Why I fundraise for Mind
Abby, from Llantrisant, explains why she decided to undertake a 22 mile challenge to join the fight for mental health.
Content warning: this blog mentions suicide.
I’ve suffered with mental health issues since my late teenage years, as I struggled with depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder. Following several years of bullying, I lacked self-esteem, worried about my appearance and weight, worried about dealing with daily activities and at times felt completely worthless.
"My anxiety trapped me from any social life and my depression made life dark, gloomy, and lonely."
Whilst I started working full-time in the NHS at 18, I can recognise those mental health issues and struggles continued. I was lonely, depressed and struggled to find the confidence to take part in many activities.
This continued for several years, and although I moved up in my career, I had little life outside of work, my anxiety trapped me from any social life and my depression made life dark, gloomy, and lonely. I would make excuses to avoid social outings as my anxiety made me worry, panic, and feel uncomfortable in social settings, but the depression made me feel sad and lonely, and it was a constant battle between anxiety and depression.
Throughout my twenties I battled alone with depression and anxiety, I didn’t know how to ask for help or explain how I felt. I didn’t feel anyone would understand how I was feeling and felt like I was worthless and a burden to my family and few friends.
In 2015, I turned 30 and after a couple of long, hard, challenging years in a very stressful job, life seemed pointless. My depression had spiralled out of control, and I was struggling to deal with everyday life. I visited my GP, who prescribed antidepressants, but little other support was offered, work was stressful, relentless, and overwhelming, my life felt dark, lonely, and hopeless. In late 2015, I reached rock bottom and tried to take my own life.
I spent a couple of awful days in the medical assessment unit in hospital, but little mental health support was offered, and I was made to feel like a nuisance. After I received medical treatment for the ‘physical’ problem, I was sent home with my parents, without any psychiatric assessment, support, medication, follow up or further checks. My family were in shock and didn’t know how to deal with the situation. I was physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, numb, and broken.
"It’s through charities like Mind that my family and I, and so many others like us are able to receive the help and support which we need through difficult times."
Unfortunately, the NHS is so overstretched, the help and support which people need isn’t always available. Sadly, my experience isn’t a one off, many more mental health patients experience the same, as the NHS simply isn’t resourced to deal with the number of people struggling with such issues. This is where charities like Mind can step in, as they can often provide access to much needed help, support, and resources when the NHS is unable to.
It’s through charities like Mind that my family and I, and so many others like us are able to receive the help and support which we need through difficult times.
Mind work hard to provide advice, and support to people experiencing mental health problems, they also campaign to improve services, raise awareness, and promote understanding.
I’m fortunate I’m still here to tell my story, as I’ve received support and help, and continue to manage my illness on a daily basis, however, thousands of people are sadly no longer here, and their families and friends are left behind to deal with the grief and distress which suicide leaves. Sharing our experiences, offering support to others, and helping raise vital funds for charities like Mind is really important to me and is what keeps me determined to fight on.
In previous years I have taken part in running events to raise money for charity, but this year, we wanted to do an inclusive event within work to show our support for Mind. We decided to walk 22 miles in 2022 for Mind, leaving our office in Nantgarw, taking the Taff Trail to Cardiff Bay and returning. We had a mix of teams, friends, and abilities from across the organisation taking part. I organised a digital map with key points to look for, three team leaders and goody bags with medals for all participants at the end.
The event was brilliant, everyone did really well, we encouraged and supported each other through every step of those 22 miles, and we also had a laugh and some fun along the way. We also had some friends, family members and other colleagues come along to support us at various point of the walk, which was a great motivation. I’m so proud of everyone who took part, and even prouder of the amazing £2304 raised by us all!
Abby is 37 years young, living near Llantrisant, South Wales with her gorgeous 3 year old cavapoo Chester. Abby and Chester love walking and running in the countryside, cosy pubs and snuggling up on the sofa with a funny film or sitcom.
Share your story with others
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.