Lancashire football ref Lucy aims to show the red card to depression
You feel it shouldn't be happening, especially when everything in your life is going fine. But sometimes there is no explanation for depression.'
Lucy Briggs, 22, who lives in Garstang and is a football referee and an agency teaching assistant, has opened up about her experience with depression to raise awareness about mental health problems, so she can show people there is a way forward.
Lucy says she first began suffering from mental health issues about the age of 17.
Lucy, who went to Ripley St Thomas School in Lancaster, says: “I had bad depression and it was like an imbalance.
“At first, it was just small things like tiredness and my body feeling really heavy.
“But gradually I could do less and less.”
Things hit Lucy really hard in October last year and she was in hospital for a while and could not lift her legs. She says: “One week, things got really bad and I did not really feel human.
“You feel like it shouldn’t happen as everything was going fine in my life at the time.
“It was just an imbalance that affected me and I am now back on tablets.”
Lucy, who is a volunteer football coach for Blackpool Girls Football Club, turned a corner in December and wants to thank all her family and friends who supported her, as well as the professionals within mental health.
She is also very grateful to the FA who have been in regular contact with her throughout her experience and have supported her to get back into refereeing.
Lucy says: “Anthony Taylor, the Premier League referee, came to see me in hospital, as did my referee coach and the FA were really supportive and would ring to see how I was.
“Lancaster and Morecambe Referee Society were also great.
“Football has always been a big part of my life and I am confident it will continue to be.”
Lucy says that while her family and boyfriend Jamie McCann have been very supportive, there are still many people who don’t understand mental illness.
She is hoping this will change in the future as more people work to spread awareness.
Lucy is doing her own bit by taking part in R.E.D January – which has teamed up with Mind as their official charity partner.
R.E.D January encourages people to kickstart their year in a positive and healthy way while raising vital funds for Mind’s services. The month also aims to raise awareness and open up the conversation about mental health.
Lucy says: “I am usually really physically active, being a referee, but for a while, I could barely move.
“I had very bad depression and for a few months last year, life was very tough, not only on me but on my friends and family.
“They helped me through it and, after some time in hospital, I started to get better and am doing quite well now.
“When I wasn’t feeling right, I didn’t know how bad I was feeling or how bad I would get until it was nearly too late.
“I struggled walking and couldn’t talk for a while, but I have made good progress and am jogging regularly and doing everyday things I wasn’t able to.
“A lot of people helped me and my family and boyfriend have been amazing.
“But sadly, some people still don’t understand mental illnesses and I hope this will change in the future.
“Some people tell you: ‘There’s nothing to be down about’.
“But you can’t help how you feel.
“People make judgements about other people without actually knowing them. I am taking part in R.E.D January which is where people from all over the country run every day for as little or as long as they want throughout January.
“I am running a couple of miles every day, as well as doing gym work and refereeing.
“I think exercise definitely helps with mental health.
“There is a lot of good work being done around mental health by Prince Harry and I have set myself this little challenge to complement the good work already being done.
“My hope is people think before they judge someone as they don’t know their circumstances and what they are going through.
“Everyone deserves to be treated well and we will all go through bad patches at some points in our lives but understanding is crucial.”
Every penny raised for R.E.D January will fund Minds’s vital work, such as the Mind infoline, the expert helpline for anyone needing advice and support for mental health problems.
Call the Mind infoline on: 0300 123 3393 or text 86463.
To help Lucy raise money for Mind, visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lucy-briggs2017