Daughter's tribute to father who attempted suicide

Ellie and Brian Wilkie Image copyright Ellie Wilkie
Image caption Ellie Wilkie shared this image with her father along with their story

It's an innocent picture of a man and his daughter, but the emotional story behind it has been shared by thousands of people online.

Ellie Wilkie from Edinburgh posted the image on Twitter on Wednesday evening to praise her dad's struggle with mental illness.

By Thursday morning, her post had been retweeted by more than 8,000 people and liked by almost 60,000. The words resonated with so many the BBC asked her to share the story behind it.

Image copyright Brian Wilkie
Image caption Brian says: "My family have been my rock. It's not been easy. It's been a huge effort, but there is light at the end of the tunnel."

"This is my dad Brian Wilkie. He suffered bad depression after the passing of our eldest stepbrother, who died from suicide in June 2014. His name was Jordan.

"The space in my dad's head became dark. He no longer saw a point to life without Jordan.

"In January my dad attempted suicide in the family home. The effect was devastating, but luckily for us he survived.

"The pain from losing Jordan was still raw but we were strong and held it together as a family.

"The emotions towards my dad were mixed. I resented him for wanting to leave me and my three sisters behind, but at the same time I was devastated thinking about how low he must be.

"Life was hard, a struggle. We kept asking ourselves was he going to do it again? Weren't we good enough for him? I lost my dad that day.

"Since then he has been on the road to recovery. He's turned his life around. He goes to the gym, he's given up alcohol and gives his all to fighting back and helping others."

Image copyright Ellie Wilkie
Image caption Brian Wilkie says regular gym attendance helps improve his mental health

Ellie says "with specialist help and 100% determination" she and her sisters got their father back.

"Our brother was so young. He was only 22 when we lost him. For a close family this was hard, we blamed ourselves and were left picking up the pieces.

"My dad is now my hero. I've never met someone so focused to change his life and love it.

"I was so proud of him I wanted to tweet it. My post has reached thousands and that's brought me to tears.

Image copyright Ellie Wilkie
Image caption Jordan pictured with Brian and his stepmother in 2014

"I wanted to tell everyone who may also be suffering it's OK not to be OK, particularly because men are stereotypically supposed to be the strong ones.

"I wanted to share awareness and fight back against the 'just get over it' attitude, especially on my brother's behalf. Everyone has their dark days, but you are not alone.

"My dad has now been offered a job as a recovery support worker so he'll be helping people with addiction and mental health issues, something so fitting and touching to end the year on."

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Ellie's tweet has provoked a huge reaction from others sharing stories of courage.

One user said: "My year started unfortunately exactly the same as your's and we're still working through it with my dad. But I am so happy to hear this for you and your dad."

Another posted: "I'm currently going through the same with my mum. If you ever need to talk I'm here. "

And another tweet reads: "Amen sis! My dad battled through this five years ago, and now he's striving and being his best self."

The hashtag #breakthestigma, used in Ellie's post, has been used more than 7,000 times in a little more than a day.

'Break The Stigma' is a term used to raise awareness of mental health issues. It was used as a hashtag in a NHS backed scheme by mental health survivor Ben Salmons in 2015.

The campaign encouraged others struggling to cope with their mental health to share images on social media holding a white board headed "Let's be open about mental health to 'Break the Stigma'."

If you or someone you know has been affected by the issues in this story, there are resources and support on the BBC Action Line website.

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