Stuart steps out to lift taboo

A charity walker is counting on a firm of chartered accountants and statutory auditors from Wrexham.

Teacher Stuart Jessup, 52, is in the middle of a marathon 2,500 mile-trek to raise money for Anxiety UK and Sane.

Stuart, who has suffered from periodic bouts of depression since he was a teenager, stopped off at Coxeys’ Wrexham office in Grosvenor Road to thank them for their support.

He was particularly grateful to Coxeys director Morag Browning and her husband, Peter, who provided overnight accommodation for him.

Stuart has taken a 12-month sabbatical from his job at the Cambridge Centre for Sixth-form Studies, in Cambridge, to complete the Edge of England Walk.

He is now just over half way through the challenge and he’s hoping the final total will be close to £10,000.

Equally important to Stuart is raising the profile of the problem of depression which, he says, is much more commonplace than people think.

Stuart explained: “I’ve suffered from depression ever since I was a teenager. It’s a lot better now than it used to be, but walking has always been one of the ways of dealing with it.

“I used to work for a technology consultancy, and I had a what in the past would be called a nervous breakdown.

“I’ve had various different kinds of therapies since then and over the years I’ve learnt more and more about how to manage it  through drugs and therapy.

“It used to be very debilitating, now it’s much shallower and much less often, which is good.

“When it happens it’s like a switch being thrown in my brain –  it’s almost like my brain has shut down.

“It feels like it’s hard to think. It feels like I don’t want to do anything. Everything is hard. Dealing with people is hard. Dealing with any kind of problem is hard.

“You just want to shut yourself away, and that’s where the walking comes in because it’s a way of getting away from everyday life, just being in a different environment for a little while and just sort of quietening things down.”

“One in four people in their lifetime will suffer from either anxiety or depression.

“If you break your leg then you get lots of sympathy, you talk about it, but it doesn’t make any difference to how quickly your leg heals.

“But if you have a bout of depression or severe anxiety it’s actually the talking about it that’s part of recovery, and yet we have this taboo, this stigma that makes it hard to talk about.”

The link with Coxeys came about through an organisation called Junior Chamber International which is a training and development organisation for young people aged between 18 and 40.

Morag, Peter and Stuart’s wife, Kate are all Junior Chamber Senators who act as mentors to young professionals.

The staff at Coxeys are planning fund-raising activities so that they can contribute to the fund.

Morag said: “I have a friend whose mother committed suicide because she was depressed.

“Somebody else we know suffers from acute depression though you’d never know it because
outwardly he’s the jolliest person you could ever meet.

”I am full of admiration for Stuart for taking on this huge challenge and wish him all the best on the rest of his trek.”

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