One sunny autumn afternoon 18 months ago, two policemen showed up at my doorstep to tell me that my son's body had been found nearby. Apparently Saagar had ended his own life. They handed me his belongings but I was convinced they had made a mistake. This was not within the realm of possibilities. He is a handsome talented young man of 20 with a fabulous education and everything to live for. How could this be? He had a recent diagnosis of bipolar disorder but the doctors had me believe that he was getting better. No one ever mentioned the word 'suicide' to me.
Perhaps this stupid stigma can be dropped. Perhaps you could fund the NHS for better preventative care so conditions like cancer and depression are treated equally. Perhaps then it won't take six months for the right diagnoses to be passed or for a crisis to happen. Perhaps if we target these things in our communities we can prevent some of those 6,233 deaths?
It's taken me seven years to summon up the courage to write anything about the death of Josh. There's always been a lot of residual guilt (this is common when a sibling dies) but I could no more help that Dale died due to a 'cot death' than I could that the mental health services let my brother Josh so horrifically.
It's a complicated subject - it can mean different things for different people, it isn't talked about anywhere near enough, and there's often an overly simplified, one-sided portrayal of it in the media. If we're ever going to be able to defeat prejudice and make mental illness a less taboo subject, there's going to need to be a clearer understanding of it.
With the clocks going back this week, the season of S.A.D is upon us, and with that comes a surge in diagnosis. Seasonal affective disorder is type of depression that comes with the changing seasons, hitting at the same time every year, usually in the dark depths of winter. It's estimated to affect about two million people in the UK.
Having suffered with bipolar for near 10 years, I can safely say it's a tough battle and on the whole a mostly negative experience. I've spent much of the last decade feeling ashamed of who I am, not merely because of the illness itself, but largely thanks to the public and media perception of what it is to have bipolar disorder.
I have been wanting to write this article for an extremely long time. I have stumbled and tormented myself so many times with this piece as to how I could even begin to voice my boulders of darkness. I wanted to translate to you, the reader, the horrific pain mental illness can bring, and to put the raw emotions into words which you will understand