I want to talk about Olga Freeman, I’m not sure if some of you will have already heard about Olga as she has been in the papers over the months, after she committed an atrocious act and murdered her autistic son after her support was taken away during the pandemic. I do not want to discuss the murder, but I want to discuss her mental health during this pandemic and not just hers but all of ours.
I cannot understand how anyone can do something so heinous, but I can understand the feelings she may have had during this pandemic and I think any parent of a child with special needs can too, in fact any parent at all…
That overwhelming sense of slowly drowning; of not knowing how you could possibly keep your head above water but in many parents’ cases we know we must, so most of us learn how to swim no matter the waters.
Lockdown has been hard for many parents, but I speak from experience when I say that it has been exceptionally hard for those with special needs kids, support was completely stripped, nurseries and schools were closed, activities and respite were stopped, appointments postponed so many times they became a mere memory and people were restricted from seeing loved ones who act as a huge support network.
I am incredibly lucky that when I became a single parent back in October, the support came in strong from unexpected places. I was suddenly in need of a support bubble and it came in the shape of my neighbours who have massively stepped up for me in a way most would not have. It came in phone calls from friends just checking to see if we needed anything and were ok. It came in doorstep drop offs from family members.
Olga did not have that, what she did have were doctors agreeing that she needed more support but the local authority failing to provide it… She knew she was struggling and actively sought help in the month prior to killing her son. I speak for many parents now when I say that local authorities are notoriously slow at providing support, if any…
Olga suffered a severe mental breakdown which led her to take the life of her son. I suppose my point of this post is to implore you all to check on your neighbours, friends and family who may be struggling but hiding it well. I’m not saying that everyone is capable of such a horrendous act, but everyone is capable of reaching breaking point.