Maggy is an animal loving, mum-of-one who works in the creative industries. She’s also an NCMH Research Champion, helping to spread the word about our mental health research. This is her story:

 

Maggy is an animal loving, mum-of-one who works in the creative industries. She’s also an NCMH Research Champion, helping to spread the word about our mental health research. This is her story:

I’m Maggy, aged 46. I’m a freelance Graphic Designer working mainly from home and one day a week setting adverts for the Big Issue Cymru.

I live with my partner of 12 years and we have a son who’s 9 next week, one daft dog and a not-so-daft cat: both rescues.

I lost my Dad to cancer when I was 12 and moved from my home in the Isle of Man to Yorkshire.

I didn’t realise back then that my mum was not only post-menopausal but also had what I would now recognise as classic signs of manic-depression. I also had issues myself with depression, and what I now realise was an eating disorder.

I had my first breakdown was when I was about 16 years old, and I first went on anti-depressants when I was 24. I’ve been on medication of varying sorts since.

In 2003, I was provisionally diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but as I was trying for a baby and also working full-time, I felt that I didn’t want to be ‘officially diagnosed’ by a psychiatrist at the time.

After my son was born I was diagnosed with post-natal depression, then as my symptoms became worse over the next few years I had another serious breakdown. I was referred to a psychiatrist for an ‘official’ diagnosis.

I’ve since been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, and am currently trying to seek appropriate treatment.

I want to get involved with mental health research not just because of my own experiences, but also because my niece, mother and brother all suffered from serious mental health problems that contributed to ending their lives prematurely.

I’m determined to help developments in mental health care and treatment, to improve self-regulation and access to medical support, and to learn more about potential genetic links. I hope that research will contribute to improved diagnosis and better-targeted treatments for mental illness in the future.

Taking part was easy – I simply emailed NCMH and spoke to them about both my own and my family’s history with mental health. They then arranged to come and see me at home. That helped, as it meant that I was comfortable in my surroundings.

The whole team were lovely, totally empathetic, and it was clear my participation was very valued.

I felt quite empowered by being able to take part – perhaps because I am determined not to feel stigmatised by my mental health condition.

I would absolutely recommend taking part to others – neurological developments in the past 20 years have come on leaps and bounds, and if we want the progress to continue and to improve the care we have, we need to work together with researchers and service providers.

I’m currently working on a new magazine that will focus on empowering anyone with mental health issues by providing creative resources and artistic expression as an aid to awareness and well being.

It’s a collaboration with the mental health organisations Making Minds (which I helped to start up last year), and New Horizons. The first issue is due in October, and if anyone would like to get involved they can contact me at mag@mecreative.net.

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