A fitness instructor is on a mission to change people’s perceptions of a condition she has battled – while raising money to help others.
Anne Brady, of South Shore, is gearing up to run the Blackpool Marathon in April, to raise money for Bipolar UK.
She is supporting the charity to give something back and show her gratitude for the help it has given her.
The 31-year-old – who teaches fitness sessions at Kelly Amelia Fitness Studio, in Marton – was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in November 2015.
Bipolar is a mood disorder in which a person experiences significant shifts between elevated and depressive moods. There are several types of bipolar with each one varying in degree of severity, treatment and management for each individual.
Anne says she has been open and honest about her condition and been lucky enough to receive understanding and support from friends, boyfriend, family and fellow instructors and members at Kelly Amelia Studio.
She said: “The episodes vary, they can change daily or weekly – it follows no pattern. There are also periods of stability, but overall it makes me feel all over the place.
“It effects everything, from your relationship with yourself and with other people, to your ability to work and cope with every day stresses and struggles. Everything is amplified and you are constantly in a state of trying to avoid or cope with triggers, while trying to maintain a ‘normal’ life.
“Without the help and support of Bipolar UK, I would not have had the knowledge to help myself and teach those around me how best to support me.
“Their mentoring service helped me through the very difficult time of being diagnosed.
“Over time, I’ve learned to understand my triggers and how to manage or identify when things are getting too much. But even then, sometimes this horrible condition just takes you.”
“The most important thing is I have support. Even though most people don’t understand, I have an amazing support network. It can be very hard loving and being friends with someone who one minute is there all the time and great to be around, then suddenly asking you to leave them alone and not contact/talk to them.”
Anne recently relapsed due her medication not working properly, and had to stop working for a short time.
“I pulled away from everyone and everything, except my training. No matter how bad I felt, I got up and trained. It was my way of saying bipolar had most of me, but I wasn’t going to let it win.”
It has long been Anne’s dream to run a marathon and she will run the 26 miles in Blackpool next month, in aid of Bipolar UK.
“I want to raise money, but also raise awareness of mental health – I want to break the stigma surrounding it. I want people to realise there’s help out there and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
Kelly McNab, from Kelly Amelia’s Fitness Studio, said the gym’s members had really rallied round Anne – and everyone was very proud of her.
“It’s been really good the way Anne has been so open and honest. So many people don’t talk about it, but talking and being open helps understanding, as well as helping others with bipolar realise they’re not alone and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
“We are right behind Anne all the way.”
• Visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/BradyLady or follow Anne on Instagram under @_bipolar bodybuilder and #breakthestigma