"She is the favourite Aunt of my children..." René Carayol shares a very personal story on Mental Health Awareness Week

Published: 16th May

We all are aware of someone somewhere who is struggling with mental health issues.

It can sometimes be a loved one or a complete stranger but they all need support, care and professional counselling. Far too many are lonely and isolated. No matter how troubled they have become they are still someone's relative or former colleague. They will all still have a purpose and a reason for living - and we can all help by just taking a moment to think about their plight and how we might help make a difference.

We strongly believe that no matter how afflicted, they all will have their own Spikes. They may not be functioning as well as they once did but the Spikes are still there, if we take the time and attention to search for them.

We all have a story to share this Mental Health Week and with this year’s theme being ‘relationships’, I thought I'd kick things off by sharing a very personal story that's very close to my home and to my heart.

She is the favourite Aunt of my children. She has always been there for them since they were born.

She’s generous, funny and genuine. These are her Spikes.

No birthday was ever forgotten – she may not have had the most modern view on clothes for young boys and girls, but everyone knew she meant well.

Without warning she started doing strange things. Her conversations would drift far away from where they started. She would make up imaginary situations that had her being attacked or treated badly.

We unfortunately did not see or accept the warning signs.

Birthdays were forgotten and she would disappear for days.

She started talking out loud to herself. Her visits were less frequent and she sometimes would not open the door when we visited her.

She could get seriously traumatised over what appeared nothing much at all – then just storm out.

We unfortunately did not see or accept the warning signs.

We all missed her Spikes.

After her not answering her door despite us seeing her through the window – we contacted her son – he refused to accept that she required professional support and attention. She was still kind and caring to her niece and nephew – but far more erratic and emotional now.

She became a lonely and isolated figure – all her friends and relatives started distancing themselves.

She would phone and talk incessantly and increasingly incoherently – we were all patient and understanding and would indulge her long reminiscing.

We unfortunately did not see or accept the warning signs.

It was now no longer possible to just watch her slow but inexorable demise into her own desperate and dark world.

We eventually decided to act and contact her GP. Everyone we spoke to was experienced, caring and very professional.

She was eventually put into care and had the support she so needed. Things were on the up and her confidence and self-esteem started to return. 

All was well until she absconded. She refused to go back and has never been back. Her Spikes have completely disappeared.

There are moments when she is confident and full of life, but they are very rare. We continue to try to help her seek the necessary support, but as soon as we do, she disappears and her son is nowhere to be found.

If only we had seen or accepted the warning signs!






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