Friday, 5 December 2014

news *TW*

Possible triggers regarding mental health distress - please be aware.

***I edited this post after hearing that the family of the individual I mention are asking for media privacy.  I have taken out the limited information that I included on her, but have made the decision to repost this, and hope that it is read and recognised as my personal reaction and desire to promote openness over the issues relating to mental health. ***

Hot tears chased one another down my cheeks as I tried to keep my breathing even, not wanting to draw the attention of the kids.  If they noticed my red eyes and running nose I'd have to explain the reason for my distress, and I didn't know if I could.  Along with many others, my heart was aching for a woman I'd never met, and the pain she must have been experiencing.  My chest felt dull, empty, and I wanted to howl - to protest against the universe about how this was not fair - a woman who had just become a mother, a baby who had just begun her life - gone.

On twitter I found I wasn't the only one who had been shaken by the news that the baby's body had been found.  If we were brutally honest with ourselves we knew that if she'd been left on someone's doorstep then she would have been found already and returned to safety; and if she'd been tucked into a bush then the temperatures overnight would have been too cold for her to survive.  I think for me the news that the baby had been found brought not only grief for her death, but also added another layer of pain for her mother - that she had reached that level of desperation and disconnection.

A huge assumption needs to be acknowledged here.  I am assuming that the mum's mental health deteriorated before she left the hospital with her baby girl.  That may not be accurate, but I'm writing with that in my mind as the likely course of events.  Something else I'd like to point out is the dangers of confusion and missed complexity when relying on social media.  With no body language cues or tones of voice we're forced to rely on emoticons and our own understanding of language, and this can easily go wrong.  A group of us on twitter realised this and the importance of 'think before you tweet' - hopefully mainstream media will be responsible when reporting the circumstances - in fact the Samaritans have an established media protocol, focused on reducing risk to vulnerable readers, respecting privacy and recognising the complexities involved.

As utterly devastating as this must be for all those who knew and loved her I find my focus is not on their grief but on the mum herself.  Not because I don't feel for them - my most sincere condolences go to all those who knew her.  I think my mind is drawn to her distress because, along with many others, I identify with some of her pain - that recognition of her anguish resonates deep within me and brings up memories of times I struggled to connect with the world around me and found myself bereft of hope and unable to look forwards.

Even now writing this I'm in tears, and so I'm purposefully making the choice to tend to my own needs and leave it there for now.  I hope to be able to share with you my experience of post natal depression, as well as the stories of others and the importance of fighting the taboo and stigma relating to mental health and pregnancy and birth.  If you'd like to join in, please get in touch - you can email me, make contact through twitter (@abstractLucas) or leave me a message in the comments box.  

If you need support or want to talk please consider getting in touch with the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 (from within the uk) or click here .

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