For someone who has always been praised for my ability to express myself with language, I was never very good at talking about my feelings. Instead, I used my actions, and unfortunately, every single one of them was aimed towards me and my body. When I was 16, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and atypical anorexia at 17. I couldn’t find it in me to tell someone just how ‘not okay’ I was, so I closed my mouth, kept quiet, and tried to fade away.
After months of hell I was eventually forced into therapy, and at the very beginning of my journey I was referred to a counseling service called Bromley Y. I have been in therapy since I was 16 years old and after countless therapists and therapy services, Bromley Y is still the place that has had the biggest impact on me. On the 22nd of April 2018, I am running the London Marathon to raise money for Bromley Y. People always talk about wanting to ‘give back’, and in some ways this is me giving back, but it is mostly so that others like me can receive the same quality of help that I did. I know for a fact that had I not met my first therapist, I would not have had that seed of hope planted in my brain, and I would not be where I am now. I am extremely privileged to sit on the board of trustees for this charity and oversee everything that they do. They help hundreds of children and young people every year, and the demand for their services is ever increasing. Please consider sponsoring me so that young people can be offered help early and go on to flourish.
For a very long time, I had no hope of getting better. I recently asked my old form tutor what it was like to see everything that I was doing to myself from her point of view. She said,
You’d walk into my classroom and I could see how much pain you were in from the way you looked at me. You’d open your mouth and close it again because you just didn’t know what to say
Talking is scary. I vividly remember the morning I went tearfully to my form tutor and told her what she already secretly knew was going on. I was embarrassed and ashamed, but 1 in 4 people suffer from a mental illness – it is nothing to be ashamed of.
One thing I hope to achieve by sharing my story and running the London Marathon is to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. I am running this marathon to give people hope: you can get better, you can achieve great things, and you most definitely are not alone.
If you want to support Emma and her charity Bromley Y, you can donate to her justgiving page here.