My name is Claire, and I am Red Balloons Founder, Chief Executive and Fitness Coach. You can read my full story through my blogs, but in a nutshell, here goes.
Mental health has a been a huge part of my life since I was born. My father was an alcoholic, my mother had her own ill mental health and it was the 80’s/90’s where nothing was ever discussed. I have always been independent and very good at hiding my feelings, choosing to be the class clown and putting myself on the forefront in order to stop people looking beyond the masks l wore every day.
My first experience of my ill mental health was very soon after the birth of my daughter in 2004. I ended up being taken to hospital in a Police care following a serious attempt to hurt myself. Somehow, I managed to talk my way out of this situation, was sent home and went back to old habits instantly, pretending I was ok. Never dealing with any of the issues that had caused me to reach that point. Simply squashing them even further down, as I added more to the pile.
2017, following a very temperamental time at my then job, I basically broke. After months of planning it to the finest detail, I went ahead and attempted to take my own life. I genuinely believed that it was the only way my children could live happy lives, I felt a burden, a failure, destroyed and unfixable. Luckily, and I truly mean that, I survived. Although forced, I finally saw my GP, was referred to immediate counselling and my journey really started. I had started Red January in 2017 and hand on heart, I count that incentive and the amazing people who are part of it, as a huge part of me still being here, following my dreams and finally knowing where I belong in the world. After encouragement from Mind, following my blogs and sharing my story for them through the media, I set up Red Balloons in the hope that it might help a couple of people. To be sat here now, writing this and seeing how far we have come is truly humbling!
My experiences of severe depression, anxiety, post natal depression and bulimia means my story can reach a wide range of people, who I hope I can help realise that although you might feel it, you are never alone. I am proud to say, my children have a happier and healthier Mam. I am in my second year at Teesside University studying to be an Exercise Psychologist and Red Balloons will continue to grow. I have ran three half marathons, been the Local Hero for The Great North Run, ran the London Marathon in 2019 and I am now onto my fourth Red January. Fitness is a huge part of my life and always will be.
If you are sat here reading my story, thinking, “Can I?”, no matter what it might be, I just want to say - #YesYouCan. I am living proof that you can achieve anything you set your mind too. Never give up!
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