East Neuk student urges people who are struggling to seek help

An Anstruther woman, who suffered PTSD after witnessing the death of her uncle, is encouraging others not to be afraid to seek support.

Lara McDonald.

Lara McDonald was just 11 when her uncle died in a motorbike accident, leaving her with grief, anxiety, nightmares and harrowing flashbacks.

But to the outside world she appeared fine – the same as any other girl that age.

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Lara, now 25, shared her story on World Mental Health Day, in the hope of helping someone else who might have gone through a similar trauma.

“Around four years after the tragedy I was finding it difficult,” she explained. “I started self-harming, and I started drinking. When I was 17 my family stepped in and took me to my GP.”

Lara was placed on medication, before being admitted to hospital when she was 18.

This was a turning point for her: “It took me a while to get to where I am now, and I spent a lot of time just surviving, going between home and hospital. But the support I received absolutely changed my life.

“It was directed at the very route of the issue and gave me the tools I needed to know how to cope with what had happened.

“One thing that made a huge difference to me was volunteering. At first I wasn’t keen on the idea.

“Eventually I started training to be a befriender. I’ve been matched with the same person for two years now, and I see him twice a month.”

The support Lara received gave her the confidence she needed to thrive. She’s now an ambassador for the Year of Young People and is a board member on the Scottish Government’s National Suicide Prevention leadership group.

She also volunteers with the charity SAMH and is keen to open up the conversation surrounding mental health.

She said: “It’s important people aren’t afraid to seek help. It’s OK to do that. If you’re struggling, you deserve help.

“With the right support you can be the best version of yourself. You should never give up.”

If you need to speak to someone, the Samaritans are available on 08457 909090.