad day,
I messaged photos to siblings and grandparents and thought of my brother Tim my sons god parent an uncle an in that moment our first day was tinged with sadness but not because of Marybeth but because my son missed out sharing today with him as I’d known he’d have been proud as punch as moment he was born my brother was eternally proud I’d been blessed with a child of my own so on his fb page was only fitting shared them their an say hope you watching down from heaven am keeping him safe in class.
My sister Nat phoned me her kids went into reception no problems didn’t look back an so therefore she wasn’t gonna feel guilty missing them, My sis Robynn messaged Logan was fine she was the blubbering mess pregnancy hormones though probably didn’t help, I’m blessed that me an my sisters have shared our children’s first days together this week an can continually share many Milestones together as that makes sharing first days extra special an today was very much well worth the wait.
If I wrote hurt all my pain down, folded it up like a scroll and put it in a bottle and let out by the riverside would you make it drown to the bottom of the river bed, or will you carry the bottle up stream and it flow right on by,
If I drew a picture of what the damage inside me looks like and put in a ballon and released into the sky would a bird be sent to pop the balloon and the picture fly down n land on top a heap of mess or would the balloon flow through the clouds, an glide past a rainbow and be free,
if I sang a sad song would it sound like a broken record, would the cords go would it have rhythm and melody would the music carry the tears and sadness away,
if I said a prayer God asking you how do I heal, how can I get you to help carry my pain away will you shut me out like I did you, or would you show me a sign, whisper something in my ear, send me a vision a guide, teach me how to forgive move on an live for the now what would you do as its time I no longer hide and let it take over its time to heal and take away my pain from the past
Marybeth my first born child, my daughter, my angel in heaven, I still long to hold you one More time, stroke your face feel you close up against my skin cheek to cheek smell your baby smell tell you I love you and would have loved watch seen how you’ld grow,
Myles my second born child a second child with a difference as he is an only child my first born living son, I watch you grow each day you are your own unique person, a character with attitude more toddler now than baby at bed time that’s when you need me more we snuggle up I wrap my arm around you whilst you fall asleep, breathe in your baby smell I strangely tell you to slow down on the growing not ready for you to stop been a baby just yet,
Marybeth you make me so proud you may have only been in my life a short time but you made a big impact I wasn’t ready see at time that I was a good person, of pure heart but I was you knew you was to be an Angel but still wanted to be born you picked me as that person an that makes me trually blessed,
Myles everyday you make me proud you too have made a big impact on my life your showing me what it’s like to be a child again, to laugh, to be brave, to learn to trust to see the world in a different light an that to is a precious gift anyone can share so my son too I thank you as that too makes me trually blessed,
My children it dosent matter if your here with me in the present or light years away in the heaven, in my heart I hold both of you and will always love and nurture you and hope that you are safe and happy and get the best be it in this life or as for Marybeth in Heaven an her be one of God’s Chosen Angels because as your Mum all I can do is hope and try to give you my best, my all an hope you know how blessed you’ve both made me feel my daughter, my son Mummy loves you x X X
Marybeth Ann Garritty born sleeping 24/03/2002
Myles Andrew Griffin-Robinson 15/12/2013 now aged 2 x
I’m a mum to a 13 month old little boy he’s my rock , my inspiration in my recovery I used to talk about baby steps I took at present my son is attempting to take his and it dawned upon me I’m stationery not continuing on my own journey continuing with my own steps and the realisation is for a short while I’ve been ashamed of having a past mental health history, afraid of the repercussions it has for me and my child if is mentioned fear I may have to prove I can be a parent I’ve thought that fight once I proved it’s ok to be a Mum and to have Mental Health.
I think it’s because of that experience though, the fear u may not take your child home n fear you’ve waited years for this moment n you’ve lost one child (my first born was born still born) n you don’t want ever experience that again n so I think the last 12 months I used my little boy a bit to concentrate on something else threw myself into parenting, mum and toddler playgroup sessions and exploring play gyms those yes have been fun moments n great bonding moments but I sacrificed part of myself gave up part of me my passion, my fire in my belly, my dream to drive for change for better mental health because I feared it, hated it was hurt by the stigma attached to it even lost my own way thinking I could fight for change n mental health was not ok.
But Mental health is ok we all experience good an bad days, it is hard been a parent but we all feel tiered, we all question is my child happy, we all hate the teething phase, your child will push u to your limits, break u at times for me change time with my lb sets my anxieties off, I rant inside my head he’s mocking me as he scoots off nappy half fastened.
