As I left last year to begin my walk of the Chemin de Puy pilgrimage in Southern France, my son Kieran whispered in my ear that he was very proud of me for taking on such a big adventure. Kieran lost his life to suicide in January and I have kept thinking about this and going back to finish The Camino Frances in Spain.
In a video tribute to my son Kieran, a friend showed a logo of LIVIN. I was searching for some way to try and prevent what had happened to Kieran and our family from being repeated. I researched LIVIN and was drawn to the ideas they were promoting. They addressed the difficulties that Kieran experienced his whole adult life, that lead to his suicide.
My friend Julie who I walked with last year is joining me as I complete the Camino Frances in tribute to Kieran and in support of LIVIN. Julie knew Kieran since he was a baby and was deeply affected with his passing. She is committed to supporting me and LIVIN as we walk.
This walk was to help me think about what had happened and give me space to think clearly, without interruption. I also wanted a way to try and make a difference to the terrible statistics that our country is experiencing with suicide. I felt if I could combine my walk with fundraising for a cause that could change the place that people like Kieran found themselves in, it would make it even more worthwhile.
In preparation and leading up to the pilgrimage, I have been working on a gym program for several months to help develop cardio and strengthen my knees. I have also tried to fit in a few long-distance walks with a pack as it comes closer to leaving. Mentally my everydayhero fundraising site has been an inspiration. As friends, family and colleagues of Kieran’s and our family have donated and posted comments in memory of Kieran, this has inspired me to fully commit to the walk.
As I think about the journey itself, I am concerned ascending the steepest part of The Pyrenees on the first day as an extremely challenging start to my walk. I think of things such as the chance of constant rain for the entire three plus weeks, the possibility that I will experience knee problems and the inevitable blisters are all concerns. However, dealing with grief and living the rest of my life without my son may be my biggest challenge. There is no way of knowing what I will be facing but I have no doubt that this is what I need to do.
I feel that if we can change the way young people especially, think and talk about mental health we can begin to change the hopelessness that many people feel that leads to suicide. Feeling comfortable sharing your mental health difficulties and being supported to seek the proper services will make a difference.
Find people that you feel comfortable sharing your difficulties with and seek the professional help that is necessary for you to live a full and rewarding life.
There are so many people and organisations out there that want to help you.
It Ain't Weak To Speak.
If you feel you are struggling and need to speak to someone, please visit our Get Help page for organisations that can help.