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Five young people share their powerful mental health journeys

As TV presenter and mental health advocate Gail Porter opens up about her own struggles in a new BBC documentary, we hear from five young people who have found a way to live with their mental health challenges.

Ballari, Stephanie, Reece, Erin and Gemma bravely share their unique stories showing mental health issues can affect people in different ways.

If you are affected by these stories, you can find Information and Support here for yourself or a loved one.

Watch Being Gail Porter on BBC iPlayer.

Erin’s story

Erin: ‘My mum cried with happiness when I was properly diagnosed’

Her diagnosis with bipolar disorder was a huge turning point for Erin.

In this short film, Erin shares her experiences of psychosis, mania and depression which began when she was fourteen. For her, a consultation with a psychiatrist was an important turning point. Erin describes how a combination of medication and self-therapy has helped her find happiness.

Erin helps other people with bipolar disorder by making podcasts and videos for Bipolar Scotland.

“It’s made me really happy. It’s made me feel like I’ve made a difference and talking about my bipolar is something that I never used to do."

"I used to be terrified but now I can openly talk about it because the only way to really challenge stigma is to do it head on and to get the right information out there.”

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Reece’s story

Reece: ‘Public speaking is my therapy - I've seen a completely different side to myself!’

Reece believes his unaddressed mental health issues led to aggressive behaviour.

Reece’s childhood circumstances contributed to some difficult emotions for him which led to aggressive behaviour and eventually some criminal convictions.

When he was faced with the prospect of jail time he decided to try and understand his behaviour. A visit to the doctor helped him understand an undiagnosed personality disorder.

As a mode of self-therapy Reece says that sharing his story and knowing that it could impact somebody positively is a big help. He has even given a TED talk in Glasgow about his experience.

“That makes me feel really great, really good... that I feel like I could possibly help somebody in a similar situation to me.”

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Stephanie’s story

Stephanie: ‘l was alone but now I share ideas and hopes with rooms full of people’

Dundee student found happiness after tragedy through her mental health campaigning.

Stephanie went through trauma during childhood which led to her experiencing mental health problems including suffering from depression and anxiety.

At university she found a like-minded friend but a tragic turn of events led her to self-reflection.

Eventually she was able to channel her frustrations and she began to campaign for the Mental Health Foundation.

“I feel like I’m now becoming the person I wish I had when I was younger and I think that's what fills me with happiness - being that person that I needed but for someone else.”

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Ballari’s story

Ballari: ‘Drawing has helped me find me again’

After years of suffering from anorexia, Ballari rediscovered herself through her drawing.

Ballari was just 8 when she started to develop anorexia.

Initially she had thought that controlling what she was putting in and out of her body was a method of escaping but she realised instead she was gradually losing herself.

A therapist helped her realise she could find herself again through one of her favourite hobbies, drawing.

“I began to draw my feelings, the feeling of being trapped in this horrible other world that was my reality. I began to draw what I saw around me, what I was observing and that has to this day been the best therapy that I’ve ever had. “

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Gemma’s story

Gemma: ‘My canine colleagues help ease my obsessive thoughts’

Gemma's dog-walking business and athletics hobby help her obsessive compulsive disorder.

As Gemma's story shows, mental health struggles don't always appear to have a root cause or external trigger. Gemma had a happy childhood but started dealing with depression and anxiety at 15.

"I did get comments like what have you got to be depressed about it’s like not having a reason for it sometimes has been quite difficult to deal with."

Later diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, Gemma has found ways to keep her condition under control.

"I think being out walking with dogs every day really helps my mental health. It’s just their personalities and seeing them happy makes me happy."

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Watch Being Gail Porter

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