Mental health awareness campaign
Updated: Oct 10, 2019
October 10th is mental health awareness day and Zebedee are launching our campaign #-2+
The campaign aims to break down stereotypes and stigmas associated with mental health portrayed by the media and spread awareness for those living with mental health issues. This is our first campaign focusing on invisible illness that demonstrates our passion for equal and fair representation goes beyond physical disabilities and visible differences.
In September, 10 Zebedee models took part in a shoot centred around mental health awareness with photographer Scallywag Fox, The photos give a raw and real glimpse into living with a mental health problem, beautifully portraying how those with mental illness can live a fulfilling life whilst acknowledging the struggles they can sometimes face.
1 in 4 people will experience mental health issues in their lifetime and studies have shown that those with a physical disability are more likely to develop mental health problems. It is important to know you are not alone in your struggles and there are ways to help if you are experiencing any mental health problems. Reaching out to those around you, finding different coping strategies that work for you and accessing resources through organisations such as Mind can all help but it is important to contact your GP if you find you are struggling and need more support.
Crisis text line (85258 for UK) and Samaritans (116 123) are available to speak to anonymously and in confidence.
If you find yourself in a time of crisis you can be seen in A&E or call an ambulance – a mental health crisis is considered a medical emergency and you will receive the help you need.
This is how our talent turn a negative into a positive
I have Emotionally unstable personality Disorder. Formerly known as Borderline Personality Disorder. I also have sociopathic traits. This mental health problem has blighted my life since I was a child. I felt different, I acted different and I found people exhausting and confusing. I felt very little and understood even less. Then at the age of 28 I got my full diagnoses and it changed my life. Now I knew why I acted the way I did. Why I only felt one emotion which was anger. It was like suddenly the entire world made sense. It was also heart breaking to know there is no cure. I will never be considered normal or mentally well. But that is something I can live with.
Over the years I have used various medications to try and deal with my issues. But i came off of them around 4 years ago and it was the best decision for me. Now I listen to very heavy metal music. It gives me the permission to scream and let out all my anger and frustration. That changed how I feel about my self no end.
I also travel a lot. I love to explore new places. Why? Well because I am so caught up with seeing new and beautiful things that I have no time to be in my head. I'm free.
I’m Ruth, I’m 25 years old and I live in Buckinghamshire with my family and my assistance dog, Willow. I’ve always struggled with my mental health but after my physical health deteriorated and I spent months in hospital it had a huge impact on my mental health. I felt like I lost my purpose, who was I now besides just sick, the girl in the chair, the girl with a tube. Over years it’s been an up and down struggle and I’ve gone to some really low and dark places at time. Depression sucks away all the happiness from you and it’s like you’re constantly walking around with a black rainy cloud over you no one else has and no one else can see so you smile and carry on but underneath the rain is pouring down and you’re just trying not to drown.
Mental health is a 24/7 battle and I’m not ashamed to say I take medication to help me but my biggest medication is my dog Willow, not only is she my assistance dog so helps me by doing daily tasks and alerts to me getting unwell she also gives me unconditional love, joy and happiness. With cuddles, playing, training and walking, she gets me out the house and reminds me to find joy in the little things. Being outside in the sunshine is also great for me mentally, walking Willow and doing amateur photography whilst out reminds me to live in the moment, capturing it on film, as well as putting my music on and escaping into my own world. I also have my motto and saying which is “just keep swimming” and this gets me through every day. Just keep on going, keep on swimming, it doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you keep moving forward.
Over the years I have been told by professionals that Mental Health almost comes automatically with having a Disability and I guess that may be why so many people mention and are shocked that I always seem “happy, that I’m always bubbly and laughing” they say.
