Deborah received our help to set up ‘How it Felt’ - a business which uses puppet making workshops as a tool for people to talk about their mental health and well-being. Here she tells us about her experiences of mental health.

When your arm is broken and it’s bandaged up, people can see that you are hurt. When you can see it, it’s easier to understand. But when it’s your own thoughts that aren’t making you feel well, it can be hard to explain and for others to understand.

I’m now 27 but when I was younger mental health wasn’t even a term that was being used, especially in schools or at home. I mean, if I fell and cut my knee I would get a plaster and a hug and I would stop crying.

But if I was crying and not leaving my bed or my house for days or not attending school it was hard to be taken seriously. No one would ask if I was alright. And I wasn’t aware of why I was feeling that way, so I just assumed I was lazy and didn’t enjoy school.

This unshakable feeling carried on through to university and that’s when I discovered I was having issues with my mental health. I never knew why I always felt nervous and had negative thoughts about going into class every day or going outside. Sleep was always awful because I would just be so anxious about going to lectures or classes the next day.

Being exhausted and stressed, I just assumed this was how everyone felt all the time. Eventually I opened up to a classmate about how I had been feeling when it was getting too much. From that chat is how I found out I had anxiety and depression and I started researching and educating myself on everything about it. It allowed me to understand myself and others around me a lot more.

I’ve always found that doing creative things has been a sort of therapy for getting out negative thoughts and feelings. This is where ‘How it Felt’ started. Being able to use puppets to communicate how I was feeling just fell into place. 

After leaving university, I received funding and mentor support from The Prince’s Trust and I have plans to expand ‘How it Felt’ in schools, youth groups and in the community. Being able to create something positive out of something negative has helped me express my feelings and cope with my mental well-being. I hope that ‘How it Felt’ can play a role in helping others see the affect mental health can have on a young person. 

Find out more about Deborah’s business by visiting 'How it Felt' Facebook page.