2020-10-11 19:02

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World Mental Health Day 2020: The Crash That Put Me On My Path

Those of us, the 1 in 4 people, who cope from day to day with our own mental health issues; all have an individual story to tell. The courage it takes cannot be underestimated, and neither can the positive effect it has on those able to speak of their individual journey from ill health to managing and living with their 'personal demons'.

Reading this story, of one young postwoman and Mental Health Ambassador from Heswall D.MO, whose personal tragedies seem so overwhelming for even the strongest person, let alone in one so young; is both humbling and inspirational to others struggling with their own mental health. It will no doubt help them to seek support and share their own experiences in order to help many others.

Here, in her own words is Abbie Kelly's personal story:

The Crash That Put Me On My Path

Growing up I seemed to always have a good head on my shoulders, my parents, teachers and family members always very vocal on how proud of the young woman I was growing into. Of course I got up to the usual mischief in my teens, pushing boundaries and testing the waters, however I seemed to know where I was heading and the goals I wanted to achieve, and achieve them I did.

In my early teens was the first time I felt a real loss, my gaga (grandmother) passed away and we flew to the Isle of man for her funeral. I accepted this as I was aware of life's cycle, you live your life, you give your children life, you grow old, gracefully, you reach a better place.

However the day before her funeral I received a phone call - one of my friends had passed away. She was 14.

Although we where aware she was terminally ill this was the first time I found myself questioning how the world really worked and why I'd been so naive to believe it to be so simple. Again I accepted the death, attended the funeral and although I mourned I dealt with it well.

My last year of school...

Heading into my last year of high school hopes where high, my teachers believed I'd achieve some of the highest grades, as did my parents. Pressure built, again something I had dealt with all my life and dealt with well.
I started my first job and would spend my weekends revising and earning some pocket money, while still testing my parents patience. During the first couple of months we received the news my uncle had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, the same terminal illness my friend had died with a few years before.

I, having witnessed it before was prepared, or so I thought... only instead of a few years my uncle lasted 2 months, passing away just after Christmas. 

Pic: Abbie & DaleAnother trip to the Isle of man for yet another funeral.

This time it was the day after a funeral at home. Great I thought, again I've had to deal with two deaths at once. I was finally starting to crack under the pressure of exams, work life, expectations and loss.

I merely got through it and carried on to fight, although not for long. 

We attended our high school prom and celebrated what the future we believed held for us... none of us expecting what came next.

10 days passed after prom and with no school we met with friends daily. 

The worst day arrived - 3.7.2011

I spent this particular Sunday how I've spent every Sunday through the summer months since I was 2, at a dance competition. Nothing exciting, mainly tiring.

I got home from a hot day in Tir Prince and wanted to get straight into bed. As soon as I got upstairs I was shouted by my Dad "Abs what was your date at your prom's name?", he was on the phone.

I answered and he quickly finished his call.

I questioned why he was so interested "your Mum has just been called to him, he's died". My mums a paramedic.

I won't quote my exact words as it was the first time I'd used foul language at my dad. I was broken, again.

I asked my dad "why, Dad does everyone I love have to die?". Something he admits still haunts him. The question seems so innocent, kind of an expected question after dealing with death as much as I had, of close relatives and friends.

Only it was the first sign I was falling into a deep state of depression.

I lost a lot of weight I became anti-social I didn't turn up to hobbies I'd loved my whole life. I lost interest in studying further, although I did try to focus and push through. I was afraid to let new people in and I pushed old friends out, I was convinced I was a 'bad luck charm'.

But I never spoke out about how I was feeling, my mum noticed and took me to the doctors who diagnosed me with depression, but I wouldn't take the pills and didn't see the councillor.

Learning to talk.

A couple of years passed and I found myself falling in and out of a depressive state, I used alcohol to help cope, and well, as it's a depressant it never actually helped. 

I saw an old friend at a bar who verbally gave me a shake of the shoulders. For some reason none had before and it was what I needed, to wake up.

I started to talk and let people in. I told new friends, old friends, family, anyone who would listen, my story and I got better. A problem shared is a problem halved as they say, and I halved and halved my problem until it is something that has only made me stronger.

The path it led me to

Now I surround myself with love and positivity and I've found how to cope when I feel myself slipping down the slope.

I haven't suffered with depression for 7 years now because I manage each day as it comes, I don't connect bad events with each other. But most of all because I learnt to talk. 

My experience and suffering has pushed me onto a new path. I found a new passion and although I will never be thankful for how I suffered I am thankful that it has given me the opportunity to help others.

My initial advice to anyone would be to stop and talk. Tell someone what's going on express the hurt your feeling, sometimes absolutely nothing can kick depression off, that's okay!

Never feel like you should suffer alone, there is always someone willing to lend an ear.

You can find documents and resources about Mental Health, in the Unionsafety E-Library. Just use search 'category' Mental Health here

You can also seek help from your local Union Branch and their Mental Health Amabassador or Mental Health First Aider or Union Safety Rep.


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