‘Our 10 year old son said he didn’t want to live anymore’
Anne Walker tells the moving story of her battle to save her son Ethan’s life and how raising awareness about mental health is critical for helping sufferers.
Anne Walker ran the 2017 London Marathon and raised £2,574 for Acorn Lodge, in Bethlem Royal Hospital. It’s an inpatient facility for children aged 4-12 who have a wide range of severe emotional or behavioural disorders.
‘In December 2015 our 10-year-old son said he didn’t want to live anymore. Prior to this he had spent three years out of school, mostly confined to his bedroom, displaying symptoms of anxiety and depression. We had spent all our money trying to help him in the United Arab Emirates where we live, but nothing had worked.
‘By chance when we moved to Abu Dhabi in 2015, the Maudsley had opened a clinic for children and adolescents and they recommended a referral to their London-based children’s unit, Acorn Lodge in Bethlem Royal Hospital.
On 4 February 2016 at 11am, we admitted our beautiful son to a psychiatric hospital. This decision was not taken lightly but it was the end of the road, our last chance, the hardest thing we have ever had to do.
‘The initial days were not easy but Ethan started to make good progress and he was back in the hospital school within three days. He started to enjoy the activities that were on offer such as horse-riding. He was intrigued by the difficulties the other patients were facing and his amazing sense of humor came out. For example in the first week he made a poster for his bedroom wall saying “Holiday gone wrong!”
‘Scott and I flew from Abu Dhabi to London every weekend for three months to visit him. I often sat in Heathrow Airport in tears on a Saturday night when I had to leave. It was a very emotional journey.
‘Ethan was discharged on 4 May having finally been given a diagnosis of anxiety disorder on a background of Atypical ASD (autism spectrum disorder). This diagnosis allowed us to understand the difficulties he had faced. After being discharged, Ethan was educated at home and then started mainstream school in August 2016.
‘I strongly believe in the need to create awareness on mental health. If I’d had more information I would have been able to provide my son with help a lot sooner. It’s important that the negative barriers associated with mental health are broken, and proper research is done in order to improve the lives of many.’
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