“I FOUND it a struggle to get through each day and sometimes I didn’t know if I would make it through.”
That is how Hampshire mum, Julie Boyt, has described the months when her world fell apart after she tried to resuscitate a teenage boy who died in a car accident in December 2010.
Jordan Geaney, 17, was killed by a fence post which smashed through his car’s windscreen and hit him after losing control of his car.
He had overtaken a friend’s car as they drove home from Sparsholt College but left the road and hit a fence.
Julie was one of the first on the scene and desperately fought to resuscitate the teenager before the ambulance arrived.
The 47-year-old buried her feelings about the accident and avoided reminding herself about it for months on end in order to obscure the psychological pain of what she had witnessed.
She was forced to quit her job and spent weeks hiding in her bed at her home in Sparsholt, listening to the same song 20 times a day – but found solace in writing poems which have now been published.
The mother-of-three said: “I disguised my illness. I just went to bed for three months.
My family, my husband, my friends, they knew I was unwell, but they didn’t know what the problem was, I never told anybody.
“But if I had talked I would have been a lot better. I just sat in bed thinking really bad thoughts for three months.
“I felt so alone, suffocated by my black and desperate thoughts, and my world just totally crumbled.”
Eventually she was unable to hide the problems – she was unable to do any house work and lost five stone through her illness – and sought professional help.
Doctors diagnosed Julie with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but the prescribed medication only reminded her of her illness and she soon self-referred herself to a 15-week course run by NHS Southern Health called italk.
Up until this point the only way Julie had expressed her thoughts about what had happened was in the poems she had written.
It wasn’t until she showed them to her mental health therapist Helen Le Vesconte in the summer of 2012 that she was able to overcome the PTSD.
She said: “The reasons the poems are here is that I wrote most of them when I was really bad with PTSD. They were my deep feelings that I didn’t want anybody else to see.”
Unfortunately, after completing the course Julie descended into another downward spiral into depression at the start of last year when she realised she couldn’t go back into midwifery again due to the stress.
Eventually, Julie went back to italk where she was seen by another therapist, Vanessa Ballard, who also saw the poems which she compiled into a book.
Vanessa said: “The poems gave her a sense of achievement and it allowed her to focus on something else beyond how she was feeling. It was definitely useful for her to have written them.
“For people to understand that there are others out there who are feeling what they are feeling is very useful. I’m really pleased that they have been published, they will be really useful and valuable for others in raising awareness.”
The book has been picked up by mental health publisher Chipmunka. Julie has dedicated it to the teenager who died and wants to share her experiences in order to combat the social stigma of depression.
She said: “If it can help other people I don’t care what people think about me, that’s what my philosophy is.
“I just want to talk about it.
“I was really happy before the incident.
I was a midwife in a really responsible position. If I can get depression, anybody can. This book of poetry is not about making money, it’s for people to understand about where I’ve come from.”
In the 11 months since Julie received treatment for her depression, Julie has gone from strength to strength.
She is now taking part in a mental health training course to help those whose lives are ruined by psychological disorders.
“I want to be like Vanessa. I was so grieved about not being a midwife.
“I volunteered in mental health and as soon as I did that I knew I would become better.”
THE BENEFITS OF iTALK
- italk is a service that is provided as a partnership between Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust and Solent Mind for people across Hamsphire.
- Initially the service helped people recover from mild to moderate depression or anxiety, and they are treated either over the phone or with face-to-face or group treatment sessions provided by qualified professionals.
- Now the service has expanded into providing other resources, such as stress control workshops and therapy for insomnia.
- People can access the service either by self-referring online or over the telephone, or their GP can refer them.