After receiving her first mental health diagnosis at 22, Nellie has joined One Foot Forward every year, not just for her own mental health but to help others.

I saw a friend online who was participating in One Foot Forward, and that's how I first heard about it and then joined in. Initially, I thought it would be something great for me to do regularly to support my personal mental health and focus on a challenge. But then I soon realised that by participating and speaking about it to other people, it started to open up conversations about other people’s experiences with their own mental health.

“I soon realised that mental health doesn't care about your age, your gender, or how much money you have. It’s non-discriminatory and can impact anyone at any time.”

I received my diagnosis after my first child was born when I was 22, and I suddenly found myself on the brink of full psychosis. I had experienced mental health problems before that, but I had never formally received a diagnosis. I ended up being diagnosed with depression, major anxiety, and psychosis. 

My mental health has improved so much since then, but it is always a work in progress, and it's gone backwards at times, too, especially when my younger son passed away, and relationship breakdowns etc. But I know these days what to look out for and when to get help now, and I feel like I have learned to live with it. I take medication and go to therapy when I need it, and do best to live a healthier lifestyle  and become more particular with the people I allow into my life.

“My mental health has been an evolution, a journey of learning and it's always forming.”

When I decided I wanted to share my story, I reached out to my older son and I said, "Look, mate, I've got the chance to share my experience. How do you feel about... Do you have a problem with it?" And he said, "Mum if you help someone else, that's great. To be perfectly honest with you, I never knew what you had been through. Go for it mum!"

I love being a part of the One Foot Forward community.  I find that it's a great opportunity to reboot my mental health every year and refocus. It doesn't have to be hundreds of Kilometres; sometimes it’s just a 5-minute walk, like going to the corner and back again, whatever I can manage that day. I think people imagine they must have to walk 30-40 kilometres, but If people sign up for a few kilometres for the whole month, it doesn't matter. It's the fact that you've done it that counts!

I love the conversations that now happen because of my participation in One Foot Forward, and even if I only make a difference in one person's life, then that’s good enough for me.  Its become my purpose for participating; I do it for myself and for others. 

As the years have gone on, it's just been, "I'm doing it again people, and you're going to donate, and you're going to support me." It gives me structure around keeping fit, and it’s nice to have a goal to work towards, and each year I increase my distance and fundraising goals. 

Even though the One Foot Forward community group is online, I have made some friends outside of that. I know there are people out there I can reach out to if I just need a chat which is amazing. Last year I actually met up with someone in October for a walk. It was through a local post I put on one of my local community pages, and a lady reached out and said, "Oh, I'm doing it too." And I said, "Well, let's meet up." Both of us were quite nervous about being complete strangers and meeting for the first time, and then when we met, we ended up having so much to chat about, and it was lovely!

“To me, the One Foot Forward community is a very non-judgmental place, a very safe place.”

For anyone that would like to support Black Dog Institute but are unable to take part in One Foot Forward, there are a lot of different ways in which people can get involved. Particularly with the number of create-your-own fundraisers where people can do any different fundraiser or event, fun run, and donate and support other people in their community.

If you or anyone you know needs help: