There are many reasons why people run away.
It’s important to have someone to come back to.
The UK police receive more than 100,000 missing adults reports a year. Up to 80 per cent of these adults have mental health issues, and a significant number have experience of domestic violence, financial problems, family conflict, or alcohol problems. It is difficult to find statistics of those who return, but missingpeople.org.uk say few of them receive support to tackle the problems that caused them to go missing in the first place. The police are responsible for undertaking a “Safe and Well Check” soon after a missing person returns to find out where they have been, if they suffered harm, and to provide an opportunity to disclose any offending by or against them. However, following a Safe and Well Check, most adults do not get offered a proper assessment of their health and support needs, or help to get their life back on track, and consequently many go missing again.
It’s important to have someone to come back to, someone who will offer support and any help that is necessary. I’ve written about Running Away and how important it is to have someone to come back to…so maybe I should illuminate how I discovered this during a major depressive episode:
I woke empty. My tears were dry though my heart drowned and I moved through the early hours in automaton. I dropped the children at school then returned home. I pulled clothes from my cupboards and zipped up my bag. My heart thumped within the restrictive bounds of my chest, but I refused to allow emotions to surface. My hands shook as I drove. My eyes flicked to and fro like a frightened rabbit and blood pounded through my veins.
I drove. I drove miles and miles…and then kept driving. My hands gripped the wheel and my mind, still empty, focussed on nothing but the road.
I had no idea how far I drove, I just hit the motorway and kept going. Almost two hours later, about to cross the Severn Bridge and a single thought invaded, I had no money and if I crossed the bridge I wouldn’t be able to pay the toll to return.
For a few wild moments I toyed with continuing to drive, but my hands ignored me and pulled into the services. There, in a far corner of the car park, I let the tears fall and they fell until there was nothing left and emptiness filled my heart again.
I sat in my car for hours unable and unwilling to allow rational thought inside my head, until an alarm sounded. I automatically checked my phone but it was quiet. I tended to get caught up in writing at home and had an alarm that gave me fifteen minutes grace before leaving to collect the children from school.
No alarm had gone off, except the natural alarm within my head. Now thoughts of my children waiting for me at school, waiting for a mother who failed to return filled my mind. Those thoughts swarmed and turned to my husband and I imagined the school trying to contact him when I didn’t turn up. He would find calls queueing on his phone and worry. He would hurry to collect the children with thoughts of his errant wife in the back of his head…or maybe the fore front of his mind.
He’d return with the children to an empty home.
My mind played out the entire week and finally a flicker in my heart lit and fear ignited. The fear of leaving, the fear of being permanently lost overwhelmed me. Now the only thought in my head was home.
I drove those one hundred miles with a hammering heart and a depth I didn’t know I had.
My fifteen minute alarm went off half an hour from home. I was late picking up my children. Reality kicked back in as I got home. My children never noticed the extra bag I carried as they took their own school bags inside and they didn’t see my red eyes, and my empty heart kept well hidden.
Nobody knew about my bid for escape. Nobody knew for a long time.
I ran more than once. I ran in different directions. Sometimes I walked out of an empty home, sometimes I left people behind. But, and it’s an important but, when I walked away from family, they kept calling, they left messages, they texted…and when I was ready I returned.
There was always someone there who cared. There was always someone to go home to.
It doesn’t always work out, I know sometimes people run and they don’t come back, but sometimes they do.
And sometimes they don’t run too far or too long. I’m lucky that there is always someone to return to, and that they care enough to support and offer help when I need it.
In Beneath the Old Oak Meg’s mother goes missing due to mental health issues. Meg and her father go through the process of reporting a missing person and the stress, strain and heartbreak that goes with it. The important thing is, no matter what happens to Meg’s mother, her family remain hopeful.
I cannot imagine the heartbreak of having someone you love go missing. If you run, please consider letting your family know you’re okay. The police have a duty of care and will be able to pass on a message and allow you to stay missing if that’s what you want. If you want to return home, again the police and charities they work with can help facilitate and get you home again.
116 000 is the number to call or text for a free and confidential 24 hour service from missingpeople.org.uk or contact your local police station. These links can help to report a missing person: missingpeople.org.uk and gov.uk.
Try not to run, but if you do, always remember those you can trust,
those who love you, those who need you.
Thank goodness for those you can come back to.
‘Turn those dreams of escape into hope…’
Meg thinks her mother is broken. Is she broken too? Meg’s life spirals out of control, and when she mirrors her Mum’s erratic behaviour, she’s terrified she’ll inherit her mother’s sins. Seeking refuge and escape, she finds solace beneath a huge, old oak. A storm descends, and Meg needs to survive devastating losses.