A huge thank you to the Canal & River Trust Leeds office for taking part in a office fundraiser for Leeds Mind on 1st February 2018 “Time to Talk day”.
24 colleagues took part in a virtual 274- mile bike ride from Leeds to Liverpool and back over two days. The event brought people together to talk about mental health and raised £70 for Leeds Mind.
Moorings co-ordinator Emma Gill was particularly keen to join the Time to Talk Bikeathon as she has personal experience of how valuable talking openly about mental health can be. Emma gave birth to her beautiful daughter Phoebe in October 2016 but realised early in 2017 that she wasn’t feeling right.
“Looking back, I was high risk – I’d suffered a close family bereavement before Phoebe was born – and I probably needed more support. To begin with, although I knew something was wrong, I was in denial. I felt very isolated: nobody was talking openly about mental health. It was a taboo subject and I didn’t know who to talk to or how to start the conversation.”
With her health visitor’s help, Emma sought advice and was diagnosed with post-natal depression. During the spring of 2017, things got so bad she spent time in a special mother and baby unit where she got the treatment she needed.
Emma continues: “My head of department, Jenny Whitehall, was brilliant. She kept in touch while I was on maternity leave. When she picked up that something wasn’t right, she gave me a lot of support and encouragement while I was having treatment. Jenny visited me and kept me in the loop about what was going on at work and was pro-active in finding out what I felt capable of, mentally and practically. She worked with me to agree something that would suit me and the Trust. I was due to come back to work last October, but using up my accrued leave got me to the point where I was 100% ready to come back.”
Emma is very grateful that the Trust has been so flexible in allowing her to switch roles (she was previously a moorings manager) and work two days a week. On that basis, she returned to work in December. “It’s working out much better than I expected,” says Emma, “It was quite intimidating to begin with – I was worried that I wouldn’t be in the right frame of mind and would find it a struggle to use my brain in a different way. But now, I really look forward to coming to work. It’s helped with my recovery as I find it really rewarding to be able to make my contribution.”
Since going ‘public’ Emma has been able to support a friend of a friend who’s been diagnosed with postnatal depression. She’s volunteered to become one of the Trust’s new mental health first aiders and is using her Open Access to Learning allowance to try yoga. Emma adds: “It’s good for my work/life balance. So, the Trust is helping me get back on track all round, not just with my day job!”