Fundraiser with cerebral palsy speaks up on depression

As the national Mental Health Awareness Week gets underway, one Milton Keynes man with cerebral palsy and restricted sight urges others to be aware of the hidden nature of depression.

Nathan Edwards, 24, lives at Norman Russell House, a Sanctuary Supported Living scheme in Milton Keynes, which provides accommodation and support for people with mental health and complex needs.

In Nathan’s case, his sight is restricted to one eye, and his cerebral palsy can cause problems walking. It’s a group of needs that has also resulted in periods of depression.

He said: “There are good days where I feel awesome and everything’s great, and other days where I found I couldn’t do it, if it wasn’t for [project workers] Ales and Suzanne. I speak to them a lot and they help me through – it can just be as simple as having someone there.

“I feel a lot of people think that because you can’t see the signs, it isn’t there. It is a struggle and I’ve spoken to a lot of young people in the area who have mental health concerns, and it helps me when I’m able to help other people.”

His comments come during Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 12 to 18 May and aims to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Recently, Nathan took part in a sponsored silence, raising £175 for Breast Cancer UK, which came about following one such period of depression.

“One day there was a lot going on in my brain – I was all over the place and I didn’t feel like talking, so I thought, why not do something positive? Why not do something to help?”

He added: “I wanted to make everyone aware that there are people out there suffering and we need to help. I had family members who had cancer so I wanted to give something back.

“It was a spur of the moment idea; all the staff looked at me in shock. I thought it would be really difficult, mentally, to not speak when there are a lot of people around you, but it was really easy. I just zoned out and was very quiet.”

“At Norman Russell House, I’ve been given my own independence, and staff make sure I can cook and clean and look after myself. It’s being able to stand on my own two feet, which is a wonderful feeling.”

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