Having five brothers and one sister means that I am lucky to have lots of glorious nieces and nephews, and, nowadays, great nieces and great nephews. I am a bit like “Great Uncle Bulgaria” in the Wombles.
But last July, we lost one of my nieces, Holly (pictured, right). Never mind me being her uncle, Holly’s passing has, of course, devastated her close family.
Today, on Time to Talk day, there is a chance that, by sharing Holly’s story, we may be able to raise awareness of mental illness and, hopefully, save someone’s life.
To tell the story, I will borrow the words of Holly’s surviving sister, one of my other nieces, Anna. Anna has come up with the inspiring idea of “Pombombing”* across the world to mark Holly’s forthcoming birthday of 13th February:
Holly Cowlam was caring, charismatic and vibrant. She was a psychology student and had studied modules in mental health. She was surrounded by loving family and friends who would have moved heaven and earth to help her had she asked. Perhaps she didn’t know how to ask. She was diagnosed with depression; a diagnosis that she said made her feel ashamed. A week later she chose to end her life.
Holly’s story is a reminder that mental illness can be experienced by anybody. It’s ok not to be ok. Don’t suffer in silence. Call the Samaritans on 116 123 for support.
On February 13th we are pombombing across the world to remember Holly and all the joy she brought us. Join us and spread mental health awareness by sharing a pombomb photo and tagging @hollyspombombs #hollyspombombs on Facebook and lnstagram.
*”Pombombing” means displaying woollen Pom-poms in a public area.
* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.