A mother of a 28-year-old man who is officially missing for ten months has described her devastation on hearing of his disappearance and how she copes with the heartbreak of not knowing where he is after almost a year.
Cian Langelaan was last seen in the Horn Head area of Dunfanaghy on September 27, 2020. He was dropped off in the area by a taxi driver. Despite air, land and sea searches, no further trace of the young man has been found.
Cian was well-known in his native home of Falcarragh and people rallied to help his mother Anthea who had arrived in the area to search for her son during the pandemic.
Born in Letterkenny General Hospital on December 5, 1992, Cian spent his entire school life in Falcarragh.
He made many good friends and on finishing his Leaving Certificate was offered science places at Bath Spa University and Swansea University. However, Cian had developed a great interest in playing the guitar and decided that he would prefer to study music. He learnt to play the guitar himself with help from the internet and the determined young man was subsequently accepted on a popular music course in Bath College.
His mother Anthea was delighted that he should have the chance to follow his dream and knew that he had the opportunity to return to university and study another course at a later date if he wished.
She recalls her son as being “a regular lad, quiet and gentle, enjoying time with his friends gaming, playing board games, watching films, listening to music, playing the guitar, walking the dog, camping, skateboarding and generally enjoying life. No different from any young lad his age with the exception of being rather shy, except amongst his friends, and not particularly a fan of football or other sports.”
She recalled his manner as he assisted her when she did some respite care with a young boy with autism. “He had a great deal of patience,” she said.
After studying at Bath College he went to Tanzania for 3 months with Restless Development, a U.K. organisation offering voluntary work to young people.
It was after this experience that Cian became disillusioned with life, he became depressed and angry about injustices in the world. Despite the fact that those who loved him could see that depression had set in, Cian did not want medical help.
Anthea recalls that Cian was determined to use self-help methods to deal with his depression and anxiety through yoga, meditation, spiritual retreats and so forth.
His efforts were not successful and he eventually found himself in hospital as a voluntary patient.
In a written account to this newspaper, Anthea outlines the importance of speaking about mental health - about being open about the difficulties that mental health presents.
She wrote: “This is the first time I have written a public account of my son Cian. I did not feel it was right to talk openly about his difficulties as that is his business and not mine to discuss. However, I now believe it is time to be more open.
“This may help other parents to come to terms with their situation and it may help other young people like my son to understand that it is so important to seek help for mental health problems, such as, anxiety and depression. We wouldn't hesitate to get a cast put on a broken leg or seek treatment for cancer and it should not be any different for mental health problems. If the following article can help just one person to seek help and avoid homelessness then it will be worth it and hopefully one day my son will forgive me for telling my version of his story.”
Like many people who enter the system with mental health problems - Cian could discharge himself.
Anthea recalls: “He was free to discharge himself and as he believed that he did not have a problem, in his opinion it was society which was ‘sick’, he never really got the help he needed.”
Over 10 months
On July 27, Cian was officially a missing person for 10 months. There was media coverage at the time he disappeared, extensive searches by land, sea and air, posters distributed to shops and businesses and hospitals and an appeal on RTÉ Crime Call.
“As his mother, when I first heard the news of his disappearance I was devastated but not surprised. I felt it was only a matter of time. Cian had gone missing once before, just for a few weeks, and I felt his mental health needs were not met at that time so I held little faith that he would get the help he needed.
“I have felt quite helpless in dealing with my son who is so loved. I was well aware that Cian was unwell but could do nothing to help him as he was an adult. My lifeline was a support group which held monthly meetings in Letterkenny Hospital where I could share my grief, disappointment with mental health services, and frustrations with other parents of adult children with mental health problems,” she said.
In recent times, the story of a young man of Irish descent - Nial from Yorkshire, who was found in Sweden - raised the spirits of those who were searching for their missing loved ones.
However Nial has, once again, gone missing despite the fact that his family wanted authorities to work together to bring him home to England.
According to Yorkshirelive: “Since he was released by medical authorities there have been reports of Nial "wandering around" and appearing "confused".
It is stories like this that both instill hope in those who are seeking their loved ones and deflate them when they feel that the correct steps have not been taken to care for a loved one whom they feel is not capable of looking after themselves.
Anthea followed the story and was acutely aware of the pain that the Yorkshire family endured as they hoped that Nial could be brought back.
“The reality remains that he is no longer 'found,' he has not been reunited with his family and he is still very ill with no help on the horizon. If Cian were found tomorrow, unless he has received the help he has needed for several years, then it will not be a joyous reunion . . . just a return to the turmoil, heartbreak, fear and emotional roller coaster of not being able to help my beloved son,” she said.
Like many mothers, Anthea’s only wants what is best for her son and that is that he is safe: “I am sure there must be many many more Nials and Cians who are not accessing the help they need because they are in denial that they have a problem. Of course we need to protect vulnerable people from having their liberty taken away for no good reason. I just would have appreciated my son being kept safe, treated for his illness, and given at least a chance of becoming well before being discharged to homelessness.
“I am heartbroken that I have lost my son. I have no idea if he is dead or alive, the last time I saw him he was so ill he was like a stranger to me ... the last time I spoke to him on the phone he could hardly string a sentence together. Now, he is physically lost for the past 10 months as well as emotionally.”
Anthea received tremendous support from the Missing People Charities both in Ireland and in the U.K. She has also come to accept that there is nothing she can do to remedy the situation.
“Someone who, like myself, has or has had a missing loved one is always available to talk and support me when I’m feeling low. I have my good days and bad but it never goes away. It’s the ‘not knowing’ what has happened to Cian that is so heart wrenching.
“So, please, please, keep looking at his photos ... keep your eyes peeled for any sightings of him and help renew my faith that one day we will bring him home and that he will get the help he needs and deserves to live a normal, happy life.
“ Thank you to all the followers on the Facebook page "Find Cian" ... you have given me the strength to carry on hoping.”
You can join the Facebook page Find Cian by asking to join on the page.
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