I’ve portrayed to the world parenting selfies wow I’m a fab mum I did that for my mental health I need see I was a fab mum as I doubted I was I even quiestened I could cried tears of tiredness n frustration, hibernated n thought I was being selfish put my family first I wasn’t I was bullying myself trying juggle been mum, housework, please family n friends n do the circuit of juggle play group and play gym Id in ignoring mental health n trying turn back on Id forgotten my baby steps the importance of me n my mental health n recovery.
The last few months I’ve realised I lost me, my best friend n in turning my back on mental health lost my spark n passion volunteering and campaigning debating mental health challenging people’s views fighting for better services they were my passion, my fire n like my children n my oh it too is part of what makes and completes me n it was not ok I turned my back on n it is ok n it is not ok me keep hidden it’s not ok I don’t talk about it’s not ok because I wasn’t been true to me.
I’ve learnt it ok ask for help n talk about my Mental Health n don’t have fear repercussions of MH services because in going sure start I’ve built up a relationship with family support workers who know me n actually reassure me Katie it’s ok n yr mental health ok your just scared n learning part n parcel been a parent n reminded me that yep I probably did nearly burn out because I’d neglected my me time strangely as my lb sleeps next to me I’m finding this is therapeutic to write n feel it’s ok to write n say I’m a parent and have Mental Health.
I’ve done a small amount of volunteering n did a talk last September slowly re embracing myself back into Healthy Minds n co-ran a coproduction workshop n spark slowly reignited n in background the flicker was their n as part my journey n passion 4 change I have applied 4 uni n even part time work in paid experience n even do more voluntary work as I love volunteering n the experience will also go towards building my dream that I can make things better for myself and others with mental health that it’s ok have it’s not a hinderance n it’s ok be part of you n that you can make a difference in whatever u want do n me I want change people’s attitudes about Mental health fight for better services and make a difference n too say yes I’m not afraid to say I’m Katie I’m a parent I have mental health and you know what it’s ok.
Recently I’ve been invited to an event n meet someone important I’ve quiestioned do I deserve be their n I don’t deserve because for a moment I thought mental health not ok a few people have reminded me the things I did n said I was inspiring n I’m not its the people that support n encourage me n follow me n have n had faith I could do it fight for change they inspired me they showed me it ok to be open about they were my support my safety net the ones who gave me confidence that I could change n improve mental health n perceptions n services n in do so they improved mine n helped me in finding me Katie.
So I will go to what invited to n talk about those who inspire me n my heroes n say wished their but most of all I will say I’m Katie I’m a parent I have mental health and it’s ok but u need to have services that supported me when pregnant through to delivery an after to health visitors an family workers n as my lb gets older other people will enter our lives like teachers n for them to know to support me as I’m a parent n not stigmatise me because of mental health n me having a love n hate relationship with.
Because it’s not ok to stigmatise a parent with Mental Health it’s not ok to make feel someone feel like an inadequate parent n feel ashamed of feel can be n even be scared of becoming a parent.
Because it is ok have children it is ok be a parent n it is ok to be affected by Mental Health because I’m a parent I have Mental Health n I think I’m doing an OK job x
My mind likes to wander it likes to lapse and shut off in those intervals I am their in body but mind farther afield. When my mind lapses n wanders those moments I can not tell you were I go nor can I recollect what’s happened in those moments around me.
Normally can be good when Im in control happening and were does like in my safe spots or if with trusted friends or loved ones who I can preworn happening as when in control I get that sensation Happening.
im finding though now is happening more n more frequently and longer lapses and taking me to places of wander I don’t want return too and reason why I learned to teach my mind to lapse and wander.
I’ve to now ask myself why it gone from a pot safe coping mechanism to extremeties is.
First I have too look at my pot stressors.
1.’past memories resurafcing n fear address
2. Pregnancy Anxieties fears my lil one even confirmed is ok will be all ok, fear people are trying take over n try comment or influence what my child can n can’t do n testing me as a parent on values want have n how I aspire be n judging me on. I hate been/feeling been underminded or judged let me be mum to my child after all key word I am mum.
3.sometimes families too much a good thing as after awhile get overwhelmed, tiered, frustrated I like been arnd mine n oh but too in moderation n feel I’m ready space time out n respite from need time for me n time just my oh n time friends n engage my passions as soon me n oh become 3 our own family n so I need me to prepare for that change.
4. Hormonal n body changing as pregnancy goes through the diff stages.
5. The stressors above I’m trying ignore deny, not react to pretend not their n causing overload.
I’m aware my stressors, I’m aware my coping mechanism try telling me something n have to address.
1. Look to work through n address lapsing n parts taking me to ready address blogging helps identify areas n look can I self maintain, do I need re-engage some of my wellbeing tool kit activities, do I need look am ready address n find ways be supported through.
