Another heartbreaking loss for the racing world
Updated: Jul 18
I read a heart-rending article in The Telegraph last weekend which highlights the devastation felt by those left behind after a loved one loses their life to a mental health condition.
Rose Paterson was the Chairman of Aintree Racecourse, a position she had held she since 2014, when she became yet another casualty of mental ill-health, taking her own life last summer.
In the article her devastated husband Owen, the Conservative MP for North Shropshire, explains that discovering she had been murdered would have been easier to accept - such is the destructive and lasting effect of suicide.
The way in which Mr Paterson expresses his loss is devastatingly sad but it is the residual question marks that really strike a chord. He can't comprehend why someone would think that taking their own life was their only option, how could someone get to the point that they see no way out except that final, permanent alternative?
I can't presume to speak on behalf of Rose or anyone else that has taken their own life, I won't even try to hazard a guess. Each person's story is so personal to them - there are the environmental factors, specific to each individual and then there's the illness itself. Combine these two together and there constructs the perfect storm, unique to each individual sufferer.
What I can do however, is to offer some sort of insight into the illness at it's most vicious stage in the hope that people like Mr Paterson can, in some very small way, gain some sort of understanding into what his wife and other victims of suicide might have been experiencing.
When my episodes of depression begin, I experience a sharp decline in my mental health which manifests at such a rate that I leapfrog from just 'under par' to severely depressed in a matter of a couple of weeks. In this time my mind takes me to some extremely frightening places and I feel completely powerless to stop it. I'm consumed with thoughts of death and dying, which then turns to suicidal ideation, all the while mixed with swirls and swings of anxiety.
The brain is so stunted yet the person inside is saying 'I am not someone who gives in to illness, this can't be happening to me, I am not someone who is going to admit there's a problem, etc, etc'. Here lies the dilemma for the patient - how can I admit that I am suffering when I am a strong and capable individual?
This is where we need education - I keep banging on about it and will continue to do so until someone takes notice of what I am trying to do through this blog. We need to educate people so that they can reveal their suffering without feeling shame or stigma attached to doing so, but we also need to help them comprehend the illness to add a clarity and intelligibility which will enable them to understand it.
When I first started to suffer from depression I had to make the heartbreaking decision to stop my eventing career. In doing so I lost all my horses, owners, income, basically everything I'd worked for but I had to do in order to give myself a chance of recovery.
Back then no one understood depression or mental illness at all, not even my family, but I knew that what I was experiencing was terrifying and the only way to combat it was to stop everything in order to get better.
This is what people refuse to do because they say "If I do that I will lose everything' BUT you will not lose your life - so please, if you are reading this and you are beating yourself over the back with a stick to keep going in order to 'keep face' don't do that because you are putting your life in jeopardy.
STOP everything, take time to recover and if you have to go to bed with the curtains closed like me for months on end then so be it but don't panic and think there's no way out because the repercussions of suicide are enormous. I understand the hideousness of depression, I know that it doesn't feel survivable but I am living proof that it is. I kept thinking of how my suicide would break my mother's heart and this was just enough to keep me here - such is the hell of depression. I know the brutal suffering first-hand, so I completely understand why people want to rid themselves of the pain but I also know that it is possible to not only survive but to make a full recovery.
The after effects of suicide are terrible. Eighteen families a day are going through the aftermath effects of losing someone to suicide in the UK - we have got to educate everyone in order for this problem to be tackled effectively.
I feel so desperately sad for Mr Paterson and all the other people suffering with the effects and repercussions experienced from losing someone to this devastating illness. I really hope that through my writing and experience I can help to enlighten and educate people about what us sufferers are going through and help to defeat the problems surrounding mental health disorders.
Mr Paterson is keen to help increase support, awareness and education around the subject of mental health and suicide prevention. He has helped to set up 'The Rose Paterson Trust' which will raise money for this important cause, and will be officially unveiled on Grand National day, April 10th this year. You can read more about Mr Paterson and his story in an article in the Shropshire Star which I have added here.
I hope my readers recognise the importance of these posts and share them so that they can reach more people - it is just so important that we start to tackle the issues of mental health in the best, most effective way possible, and that includes benefitting from the experiences of people who have been there.
Thanks for reading,
Speak to you soon,