A 'CHAOTIC' collapse took Uttoxeter MP, Andrew Griffiths from his 'dream job' as a government minister to the verge of suicide. The MP, who spent a month in a psychiatric hospital after a sex-text scandal hit headlines across the country, said abuse in his childhood and fear of being an older parent had led to a decades-long mental health battle. In an explanation to constituents, Andrew outlined how treatment for mental health problems allowed him to confront the pain of his past and hoped constituents would allow him to “rebuild my life and return to the job I love.”
Revelations he had sent 2,000 texts to two female constituents over 21 days earlier this year, led to his resignation as Minister for Small Businesses.
Andrew was suspended from the Conservative party pending an investigation into his conduct, but remains MP for Burton and Uttoxeter.
In a statement this week, he said: “I feel I owe it to my constituents and all those people who have put their faith in me to explain the reason for such shocking actions.
“And while the the truth is that the texts were wrong and the result of my mental breakdown, my battle with my own mental health has been ongoing for decades.
“In treatment, I confided aloud for the first time in my life that as a child I was abused by an older boy of about 15 or 16 on a number of occasions.
“He would invite me to play in the garage of his home and abuse me.
“My prize for the first abuse was a used Liverpool FC Subbuteo football team – I was mad about the game and the older boy had two sets of the Liverpool team.
“Being born to older parents was significant.
“I remember vividly the moment the flames of anxiety that led to my breakdown were lit. It was the wedding of my niece. I stood in church, holding my new baby daughter as the bride walked towards us. I could not have been happier.
“And then it hit me. If my daughter was the same age as my niece when she married, I would be 79 when I walked her down the aisle.
“I was exactly the age my father was when I was born. The prospect of my daughter going through what I went through filled me with terror.
“Two days later my mind in turmoil, I sent the first text that led to my downfall. 21 days and 2,000 messages later and my fall was complete.
“A friend said to me, ‘who in their right mind sends 2,000 messages in three weeks?’ And of course they were right. I wasn’t in my right mind.
“The psychiatrist who assessed me writes that I had become ‘dysfunctional and mentally unstable prior to the onset of the crisis leading to the texting,’ adding, ‘the huge volume of the text messages over such a short period of time indicated the compulsive nature of his actions and this together with the fanciful nature of the text messages amply demonstrated his temporarily disturbed mental state.’
“For me, anxiety felt like my head was ablaze and nobody could see the flames.
“It happened at a time when I had everything I had ever wished for.
“Yet at the same time, my mind was at breaking point. In January I was appointed the Minister for Small Business, a job I had always wished for.
“I threw myself into it heart and soul. The hours and the pressure were relentless but I told everyone I thrived on it.
“I spent my eight years as an MP living in a hotel opposite Parliament when in London during the week. After the pressures of the day, I would return alone to a soulless room without natural light.
“The work, and the constant demands on my time actually helped – they distracted me from my anxiety and dimmed the flames. Yet once the work stopped, the flames would burst back into life.
“And that is where the texts came in – a sprinkler system; a coping mechanism of a virtual and imaginary world.
“My disturbed mind blocking out my worries and fears by filling every spare moment, releasing me from thinking. The more chaotic my collapse became, the more compulsive my messaging.
“As part of understanding my collapse, I have reread the texts I sent. They reduced me to tears.
“I am ashamed of those texts, but more ashamed that my wife had to read them. Many I do not even remember sending.
“Two things saved my life. The first, the thought of what suicide would do to my little daughter.
“The second, the Chief Whip, who contacted Parliament’s doctor and got me into hospital.
“My recovery has been tough.
“I hope that my constituents and the public will understand my collapse and the causes that contributed to it.
“Parliament’s doctor has confirmed that I am well enough to return to Parliament and to supporting my constituents.
“And my hope, above all else, is to be allowed to continue my work, and to make my wife and daughter proud of me again.”
The statement elicited a swift response from Paul Walker chair of Burton and Uttoxeter Labour party who said: “Labour in Burton and Uttoxeter will stand with and fight for all victims of abuse of any kind to ensure they get the help, support and above all the justice that they deserve.
“We will continuously fight for mental health services and want to see improvements to mental health.
“We will not be delving into the MP’s personal past that is not our place to do so.
“Politicians have a moral responsibility and are expected to set an example of how to behave.
“The MP for Burton has fallen well below those principles and it will be up to the electorate to ultimately decided on his future.”
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