Welcome to my blog! My name is Louise Atkinson, and I am the author of Beyond the Black Dog. I am very pleased that you have visited, and I hope that you find something of what you are looking for.
The reasons for this blog were consolidated on a Sunday night in September 2011, when my big brother Ian – my first friend and confidant – took his own life. Rewind a further ten years and we come to the time when his mental health began deteriorating in a significant way. As I look back to that time and to that girl in her mid-twenties who was just trying to help her brother through a difficult patch, little did I know that from that point on, mental illness was going to play a huge part of the rest of my life.
In my blog I want to reflect on the years before Ian died – the extremely tough challenge of supporting someone you love very dearly in emotional and mental anguish. I want to reflect on Ian’s suicide and the enormous, consuming fallout from this. I want to reflect on my own mental ill health which I experience as a result of losing Ian. I want to talk about the ways I try to help myself; through fundraising, through talking openly, and – perhaps most fundamentally – through the very process of writing things down.
Above all I want to give a glimmer of hope that there is still life to be cherished in the aftermath of suicide and at times when mental illness feels too hard to bear. I can only hope that something of what I write strikes a cord with someone else who is struggling – with thoughts of their own suicide, with the loss of a loved one, with their own mental health or with supporting someone else.
Part of coping with Ian’s death has been to fundraise for Mind, the mental health charity, who have been hugely supportive. In 2012 we set up a MemorySpace to fundraise in memory of Ian. Many family and friends have organised events, made donations or supported events which I have organised and taken part in. If you would like to visit to find out how the money has been raised (currently over £21,000) you can visit the site at:-
As with anyone writing about mental illness from a lived experience point of view, I can only talk about my own situation, my own feelings and my own perspective. This is no substitute for professional help. If you are struggling, please take care and please reach out for support. The following organisations, as well as your GP or nearest A&E, will help you:
Mind – http://www.mind.org.uk – 0300 123 3393
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) – https://uksobs.org – 0300 111 5065
Samaritans – http://www.samaritans.org – 116 123
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) – http://www.thecalmzone.net – 0800 58 58 58
Thank you for reading