Nursing graduate, 36, died of overdose during heavy drinking session after battle with depression

A NURSING graduate died of an overdose during a heavy drinking session after a battle with depression, an inquest heard.

Heidi Sharples, 36, would drink up to three bottles of wine in a single sitting to mask her bouts of ''manic'' anxiety.


Heidi tried to hide her problems from friends and family and even carried out her own medical research into why she drank heavily.

She was also offered medication, acupuncture and mindfulness counselling.

But in August last year, after a relationship break up, Heidi was found dead in her bedroom at home in Chester by her sister Amy after sending a message to their mother saying: ''You can come and pick up my body.''

She had taken an overdose of prescription pills with alcohol.

The Warrington hearing was told Heidi, who attended Manchester University, had a happy childhood but began to suffer bouts of depression after she moved to London.

Her mother Amanda said: ''She was always the star and had so many friends. Everybody loved Heidi, except for herself.

''When she moved to London, there was a dramatic change although we do not know what caused it. There were a hundred things that I thought it could be but it seems she did not really have anywhere to go. It was horrible.

"In between her bouts of depression, Heidi was a picture of health and seemed perfectly normal. But every so often, she started becoming a bit manic.

"That might last a day then she’d fall into despair and the only way she could block it out was to drink alcohol. It might last several days.

”When she knew that feeling was coming, alcohol was her medicine.”

She added: ''Heidi is a consummate actress and can make people believe what they wanted to believe – not in a nasty way – just as if to say: 'I’m fine.'

''She didn’t want any mental health problems but sometimes she did talk about not being here anymore and not wanting to be here anymore and often said it to get a reaction. She would say, “You will be sorry when you are at standing at my funeral.”

''Heidi was going through the same loop, over and over and I didn’t think there was any way of breaking this cycle.

''The last time we had contact with Heidi was when she was moving out of her house to come to us. The day before she died there was lots of contact on the WhatsApp messages.

''Heidi did her very best to hide what she was going through and never opened up about her times of torment. She would come out of the episode and be better. We thought, 'Great, she has turned a corner. It’s not going to happen again.'

''But it was always did. We always had hope. She probably did as well. Then it came again. She wasn’t for this world, really. She was just too vulnerable. We couldn’t help her, but we tried.”

LIFE CUT SHORT

Heidi's father Alec, 63, said: ''Heidi would go to see the people who she knew would help her only when she was 100 per cent. Often, they couldn’t believe there was anything wrong with her.''

Rachel Axon, of New Beginnings alcohol treatment centre, told the inquest: ''Heidi said she was not a regular drinker, but she would binge with alcohol, two to three bottles of wine, once per month or less."

Heidi's GP Dr Nina Battersby said: ''I found her an intelligent, insightful and self-reflective lady and she needed her story to be told.

"She would have numerous episodes of binge drinking. She described it to me as 'ridiculous' and said she hated herself.

''She had this pattern of binge drinking, and then she’d be off for six weeks or so. She was remorseful about it but certainly had no suicidal tendencies.

''She was drinking a lot more than previously, and she wanted to stop. She was drinking as a coping mechanism and she felt she was under a lot of stress.

"She said she had absolutely no wish to die. But when she was drinking, she wasn’t herself.

Tests showed Heidi had 230 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in her system.

Recording a conclusion of suicide, coroner Alan Moore said: ''Heidi’s GP described her as intelligent, insightful and self-reflective. She made it clear Heidi was not an alcoholic and not alcohol dependent, but had a problem with alcohol for sure in as much as she would binge drink and used alcohol to medicate in episodes of anxiety and depression.

“According to Heidi’s parents, she behaved perfectly normally in between bouts of depression. Heidi would be manic for a few days and then fell into a period of despair. She used alcohol to block it out.

“Heidi’s parents said she could make people believe what they wanted to believe and not everybody would be very clear what Heidi was feeling and what was going on in her mind.

"Heidi also left a note that I have also seen and read but I have deliberately not read it out in court. However it’s clear from that note she had indicated intent to end her life.''

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can call The Samaritans for free any time, even on a mobile without credit, on 116123.

EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost – to suicide.

It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.

It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes. And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.

Yet, it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.

That is why The Sun has launched the You're Not Alone campaign. To remind anyone facing a tough time, grappling with mental illness or feeling like there's nowhere left to turn, that there is hope.

The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.

Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others. You're Not Alone.

If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:

  • CALM, www.thecalmzone.net, 0800 585 858
  • Heads Together, www.headstogether.org.uk
  • Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
  • Papyrus, www.papyrus-uk.org, 0800 068 41 41
  • Samaritans, www.samaritans.org, 116 123


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