Andrea Newton seemed to have everything...a successful HR consultancy she had built from scratch, a bright, loving son at university, and a long term marriage.
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But within a few short months everything fell apart, and on a daily basis she was battling with crippling depression and thoughts of suicide.
Andrea says she felt completely overwhelmed and just wanted the torment to stop.
“My marriage ended badly, leaving me homeless, penniless and unable to work because of my mental health,” Andrea, 52, said. “I ended up on friends’ sofas, with my mum, even in a caravan and I hit rock bottom”
She approached her doctor who prescribed her antidepressants, then later Valium and other medication.
“Those meds helped, but didn’t fix the problem,” she said. “I also had a six-week CBT course, which was great, but it was only six weeks. In the end I was on my own again, and knowing how limited that support was, I was terrified how I’d cope alone.”
But it was through an online network for dog rescuers – Andrea being one – that she found her salvation.
“Three women who had never met in person became my ‘tribe’,” she said. “One in Kent, one was North Wales, and one was in France.
Very quickly they picked up what I was going through and they’d regularly call, text or Facebook message me to simply ask how I was, if I had money to live on, if I’d been out that day.
The relentless, unquestioning support they showed me in my hour of need saved my life for sure.”
Crucially she says that they helped her deal with the practical problems she faced. “I just couldn’t think straight, so they’d help me do practical things, paying bills, sorting solicitors help, things I could’ve done very easily before but which were now contributing to my thoughts of wanting to take my own life. They kept me physically alive.”
“I felt like I was trying to climb a slag heap in flip-flops – it was one step forwards, five steps backwards and throughout it all they held my hand from afar.”
Her epiphany came in September 2017 when she set out into the woods with her dog to end it all. “I thought of my son having to carry on without me, living with the aftermath, and it smacked me in the face – ‘What are you doing?’, ‘What has he done to deserve this?’”
She then vowed that with her three friends’ support she would get better, and if she did, she would make it her mission to help others going through similar hard times.
So, last April she started a City and Guilds course to become an accredited Suicide Prevention Tutor, a course paid for by her friend in France. Since then Andrea hasn’t looked back and goes into big corporations to deliver mental health and suicide prevention training.
“I was a high-flyer with a big income, and now know that nobody is immune – I’m a survivor, not a victim. I now have a new home, a new career, a new life, a new partner and my fabulous tribe, but I know so many people out there right now are going through what I did, and need help.”
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