Lizzie is an ALS assistant by day and a dancer and singer by night. She’s also a Research Champion for NCMH, helping spread the word about our research. This is her story:
Hi, I’m Lizzie, I’m rapidly approaching 30 (eek!) and come from Penarth.
I’ve been working in Additional Learning Needs Support on and off for eight years. In my spare time, I dance Lindy Hop and Tap and sing in the alto section of the Technicolour Choir.
I was officially diagnosed with anxiety and depression in December 2017 although I have definitely suffered from both for most of my life.
I was a painfully shy teenager who was prone to long nights of insomnia where I would overthink, worry about and analyse everything. My way of coping with the things I found challenging tended to be to avoid them which lead to me becoming even more isolated, depressed and anxious and really dented my self-esteem.
Luckily, my friends pushed me to see my GP at a particularly difficult time and with their support (as well as that of my family and friends), I’ve managed to learn better strategies for managing my anxiety and depression so that I feel more in control of them than them controlling me.
I’ve really worked on gently expanding my comfort zone which has massively improved my self-confidence. The Lizzie of 10 years ago wouldn’t believe that she’s now able to stand on stage covered in glitter singing her heart out to a paying audience! With hard work, I’ve also recently come off my medication and am feeling in a really good place.
I heard about NCMH through my friend Catrin who is their Communications Manager (and a fantastic Lindy Hopper!).
I wanted to volunteer for their research for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because all the members of my immediate family have suffered from some form of mental ill-health and I’m interested in exploring genetic predispositions to it.
Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, because I’m a firm believer in having honest conversations about mental health to remove the stigmas surrounding it. I think if sharing my experiences and story helps just one person to feel less alone or to reach out for help, it will have been worth it.
So far, my involvement in the research has been to complete a short questionnaire. This was quick, simple and although personal, did not feel invasive in any way. I’m really looking forward to taking part in further research when the opportunity arises!
With 1 in 4 people experiencing some form of mental ill-health, I would really urge others to get involved with NCMH’s work so that we can start normalising a dialogue around mental health and offer a community to anyone who may be suffering and feeling alone.
My fun fact about myself, that nobody really knows, is that I collect both wind up toys and rubber ducks. It started as a spontaneous Christmas present from my mum but has grown into a family tradition!