My name is Fran and I have been given this opportunity to introduce a discussion around actively supporting the mental wellbeing of the young people in our community.
My son, Beck Bromley, was a strong part of the community here at Westwood College. He was a high academic achiever, and progressed to study pure Maths at Manchester University, having achieved 3 A* A Levels in Maths, Further Maths and Physics. Last year, aged 19, he experienced mania followed by severe depression and then died by suicide in November.
The struggle we experienced and are now learning in grief, has taught me many lessons about parenting that I wish, with hindsight, I had been more prepared for.
What I feel we can now do is share this knowledge with a wider audience in the hope that we can make a difference to others.
Some areas, we have not yet explored (the journey through grief is hard, unique to the individual and takes time), but it offers amazing opportunities for growth and understanding if we are able to be kind to ourselves, to others and to our community in sharing our experiences.
Fear of the unknown leads to lack of understanding.
When we first knew that our son felt suicidal, deep down, I never really believed he could or would take his life. I had no personal experience of severe depression. Yet there is so much knowledge and support and guidance to help navigate mental health if you know where to look. You must start that journey with a very clear understanding that this is real, it can happen to you, so prepare while you are calm and not acting from a place of fear.
At Beck’s funeral I tried to offer words of comfort to all those standing with him in Church. I explained that his illness took away his right to choose life, but that I now believe it gives us all the right to come together in support and friendship and learning.
I’m grateful for all that Beck has taught me and the lessons I’m continuing to learn thanks to him, the people that are part of my life thanks to the connections and choices he made.
There may be times in everyone’s life when you have to work really hard to find that will to live and to build resilience. Just as we guide our children into adulthood – let’s guide each other on the methods that help us through mental health recovery. The brain is a powerful engine, we should be harnessing that power and fine tuning it. With maintenance and ‘MOTs’ it can stay in peak condition.
If you’re interested in getting together to create a parent forum from which we can all learn, please get in touch via the college. WWC.Office@ttlt.org.uk
Thank you for taking the time to read this message. For now, here are a few links to resources that you may or may not have heard of.
A fascinating read: “The Grieving Brain” by Mary Frances O’Connor.