Reaching new heights for West Kent Mind
Emma Campbell climbed Mount Kilimanjaro for her 21st birthday, and so far has raised over £2000 for West Kent Mind! Emma tells a remarkable story about the friend who inspired her fundraising effort for us. You can lend your support on her JustGiving page.
Hi, my name is Emma and I’m climbing Kilimanjaro for my 21st birthday to raise money for West Kent Mind. Every penny of the money raised goes to charity. The charity I’ve chosen is very close to my heart: West Kent Mind. It’s an amazing charity which seeks to do extraordinary things in trying to battle the stigma of mental health illnesses but also help those that need support. West Kent Mind was there for a friend when ‘nobody else was’. They really ‘pushed the boat out’ and gave him treatment at a time where he was ordinarily told there was a 6 month waiting list for NHS treatment. I am eternally grateful for the support that they gave my friend.
This is a story about someone who, finally after 10 years of struggling alone and never EVER telling anyone is letting me finally write down his story for me to share what its really like having a mental illness. It’s obvious from his story that the stereotypes that people have of mental illness are completely wrong.
This story had been modified to hide the identity of the individual.
It started when he was 15, he never initially wanted to lose weight but through stress and other things lost so much weight that, at his lowest he weighed 30 kilos and was 5ft 3. He still remembers going to the doctors the first time, for what he thought was stomach ache, until he was asked to stand on the scales. He was diagnosed with anorexia on Christmas Eve 2011. It was never a matter of weight issue to him…he just physically could not eat … it was like a mental block when it came to eating; he couldn’t swallow or stand the thought of food. He used to get angry at himself because of it and it ripped him apart. So much so, that all relationships included his closest friends and family were torn apart until he was left, what felt like’ alone’. The whole time he was battling anorexia he sat his GCSES and achieved 4 A* and 7 As. unfortunately though soon after he sat his exams he was admitted to hospital for 5 and half months. He had worked so hard for his GCSE’s because he wanted to move schools. However, due to being in hospital he had to miss the first 5 months of year 12. For this reason his school, that he had worked so hard to get to, retracted his place. However, he was determined to go to school. He therefore approached 13 different schools asking if they wouldn’t mind him arriving late. One allowed him too and so he achieved his AS level in half the time everyone else did only weeks after coming out of hospital.
However, during his levels, he developed OCD to the point where he couldn’t eat, sleep , or do anything than what his OOCD permitted. His OCD was around studying and he therefore had to work 16 hours a day…allowing no time socialising eating or doing anything else. His OCD was accompanied with panic attacks and insomnia. This again torn his relationships further apart and made his life a living hell.
While going through this, he still achieved his A levels and got into a high achieving university. The first year however, was hard. His anorexia kicked back in and so did his OCD. This time the doctors recommended medication to help. Not many people know but OCD and depression is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, just like diabetes is the chemical imbalance of chemical in the pancreas.
The most recent time in which his mental illness ruined what he spent 2 years at university working hard to achieve: An industrial placement in America as part of his university course. Since being little he had always wanted to go to America . However, when in America, he stopped taking his medication….thinking that achieving what he so wanted to achieve would be enough…. However, being a physical chemical imbalance in the brain (and just the same as if a patient taking blood pressure medication stopped taking their medication) his condition deteriorated and he ended back in hospital for his depression and OCD. So bad was his depression this time that he ended up having to come back to the UK instead of continuing his industrial placement in America. However, while he had to interrupt his university degree he is still continued not to let his illness win and control his life. He is therefore, is trying everything in his power to get back to his industrial placement in America.
He has now been diagnosed with anorexia, depression, schizophreniform disorder, OCD and dissociative disorder ….. But you would never know if you met him. Through all this he told nobody and you would never guess if you met him that he suffered from all of this; I’ve never seen him cry and he has always been the most bubbly, heart-warming and supportive friend I know. This small story only scrapes the surface of the pain that he has had to endure but it gives you a brief insight into the pain and havoc that a mental illness does to a person. It does not include all events.
For me this trek is not really about money: it’s about awareness, understanding and acceptance for mental health. My goal is to help others realise that mental illness should be treated with the same respect as any physical illness. The brain is a muscle, and just as the heart muscle may develop heart stresses, the brain muscle can also have physical malfunctions that lead to mental health issues.
This story comes from Emma’s JustGiving page.