Until recently I felt blessed to be involved in a charity like Mind, and lucky to be taking on their Iceland Lava Trek in the summer. Then I began to question why I felt so lucky, as the journey that has brought me here is not something I would wish on my worst enemy.
My name is Sarah, I’m 37 and from Newcastle. I lead an exciting life, but for most of it I have also lived with anxiety, depression and times of bulimia and self-harm. In my late teens the stigma surrounding mental illness was much worse. The media’s coverage of Frank Bruno’s sectioning under the mental health act terrified me and my life was doctor’s appointments, medication and moments when I almost lost my battle. I swore if I ever met anyone in life who was like me, I would do everything I could to stop them feeling how I did.
That person was my best friend Jade. One night she confided in me about her recent trip to the GP and how her mood that was becoming increasingly lower. We chatted for hours and I felt relieved that I had the experiences I had had as a teenager, because I could use them to support her and make her feel less alone.
Jade lost her battle almost 2 years ago and only two months later my friend Dave took his own life.
The shock triggered my own mental health problems and I didn’t know what to do.
"I felt like I had used up all my friends resources for cuddles and late night phone calls."
How could I go back to them for more and worry them? How could they see me continue to fall apart?
I decided to do a skydive for Mind as I thought it would make me feel closer to Jade, and that kept me going. My skydiving experience taught me to open up about my experiences of mental health.
Since, I have been amazed by how many work colleagues, friends, family and just people I met in the pub have also struggled or lost loved ones to mental health.
"I wanted to do more to raise awareness of mental health, to get more people talking and help fight the taboo."
So in the summer I will be trekking 58km across lava fields, mountains and by volcanoes in the Mind Iceland Lava trek. I held a gig to raise awareness and as much money as I could for Mind a couple of weeks ago. After, when I was counting the donations, Jade’s song came on the radio. It took me right back to happy times playing when we would listen to our favourite music together. She played Green Day and I played Foo Fighters and Kate Bush ‘Running Up That Hill’. I thought of how she made me laugh telling me that CHING CHING – was Spanish for cheers, the story about Wales being abroad and chats about how we thought the Toon would get on in their next game.
When I take my last few steps of the Iceland Trek in July I hope I will be thinking about the new amazing friends I have met and I will definitely be wondering what I will do next. Jade, I know you will be laughing at my blisters, but I hope you are proud. This is still OUR story and whatever happens on that finish line it really will be just me and you. My family and I always say “the ones left behind we do not know if we will ever have the answers but we can continue to have our stories “
Take on an active challenge for Mind
When you’re living with a mental health problem, or supporting someone who is, having access to the right information - about a condition, treatment options, or practical issues - is vital. Visit our information pages to find out more.
Blogs and stories can show that people with mental health problems are cared about, understood and listened to. We can use it to challenge the status quo and change attitudes.