My name is Stephanie Staunton and I work as a Celebrity Manicurist – a job that I love and have worked hard to achieve. I also live with bipolar affective disorder. On 2 April 2017 I will be attempting a world record to paint 6,078 people’s nails in eight hours.
In other words, that’s one shape and polish for every person who took their own life in the UK and Republic of Ireland in 2015. I won’t be doing it alone though – 350 manicurists have volunteered their time.
We also have some of the biggest companies in the industry sponsoring us, so the beauty industry is very much united in helping us to achieve this record. We’re also hoping to raise £30,000 to share between Mind, Samaritans and our own charity, Nailing Mental Health.
I know a lot of people who have benefitted from the work that Mind does, including myself. On 11 August 2016 I attempted to take my own life. It wasn’t a cry for help, and it was a decision I didn’t take lightly.
It was the biggest and scariest decision of my life. The doctors said that it was a miracle I survived. I say 'survived' loosely as that word suggests you fight with all your might and want to stay alive, but if you've attempted to end your life it's the last thing you want.
Every day I cry and think “why did I start this?”
A few weeks passed and I honestly remember very little of that time. In the end I had to take 12 weeks off work to recover, so I had a lot of time to think. The idea to organise a world record came to me nine weeks after I tried to take my own life, during a manic episode.The idea seemed huge, unachievable and glamourous. Except now I’ve put the idea in motion.
Every day I cry and think “why did I start this?” but I remind myself it’s nothing compared to the stress I felt that horrible day. I just hope the event helps people from ever getting to the stage I was at.
It’s stressful organising an event involving nearly 6,500 people, but we’ve received best wishes from the Prime Minister, The Mayor of London and Mind’s President Stephen Fry, which helps!
We’ve also managed to raise sponsorship funding to cover the cost of setting up the event – it took us five months to raise over £10,000. We’re hoping to get lots of press coverage and have a few famous faces join us too.
I’m so hopeful that we can break down the prejudice around mental health
We have two more events in the pipeline, a masquerade ball on 10 June and a fitness challenge on 11 August, which takes place a year after I tried to take my own life. I’ll have to see if I'm still functioning after this beast of a task, but keep an eye out for Nailing Mental Health as you'll be hearing more from us! I’m so hopeful that we can break down the prejudice around mental health.
On a personal level, I want to be able to talk openly about mental health without any anxiety setting in. You wouldn't feel ashamed of having a heart attack, so we shouldn’t allow our upbringings or mental health make us feel ashamed. I’m already getting messages from people thanking me for my honesty and openness. The event is a way for people to heal, feel and learn.