Christina Sharkey, 22, has suffered from depression and anxiety since the age of ten. At 12 she started to self harm and at 18 she was placed on a series of antidepressants before making an attempt on her life a year later.
Aged 21 she spent several months as a psychiatric inpatient before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder mixed with psychotic depression and anxiety.
And now she’s speaking out about her illness and focusing on raising valuable funds for MIND-the mental health charity.
She said: “I know all too well what battling with mental illness is like as I am 12 years into a very tough and long journey.
“This has given me the motivation to fight to make a difference, to make the change I want to see, to speak out for those who can’t speak out for themselves.”
She added: “I want to spread the message that it is OK not to be OK. It is OK to need a little bit of help sometimes, to encourage anyone who is struggling right now, to speak out, to seek help, to tell someone that they are worthwhile, loved and that they have a purpose and most importantly things will get easier. “If this campaign can save even one life, then I will consider this a success.”
But her fresh fundraising campaign has been spurred on not just by her own personal experiences of mental illness, but by the loss her boyfriend’s brother.
In February this year her boyfriend Ross Carson and his family suffered a devastating loss when his brother, Scott, from the Castle Douglas area, took his own life aged just 22.
Christina said: “With hindsight I would believe he had a history of mental health, however unfortunately Scott never spoke out about his struggles.
“I think particularly as a young man in the farming community there is somewhat of a larger stigma surrounding mental illness, with a larger general feeling of ‘just get on with it’.”
And Christina plans to honour his memory and raise funds and awareness of MIND, by hosting a charity ceilidh next month.
It will take place in The Abbey Inn in Dumfries, on October 21 from 7 pm with food, drink, dancing and live music. Tickets are available by calling Christina on 07590351265.