Christmas Day will mark 2 ½ years since we lost our beautiful girl. We had her for 23 years and we are grateful for that. Her life was longer than some and shorter than most but she filled those years with so much life, love and laughter. Ellen would come crashing into the house and whatever you were doing would be taken over by a new idea, a plan, a story. Always something new and exciting. She was such a shining light beaming brightly in all the people whose lives she touched.
Last weekend we watched the movie directed by Frank Capra ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. I have seen it before but this time I paid it more attention that usual. It tells the story of someone who is about to take their own life and of an Angel (Clarence) who is sent to save him by showing him the difference he made by having existed.
Ellen maybe didn’t realise the impact she made on people and the difference she made in their lives. I really wish she could have realised this in the moment that she chose to leave. I wish her angel had shown her what she had already done and what the world would look like if she had never existed. She had so much more to give. I wish she had waited for the morning…… there is new hope with every sunrise.
Whilst I always knew how brilliant my daughter was the last 2 ½ years have shown me just how brightly she really shone. She gave people confidence, hope, joy and always kindness. So many people have contacted me and shared their stories of how much of a difference Ellen made to their lives. Some have dedicated business ideas to her, some have told me that the direction of their lives changed beyond recognition from the path they thought they were going to follow before they spent time with her. This makes me so proud of my girl. I will never stop being proud of her and all that she did in those 23 years.
We all have a wonderful life and we all make a difference. Whatever you think about yourself there will always be someone somewhere to whom you have made a positive difference. I wish more than anything that my daughter was still here but she lives on in all the people whose lives she changed just by being here.
Reach out to someone you think may be struggling. It can be so hard to make that call. When you are in a dark place it can be so hard to reach out. …..
Problems can be solved. They are temporary. You are needed here! If you need help over the Christmas period reach out. Make a phone call, talk to a friend or a stranger.
Keep on going with your wonderful life!
We leave you tonight with one of Ellen’s favourite Christmas songs …….. Apologies in advance…….!
The photographs we are sharing with you today are of our beautiful girl Ellen. She took her own life on 25th June 2017, two days after her 23rd birthday.
There is always a sequence of events that lead to someone taking their own life and Ellen’s story was a rollercoaster one. She had been let down, manipulated, abused, used, even her mental health problems after all this were used against her in the most heartbreaking way. She was frightened but hopeful, sad but happy and living life to the max.
Nobody can blame Ellen for what she did that night. When someone dies this way they can see no other option. They do not want to die, they just want all the pain to stop. This is not selfish. If you had a headache you would take tablets to make it go away. Physical pain can be unbearable and so can mental pain so how do you make the mental pain go away? You might dive into bad habits like food or alcohol or too much of anything or drugs. You might then be labelled further – overweight, anorexic, alcoholic, obsessed with exercise or ‘druggie’. You almost can’t win. BUT!!! ‘There is help out there’!
From my own personal experience after losing my daughter this help is hard to find if you are looking for it through a ‘services’ route. I was offered antidepressants which I took for a while then stopped. These do have their place and they do work for some but they were not for me. You have to refer yourself for counselling then a person on the phone tells you there will be a long wait…… of months…….! This is terrible. There is no real assessment of what kind of counselling, just an assumption by the faceless person on the end of the phone. When we embarked on the making of the calendar and raising money for the charity ‘Mind’ in the forefront of our minds was how we felt the ‘system’ had not been enough to help our girl. ‘Mind’ in the UK are a charity that campaign for better services in Mental Health. They also work locally with people and you can reach out to them if you are struggling. I believe what they do is fulfill a shortfall in our health services (in the UK). This should not be the case – Mental health is so important. It affects our whole life, our perspective on life, our quality of life just as a physical illness does.
I believe that there would be less people taking their own lives if there were more access to better services. There is also still a stigma that people feel when asking for help. The phrase ‘stay strong’ may put an extra pressure on someone going through a tough time to be strong when they do not feel it. Or how about ‘Man up’? This is one of the most destructive phrases of modern culture.
There are also ‘danger places’. Hotels should be vigilant. If a phone rings they should always answer it or at the very least take a message. There should always be someone on hand to see that their guests are safe. It is their duty of care.
It is not the services available that have got us through the last two years, it is the people. There are people I have never even met who have been so kind and supportive. Our friends are brilliant but so are our strangers who become friends.
Wherever you are look out for each other, say hi to people, smile at them, help them. Those little gestures may change the course of their day. Let’s all do our bit for preventing suicide and alongside that keep campaigning for better services.
Anna Scott – Ellen’s Mum
These photos of Ellen are the ‘face of depression’.
I’m lucky to have got to the stage I’m at. I found acceptance through help, appreciation of beauty through the world around and meeting my soul mates. I’m teaching my mind to understand and control itself. Today has been a difficult day. I still thrive on them by creating, learning and dreaming. I can control it by taking each hour as it comes. It’s okay to not be able to get up – just try and have a shower, feel the soap lather your skin, wash the bad feeling away, lose yourself in the steam. If you can’t bare to see anyone, send a single text. When it is completely impossible to create, browse ideas. Let your mind wander. Take the first step. It’s always easier said than done but that one tiny everyday task can make your day a success.