2. Look at all I doing n preparing my lil one n oh too n put our plans in force, look at how far come n think ill be great mum as never a parent wanted a child as much as me (all parents feel that) every time he wriggles n kicks remind yourselve he chose you ESP to be your mum n nobody else. Look at all your planning n your preps n hopes n visions n values n hopes 4 lil one u n oh. N think all that matters is our 3’s health and happiness as after all were our own family.
3. Find ways to have u time n time out n if need have not be scared n say need time out.
4. Time access mum be grps, antenatal n birthing classes n look how manage Hofmann fluctuations n changes
5. Stop ignoring things staring n screaming me in face n what mind try run away from.
I’ve challenged myself anymore than I ever thought I would I returned to a place that held so much pain I was daunted but remembered highroyds the final nail that broke me but driving up the path seeing the clock close up in my letter Marybeth hope not 11 years too late and the sun was shining and it was the day couldn’t have come soon enough I shared my experiences let them out and the sun was bright like the day was meant to be. I’d freed my soul and after leaving their I did have sensory overload but in wow my mind alert on fire every touch, sound, smell intensified but then that night slept soundly best night ever.
Turning my corner turning over the page to my next chapter x
The day after my old home sold I was contacted by BBC radio Westminster asked about my experiences and spoke about mh stigma an discrimination I answered the why with ask what mh means me n how others perceive. I shared about psychosis and how my experience was me finding ways come to terms my greatest gift but not a loss led to that and that letting go try say goodbye an been supported not admitted but I had psychosis and was not dangerous nor a harm or a reason anyone be afraid but vulnerable as people assume psychosis your crazy an actually not that but for me my mind trying mend the loss in my heart.
My thoughts before Liverpool and speaking at NHS Confederation Event.
Today though I was nervous as speaking at a Nhs confederation event in Liverpool I was speaking as Katie a health champion an what it means to me and how the all together better network saw me as a person, Katie a health champion that broke 1 inequalitie I have faced a diagnosis or label I and others stopped see me as me an faced stigma for, I spoke abt at risk of dying 20 years earlier than anticipated on relation life expectancy but not due condition but inequalities like phys health overshadowed, I linked the network to ele friends and NSUN with saying in relation framework as a member NSUN n mh watch I aim framework is adhered n implemented n framework met n mentioned how volunteering as a mh champion I was able to have a voice, training and can share training so even giving something back I got something my recovery enhanced and support me my journey of oppurtunities, development, education or employment n other activities involved n training adds my recovery much can, share but best thing was I’m supported as Katie n what Katie an bring which is were linked ele friends in too that I’m coached, supported,encouraged, guided an encouraged develop n be all can be. Like I try others n the coined phrase of Baby Steps took off as described mh journey to we’re am n how I champion good health 4 myself through bern my own bf n baby steps. An importance champion own health n tackling health inequalities as a friend n fam n as a young women do and that all need champion health reg it be mh, phys health, phys or learning disability or age or sex or sexuality aas been classified into a category can be an inequalitie initself . The audience plus myself n fellow speakers thing amazed that a person years ago would never dreamed nor dared speak up let alone their n fellow speaker said I should have been up last n closing but when presentation closed n summing up n whilst panel ans questions the phrase baby steps ran out in challenging inequalities baby steps made in looking at prevention n reduce inequalities those baby steps were discused n advocated from an acute health, all together model n national model were advocated.
Today as speaking the fellow speakers you done this before I said some but not this Level or audience they were impressed n I was respected n valued.
I was Katie and my voice heard n valued n the audienced to listened n engaged n their was collaboration n discussion I did that as me Katie not an ex service user.
I once held myself back n my past n mh n services too but today I was none of those as I’d challenged that part of me, reclaimed me n today I was Katie Siobhan. I recently realised though their was part of my past to keep as well as legally started change n remove some parts of past Im soon no longer Kathryn Siobhan Atkinson but soon Katie Ann Siobhan I can’t erase my abuse or loss but can take my abusers name away I too wanted recognise love 4 my mum n Marybeth n included their middle name and soon my next chapter no longer baby steps will be as Katie Ann Siobhan.
I don’t need anyone to assume responsibility or take care or run around me for I’ve overcome so many milestones, challenges, inequalities, abuse, loss I’ve survived that plus me, plus, psychiatry,plus I’m fighting for change too fighting for a better life n world 4 me n I know their are many possible endless dreams as ive turneed the page I’m Katie Ann Siobhan n I can be n do anything I dare to be I no longer need anyone assume care or responsibility I can be the greatest I just need to dare dream n find my hall of fame n I champion me for I am Katie Ann Siobhan x x x