I am 39 years old and have been suffering with anxiety, depression and OCD since I was a child. I was suicidal in my twenties, and spent most of my darkest days searching for help – which, at that time, was very hard to find, especially as you had to use up all the energy you had left to do so! I joined the Shaw Mind Foundation because I want this to change. I want as much exposure and help out there for fellow sufferers as possible. Nobody going through this illness should have to struggle to find the help that they so desperately need.
I am involved in fundraising and raising mental health awareness for the Shaw Mind Foundation. I’ve done fun runs and charity stalls, but I also wanted to do a fashion show. This was because I’m very passionate about the beauty and fashion industry – I have a beauty salon of my own – and for the first time in a long time, I have the strength to do something I love where anxiety does not have power over me. I feel it’s very important to show everyone involved that having anxiety doesn’t always have to be depressing, sad and lonely.
The most difficult thing about the event was knowing that organising it was going to trigger my anxiety and worsen my OCD. However, I now know that although this is still hard, I’m willing to challenge it, whereas before my anxiety would always win. But the fact that I might help one person’s suffering is what makes me more determined to carry on and overcome the pain of anxiety.
I am very excited to be arranging a charity ball in Nottingham in November – something I have always wanted to do but thought the organising of which would get the better of me. But the venue’s booked now, and tables are reserved, so there’s no turning back! I feel that, as an advocate for anxiety, to be able to help others I need to push my own boundaries. I’m living proof that it does work, even if it’s extremely scary sometimes!
I’m so happy that my clients know how passionate I am about mental health and what it means to me, and that they have been understanding when I’ve sometimes struggled to run my beauty salon when the anxiety has got the better of me. They have all been so supportive of my events!
It just goes to show that if you’re passionate about the charity you’re working for, everything else will come naturally!
By Suzi Shaw, Community Fundraiser for The Shaw Mind Foundation