FIVE MINUTES WITH: Helen Garlick - lifting the lid on family secrets
A Doncaster woman has put pen to paper to produce her memoir.
No Place To Lie by Helen Garlick lifts the lid on her family secrets – one of which was taken to the grave by her mother - in the hope that it encourages others to talk when they need help or support.
Helen, aged 62, grew up in Doncaster and the town is a key player in the book - her late father ran a firm of solicitors called GC Garlick & Co in Waterdale.
Helen was a renowned divorce lawyer, she wrote six issues of the Which Guide to Divorce, and she gave up her job in law to write this book.The book is a brutally honest memoir about the secrets that shrouded her family – namely her brother David’s suicide in 1981 and the true nature of her mother Monica’s sexuality.
From it she hopes that it would save at least one other person from doing what her brother did when he was only a young man.
She said: “I don’t want this to be a misery memoir. I want to introduce an element of fun too.”
Helen explains she has specialised in talking solutions throughout her career as a lawyer and ironically, this was something that was not encouraged in her own family.
When her brother David shot himself in February 1981, her father Geoffrey fought to have the verdict of ‘suicide’ overturned.
She said: “For the rest of his life, he liked to believe that an intruder had killed his son or that there had been an accident.
"The word suicide was taboo.”
Then, when Helen’s mother Monica died in December 2017, she found some scribblings on the back of an old envelope about her having been ‘afflicted’ (which was her choice of word).
Married for 59 years and a doting grandmother, nobody would have suspected that in reality, she was hiding that she was a lesbian, too afraid to admit the truth about her sexuality.
Helen later discovered that a long time family friend had been her mother’s lover.
“My focus was on meeting my promise to tell the story of my brother’s 20 years of life and how it ended,” said Helen.
"They say it takes you the rest of your life to figure out what happened in the first 20 years and then, because my mother made a confession on the back of an envelope that I read after her death, I had to write about that too.”
Helen left her job in law to write the memoir, which she knew could only be penned in the aftermath of her parents’ deaths.
She now lives in Sussex with her husband Tim and in 2023 she plans to walk from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for charities dedicated to suicide prevention and wellbeing.
No Place To Lie, published by Whitefox, is available to order for £9.99 from book stores including:
The audio version will be available on Audible.
Here is a brief synopsis of the book, which hit the shelves on February 4, which was also rather aptly #timetotalk day.
On St David's Day 1981, Helen receives a phone call out of the blue in St Louis from her distraught father in Yorkshire, leading her to a heart-searing path of discovery.
Her brother David's shocking death at only twenty years old in a remote country mansion triggers a lifelong quest to unravel truths long shrouded in secrets, buried in silence.
Vividly evocative, Helen's debut memoir No Place to Lie takes the reader on an extraordinary journey through suicide, trauma and shame to shine a light on what really happened to her younger brother and the startling secret her mother took to her grave.
Helen's courageous and uplifting book brings powerful messages about hope and survival, the healing power of talking, stepping towards recovery and connection to lead a life filled with humour, joy and love.
For more about Helen visit her recently launched YouTube channel – Hello! It’s Better To Talk.
Anyone suffering with their mental health should reach out and access the wide range of support that is a vailable .
Whatever you're going through, a Samaritan will face it with you.The charitable organisation is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to everyone who may need it . Call 116 123 for free; or contact charity MIND which provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Telephone 00 123 3393 to access MIND support.