And yes I guess I do but I have the same worries as most I just also have an extra layer that is obvious to the world. I have good, even great days like everyone else but yes whether it is easy or not for me to admit my disability impacts on my mental health negatively at times. I can’t say I have ever hated who I am or wished to be someone else but I have hated the impact my disability can have at its worst. Though I didn’t realise this until the past few years after being in discussions with psychologists & Counsellors for my own research to have more understanding while starting our Choir did I then realise that I had a very dark time which some may call depression at a young age. I was known as a bubbly child who couldn’t stay still, always wanting and trying to do what they other kids did. Even when I had broken bones. I was laughing. Due to severe deformities I had a couple of big operations which left me in plaster cast from the top of my chest to my toes for months, extreme pain and loneliness.
At such a young age to go from doing everything & going everywhere to going no where and not even been able to sit up was crushing. I realised I was different, I realised I was alone as no one I knew was like me & I was going through this alone as no one could truly understand the suffering and pain. No school, no friends, no fun, no nothing. I would look outside to the sky and hear kids play and tell myself I could do it again when I was better & I will get better soon.
From then I tried to never dwell too long on the negative. That at the end of the struggle it will get better and I remind myself that nothing now is as bad as then. During that time I loved listening to music & singing like I was Destinys Child. I would play video games which was like an escape of the real world for a while, I still use both listening to music and gaming online any time if feel really down especially when I’m unwell that’s my coping mechanism but I also find cooking relaxes me too.
I have always tried to say to people to think about what you want to achieve after the bad times are over, to concentrate on your goal and to remember that the bad times pass.
Our organisation #TripleC in collaboration with Choir Master Dan McDwyer and clinical Psychologists Elaine Craig started the Manchester Bee Vocal Mental Health Choir. It is proven that singing with a group of people releases the endorphins that make you feel happy, we created the choir to help everyone that has in some way come across Mental Health issues. I would strongly recommend people with #MentalHealth difficulties to either join a choir, karaoke club or even just to join a group of like minded people of a hobby you have as I find that people with most conditions feel like they are the only one and feel alone. Surrounding yourself with others you have something in common with really helps.
My name is Asha and I am 16 years old.
When I was born I had a tethered spinal cord and a spinal lipoma, which needed to be operated on. It didn’t bother me at all as I grew up but a few years ago I started getting symptoms like my left foot going completely numb and losing all strength in my left ankle. This meant I had to have another operation on my spinal cord and this took place in May 2018. I thought I would be fine again and it wouldn’t affect me, but it left me in quite a dark place.
I had to learn how to walk again, along with not being able to go out or do sports like dance and gymnastics which were previously a huge part of my life. Things I used to take for granted were now a huge struggle.
This impacted my mental health greatly for months, as I battled thoughts like ‘what is wrong with me?’ and ‘what’s the point?’ I never wanted to go out because it wasn’t the same as before and it frustrated me so much: the fact I was physically unable.
As my health has slowly improved, so has my mental health. I love spending time with my friends and family who support me, and I also love listening to loud music out of my speakers – which my neighbours probably don’t enjoy! I still have down days and I struggle daily with chronic pain and muscle weakness. I always try to remember that it’s ok to be sad sometimes, but also to look for the positives in everything and don’t let the negatives consume you.
My name is Georgina Wasdall and I’m 20. I’ve had a condition called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) for 10 years now, diagnosed for 7 years and because I have the severe form of CFS/ME I’m a wheelchair user. My wheelchair is my access to the world outside, without it, I’d be stuck in my house. I’ve just finished studying a photography course and about to take a year out just to reconnect back with me, an important thing to remember.
This is a little bit about my journey of turning a negative into a positive with my mental health:
I remember my clinic specialist talking about everything a couple of years after diagnosis and then I realised, it’s not just low moods anymore. I didn’t realise I was falling into #depression, it happened so quickly and in a way, easily. You don’t realise how easy it is to slip when you focus and surround yourself with negativity. It’s not surprising though that negatives fill your mind when your world gets flipped upside down after getting diagnosed with something like a #chronic #illness. I grieved for the life I had lost to my CFS/ME. I hated what I had been left with and felt suffocated, I could only focus on what my condition prevented me from doing.
