The sparkling eyes of Lanarkshire grandmother Jean Neilson hide the story of a woman’s long journey to recovery from serious mental ill health.
But for delightful, candid Jean – who is determined to banish the stigma surrounding mental health – it is a story of courage and eventual self-belief that her lips do not conceal.
Jean, who grew up in Perthshire, married in 1966 and had two children – Hazel and Alastair.
In the mid-70s, her marriage ran into trouble and by 1977 she was divorced.
Her sister, Rachael Richardson, rescued an emotional Jean and took her from Perthshire to her home in Motherwell.
Jean took a job in a Clyde Valley hotel. But she lacked concentration and was soon shown the door.
Soon afterwards, to her family’s alarm, a tormented Jean disappeared. She was missing for two days and eventually turned up in Kirkcaldy at the door of her brother, George.
“I ran away,” said Jean, who has no recollection of her fleeing from Lanarkshire to Fife.
“I fell out with my sister and my mother because I was ill. I landed up in Hartwoodhill. My sister, my mother and niece came to see me. I was on a drip and had not been eating. My sister told me: ‘You are in Hartwoodhill, Jean.’
“I had deep depression and I was crying all the time.
“It was horrible to feel like that.”
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