Clare

Writer of “I Lost Control Of Myself Like This” & Praxis Care volunteer

Clare Sherrard was born in 1978 in County Armagh in Northern Ireland. She had a fairly normal childhood until one day her eldest sister suffered a severe injury whilst riding a horse.

This tragedy cast a long shadow over both Clare’s life and indeed her whole family’s life. At home, things began to unravel with marital infidelity, alcoholism, financial penury and domestic violence.

The teenage Clare turned to self injury and survived a serious suicide attempt in 1994 when she was 15 – she was later diagnosed with having Borderline Personality Disorder.

Clare had always been extraordinarily bright and threw herself into her studies as a coping mechanism. Overcoming a bout of severe anorexia in 1996, Clare went on to gain four top A Level scores and a place at the University of St Andrews to study International Relations. She went onto further academic success with an M.Phil. in Ethnic and Racial Studies in Trinity College Dublin.

It was during her period at both universities that she became addicted to marijuana and this led to terrifying bouts of drug induced psychosis. After fleeing the drug culture in Dublin, she came back North but remained plagued by psychosis. She also struggled with alcoholism. Clare was hospitalized 3 times between 2005-2010 and she was eventually diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.

However, she has not let these challenges weigh her down. Clare is a voluntary jewellery making tutor for 3 charities and is pursuing a career in film journalism

At the heart of these abilities is the success Clare has had in taking Clozapine which is enabling her to find out what her vocation is and what her purpose in life is. What she can do to assist other mentally ill people is at the forefront of her mind and her mission.

Her first book “I Lost Control Of Myself Like This” is an insightful and funny account of her life experiences and journey with poor mental health, all proceeds from the sales are going to the charity Praxis Care.

Clare Sherrard says

I choose my mum’s maiden name “Sherrard” as my name because of the bond I have with my mum.

My father was a Managing Director of a company and I had three sisters, we lived in Portadown.  Growing up my father was not about much, he was always out daily with friends and he often had violent rows at home.

In 1988 my sister fell off her horse whilst horse riding and was paralysed.

The doctors told us she will have a very limited life.  This had a very bad effect on my father, following the accident he had affairs and was abusive

At the age of 13/14 I started to drink alcohol, home life was dark and finances were very badly handled by mum.

We were £250,000 in debt due to our father accumulating debts from an extravagant life style and his mistresses.

Mum had been an alcoholic too, her alcohol abuse became out of control, and mum and dad would fight leading to the police being called to the house.

Around this time I started to self harm and in 1994 I tried to overdose by taking 30 tablets, I was taken from school to hospital and was referred to a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist Service.

I was eventually diagnosed with Border Line Personality Disorder and other mental health problems.

I was ok when I was studying for my GCSE’s because I had a goal to achieve.  I achieved 9 GCSE’s: 5A*, 3As and 1B. .

I started to starve myself and developed Anorexia, I came down to 7 stone and eventually went down to 6 and half stone.  I was referred to hospital for 5-6 weeks, when I was discharged; I went to live with my father.  At this stage I had bulimia and alcohol problems.

Eventually I returned to normal eating habits and achieved 2As and 2Bs in my A-Levels. I was accepted into St Andrews in Scotland.  I continued my course although I was addicted to alcohol and cannabis. However I made a lot of friends at University and achieved 2:1 Honours in International Relations.  Even though I loved University, I suffered from depression and self-harm.

I went to Trinity College in Dublin to do an M.Phil. in Ethnic and Racial Studies, at this time I ended up in the drug scene in Dublin. This complicated my studies but I still passed my Thesis.

After University I came back to Portstewart and have had a succession of casual jobs and community teaching were my real passion lies.

By writing my book I want to write my story and “take the mickey out of my own mental health”.

I cope by laughing at myself.  I want to alert people to the benefit of the medication “Clozapine” and a variety of other drugs to encourage people suffering from poor mental health to go on them.

A large part of the cause of my poor metal health is due to my alcohol and cannabis intake when I was younger; it’s not necessarily genetically inherited.

I was impressed by Praxis Care because they support people with poor mental health and don’t ask for direct support and I feel donating the proceeds of this book to Praxis Care is my way of giving back.

It’s great to volunteer with Praxis Care and their client groups and I love to give something back to the local community, it is such a rewarding experience.

In the future I would like to become an established writer and also to be established as a film critic.

I also want to continue to support people with poor mental health and volunteer for Praxis Care.  I continue to make jewellery practise reflexology intermittently.

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