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The Moment: Sarina Macklin

Ginger Gorman

Trigger warning: This story contains discussion of suicide and self harm. If you or someone close to you needs support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Like many of us, Sarina Macklin, 46, is not how she appears. She’s got a big, open smile and laughs easily.

Sarina has travelled the world and was once married to a British spy. She has a photographic memory and openly describes herself as a “high achiever.”

We sit in her quiet and pleasant-smelling home office, (Sarina later tells me she’s burning lavender oil because it’s “great for calming the nervous system and mind”). This is a comfortable space, filled with books and furnished in tasteful, cool colours.

Now and then Sarina’s gorgeous blond-haired little girls – Aria, six and Allegra, five – pop in, as does her husband, Ben. He wants to know if we’d like a coffee from the local shops. Sarina affectionately describes Ben as both a “philosopher” and “public servant by day.”

This upbeat window into the Macklin family’s life is a far cry from where Sarina was just three years ago. On the day I first meet Sarina, it’s at a morning tea for PANDSI – Canberra’s perinatal depression and anxiety support service. She tells a story that plays on my mind long after we part ways.

Hear about the moment that changed her life here, or keep reading for more.

In 2013, Sarina’s postnatal depression became so deep that she planned to suicide. Looking back at that time, she describes feeling “constant anger.”

“My whole personality actually changed…if you could have described me previously as charismatic, I went to being totally uncharismatic.

“The way I felt at the time was that my soul had actually gone, there was nothing of me that was left.

“I actually started thinking about suicide as a way out,” Sarina explains.

“I’d even decided the date, I decided the methodologies, not just one, but two…because I had a backup plan,” she continues.

Explaining how she came to this crisis point, Sarina says that she was unprepared for how much life would change as when she became a mother.

“My identity was just shattered,” she says.

“I totally underestimated the depth of that shock and the depth of that hopelessness, the lack of control,” Sarina confesses, adding that she also feared: “I would never be successful again.”

Somehow, Sarina managed to hide the depth of her despair from her husband.

As luck would have it, fate intervened. Late one evening in December 2013, Sarina was on the phone to an astute friend who intuitively picked up that something was very wrong. This conversation saved Sarina’s life.

“I seem to recall that there was a momentary pause that was brief enough for her to then understand that, yep, I was actually planning something and within 20 minutes she was on my doorstep.

“My husband was totally overwhelmed by the surprise and also totally overwhelmed with the reason why my friend was there,” Sarina says.

Today Sarina is mentally healthy but getting there took a long time – and a big dose of determination.

“My healing journey has taken me a good two years…restoring myself, not just in my physical body, my mind too.

“What I would say to people is that you do have the choice, you do have the power and you do have the control, and it comes down to you.

“I want other women to know that no one is alone. There is hope, help and support, irrespective of how dire the situation may appear,” Sarina says.

She says that only once she completely accepted what was wrong, that’s when the recovery journey could really begin.

“I wanted the person back that I was [before],” Sarina says.

She that since 2013, her view of motherhood has transformed.

“I also find strength, beauty and hope every time I look into the eyes of my beautiful girls,” Sarina says.

SUBSCRIBE FOR MORE STORIES OF AMAZING CANBERRA WOMEN

You can subscribe to The Moment, our new fortnightly podcast here or on iTunes.

Know someone with an uplifting story of a moment that changed their life? Nominate them by emailing [email protected]

In your email, don’t forget to tell us:

  • The person’s name, phone number and email address
  • Briefly explain why you are nominating them (no need to write War and Peace – a few sentences will be great)
  • Your own contact details
  • Oh, and make sure you check with the person first!

If you or someone close to you needs support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or www.lifeline.org.au, PANDSI (Canberra only) on 02 6288 1936 www.pandsi.org, orPANDA’s national helpline on 1300 726 366 www.panda.org.au.

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Ginger Gorman

Ginger Gorman is a fearless and multi award-winning social justice journalist. She has an innate ability to connect and communicate with some of the most interesting and marginalised people in our community. Ginger works hard to translate those untold stories into powerful and insightful journalism. She regularly writes stories, makes radio and TV for media outlets such as: news.com.au, Fairfax online, The Guardian, The Big Smoke, HerCanberra and the ABC. You can follow Ginger on Twitter @GingerGorman.

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