Over the past few weeks the BBC have been in and out of OTR filming young people for various bits and pieces for Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day.
Today, the first of that footage airs – you can catch Madlen, who is a young volunteer with Mentality (and previously came to OTR for counselling), talking about her experiences on BBC Points West.
Madlen’s words can also be heard on BBC Radio Bristol throughout the day.
Here’s what she had to say:
I feel like, when anxiety and depression are at their worst, it can be really scary. I lost so much confidence, I didn’t feel like myself at all, I felt dizzy a lot of the time and I wasn’t really eating anything. I didn’t feel like I could go outside because I just constantly felt like I was going to pass out. In my second year at Sixth Form, I suddenly became very anxious a lot of the time and I wasn’t really sure why. I was diagnosed with health anxiety – I was really worried about my body and worried about being ill and having things wrong with me – and I spent a lot of time feeling like I was dying. I was really scared.
I used to end up in A&E quite a lot, seeing doctors all the time, not really knowing what was going on, really confused. I didn’t really know anything about mental health; I didn’t make that link, I didn’t know that I was struggling with my mental health, I just thought there were a million other things wrong with me and it wasn’t until later on when I had seen professionals that I worked out that’s what it was.
When I was feeling suicidal, feeling like I didn’t want to be alive any more, it was really scary and I would never have expected anxiety or depression to feel that way.
I first went to Off the Record just after Christmas in my first year, when things were starting to get difficult again and I was nervous about becoming really ill and going back into a really dark place. I’ve had CBT with them, I’ve also accessed their counselling service. It gave me an opportunity to talk about myself, which I don’t get a lot of the time – it sounds a bit narcissistic, but it was just nice to be listened to by somebody. I feel like the staff were all really kind – they make you feel really listened to and valued.
The Mentality Project is a social action project and mental health awareness campaign, completely run by young people who have struggled with their mental health, or know someone who has. It’s an opportunity for them to be listened to and voice their concerns about the services they’re using. You get to work with some really great people and you get to feel like you have a voice – I think that’s the most important thing.
The support networks that The Mentality Project and OTR provide have been crucial in me feeling like I can be myself again.
My mental health is probably something that I will always struggle with, but having those support networks – I feel like it’s something that I can control and push forward with – something I can live with in the background, as opposed to having it completely take over my life like it did before.
We’d like to say a big thank you to Madlen for taking the time to give this interview!
Another Mentality volunteer, Catherine, has given an interview to Top of the Pops Magazine, talking about her experiences working through OCD and how we have helped. She did an amazing job and we can’t wait to read the article which prints at the end of Feb!
Finally, Vince (again, a member of Mentality) spoke to the Comic Relief folks and his words will be used in corporate packages, which means big companies like BT will signpost to Vince’s story to encourage fundraising.
All in all, we’ve done a great job getting mental health on the agenda for this Comic Relief – and want to say a big thanks to Madlen, Catherine and Vince!