by MELINDA HIATT
I still remember the first time mum told me my youngest sister Courtney was cutting herself. I was pretty shocked and a little puzzled about why she would be doing such a thing.
I am the eldest of three girls and Courtney is 13 years younger than me. I was at her birth and even cut her umbilical cord so to think of this beautiful baby and gorgeous toddler as a troubled teenager was something I would never have expected.
It seemed to me at the time that the source of the self-harming was never really addressed. The school counsellor was advised and everyone was keeping an ‘eye’ on things. We tried to speak with Courtney and she never opened up about what was going on for her.
About a year passed and then mum called to tell me Courtney was in hospital having overdosed. Not only had she been rushed to emergency, but she was transferred to the psychiatric ward at the Royal Children’s hospital.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I went to visit her that night. In a previous career I had experienced dealing with mentally ill people regularly. This was really different though – this was my baby sister.
The visit itself was fairly uneventful and there wasn’t a lot of discussion between my mum and sisters. It was really hard to understand where this had all come from. I had a few more visits over the next couple of weeks as did my other sister and parents as the hospital staff worked with her to support her through what we came to know as her depression.
I was able to share with Courtney through this time how running had been a way for me to overcome stress and down days in the past. Running had led me to the most amazing and beautiful group of friends who inspired me to take on my passion for health and fitness and take on a complete career change.
Courtney started training with my training group on a weekly basis which I think was quite hard for her. First of all she had to get up extra early to train on a Saturday morning – this already goes against the grain for teenagers! Secondly, I specialise in group personal training so she really had to step up and interact within the group.