But it really can happen to anyone, at anytime and it’s nothing to feel ashamed about. I now know what my triggers were, I was not accepting my illness, my #wheelchair and the loses I had to face. I had to give up dancing, leave school and my “friends” just abandoned me, I felt so alone. I just put myself into a jail of four walls and fell deeper. I couldn’t see a way out. I labelled it as another one of my “side effects” to having CFS/ME when really, depression is its own illness, it’s own monster. Depression. Alongside the depression, anxiety grew. It made me overthink everything, no matter how small or menial.
Due to spending the majority of my time in my home I developed social #anxiety, so much so that it would prevent me from going to family occasions that I once would of attended. I use to fiddle so much in situations that I didn’t like, so much so that I once broke my bracelet and iPad case. Now I don’t find it as necessary but still if I ever feel anxious, I find playing with my ring helps me somewhat.
Body image became another struggle for me. Through depression I gained weight, I didn’t like who I saw in the mirror. I was just wearing clothes to cover, not because I liked them. I used to hide, not wanting to be seen. It didn’t help being in a wheelchair and having nobody to look up to, especially since this was all happening at the beginning of my teen years when image becomes such a big thing. But through a lot of hard work I managed to loose the weight I wanted to.
But and this is the big but, I got out of these ways of thinking. I got to a stage where I just knew I had to sort something out, I didn’t want this life. You only get one chance and I want to live mine to the very best that I can. This turning point was aided by a trip to Disney, a little cliche but still, it was the wake up call I needed to know that yes I may be ill and disabled but I still have so many good, positive things in my life. And with my family’s help, I’m in a much better place today. Seizing every opportunity, seeing a bright future and enjoying what this life has to offer me at this stage.
My Zebedee family have helped so much with this journey too, the photo shoots and talking with everyone who gets what you’ve been through and are going through has helped me blossom so much and to also begin to help me like the way I look.
To this day, I still struggle with my mental health but thankfully it isn’t as bad as it once was, nor is it constantly every day, it is different to what it use to be. It comes more in waves or it just hits me when I least expect it. And throughout it all, no one really knows about it because from the outside, I seem “happy” (besides from my close family who know me and how I’m feeling even when I don’t know how I’m feeling). When I find myself slipping back into dark thoughts or the anxiety creeps up on me, I try to distract my brain. Distract it with reminding myself of all the good things in my life or looking through photos. Talking with my family, watching a favourite film/show of mine or seeing a friend. Even sometimes scrolling through my Instagram can help keep things at bay or perhaps even writing something.
I try to shut a door on the negativity as I don’t need that in my life and the more there is of it, the more I dwell, it’s a loop and it’s finding that point to break the loop. The battles I faced have made me who I am today and that person is stronger than I ever could of thought I could be. I don’t regret my journey, I don’t hate my condition, I love my life and I love myself, cfs included. I didn’t loose my life to the condition as I once thought, I actually gained a life. An exciting, beautiful and incredible life that I’m thankful for. Yes I’m still ill and it is tough but Im here and that’s what matters. Somehow, going through this has made me into a much better person than before, I truly believe that I’m the best version of me that I’ve been so far in my 20 years. I found purpose...
Just remember, you are never alone, you will be ok, there is light at the end of the tunnel and you can always ask for help, that shows strength, not weakness.
Everybody’s path is different, just as unique as each of us our as individuals and I truly believe that I’m on the best path for me right now. It’s time to break the #stigma around mental health.
In April 2019 I was diagnosed with stage 4 #Hodgkin’s #lymphoma at the age of 25. I started a very intense #chemo regime in May and finished in July and got the all clear in September! During chemotherapy, I lost all of my hair, eyebrows and eyelashes, my weight fluctuated a lot and I had no energy.
My piece of advice throughout the whole thing from symptoms to biopsies to diagnosis is make sure you have a good support system when you go to these appointments because there’s information that can be missed and it’s good to have someone you know by your side.
My strategies to stay well is reminding myself daily that the pain, stress, hair loss, body changes and down days are TEMPORARY.
Another strategy to process what I was going through was setting up an Instagram page @glowing.withtheflow to connect with other people who were going through similar situations to understand how they dealt with it and share all my new experiences and hints and tips that I found out along the way to help others see they are not alone and that someone else can relate! osting what was happening everyday on this page was also like a daily journal to me which helped me process what was going on & how I felt.
