LOSING a parent is hard enough but when it turns out they took their own life, it adds a whole extra dimension to the grief.
For trainee nurse Jess Neal, it was almost too much to bear, until, in desperation, she turned to charity Mind.
She said her doctor did not know what to do with her and counselling she received failed to address the issues. It was only through Mind’s specialist help and support group that she has been able to understand and recover from the guilt she felt.
To support the charity and raise awareness of the importance of talking about mental health, Jess, 36, posted a Time to Talk Day blog earlier this month and will be taking part in the Mind Hike in July,
Jess, from Goring, works at Worthing Hospital and is currently in her final year of an adult nursing degree at Brighton University.
Her father, Trevor Searle, took his own life in January 2013 at the age of 54.
“My mum, Jane, was in Worthing Hospital at the time,” said Jess. “She had a stroke five years previous and had sadly suffered severe disability and health complications as a result, which we do believe added to the emotional distress Dad was suffering at the time of his suicide.”
Trevor had a long history of depression, something which he kept to himself and within the family.
“He preferred not to share his struggle through fear of judgement, which ultimately led to his sad death,” explained Jess.
“He was a devoted granddad so for him to do this, we know he must have been in a very bad place. While we were aware he was becoming increasingly distressed by the deterioration in my mum’s mobility and general health and, of course, the hospital admission added to this, we still had no idea the full extent of his distress and that his life was at risk as a result.”
To raise awareness, Mind published Jess’s blog about coping with life after losing her Dad and her journey since then. She said she had an amazing response.
“It was really important to me, once I had got myself to a place where I felt strong enough, that I share what losing my dad has been like, and the importance of talking and seeking help if you are feeling vulnerable.”
Jess grew up in Brighton and moved to Worthing about 20 years ago. She now lives in Goring with her husband and three children. Her parents moved from Brighton to Alinora Close, Goring, almost six years ago, shortly after Jane’s stroke, to be near the family.
Mind has been instrumental in her healing by helping seek specialist counselling and access to a support group.
“My hike for Mind is a way of saying thank you to them, celebrating how far I have come and also about raising much needed funds to enable them to continue reaching out to those in crisis,” she said.
“I was one of the lucky ones but only because I went out and sought the help myself. I called Mind in desperation really, not knowing if there was even anything like that around here.
“My dad had spent years going through the mental health services and had become incredibly frustrated at the lack of continuum in care and lack of access to services, so he discharged himself from care about seven years ago, believing he would be better on his own.”
Visit her sponsorship page to make a donation.
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