On Saturday 22nd February 2014 my husband Chris and I spent a blissfully normal day together with our 18-month-old daughter: going for a walk, cooking dinner, and watching a film before going to bed. We had just completed our first house purchase the week before and I can distinctly remember that night thinking how happy I was. The following day, Chris flew to Barcelona for a work conference and our lives would never be the same again.
On the surface Chris lived a wonderful, exciting life, and in many ways it was. But he also had an addiction problem. Chris suffered with anxiety and started taking un-prescribed Valium (Diazepam) whilst on long, packed bus journeys when travelling in Asia when he was 21. We met when we were both 22 and throughout our relationship he battled with his addiction to Valium, managing to abstain the majority of the time but relapsing every couple of years and sometimes resorting to other drugs. Chris was deeply ashamed of his addiction and struggled to talk even to me about it. Very few of his friends and family knew anything about his problems as Chris feared they would think less of him.
Chris wanted help but help was never readily available. We fought for him to see a psychiatrist through his occupational private medical cover, and Chris started taking anti-depressants in 2011 as prescribed by his psychiatrist to help manage his anxiety. In January 2014, Chris started to slowly lower his daily antidepressant dose but was struggling with the withdrawal symptoms. He went to his GP three days before flying to Barcelona asking for help as he was suffering withdrawal symptoms from the anti-depressants. He was sent away with sleeping tablets and an appointment to see a mental health counsellor the following week.
When Chris got to Barcelona, he managed to obtain Valium and heroin within hours of being there, took small amounts of each when alone back in his hotel room and died in his sleep. The drugs were certainly not pure and Chris would have had no idea of their strength.
Aimi’s story is continued below…
The current drugs system failed Chris at many points throughout his life. I believe that if drugs had been legally regulated, Chris would have received the help he needed from the health system and would not have needed to take the impure drugs that ultimately caused his death.
I refuse to let my daughter grow up believing her father was anything less than a beautiful, witty, truly brilliant man who had an illness. This wasn’t a choice for Chris. That’s why I’m supporting the Anyone’s Child campaign – to help fight for safer drug control.