A Gloucester man trapped by grief for three years was unaware that he was living under a dark cloud of depression most of the time. He was deeply affected by the death of his grandparents, which gave him “dark thoughts” as he tried to process what had happened to those he loved dearly.
Lyle Weir, 24, describes how his mental health deteriorated when he lost his grandfather Adrian Kibble when he was just 64. Mr Kibble had been battling cancer and was in the operating room to have a tumor removed but due to complications during the procedure he died during the operation.
Lyle had been trapped in his thoughts of sadness for three years as he felt he was a man to be shown. Especially when there were others around who had such a hard time getting lost.
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Lyle said: “My mental health was at its worst when my grandfather died six years ago. My mother and sister were very upset and instead of expressing myself, I withdrew and didn’t speak to anyone.
“Our grandma and grandpa were like our second set of parents. We would go there during the week and stay with them at the weekend.
“When my grandfather died, I was in a really dark place and I had dark thoughts. I wanted to be able to see my grandpa again.
“My grandma passed away two years ago and we all took care of her for a while. When she was gone, it was really hard for everyone, especially my mother.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone about how I feel because I don’t think it’s something men do. It was only during lockdown that I had time to reflect and started opening up to my partner about how I felt.”
Being able to talk to your partner made a huge difference in how Lyle felt. It got him thinking about the future and he realized that he was no longer grieving but had been battling depression.
He said: “My grandfather took me to my very first air show. He was a truck driver for a living, but he loved planes.
“When I was with him, I thought this would be my dream job. Thinking about it during lockdown when I wasn’t able to work as a personal trainer, I just realized it wasn’t what my grandparents would have wanted.”
Lyle added: “I’ve always been, I’m fine if anyone asks. I felt like I didn’t need anyone.”
No Lyle wants to do something to raise awareness about mental health and help young people fight it.
“I wanted to do something with my life and make my grandpa proud of me. So two years ago I received and submitted the application to become a pilot.
“This could help change my life. I’m in the Fast Track program, which lasts two and a half years.
“I have one month left and will be a fully qualified commercial pilot. Now I’ll be putting mental health on the map by flying across the UK and Channel Islands to around 20 destinations in five days.
“Every place I land we will tag with information on social media on a different mental health topic on TikTok and Instagram.
“I do this with the mental health charity The Mix, which helps people under the age of 25. What I really hope is that it creates a community and conversation between others who are struggling themselves.
“People tend to think no one else knows what they’re going through, but they do. There are professionals out there who know and understand.
“I didn’t get any help and I struggled with mental health and depression for a really long time until I decided to change this life.
“I realize I haven’t grieved for three years. For a while yes, I mourned the loss but I was depressed.”
Lyle was supported in becoming a pilot by people close to him. They helped him plan his trip later this year.
Lyle said: “My partner Simone Huntley is joining me on the journey to document what I’m doing, recording videos and sharing mental health information along the journey and I want to thank her for getting me to speak out.
“I would also like to thank Matt Johnstone, a Pilot Captain for Virgin who, despite his busy schedule, took the time to help me map out the points I will be traveling to on the voyage.
“We will be posting regularly on the journey and would love for people to follow us and join the discussion, follow us and donate to the charity The Mix.”
The Mix offers support via a hotline or social media. Lyle’s journey will help provide this life-saving service.
Michael Thelwall, Head of Fundraising at The Mix, said: “We are delighted that Lyle is taking to the skies to raise money for vital mental health services for young people. By raising funds for the UK’s leading digital support service for under 25s, Lyle’s Charity Flight will help support our lifesaving services so The Mix is always there for young people when they need us most – via our website, by phone or on social media.”