9 years! Remembering Lawrence
Growing up as a younger sister I naturally wanted to do everything my older brother did, cricket, table tennis, even wrestling, I’m competitive. My mum drew the line at rugby but I think that was more for my own safety than anything else. Being a boy Lawrence was always better and stronger than me and even when his mates were round doing 'boy things' I wanted to join in. I never stopped looking up to my older brother. Lawrence looked out for me but of course it was his duty to take advantage of his dumb very clumsy little sister. I sit here now writing this, nursing some mild concussion after almost knocking myself out walking under a car park barrier today! Lawrence was my idol, a much cooler version of my parents and most certainly the person I knew would be in my life the longest.
Between the ages of 11-16 in my eyes we were less close than we were as kids, but to him I have probably just always been his embarrassing little sister! We had moved to a new house in a new town and Lawrence started playing hockey, so naturally I followed. Lawrence was a talented sportsman especially at cricket. Lawrence wasn't by any means confident or loud, in fact quite the opposite, his kind and humble nature just made people want to be around him. I revelled in his coolness and having him as 'my' brother made me more popular.
Lawrence was about 18 and I was 16 when he started to have hallucinations and paranoid episodes. My parents were going through utter hell and I was fairly oblivious to the severity of his rapidly developing illness. The turning point I remember was when he was sectioned. I had been sent out for a walk with a friend and arrived home to police cars and my brother in handcuffs. It was the first time I saw my hero's weakness, I remember the vulnerability in his eyes, he asked me to get his favourite cap which I put on his head. One of Lawrence's main fears was being seen in public. This was the point when our roles reversed.
He needed help and none of us knew where to turn, there was no information, not really any advice from anyone. Lawrence was put on medication which helped him cope with the psychosis and for 4 years he was 'stable', living at home with my wonderful parents who cared from him 24/7. In those 4 years we did everything in our power to make his life as enjoyable as possible, but there was still little information or advice available. Lawrence would see a psychiatrist to check his medication but no real support or suggestions on how to improve his quality of life and indeed my parent’s life.
Lack of support and essentially lack of money in the mental health system is to blame for the failures in Lawrence’s care leading up to his death.
You don't get over loosing someone you love under any circumstance and the questions I have asked myself over the past 8 years do not stop. Rethink Mental Illness went above and beyond to help my parents through the tragic death of my brother and I found comfort knowing they were in great hands. I believe that these things happen to help others and it is my duty now to ensure it doesn't happen again.
This year I ran the London Marathon for Rethink Mental Illness, so that people are fully aware of where to go for support, what to do, and to speak up. It is true by taking on a personal challenge it helps fill the holes in your heart and as a keen sportswoman I know the benefits of exercise and have witnessed this first hand in my darker days when grieving took hold on my life. There is no doubt that I will continue to take on new challenges and help raise awareness, knowing full well that Lawrence will always be one step ahead leading the way! Xx