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”

Jenny Eastwood’s Story

Jenny Eastwood

Relax Kids coach Jenny Eastwood tells her own Open Shutters story in the 13th video of the series. Watch below.

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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.

 

Claire Eastham’s Story

Claire Eastham

 

Author and mental health blogger Claire Eastham tells her own Open Shutters story in the 12th video in the series. You can read Claire’s blog, We’re All Mad Here, by clicking here. 

https://s3.amazonaws.com/embed.animoto.com/play.html?w=swf/production/vp1&e=1535308367&f=UALVLy3ezhLOCx60I4h2Ag&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.

 

Sadie Thackaberry

Sadie Thackaberry

I am Sadie, happily married mother of three human children and three animal children, and have just turned 34 years old. I have a varied work history from retail to modelling, and accounts, to what I do now; lecturing in the Animal sector. So anything from conservation to behaviour to biology, if animals are involved so am I! This is a very recent career change as I graduated from university in 2016 with my 1st class honours and then went on to study to gain my postgraduate certificate in post-compulsory education last year. This year sees me studying for a Masters in research in Evolutionary biology and another postgraduate teaching certificate for Higher education. Life is ‘fast paced’, but that is how I like it.

My mental health challenges; I am the proud owner of anxiety and depression. A weird expression, granted, but I have had these issues more than half of my life now, so alike my nose and my toes, they are a part of who I am. However, unlike my nose or toes, they are not as helpful on times, or constant in their appearance. That is the other weird thing to deal with, the “but you are always so happy and confident, you cannot have anxiety or depression”. How we all wish it was as simple as that. The truth is, is that no matter your profession, social standing or your personality, mental illness does not discriminate. Then comes the awkward justification of being depressed, and then not being able to explain why. See the thing is, is that it is not feeling sad and down, that in itself is on times a blessing, as at least you feel something. It is the void and numbness, the detachment and frustration, and fatigue of life in general with on times no real apparent reason. The other kicker is having anxiety attacks, this always makes life a little more interesting, wondering how you will deal with the day ahead, steaming through it like a pro and then having one in places where you feel most comfortable, like the bath!

It may seem as I am making light of these challenges, but I am not. In addition to going through this myself I have also seen loved ones torn apart, and it is much harder to fix a broken mind than a broken body. When going through bad episodes people normally tell you that what does not kill you will make you stronger. I don’t agree with this. I am still fighting my fight as I have got better at dealing with it but not stronger because of it, which does make it feel like a never ending chess game! It wasn’t until an equivalent of a reset button was pressed, that things changed in a big way for me. Nothing to do with the black dog or its anxious partner in crime, this one was just the body and not the mind, as when my last child was born we both near on lost our lives. That experience didn’t really impact my mental health challenges, but what it did do was make me grab life to chase my passions. As a happy consequence, studying biology allowed me the insight to make sense to what is physically going on within my head and body. It doesn’t cure it at all, but understanding that my emotions are guided by sensitive triggers and hormones makes me feel less broken and just super reactive (I am just a geek that wants a cape!). Last year, and those to come, see new challenges as I was recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and am going blind in one eye. I would be lying to say that it did not wobble me, and the anxiety certainly did have a field day for a while, but neither my mind nor my body will break my spirit. My mental health challenges have given me perspective, and I have dreams to chase, which I do most days, yet other days I snuggle dogs and hide from all known responsibilities, got to love the those hormone imbalances!

Feeling everything so deeply on times, but then numb to the world other days is difficult, and on times you are at war with yourself. I have tried many things to battle with my mind including medication and counselling, and neither worked for me (that is not to say they don’t work for others, as they do!). My most successful strategy is keeping busy. When my mind is focussed upon my passions, be it my children, my studies, my work or my creative oddities, then I can deal with anything. Everyone is different in methods that will aid them, but one thing that should be unified is dropping the stigma that this makes you ‘weak’. It doesn’t. It makes you raw and beautiful, as you see things differently. There is nothing quite like seeing the dark and not knowing your way out, to then lying in the sun again, that kinda s**t really makes you feel lucky. My advice; remember like clouds in the sky-all things pass eventually, that happiness and sadness in addition to numbness are just a mush of chemicals whirling around your body, and that help is never too far away. Speak up, even if you cannot answer their questions, just not being alone in this is sometimes enough to get by until you can bask in the sun again.

