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I hope that it may help inspire someone else... September 8, 2016

I’d like to take this chance to share my story from the past 12 months or so in the hope that it may help inspire someone else.

As many of you may know I emigrated from the UK in late 2002 always knowing that at some time the physical distance from family members would cause some issues. For the last few years my Mum has been suffering from Alzheimer’s and Dementia to the point where she now does not know who I am at all. I have made a couple of solo trips back to the UK since she has been unable to travel, first in November 2014 when she was still living at home. I was not prepared for the reality of what awaited me then and really struggled to cope with it to the point that I was subsequently diagnosed with depression and put on medication.

Seeking help and opening up about this has helped me greatly as has the support of my friends and colleagues at work who have been very understanding and supportive. I visited again in August 2015 by which time my Mum was in a full time care home. At least she is safe and well looked after and I was able to get some good photos with her. This trip went really well and was a big help to me.

Unfortunately since that trip my Dad has now been diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus and has been told he may not see out the year. This has prompted a full family visit in April as this may be the last time that we all get to see him. Again the support I have had from St Andrews has been great and I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive employer.

However despite all these family related problems since admitting and facing up to my mental health issues and seeking help I have been on a journey of improvement and self-discovery which is an ongoing process. Prior to my last trip to the UK I was not looking after myself at all and making excuses for not exercising etc…Since arriving back and seeing a couple of less than flattering pictures of myself I have been motivated to change and turn things around.

I have taken up swimming at least 1km twice a week (managed 1.75km on my last swim), practised meditation, started eating healthy and cut out sugar as much as possible and have not drunk any alcohol since Sept 19 (yes I can remember the date). In this time my mind has improved and the physical changes have been noticeable. I have currently lost 15kg and feel better about myself than ever.

I wanted to share this story, even though it’s deeply personal, to highlight the importance of looking after your mind and body especially at times of great stress. The support of everyone here has been incredible and I hope that this may help someone else who may be going through difficult times.

Iain Muir

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