“My grieving for my mum began before she died.
“My birth released in her a severe post-partum depression and psychosis which eventually was diagnosed as Schizophrenia. This meant she spent my early childhood and teenage years often lost to me in a world of auditory hallucinations and unreality.
“She died, partly because of her mental health problems.
“I found out on the last day of my first year of university in Edinburgh. I was only nineteen, and I remember it was a warm, sunny morning; but a cold, hard lump of shock gnawed in my chest and made me shiver as if it was winter throughout the four hour journey home to England.
“Grief comes unbidden; there is no warning and the trigger is unexpected.
“The melody of a song she sent me on tape, playing somewhere at the back of a shop; a certain look in my daughter’s sea green eyes, the same colour as hers; watching mums and daughters chat over a cuppa in the local café. Grief has weighed me down at times, particularly when I was younger, but as I mature I find I can turn it into something positive, and SAMH has been fundamental in this.
“It began when SAMH listened to my story back in 2008 and published a piece about it. I’d just had my first child, a beautiful son, so inevitably I was at a vulnerable point in my life and I wanted to open up about my Mum.
“I hoped by talking about it, I could help to reduce the stigma that surrounds living with a parent with severe mental illness. I was struggling to find a way of sharing such a personal story that felt safe to me so I was delighted when a friend prompted me to get in touch with SAMH, and they interviewed me with empathy and without judgement.
“Then when I turned the age my mum was when she died, I wanted to do something in memory of her and raise money for SAMH as a thanks for their support in sharing my story, and because funding for mental health charities is desperately needed to get people like my Mum the help they need.
“In the decade that has passed between my first contact with SAMH and now, I became much more comfortable talking about my mum and her mental illness. As a consequence I sought to be more proactive at looking after my own mental well-being.
“SAMH is a great advocate for being active to improve mental well-being. I was inspired to hear SAMH Ambassador Sir Chris Hoy talking openly about how cycling helps to keep him mentally healthy. So I strove to get fit and stay active and strong, knowing my Mum, a talented swimmer as a child, would have wanted this for me. It then made sense, with my new found fitness, to do an active challenge to raise money for SAMH - and so was born the idea to do a loaded hike up the highest climb in the Trossachs!
“To carry 18kg on my back up Ben Ledi (2884 feet) was gruelling, but nothing compared to the burden of hearing voices, depression and paranoia my Mum endured.
“If we don’t keep talking about and raising awareness of mental illness, if we don’t invest in mental health charities like SAMH and other crucial services, then I fear the impact that mental health disease will have globally in the future.”