Mental Health Awareness Week: Katie tells her story
An Essex County Fire and Rescue Service firefighter is sharing mental health advice during Mental Health Awareness Week to encourage people to reach out for support when they need it.
Katie Maynard admits she was in a dark place seven months ago. Struggling to cope with her boyfriend's death and suffering in a toxic relationship, she didn't know where to turn.
But she says joining Essex County Fire and Rescue Service as an on-call firefighter and talking about her mental wellbeing with family and friends helped her to turn her life around.
Firefighter Katie, who is sharing her story as part of Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May), struggled to deal with a tragedy in September 2018 when her boyfriend died in a motorcycle accident.
She said: "I moved out of my family home and started living on my own. I spent a year not caring about anything other than alcohol and partying and then I found myself in a toxic relationship.
"I was suicidal, I was in a hole and it took me a long time to get out of it."
Katie, who runs a business training horses, says training to become an on-call firefighter in her hometown of Brightlingsea was a turning point.
She said: "I found an on-call advert on Facebook and my mum joked about it at first but then I thought: 'I really fancy that.'
"I threw myself into the fitness side of things and started looking after my mental wellness. I was running every day and bought weights and other equipment because I didn't know how fit I'd have to get!
"The fire service really gave me a goal, something to aim for - and I'm still running three times a week and using the station gym."
Katie should be able to attend her first incidents from June. She said: "The training was absolutely fantastic and I'm enjoying it even more now that I've done a couple of drill nights. I have been made to feel really welcome and my colleagues have taken me under their wing."
Katie wants to share her story to help other people in her situation. She said: "I've suffered from depression throughout my life but I never used to talk about my problems. It wasn't until I got angry and my personality changed that I realised I needed to do something.
"My advice is to talk. All I needed to do was to talk to friends and family.
"I have never felt so happy and comfortable in my own skin than I do today. My message is: 'You are amazing just the way you are and there is help and support if you need it'."
There is support in Essex for those who need it, head over to www.essex.gov.uk/mental-health/get-help-and-support to find out more.
Could you be an on-call firefighter like Katie?
If you live or work within 5 minutes of an on-call fire station, you could be an on-call firefighter and get paid to protect your community. Find out more about the role at join.essex-fire.gov.uk/on-call
Page last updated 14 May, 2021