Tasha is a primary school teacher and is currently working as a supply teacher in Suffolk. She loves community theatre, cycling or walking with friends and family.
She is also an NCMH Research Champion, helping to spread the word about our research. This is her story:
I joined a community theatre company around 18 months ago and absolutely love the buzz of the theatre sessions, sharing time with friends who have mental health problems or disabilities.
It was so rewarding to be involved in making and performing both a play and a film that focus on the difficulties vulnerable adults face when living alone.
I have recently started writing a play alongside other members of the group and this has really inspired me to continue writing.
My experience with mental ill-health
I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder in 2013 and this was triggered by a number of bereavements and working in an environment where bullying was rife and pressure was high.
In early 2016 I had my first hospital admission due to a manic episode triggered by anti-depressants. In some ways, I felt hope, that the support was going to be there. I was supported for a short period of time but the episode didn’t last long.
In January 2018 my relationship broke down and I was struggling to cope. I suffered from both periods of depression and high elevated moods.
I approached my doctors on three separate occasions to receive additional support. On each occasion, a letter was written to community mental health services.
On the first occasion, I received a letter after a week stating I had too much insight and was managing, that my feelings were linked to my social circumstances. On the other two occasions, I had a visit from the assessment team but the same outcome followed, a letter stating I didn’t need support.
I was finally diagnosed with bipolar in April 2018 after slipping into a chronic depression.
I once again felt the support would come but unfortunately, this was not the case.
By August 2018 I was in a hyper-manic state and still could not get the support I needed or asked for. I became so unwell that in the end was sectioned.
The impact has been profound and long-lasting but I have been determined to grow and learn.
I firmly believe that mental health services have improved and I have used charities and services available to learn as much as I can to manage my condition and am now on medication.
My mother had difficulties of her own and the reaction from society then was really negative.
The support I have been able to receive far outweighs the support my mother could have accessed but I feel we still have a long way to go to ensure people do not end up in crisis before support can be put in place.
My mother tragically ended her own life prematurely in 2004 and if research can stop other families and individuals going through this heartache and trauma it will impact the lives of many families in such a positive way.
This is why I feel that taking part in research with the NCMH is so valuable and worthwhile.
I volunteered for the research as the more we can learn about the way mental health affects people, the more chance we have of improving peoples quality of life.
At the time I volunteered my life has been turned upside down as a result of being sectioned and if the research means that better quality of care can be accessed by myself or others in the future then it is something I want to be apart of.
Every part of the process was conducted with compassion and empathy.
I completed the initial questionnaires and received a home visit to complete other questionnaires and have a blood test which wasn’t a concern for me. The saliva test kit explained clearly what to do and was easy to complete and return.
My hope is that the research taking place at NCMH will lead to a greater understanding of causes, treatment and medications that can be used.
If genetic factors can be identified this could unlock support and early intervention which could make a huge impact on the lives of so many.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself that not many people know about.
I have recently written a children’s story which I hope one day will get published.