Other examples of methods which helped me stay grounded and positive through this time were going for walks to get some fresh air, yoga and meditation to focus on breathing, staying calm and re rooting myself and jewellery making. I make crystal jewellery so if I felt like I was losing my sense of self during chemotherapy with all the changes that were happening in my life, I’d go back to what I loved and jewellery making made me forget everything and channel my energy in a positive way!
My name is Emma Lines, I’m 21 years old. At the age of 5 I was diagnosed with Charcot Marie Tooth. Which is a neuropathy that affects my nerve endings causing muscle weakness in my extremities so my lower legs and hands. Since the age of 5 I have been wearing leg splints and at the age 17 a spiral of unfortunate events led to me being unexpectedly wheelchair-bound, as I had been told I would always be able to walk. As you can imagine this was quite a shock! I have suffered on and off with depression and anxiety this normally runs in line with my physical health and problems that come along with my disability.
I have always tried to hide my disability because I was always worried about not fitting in and being stared at. I was 14-15 when I started suffering from depression and anxiety. This is also around the time that I really started to feel the effects of my disability and felt different from others. I was having trouble at school; I just didn’t enjoy being there and I stopped going to most of my lessons as I was worried of falling when travelling between classrooms.
Throughout my mental health journey I hid my depression and my feelings every time I left the house. I would hide it away with a smile and pretend that life was okay! I struggled to share my feelings and emotions as it made me feel very vulnerable, I also hate people feeling sorry for me and my situation, as this would make me feel worse.
My depression and anxiety is something I find difficult to share so I very rarely talk about it as I find it hard to express my feelings. When I’m struggling I still continue with life as normally as I possibly can, this has its positives but also its negatives.
When I became wheelchair bound our house was not adapted so I couldn’t get in and out of the house on my own, I was going up and down the stairs on my bum and crawling when I was upstairs and did this for three years whilst we were awaiting adaptions. I felt trapped and completely heartbroken with overwhelming feelings of anger, sadness and loneliness. Our house is in a conservation area so we had a lot of trouble getting planning permission from the council. This made me feel that for them the look of our house was more important than my quality of life and independences, which made me feel like my life didn’t matter. At the same time I continued going to college, but my classmates started to ignore me meaning that whilst I was having to adjust to life in a wheelchair I had no friendships which meant I felt even more isolated. A few months later I started taking antidepressants.
Now all of the adaptations have been completed and aspects of my life have become easier, I have been off antidepressants for two years now. I have taken control of my weight and as a result of this my body confidence has grown contributing to positive thoughts about myself.
But now that I can no longer hide my disability I embrace it, and over the past summer I have become a lot more confidence in being myself! I am probably more accepting and comfortable with my insecurities than a lot of people out there! And this is from me growing as a person and accepting my disability as part of who I am. I don't care if people stare anymore because I look great and there is nothing wrong with me, I just use my chair to get me from A to B! I will always have a big smile on my face.
I think what helps me the most is smiling, spending time with the people that love me and make me laugh. Allowing myself to cry and let my emotions out so that I don’t suppress them. The thing that really helped me was accepting that I need help and want to improve my mental state so I restarted counselling.
“My mental health issues have always been something that I have tried to hide. I was never ashamed of them but I guess I was scared of what other people might think. Recently I’ve come to realise that my mental health is as much a part of me as my physical disability. I’ve always had a bit of a struggle with my mental health due to the amount of obstacles I faced with my condition however it affected me most during my mid/late teens.
From 2013 to 2017 I had 4 surgeries on my feet and my spinal fusion. These had a massive impact on my physical ability and education. In 2016 I started struggling at school and I became very isolated and down. I stopped wanting to come in and I lost a lot of motivation to get up in the morning. I was doing my exams at the time so it becomes very tricky to keep up with work. At the end of the year I had to take a whole year off school as I was so far behind and I had to recover from surgery. As much as taking this break allowed my body to recover, it also made my mental health much worse. I was also having to take a lot of strong medication to deal with my pain which made me feel spaced out a lot of the time. The following year and a half that came after, I really hit rock bottom. Eventually it got to a point where I felt like I no longer wanted to be here and I was using unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with my feelings.
