What you are about to read has been by far the hardest thing I have ever had to write. I was asked recently what my connection with Mental Health was... it kinda got me thinking that maybe I hadn’t been doing my job properly as a LIVIN ambassador raising awareness and letting people know that It Ain’t Weak to Speak. Here’s a brief insight into my journey . . . My connection with mental health started forming at a very young age. Witnessing its full effects firsthand with my mother deep in the thick of it. Exposed early to struggles that no child in this world should ever have to hold the weight of, I was forced to leave my child mind behind and adapt to growing up just a little bit quicker that the kids in my street. Going to school, walking through those gates, always worrying about what arena I would enter into when getting home . . . I could feel my concentration levels failing me as my mind became boggled over a simple math sum mixed with the unknown uncertainty of my mother’s mental state walking through the door. Or wondering if we would be packing up again because we had failed to make rent for the third week in a row. Uncertainty was like a clock, always ticking away in the back of my mind. Eventually as the years went on reaching my teenage-hood, I too started to find myself dealing with my own battles. After years of trying to hold my mind together I began to feel the crumbling texture of anxiety and depression blanketing my body, suffocating my strong will to survive. Losing every ounce of the ability to think, to feel, to love and to care. In a moment so vivid, I decided in a split second that maybe in the next life things might be a little different. And as the mortar holding this body together disappeared . . . down came the bricks. After an unsuccessful moment of pain physically and emotionally, I had turned to rubble struggling to rebuild what was once the strongest foundations holding up my very existence. With a second attempt leading to a feeling I will never be able to comprehend or explain how it came to hold me, but it was as if there was a flicker of light still very present in my heart igniting my strength within. All those years of testing times using every bit of mental, physical and emotional strength available, had strangely developed into a new energy and had given me the power to rebuild myself into the person my always knew it was. I am grateful for the journey I had to endure to reach that point because now it allows me to help others. Over the last 4 years more notably, I have been able to channel that energy and power into long distance running enduring great mental challenges and raising money for Juiced TV helping sick kids with their all round wellness and allowing kids to just simply . . . be kids. And although standing tall and feeling as strong as ever . . . a piece of my heart will forever hold a deep pain and sadness. And regardless of those emotions buried deep inside of me and heavily broken connection with my mother, I have come to accept her for who she is, and I will continue to love her every day. #ItAintWeakToSpeak If you or someone you know is struggling and needs someone to talk to, check out our Get Help page for details on organisations who can provide support.