Posted by Millie Henderson on Friday, 11 September 2020

My name is Millie Henderson, I am 14 years old, and I am in 3rd year and go to Lochaber High School. I live with my family of 6 (Mum Lisa, Dad John, Bethany, Lauren, Thomas and Me) and our little dog Breagha. For fun I have a little business going on where I make cards for all occasions on my Facebook & Etsy pages, ‘Millie’s Hand Crafts’. Not only have I been making cards but I’ve also been making face masks because of the global pandemic. If you don’t see me making cards or masks you’ll find me working in Macari’s fish and chip shop on the Fort William High street where I have worked for just over a year and a half now. It's also the place where I’ve created the best friendships.

I’m a pretty busy girl. At the end of July I set myself the target of cycling 150 kilometres during August for Support In Mind Scotland, who are a national charity supporting people with mental health issues that works locally and helps my mum. It was all in the hope of raising awareness for mental health. I set up a Justgiving page and set the target to £500. But during the course of August I was able to raise £1,450 all for Support in Mind Scotland, nearly triple what I expected! Not only did I smash the target of £500 but I ended up cycling 364.38 kilometres!

My bones are now really sore and I’m completely tired out but it was all for such an important cause. To accompany the cycle, I made a clip of me and my friends promoting to speak up about mental health, and that it was nothing to be ashamed of. I was so happy to see that the video I made hit over 4 thousand views! I also held a raffle and even though times were hard during the pandemic all the local businesses and our local community were here to support me and all chipped in, I was so grateful, thank you all so much!

The reason as to why I picked Support in Mind Scotland is because my Mum has been diagnosed with Mixed Personality Disorder, Autism, Chronic Fatigue syndrome, Fybromyalgia and Severe Anxiety, and has been supported by them for the past year. This massively impacts our whole family, but we plod along and we smile our way through the bad days. My Mum has been ill for the past 14 years, and hadn’t heard of Support in Mind Scotland, and hadn’t been referred to them until last year. Those years were full of struggle and fears for the future.

My Mum used to work, she had a driving licence, she’d get the weekly shop and take us on trips to places like Nairn. Then everything changed. She was unable to leave the 4 walls of our home. She was terrified of everything outside. Numerous medications have been trialled and most come with a host of side-effects! However, fresh air and exercise is the one thing that makes everything better even though it’s a struggle. She has had help from my granny over the past years and just recently her support worker from SiMS, Sharyn, who is incredible at what she’s doing!

The illnesses combined are completely debilitating, and impacts how my Mum functions day to day. One minute my Mum’s body could be running 1 million miles an hour and then she crashes and is unable to lift her head from the pillow in chronic pain. Some days she can get past the front door and other days she just can’t do it not matter how hard she tries. My Mum’s short term memory is horrendous, she forgets what she’s been told 5 minutes previous. Everything needs written down and needs constant reminders. She has a lot of bad days so seizes the good days when they happen!

We don’t go on holidays and we don’t get many trips away as a family, purely because it is so hard on my Mum and it’s added stress she doesn’t need. It’s the simplest things my family appreciate, and we make sure to bring the best out of everything we come across. We got our wee dog Breagha in 2018 and she changed my Mum’s life massively! For the better too! Since getting Breagha my Mum can now get out on a walk regularly with us as a family, which we never done before. So our wee Breagha has been a saviour for my Mum’s mental health. Recently she also got an e-bike to hopefully encourage her to come out with the family. Because she tires easily the e-bike is a great help! Thanks to Off Beat Bikes this has been possible!

Our world really did change when my Mum was getting diagnosed over the past few years but we learnt to adapt and get on with it. Our Mum has taught us that she can defy the odds, even through the worst of days! So as special thank you from the bottom of my heart to Support in Mind Scotland for helping my Mum over the past year, you’s have been incredible. However the reason as to why I wanted to raise awareness for mental health is because at the end of May, beginning of June I began to feel really low. I wasn’t my usual self and not as ‘bubbly’ as some would say. Things I loved most I really didn’t enjoy anymore and I just wasn’t happy, mainly because I never ever talked about it. I always thought I was being a burden so kept all my stresses and worries to myself, until one of my work friends had told me I could open up to them. I now know that my friends and family do want to listen and I couldn’t of done all of this without my friends, one in particular. At my worst, I would work and work and work then crash into breakdown mode and be an emotional wreck for so many days, then I’d feel fine and the cycle would repeat. It was such an awful feeling and I do still sometimes feel that way but ever since getting out on my bike more often I feel my head is so much clearer and I can just be me again. All the cycling has totally benefitted my own mental health, as well as raising awareness for others!

Millie's inspiring story was picked up by the Lochaber Times

Some days were harder than others. For example, Fort William weather chops and changes all the time. But whether it was pouring down or the sun was blistering I was determined to go out and get some kilometres completed. Some days I would wake up and know the hard work had paid off because my bones and muscles were so so sore, however I still got out of bed and went out. Honestly nothing was stopping me. My main motivation must have been knowing how much of an impact I was having, knowing that I was bettering the place we live in and hopefully helping others out. And of course, having my friends by my side really really helped! Thank you Sadie, Lucy and Armia who joined most of my cycles and also my sister Lauren who not only kept my business page active whilst I was busy but she also joined a few cycles herself! The speed she cycled was unreal but at least she kept us all moving! But another special mention to Lucy for supplying the cakes on the longer cycles, they were thoroughly enjoyed!

But to end it all I’m feeling so proud of myself. Not only because of how much money I’ve raised for the amazing charity but for everything I’ve overcame during the past month. Nothing was dragging me down and I never gave up, even when it was hard. I am so grateful for all the memories I was able to create on the cycles, cycling has been something I’ve never enjoyed but now it’s one of my most loved things. Thank you to all the local businesses for all your support and for donating raffle prizes even during these hard times we are having. Thank you to everyone who donated and to everyone who shared my story. I have received so many amazing messages of support and it’s made me realise that I’ve put such a positive impact into this world.

Thank you everyone!

No, thank YOU, Millie! What an amazing achievement. We are so thankful and proud of you. Well done!

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