My item is a wooden sign saying “happily ever after”. Words are powerful tools for me, and I have many little quotes dotted around the house, this one is one of my favourites. It reminds me that no matter what I am going through, or what I have been through, that I can have control of my life and I write the story. I have not always felt like this, as a lot of the time depression can make you feel powerless. It has taken 17 years for me to start to believe in myself, but I am proud of me, mental illness and all! I am living my happily ever after, sometimes the plot has a twist, but every good story does.

 

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.

Natasha Devon’s Story

Natasha Devon

Mental health campaigner former Government mental health tzar, Natasha Devon MBE, tell her Open Shutters story in the video below and introduces her childhood teddy bear, Isiah.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/embed.animoto.com/play.html?w=swf/production/vp1&e=1535308323&f=KKzYkmsaeg2kxrrmNk23hA&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 here and 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.

Darren Whiston’s Story

Darren Whiston

In one of our most moving and powerful videos yet, Darren Whiston explains how putting on his trainers saved his life. Watch him tell his story in the video below.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/embed.animoto.com/play.html?w=swf/production/vp1&e=1535308269&f=JBhpBavPqZol4Wzb0qW8Fw&d=0&m=p&r=360p+480p+720p&volume=100&start_res=480p&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.

 

 

Andy Greenway’s Story

Andy Greenway of Andy's Man Club, Oldham. A portrait by Lisa Marie Gee of Studio G Photography for the Open Shutters Project
Andy Greenway

Andy Greenway, Oldham Facilitator for Andy’s Man Club, tells his own Open Shutters story in the video below. Andy’s Man Club has branches all over the country where men gather every Monday evening to share problems and spread the message that it’s OK to talk. You can find out more about Andy’s Man Club at http://www.andysmanclub.co.uk.

 

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Oliver’s story

Oliver

I am a Civil Servant working for DWP and my current role is as a mental health community partner across Greater Manchester. In the past my jobs have included Probation Officer, Community Firefighter, Trading Standards Officer and volunteering as a police Special Constable.
I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 2011 at the age of 31 and had previously had short periods in my life where I believed I was depressed or anxious, and at certain dark times in my life, believed I might be a psychopath!

However my diagnosis made me realise that the mental health was actually secondary and that my ability to understand others emotions and motivations was affected by Asperger’s and I wasn’t a “psycho” at all; I was normal and I could learn to develop coping mechanisms.

Throughout my life I have experienced periods of self-doubt and even to this day I can find myself having to deal with high levels of anxiety which impact me socially and make me feel lost and out of touch with the world.

I would say since I was 25 as that was when I’d started to notice that I wasn’t progressing in my life the way I thought I would. Things I believed would happen just didn’t and I became very uptight and unpredictable in my behaviour.

Since being diagnosed with Asperger’s I have learnt to accept how my brain works and embrace the unique way in which “Aspies” view the world. I like to think that most people are running Windows and those on the autism spectrum are Apple Macs, we all carry out the same functions in life but our processing systems are different.

My mental health has brought me an insight into how challenging the world is in the 21st century and enabled me to do the job I am doing now helping vulnerable people reliant on the benefits system while their mental health is at its worse. Using my lived experience I am able to work towards positive change in accepting mental health issues are normal and we should all feel able to talk openly about our problems, however big or small.

If I had one piece of advice, it would be talk to someone! Don’t bottle it up and try and deal with everything yourself. We aren’t designed to do that. We are social animals and modern society can be very polarising making us feel lonely and isolated. Try going to a local park and trying some mindfulness exercises. Concentrate on the present and take everything in you see, hear and feel. I wish you the best of luck on your journey towards mental wellbeing.
My chosen object is a framed wedding photo as I recently got married in November 2017. This means a lot to me as 7 years ago I couldn’t see myself in a long term relationship, never mind being a husband, father and a homeowner.

Jack’s Story

Jack Nolan's portrait. The Open Shutters Project by Lisa Marie Gee of Studio G Photography, Oldham.
Jack Nolan

Jack Nolan, a published author in his early twenties, tells his story to the Open Shutters project in the video below.

 

https://s3.amazonaws.com/embed.animoto.com/play.html?w=swf/production/vp1&e=1535308020&f=qFarqbrD09GXl6x1r117ig&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=

If you, or anyone you know, would like to take part in the Open Shutters Project, please email openshutters@studiog-oldham.co.uk. The project will be exhibited at Gallery Oldham from September 15 to November 10, 2018. A book will be published to coincide with the exhibition.