Katie Thistleton’s Story

 

CBBC presenter Katie Thistleton  for Open Shutters by Lisa Marie Gee of Studio G Photography
Katie Thistleton

I’m a journalist and presenter: I present a show called Life Hacks on BBC Radio 1 which is all about young people’s issues, and I also present for CBBC. I do CBBC HQ, which is the modern day version of the broom cupboard! I’ve worked in various jobs at the BBC and also used to work for an NHS mental health trust – Pennine Care – in the office. I’m an advocate for mental health awareness and work with charities such as PLACE2BE and YoungMinds regularly, I’ve also written a book called ‘Dear Katie’ for 10-16 year olds. It’s an agony aunt style book with problem letters from real young people and advice from myself, a doctor and a child psychotherapist.

 

I have always been very anxious but for a long time didn’t really know how to put into words how I felt, and I certainly wasn’t aware that it was something you could treat as an illness, rather than a personality flaw. A few years ago my anxiety and hectic lifestyle led to me having a bit of a breakdown where I had to accept I was feeling quite depressed. Medication and counselling both hugely helped me and I still struggle now – particularly when I’m overworked and not looking after myself properly. But now I can spot the signs and prioritise self care.

I honestly think I displayed symptoms of anxiety as a really young child – I used to feel like I was struggling to breathe, and my parents would wonder if it was allergies. It was only when aged 19 I was experiencing the same feelings that a doctor diagnosed me with panic disorder and I realised I’d had bouts of it all my life. Even as a baby my mum said I always had clammy hands which is an anxiety symptom I’ve carried through life!

Feeling depressed made me appreciate all the little things in life once I got better, and made me focus on the only things that matter to me – the things that make me feel good. Before that I was always trying to be someone else, always trying to find a purpose. I realised after being depressed that I already had a purpose and an identity, and I didn’t have to try so hard to get one. I also think people are more likely to ask me for help now I’ve spoken out, which I’m glad about. I want my nieces and nephews and friends and family to be able to talk to me about anything. I think speaking out about mental illness is so freeing – you feel like you don’t have to try so hard to pretend everything is OK once you do.

My advice? Write a list of all the things that really matter to you, and make you feel good, the big and the small, and take the pressure off yourself. Do less of what you don’t want to do and more of what you do. Don’t be afraid to try counselling or anti depressants – neither are anything to be ashamed of and might change your life.

I chose to have my photo taken with my anti-depressants because they really were life changing for me. When I was depressed I felt I was underground, in the dark and unable to motivate myself to do any of the things I needed to do to feel better. The anti-depressants, even though they made me feel worse for the first few days or so, picked me up and put me on level ground, so I could begin to do things I needed to do to make my life easier – exercise, say no to things I didn’t want to do, read books, see friends and family. They took away the negative fog so I no longer thought I was the most worthless person in the world. I’m happy to be taking them, and will forever if I need to, and I can.

 

 

 

Paul Burgess’ Story

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Fabulous Oldham drag queen tells his Open Shutters story in the video below.

This is the longest video, but stick with it, his story is worth hearing. It also contains our favourite line of the entire project. The video does contain one swear word, but it is integral to the story, so we hope you’ll forgive Paul (and us).

https://s3.amazonaws.com/embed.animoto.com/play.html?w=swf/production/vp1&e=1535534240&f=110W9Pp4fqGdrlwyXuynKA&d=0&m=p&r=360p+480p+720p&volume=100&start_res=720p&i=m&asset_domain=s3-p.animoto.com&animoto_domain=animoto.com&options=

Open Shutters will be exhibiting our portraits at Gallery Oldham from September 15 to November 10. We are fundraising to cover the cost of mounting the exhibition and producing a book. Please contact us if you can help in any way. We’ve got some lovely rewards available for individual and corporate sponsors.

If you have a story to tell and would like to take part in the Open Shutters project please give Lisa a call on 07771 553535 or fill in the form on our contact page.

 

Ian Field’s Story

Open Shutters portrait of Ian Field, by Lisa Marie Gee of Studio G Photography

Apprentice cycle mechanic Ian Field tells his own Open Shutters story in the video below:

 

https://s3.amazonaws.com/embed.animoto.com/play.html?w=swf/production/vp1&e=1535311334&f=3tYMmQ8kfBY3pjHSbWesZw&d=0&m=p&r=360p+480p+720p&volume=100&start_res=720p&i=m&asset_domain=s3-p.animoto.com&animoto_domain=animoto.com&options=

Open Shutters will be exhibiting our portraits at Gallery Oldham from September 15 to November 10. We are fundraising to cover the cost of mounting the exhibition and producing a book. Please contact us if you can help in any way. We’ve got some lovely rewards available for individual and corporate sponsors.

