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Mind fundraiser shares story about mental health battle

After a long journey battling mental health issues Em Maskrey is seeking to raise awareness and money for a charity that offers support for fellow sufferers.

Em lives with her family in Wootton Way and started suffering with low mood and fluctuating eating and sleeping habits at the age of 11.

On Saturday, August 11, Em’s mum Sarah, 50, brother Joe, 23, and sister Megan, 15, will climb Ben Nevis in support of her bid to raise money for the mental health charity Mind.

The 21-year-old told the Advertiser: “Mental illness wasn’t something that was on the syllabus at school and it wasn’t something we spoke about at home, so I didn’t realise that the way I was feeling was a warning sign.”

Over the next few years, unaware of what was wrong and suffering in silence, Em’s symptoms spiralled.

At 12 she began self-harming and at 15 started skipping meals in a bid to gain control over what she now knows was depression.

When she was 15, Em was referred to the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and was finally diagnosed with depression, anxiety and anorexia nervosa.

She was admitted to Birmingham Priory in June 2013 for eight months but within two months of being discharged she weighed little more than 90lb and her 5ft 8in frame was skeletal.

By 16, Em was seriously ill and at her lowest point. She spent two weeks at Royal Berkshire Hospital where she had daily blood tests and ECGs until her body weight was stabilised.

She was then transferred to Southampton Priory where she resisted recovery and was subsequently sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

“I realised that I didn’t want to waste my life in and out of hospitals, going through the cycle of relapsing, being admitted to hospital, half heartedly attempting recovery before starting from the beginning all over again,” she said.

After leaving South-ampton, Em was referred to Berkshire Adolescent Unit in May and was discharged to outpatient status in July 2014.

In July 2016 she was transferred to adult services and in 2017 discharged from therapy altogether.

Forced to drop out of her GCSEs when she went to Birmingham, Em has gone on to gain A grades in law and English literature A-Levels and an A* Extended Project Qualification (EPQ).

Provided she gets a B or above in her sociology A-level she will be going to the University of Exeter in September to start a law degree.

Em said: “My mental health still isn’t perfect and I have days where I want nothing more than to fall back to my negative coping mechanisms, but I continue to battle my illnesses. On most days, I win.”

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