Local mum hopes to become ‘Me4Mental Miss Shining Light’
A local mum-of-two is hoping to take home the crown in the upcoming ‘Me4Mental Miss Shining Light’ pageant.
Patricia Mullin, from Limavady, said the pageant, which is taking place to raise awareness around mental health, makes her “truly believe that there maybe is hope that this stigma around mental illnesses and its sufferers might actually go away”.
The 28-years-old had her first child, Jake, when she was 19, and three-years-old Ethan at 25.
“Jake was born just as I had turned 19. In hindsight I was awfully young, but I somehow mustered through.
“After I had given birth my mum took me home to where they lived in Tamnaherin. My mum showed me the ropes, taught me how to breastfeed, nappy change, bathe my new-born son and taught me how to physically cope and do the best for my child. I then left home and moved into my own home,” she said.
It was when Patricia moved into her own home that she first experienced a panic attack.
“Jake was around five months old when I had my very first, and which I thought was my last, panic attack.
“I can still remember every sensation that I felt that evening. I can remember holding my son and suddenly feeling like I had to sit him down before I fell down with him. I got him in his seat and I could feel my heart was thumping, I was dizzy, sweating, I felt as though all I could hear was the blood rushing through my veins, I couldn’t breathe and all I could think about was is this how I die? Is this what’s happening? Am I dying? Oh dear no, I’m dying.
“I called my mum, she talked to me for 30 minutes, and after a while she said “Patricia, you know if you were having a heart attack, if you really were dying I’m pretty sure you would be dead already.” This was true, of course, my mother then explained a little bit about what happened to me,” she said.
Patricia believes that nothing could have prepared her for the next seven years of her life, as that initial panic attack “was only the beginning, and things got worse and worse”.
“I was afraid of everything, I was afraid of being alone, I was afraid of the dark, I was afraid of leaving the house, crowded places and quiet places.
“I swear I was afraid to breathe at times in case I somehow did it wrong,” she said.
Although she visited the doctor on numerous occasions and was prescribed medication, she said she felt she was “still in a vicious cycle”.
She said she felt she was bringing on more panic attacks by trying to keep them at bay, and at this stage she was “hardly sleeping for weeks at at time”.
After a referral to a counsellor for talking therapy, Patricia said she “wasn’t afraid of it all anymore” and started to make some progress.
“I was, for the first time in two years, able to go out and about again. I started cooking and cleaning again and I would even go as far as to say I started to enjoy life again.”
When Patricia was pregnant with her second child Ethan, she said she told herself “it would be different” and that she could “deal with it” as she had experienced it before.
“Was I wrong! This time it was worse, it hit me all at once.
“It got so bad one morning around 2am that I just snapped, I got my boys up and went to my mum’s house. Every fibre of my being told me I needed to go there, I needed to be safe, I needed help and someone to help me.
“My mum settled me that night, and the next day called the doctor. Things were so bad that I felt that I couldn’t sit down or stand up. I just cried, and I felt that I couldn’t stop,” she said.
Patricia said that was her last major panic attack, and although she still experiences them to a lesser extent, she said that having her two boys makes her “want to fight to live every single day”.
Speaking about the upcoming pageant, Patricia added: “I am a finalist in the pageant and I cannot thank Jennifer Taylor and Emma Brolly, the pageant directors, enough for allowing me to be a part of this.
“It makes me truly believe that there maybe is hope that this stigma around mental illnesses and its sufferers might actually go away.
“We as a people, might be accepted for who we are with our issues.
“If we as adults could see the world through the eyes of a child, imagine the difference that would make.
“To my children I am mummy, I am a person, I am loving, kind, caring and above all I am there for them when they need me. They don’t see my baggage they don’t care that mummy has bad days because they know that mummy loves them,” she said.
Patricia added that her story isn’t a “wonderful success story” but a “real story”.
“It is a story of a girl turned woman, with children, who struggles a lot of the time to just smile. Some days are amazing, some days are hard, other days are terrifying just like the very first time again. But I hold on to each good moment, I cherish every hug and kiss with my boys.
“I am grateful for the life I was given I feel I was put here to show that true strength comes from within.
She added that she hopes that her story may be able to help someone “use a little bit of my strength”. “Or even talk to someone, ask for that help. I promise them life does become beautiful again,” she said.
A fundraising event is taking place in The Bushtown Hotel in Coleraine on July 20. All proceeds will be go to Me4Mental. Music, jiving competition, a raffle with prizes and wonderful entertainment. Tickets available. Check Facebook for full details.