If you have a story to tell and would like to take part in the Open Shutters project please give Lisa a call on 07771 553535 or fill in the form on our contact page.

Kamla Uppiah’s Story

Kamla Uppiah photographed for Open Shutters by Lisa Marie Gee of Studio G Photography

Mental Health vlogger, Kam, tells Open Shutters her story of living with Bipolar Disorder in the video below:

 

https://s3.amazonaws.com/embed.animoto.com/play.html?w=swf/production/vp1&e=1535308600&f=QARcrqHOvQP9EOAVyhzyig&d=0&m=p&r=360p+480p+720p&volume=100&start_res=720p&i=m&asset_domain=s3-p.animoto.com&animoto_domain=animoto.com&options=

You can find Kam’s website, Ask Me I’m Bipolar, at https://www.askmeimbipolar.com

Open Shutters will be exhibiting our portraits at Gallery Oldham from September 15 to November 10. We are fundraising to cover the cost of mounting the exhibition and producing a book. Please contact us if you can help in any way. We’ve got some lovely rewards available for individual and corporate sponsors.

If you have a story to tell and would like to take part in the Open Shutters project please give Lisa a call on 07771 553535 or fill in the form on our contact page.

Lisa Barnes’ Story

Lisa Barnes of Bridge the Gap photographed for the Open Shutters Project

My name is Lisa Barnes and I’m a manager for a large company. I would say that I’m your average person, married 2x children. I would say that over my 46 yrs I have struggled with depression at points in my life but nothing on the scale that I did back in May 2017.

On the 31st of May 2017 it started off like any other day, I was feeling a bit down but that happens to most of us. As the day went on I found that the noise around me was really loud and I felt overwhelmed by it. People wanted to ask me questions and I was struggling to concentrate. I remember taking a few tablets to try and escape it all. They didn’t work, things just felt like they were piling up so I took some more. The next thing I really remember is waking up in hospital. I was asked some question about if i was going to try and kill myself again then I was discharged.

The next 10 days were a struggle of ups and downs, feeling of guilt and wanting to hide away.

On the 10th of June everything came to a head and I found myself on top of a bridge ready to jump.

I feel im one of the lucky ones as a police negotiator managed to talk me down. Everything was felt dark and i just wanted all the pain i was feeling to stop.

I believe now that everything happens for a reason. If I hadn’t have gone through all of that last year, I wouldn’t  be doing what I do now.

A year on and in a far better place I can see the gap within mental health and it’s massive. Mental health is under funded and it’s just getting worse with the pressures of everyday life. I came up with the idea of hanging message/quotes of love and support from our bridges in the hope that it would make anybody in the same place as me pause and hopefully change their mind about suicide. I decorated one bridge near my home and the response was overwhelming. I then spoke to my husband and we made a Facebook page “Bridge the Gap”.

It has been running since 10th June 2018 and we have already saved 5 lives that we know of. We get the community involved when we decorate the bridges which is amazing and I’ve met friends for life through what we do now.

If I could give one piece of advice to anybody that is struggling with feeling of suicide it would be “suicide doesn’t take the pain away, it just passes it to someone else”. Get talking about how you feel it’s not easy but after a while it does get better. The object I choose to use on my photo is this sign. It says everything that people are afraid to say!

Love Lisa xx

 

You can find details of Lisa’s project, Bridge The Gap, here: https://www.facebook.com/Bridge-The-Gap-175147776473509/

 

Open Shutters will be exhibiting our portraits at Gallery Oldham from September 15 to November 10. We are fundraising to cover the cost of mounting the exhibition and producing a book. Please contact us if you can help in any way. We’ve got some lovely rewards available for individual and corporate sponsors.

If you have a story to tell and would like to take part in the Open Shutters project please give Lisa a call on 07771 553535 or fill in the form on our contact page.

Jason Tyler’s Story

Jason Tyler of SAS:Who Dares Wins for Open Shutters by Liisa Marie Gee of Studio G Photography

Jason Tyler served 25 years in the armed forces. After his final tour of duty and leaving the forces he realised he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Jason explains what happened next in the 15th of our series of Open Shutters videos. Since seeking treatment, Jason has become an ambassador for Manchester-based charity Veterans’ Garage. He was an interrogator in the recent series of Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins and spends a lot of his time supporting mental health organisations.

