Our Secrets And Lies Exhibition, timed to coincide with Mental Health Awareness week, showcases work created through personal experience of, or raising awareness around, mental health. This includes work created by young people from our ‘Close to Home’ with Tewkesbury School, funded by the Police Commissioner, and Secrets And Lies, funded through the NHS Cultural commissioning programme at Churchdown School.
We are holding a marketplace event on Wednesday 10th May, 1-4pm, where children, individuals and families can access advise and support from a range of organisations.
We chatted to Aisling Reid, a 17 year old who has been working with The Roses for a number of years, and who is a key member of Central Line, a young people’s mental health forum that meets her.
Tell us about your own experiences around mental health
My dad has mental health issues himself, so I was very aware of it from a young age. I started to develop my own mental health issues around anxiety at 14/15 years old
How did this manifest?
I came back from a trip – I had to be picked up – I was away from home for a day – I was uncomfortable and felt sick. When I came back I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I started to get anxious about things that others might see as ‘low risk’ – then I started to get really bad panic attacks.
I had sweaty palms, was hyper ventilating, had tunnel vision and started to shake and sweat – it happened anywhere and everywhere. My mum recognised these as panic attacks as I didn’t know what was going on – she booked me a doctor’s appointment (which took a while), and e mailed my tutor. He tried to help, but it was out of his depth.
My eating deteriorated over time. The school tried to help, my tutor supported a lunch time movie club so I didn’t have to eat in front of people, but I didn’t like eating on my own, Catch 22 situation. I couldn’t eat or drink anything at school, and would throw my food in bin on the way home so mum didn’t know. Then one day she found out – and she wasn’t angry – I realised I could stop keeping secrets.
I was referred to CYPS (Children and Young People’s Services) – I was on the waiting list for what felt like forever. The first appointment was the most nerve wracking things in my entire life. My mum and dad were there,and they got quite emotional when we discussed how I had got there. I was upset by how much my parents were affected, but it also brought home how much they supported me, and how they didn’t mind being affected – that’s what they are there for.
CYPS helped me with an 8 week course in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which really helps me recognise the triggers and how to cope. Now I am supporting other young people at my school through sharing techniques I have learnt to manage anxiety in a safe space. Everyone has anxiety, but you are always in control yourself – even if you don’t realise it.
Quote from Jacqui Grange, Take Part director at the Roses:
"Aisling is an extraordinary young woman, who goes out of her way to support other young people, through Youth Theatre, Central Line, and at school. Young people today face so many pressures, and here at the Roses we are committed to providing a safe and encouraging space. We work with specialist partners to ensure young people can access support and advice, many of whom will be here on Wednesday."
The Secrets And Lies Exhibition runs from Monday 8 - Sunday 14 May