After I left school I went to college for a year and over time I very slowly started to build myself up again. There are many things that helped me on the road to recovery. A massive one being music and acting.
Whenever I was feeling really really low plugging in my headphones and listening to music really helped me. Sounds very cheesy but listening to music would take me to a different zone and even at my darkest times it helped me to release what I was feeling which was very healing. Some of my favourite artists are Lewis Capaldi, Dean Lewis, Billie Eilish and Imagine Dragons. I don’t know what I would’ve done without Spotify! Acting was also a massive support to my recovery. I’ve always had a passion for acting ever since I was very young and I’m now currently working towards a career as a professional actress. During the period when I was off school for a year one of the things that massively kept me going was attending youth theatre at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh. Over the years acting has given me the opportunity to express my thoughts and emotions through other characters and has given me a purpose/goal for the future. In the future I aim to be able to set up a charity helping young people deal with mental health issues whether they have a disability or not and link them up with other young people going through similar situations. My amazing family and friends have also helped me so much through the years. I will always be grateful for their constant love and support that they show me through every obstacle I face.
For anyone who is struggling through mental health please know that you’re not alone. It’s easy to think that you’re the only one going through this but I promise you you’re not and reaching out to others and opening up about your feelings is one step on the road to feeling so much better. Never be afraid to go to your GP for support. My GP ended up recommending me to emergency NHS councillors who gave me good strategies and coping mechanisms for when things get rough. I know that I’ve still got a long way to go but I’m well on my way to achieving my dream of acting/representing disability for theatre, film and TV.”
Holly is 13 and has Athetoid #CerebralPalsy; we first became aware of her Holly’s mental health issues when she had botox injections late last year; the plan was to have #botox in her salivary glands to help reduce her drooling and also in her calf muscles, an addition to the injections was to put both her legs in casts for 3 weeks to help stretch her muscles. Unfortunately Holly was in a lot of pain and very uncomfortable which meant that she was also unable to sleep which exacerbated the situation.
Holly has written the paragraph below via her spelling board to explain how she felt:
“Having botox was a shocking experience! I thought it would help me, but it did he opposite. I had to wear these awful casts. I cried and screamed every minute. I wanted to die. I told my TA I wanted to kill myself. It was a relief to discuss my feelings with my psychologist who helps to to think about how I feel.”
To help Holly she now sees a psychologist which has been a great outlet for her; she has monthly sessions along with a communication partner so their discussions are completely confidential. She also has some mentors who both have #athetoid cerebral palsy as she does; she is able to talk to them and see what they have achieved in their lives which is giving her some motivation and some future goals.
Another great avenue for Holly to feel good about herself it her #modelling; this has given her great self worth and confidence; its so wonderful to see her face light up when the camera comes out; everyone needs an release that allows them to express themselves and to feel self worth.
“I'm Deborah, 44 years young and a mum of 4 boys. My mum was diagnosed with #Paranoid #Schizophrenia before l was born and so I’ve been involved in the more serious side of mental health and It’s system ever since I can remember and visited quite a few #psychiatric wards and hospitals over the years. The impact on my own life and mental health has been huge. At times I have had feelings of despair, hopelessness and helplessness and I’ve even questioned my own sanity. As Ive grown, especially since having my own kids I have learnt that it’s ok to have these feelings. Ive learnt to accept things and not to dwell on the past but most of all I have learnt to love myself and this is probably the most important thing of all.
So do things that make you happy, be a bit selfish from time to time, take a step back, remove yourself from the things thats are having a negative impact. Recharge, do whatever it is you need to do in order to find your happy place even if its just for 5 mins. If you want to be there for the people you love you have to be there for yourself first…..breathe and exhale!”
Assisted by @sophie.powles
Make up @makeupbyvishakha