The video below is possibly our most powerful yet and may be triggering to some.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/embed.animoto.com/play.html?w=swf/production/vp1&e=1535308502&f=63TlZ488syOUsLxUc1gYeA&d=0&m=p&r=360p+480p+720p&volume=100&start_res=720p&i=m&asset_domain=s3-p.animoto.com&animoto_domain=animoto.com&options=

Open Shutters will be exhibiting our portraits at Gallery Oldham from September 15 to November 10. We have launched a Crowdfunder to cover the cost of mounting the exhibition and producing a book. Please have a look at our campaign hereand help if you can. We’ve got some lovely rewards available.

If you have a story to tell and would like to take part in the Open Shutters project please give Lisa a call on 07771 553535 or fill in the form on our contact page.

 

 

 

Danielle Nield’s Story

 

Danielle Nield

 

Hello, I am Danielle (Ellie to my friends and family); I am a volunteer wellbeing practitioner at the local branch of the mental health charity, Mind.

Before reading on please be aware that there may be triggers for people – this is not my intention and if you do feel triggered please seek the relevant support.

My mental health challenges are severe chronic depression and mild anxiety – my constant companions in life since the age of 13. As a teenager I was told that I was just going through the “normal” (this is in quotations as I don’t think normal can be defined as it is relative) hormonal changes. I felt alone and a constant question I asked myself was “what is wrong with me?” Without knowing what was happening and the dark (my term for depressive episodes) enveloping me more and more frequently I began self-harming and having suicidal thoughts. I can recall being called an ‘emo’ in college because I looked sad a lot and wore long gloves (they were hiding my recent self-harm) and I listened to rock music.

My mum would notice me spending a lot of time by myself, looking at the TV but not watching it and eventually just struggling to get out of bed, neglecting personal hygiene and having bouts of anger because I felt like my head would explode from the constant oppressive darkness. From waking in a morning to going to sleep at night there my darkness would be. My mum tried to help but I didn’t want it then and so I suffered in silence. I never told my friends or family because I thought it would depress them or burden them. Bad relationships only seemed to fuel my darkness and my self-esteem was soon destroyed and I lost a sense of self, believing I was unworthy of love and people would be better off without me.  Losing the matriarch of the family, my second mum, my beloved grandma sent me further into despair and I realised I could not cope anymore – I needed help.

My mum is the strongest woman I know, I sat next to her on the sofa and she made a cup of tea and turning to me simply asked “Ellie, what are you thinking about love?” I broke down in tears and looking her in the eye, said “I want to die; I want to be with grandma”. She could see that I meant it and instantly she wrapped her arms around me and said “listen to me, you will be ok”. On reflection, I cannot imagine how much that hurt her but her strength was phenomenal and she has been very poignant in my recovery and even supported me through my relapse a couple of years ago.

The next day we returned to the GP and I began medication and received Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for my anxiety. After 10 years of carrying my mental health issues in a backpack, weighing me down I started to feel like the clutter and darkness in my head was lifting and I could breathe. Since then, five years have passed – I did relapse two years ago because I came off medication too soon but I returned to my GP and I am back on my medication.  When the few dark bouts call I can often find a practical solution to my difficulties but no longer do I self-harm – I meditate, I call a friend or more often than not – I go to my mum.

The positives of experiencing mental health issues are that I am a much stronger, more resilient person for it. I have learnt that I am loved, I deserve love from others but ultimately I also deserve love from myself! I have a strong support network of friends and family and a truly wonderful man who stands by my side and is proud of me.

The biggest positive I have is that I can accept people for who they are and I can truly empathise with those who are struggling – volunteering means I can use these skills to be the person people can talk to and feel listened to. I am also a Time to Change Champion and as part of this I help to combat the stigma surrounding mental health. I am also on the Buddhist path and have been for the past year – it brings me so much peace with myself and really helps me develop kindness towards others and myself (something I have always struggled with, as I am my own worst critic).

The piece of advice I would give to someone struggling with mental health issues is: please talk to someone. I know that seems easier said than done but you will feel a weight lift when you talk and your courage can motivate others to talk and get the support they need and deserve. Talk to someone you trust – friends, family or even a professional but do talk. You are so much stronger than your mental health would have you believe and you can get through this! If you are someone who knows or suspects someone is struggling with mental health issues, just simply being there and offering your support without judgement can make all the difference. Be kind to the person as they are already suffering enough. Mental health issues can be difficult to understand or explain if you have never experienced it, but try to be patient with the person; be a shoulder, an ear, just be there with them, in their corner.

My object is a picture of my mum, my rock, my best friend. Thank you for your continued support and love.

“Stars cannot shine without darkness”