We have always made a big thing of birthdays. Always a birthday cake with candles, always a big fuss and usually a birthday meal together. Ellen’s birthday parties were always huge events…… The LUAU party….. limbo dancing, palm trees, grass skirts and flower garlands. The KARAOKE party, The FAIRY party…… Moving on to 19 years old the indoor festival … ‘Please can I have a fantasy fairy forest’? We did it together with carpet roll tubes and ply wood, MDF and paper mache, rolls and rolls of organza fabric and a sprinkle of glitter. Often from a very young age it was a joint party with Caroline her lovely friend as your birthdays are a week apart. The 21st birthday party was legendary….. ‘Please can we have a MASQUERADE BALL’? There was a LOT of planning for this one including a meeting at a cafe in Saltaire. I had to remove little Noah from said meeting because of boredom issues but I did teach him to roar like a lion so all was not lost. There were cakes and all manner of food for the feast (Largely due to Mary, Caroline’s mum), magical touches made to the room, live music and a fabulous DJ. The perfect evening.
Today is our beautiful girl’s 25th birthday. Ellen was due on the Summer Solstice in the summer of 1994 but she was fashionably late and born on the 23 June. I can remember the fabulous full moon in all its glory as I drove myself to the hospital in the early hours of the morning. My magical little (summer solstice) moon baby.
I often wonder what you would be doing now. Where would you have travelled to over the last two years? What would your wedding have been like? Would you have been wearing one of those magical Rawrags dresses that I showed you that you loved so much? We would have planned your wedding together – huge plans involving lots of making, glitter (of course) and lots of nature. Roger and I would have been so proud as we ‘gave you away’ to one of the nicest people we know. I do also imagine the horror of you finding out that glitter is actually plastic and bad for the environment….
The last time we saw our daughter alive was on her 23rd birthday. I took her for lunch and bought her some plants. I noticed this week that the rose she chose was flowering a perfect orange and yellow flower. Noah and I made a red velvet cake (Betty Crocker of course) and we sang Happy Birthday. Noah delighted in helping to blow out the candles with his Mummy. We left Ellen at home happy and contented with her lovely little family – Her, Mikey and Noah. All was well……
All was well? It seemed that way. Ellen was much much better having survived the traumas that the previous few years had inflicted on her. She was succeeding at university with one more year to go. She had created balance in her life and had a bright future. Depression is a demon though. It lives inside you. It is not all tears and staying in bed. It lies behind that beaming smile and can eat at you from the inside. ‘You are strong’ ‘You are doing so well’ …….. Everything can seem so normal and ordinary and safe on the surface but underneath you can be fighting a war inside your mind. Overthinking, worrying, stressing, panicking…. constantly feeling fear but smiling through it. You go out of the house and try to act ‘normal’ but inside you are in turmoil. Traumatised by the past and frightened of the future.
When someone takes their own life they must think that it is the only answer to that insurmountable pain and fear in that moment. It is a desperate act to finally end the pain. In that moment they can not see that in the morning sun things will seem better, brighter, less huge and less terrifying. They can not see the pain that their leaving will cause to the people that love them and even those who don’t know them – how can they? The consequential ripples reach far and wide. I challenge anyone to say that suicide is selfish.
In the first year after Ellen died we produced our Mermen for Mind calendar to raise money for the wonderful ‘Mind’ the charity for better mental health. They campaign for better services as well as providing local care and support all over the country. Imagine being in A & E for three hours. Do you think that is bad? Now imagine having a mental health problem…… When you have finally summoned up the courage to ask for help you are then told it will be weeks before an assessment then you will go on a waiting list. The waiting list could be twelve weeks long….
The calendar kept our team of some of Ellen’s closest friends busy and gave us all something to focus on. We have had many days and nights where we have enjoyed each others company and laughed so much we cried. We have also been able to remember our gorgeous girl. It has been a lot of fun. I love to see the friendships between her friends grow and blossom. They have supported each other and us over the last two years amazingly. I know Ellen would be so proud.
Without all the planning and preparation for the calendar 2019 had been very different. It has really hit hard. Each day marches on without Ellen relentlessly. Some days are worse than others . I wanted time to stop. I never imagined I would be writing this two years on…. that wasn’t possible then but here we are. Time will not stop for anyone. The anniversary of Ellen’s birth is two days apart from the anniversary of her death. This is agony – how can we celebrate her birthday when we are so so sad? Facing a problem though is about looking at the alternatives for solving it. There are always options and opportunities in each problem to deal with it.
What we need to do is keep on celebrating Ellen’s life and her birthday. We will do this among her friends and family and all the lives that she touched. We will also do this by carrying on our campaign to raise money for this wonderful charity ‘Mind’ and continue the conversation about mental health that she started.
So please raise a glass to her today, smile and be happy that she was….. Our gorgeous girl…….
We officially launched the Mermen for Mind calendar last Saturday! We made huge waves for mental health and had a magical time. We WILL get our lovely mermen on the TV eventually to reach out to more people we know we will! Continue reading “Our Mermazing Calendar Launch!”→