Depression: Jane's journey from the pit of despair

DISTRAUGHT with grief, Jane Fasham tried three times to kill herself. Twice she tried to drown herself in the bath and once jumped into the river. A passer-by threw her a lifebelt, which she grabbed. I suppose that meant I didn t really want to die, sh

DISTRAUGHT with grief, Jane Fasham tried three times to kill herself.

Twice she tried to drown herself in the bath and once jumped into the river. A passer-by threw her a lifebelt, which she grabbed.

"I suppose that meant I didn't really want to die," she said.

Jane, 61, a mother of six children and grandmother of nine, thought she was coping after her youngest son John, a doctor and former Hinchingbrooke School pupil, died aged 25 in New Zealand.

He and friends were jumping four metres from the side of a cliff into Lake Karapiro, in Waikato, on the North Island. It was a popular recreational spot.

Earlier that day, John had jumped from 15 metres.

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This time, something went wrong. Two friends jumped in after him but were unable to find him and his body was discovered hours later.

John's father, Andrew, called it "an inexplicable death".

He said at the time: "It was a sunny Sunday, a really happy day. This was going to be the last jump they did before they went for something to eat.

"Apparently, John did a somersault but he landed feet first. The water was still, like a rock pool.

"When he was found, there was not a mark on him. Perhaps he landed awkwardly."

A week after the death, in February 2005, Jane and Andrew were composed enough to give an interview to The Hunts Post.

They said they were grateful for all the support of their friends, for all the tributes made to John. Colleagues had described how John would cheer up patients, going round the wards with his violin, singing and reciting poems to amuse them.

"I thought I was coping," Jane said.

But, three months later, she had a breakdown.

Anyone who has had depression, or known a sufferer, will recognise the emptiness she felt, the pain and the deep, dark pit from which she never imagined she could possibly climb.

It is impossible to put depression into words but you feel astonished that other people around you can just carry on ... because you can't.

For you, the world has changed and everything in it.

Your loss means that nothing else functions. The loss is so big that it overwhelms everything else.

You cannot function and all you want is for the pain to stop.

Jane went to her GP and was eventually admitted to Acer Ward, the psychiatric ward at Hinchingbrooke Hospital, in Huntingdon.

She said: "The hospital was very caring and consistent. I received therapy and drug treatment, I had counselling."

But she was admitted again in September and December that year, and the following May.

She could see no end to the deep, deep grief.

Jane had been a special needs teacher before John died but she never returned to work after her son's accident.

"I just struggled along, I forced myself to get up in the morning but, in the end, I just didn't want to go on. Andrew became my carer."

Then, this year, things changed. Jane and Andrew travelled to the Philippines in December to see their daughter Kate, who works there with poor children. After Jane came home, her focus had changed.

"It was overnight. I woke up on January 2 this year and I said to Andrew: 'I feel better, the depression's lifted. Let's go for a cycle ride'.

"Since then, there have been no slip-backs."

The couple have decided to mark Jane's recovery by cycling more than 800 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats, in memory of John and to raise money for children in the Philippines.

John and his older brother, David, cycled the route in 1998, raising £1,000 for the same charity.

The couple's daughter Kate, son-in-law Tim and their three children live in Manila and work with children for the Church Missionary Society.

Jane and Andrew, 65, a retired engineering instructor from RAF Henlow, hope to raise £1,000 to be divided between two charities - the Rehoboth Children's Home, where there is a playground and covered basketball court built with donations given at John's memorial service, and Jigsaw Kids Ministries, which works with 800 children and their families in four slum areas of Manila.

The charity provides play activities, school sponsorship, food and education for children too old to start school.

The Fashams' sponsored cycle ride starts on Tuesday, May 8, and they plan to complete the journey in 16 days, camping at night. They have been training by cycling around Huntingdonshire and last week cycled 50 miles to Cambridge and back.

Jane said: "We want to show that there is life after bereavement.

"We have read about other people who have lost loved ones and we know how it cuts them but there is a life afterwards."

INFORMATION: To sponsor Jane and Andrew Fasham, send donations to: Jane and Andrew Fasham, c/o Newsroom, The Hunts Post, 30 Huntingdon High Street, PE29 3TB.


The Depression Alliance -

Caring about Carers -

Carers UK -

The Princess Royal Trust for Carers -