Cathy is a performing artist who loves travel and anything to do with the sea. She’s also an NCMH Research Champion, helping spread the word about our research.

 

I’m Cathy, I’m in my 50’s and I live in Cardiff, a great city with so many exciting and interesting things to do. I love my work. I’ve been very lucky, combining a career as a circus and street theatre performer and teaching performance skills alongside being an administrator and manager for community and arts projects, so I get to meet all sorts of people which I really enjoy.

I’ve traveled around the world and my favourite countries are Egypt, Japan, Greece, France and Spain. I’m passionate about nature, particularly whales and dolphins and anything to do with the sea. Once, when canoeing on the Orinoco river in Venezuela to see the river dolphins, we caught pirhana fish and barbecued them for lunch.

I am also fascinated by the Ancient Egyptians and have even studied hieroglyphics – the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, apart from training to be a circus performer, of course!

I’ve had a number of episodes of depression and anxiety since my early twenties and I’ve experienced panic attacks. The worst thing, sadly, however was when I found myself being stigmatised because of the lack of understanding that some people have about mental health. It was the most painful and distressing time, and very frightening.  It impacted on my life in all sorts of ways and resulted in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But I’ve come through the other side, stronger for the experience and more determined than ever to be a part of the mental health community working for positive change.

I came across the NCMH at a public lecture given by it’s director Professor Jones, at Cardiff University. When I heard the NCMH wanted people to take part in their research I jumped at the chance.

Volunteering was so easy. A short telephone call and then about 45 minutes with the  research psychologist. She could have come to my home but I wanted to visit the impressive building where the NCMH is based to soak up the atmosphere.

The researcher was very friendly and relaxed, the questions were easy, there was time to discuss things and I felt empowered by the end. Not just that, but respected. That was really important.

Giving a blood sample was a tiny pin prick and all over in the blink of an eye.

I would encourage anyone to get involved and help with the research. They want people who have never experienced any mental health problems as well as those who have.

I am sure the research will have a huge impact – not just in the health services, but in society more generally. It will throw light on conditions that can be inherited or are affected by hormonal changes for instance and on how difficult challenges in life (physical illness, redundancy, bereavement and so on) can affect our mental well-being. I believe it will also help support the development of how we look after our mental well-being such as talking therapies for recovery and ways to stay well such as taking part regularly in social, creative and sports activities.

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