A brave mum has spoken out about how she beat depression (opens in new tab), just years after her mum took her own life while suffering with the mental health condition.
Rebecca Bird, 26, who lives in Dorset with her 10-year-old son Harley, has shared her story in the hope that she can show others suffering from depression that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
'Seven years ago, my mum took her own life after struggling with depression,' says Rebecca. 'It was me who found her and although I was in complete shock, I had to keep going for my little boy Harley, who was just three at the time.'
Rebecca with her son Harley
Rebecca says that knowing she wasn't a good enough reason for her mum to stay alive meant it was hard not to blame herself for her mother's death.
'I started to struggle with depression and anxiety myself, but rather than getting help, I kept quiet.'
For the year after Rebecca's mum's death, things went from bad to worse for the young mum. 'I lost a baby at 13 weeks and Mum wasn't there to help me through it,' she explains. 'About six months later, my partner and I split up. I was left homeless and I'd never felt so lonely.'
Fighting to keep on going for her son, Rebecca didn't seek help for her illness and in 2012 her mental health took a turn for the worse.
'I had butterflies all the time and lost a lot of weight.'
'Rightly or wrongly, I blamed the NHS for my mum's death – if they couldn't help her, how could they help me?' she confesses. 'I tried to deal with it myself, but after years of bottling it all up, I had a breakdown.'
Eventually, struggling to cope any longer on her own, Rebecca turned to a family friend, Debs, and confessed she's been thinking whether Harley would be better off without her.
'I told Debs how I felt Mum's death was my fault and that maybe Harley was better off without me,' she says.'I had no intention of taking my own life, but I clearly wasn't coping.'
With Debs' encouragement, Rebecca finally saw a doctor and discovered that despite her fears, they were really helpful. She was referred to a mental health unit, saw a psychiatrist and prescribed medication for anxiety and depression.
Harley and his grandmother in happier times
'It was reassuring to hear someone acknowledge that what I was going through was a massive deal,' Rebecca admits. 'I'd just thought I had to keep going for Harley but, actually, I was right to get help and the diagnosis was a relief.'
Speaking of her relationship with her mum and her own struggles, Rebecca admits that she didn't want to end up like her: 'My mum was my best friend, but I didn't want to get to the point where I'd take my own life like she did,' Rebecca adds. 'I couldn't do that to Harley – but, if I hadn't had him, I wouldn't be here today.'
It took eight months of treatment before she started to feel better and in control, but when she got there, it was all worthwhile. 'I realised, that when I smiled, it finally wasn't fake and that was a fantastic feeling.'
Rebecca says that although the future can be uncertain, she's learned that bottling up her feelings can only make things worse.
'There will be things in future that I'll struggle with without Mum there. In January, I had another miscarriage and that brought everything up again, but my partner, Joe, was amazing'.
'I've learnt that bottling things up never helps and I hope by sharing my story, I can show others there's light at the end of the tunnel. I know Mum would be proud of me and that makes me happy. I feel a bit invincible'.
Rebecca is involved with Time to Change (time-to-change.org.uk) run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness